A weekend trip to the Orlando area should definitely include visiting one or more theme parks like: Disney World, Epcot Center, Disney Animal Kingdom, Universal, and Sea World — all clean, exciting places to spend time with family and friends.
However, there are lots of other great attractions in the area that you should consider for your group's next weekend getaway as well.
Space Coast is 45 minutes east of Orlando, where NASA's space shuttle launches occur. Visit the Kennedy Space Center, Port Canaveral, the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, and the area's beautiful beaches. You can take an eco-tour here, including sea turtle sighting and guided boat tours. The Space Coast also has some quaint towns to visit, including the brightly painted Cocoa Beach.
Disney's Animal Kingdom is a safari-like park where you can encounter giraffes, lions, zebras and elephants. For a more indigenous Orlando adventure, go to Lake Jesup and take an airboat trip with Black Hammock Adventures and see some of the 9,000 alligators, bald eagles, cranes, and turtles in their natural habitat. Their restaurant also has free live music every Friday and Saturday night.
Blue Spring State Park, located 35 miles north of Orlando, is home to over 150 manatees. See these gentle giants up close in a beautiful natural setting. Take Interstate 4 and exit 114, and follow the signs to the St. Johns River. Aside from the manatees area, your group can enjoy the spring's 73 degrees, crystal clear water for snorkeling, swimming, scuba diving, fishing, canoeing, and boating (swimming or diving with the manatees is not permitted). Arrive early to the park as it often reaches capacity quickly on weekends, holidays and during the manatee season (mid-November to early March).
Consider a vacation rental in Kissimmee, for your group where there are lots of rental options. Kissimmee is conveniently located near the theme parks, with easy access to the airport, and is an hour's drive from the coast.