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Hit beach, spa, or theme park

At Universal Orlando, a Simpsons ride is scheduled to open sometime this spring. At Universal Orlando, a Simpsons ride is scheduled to open sometime this spring. (Universal Orlando Resort)
Email|Print| Text size + By Richard P. Carpenter
Globe Correspondent / February 10, 2008

For many New Englanders, the lure of Florida is irresistible in midwinter as they trade snow and sleet for sun and fun. The opportunities for enjoyment include this Sunshine State sampling:

The Point Orlando, a condo-hotel on International Drive in Orlando, opens this month with a family package at 20 percent off. It features a one-bedroom executive suite, a continental breakfast daily, and free Internet. The resort says its design combines the amenities and services of a hotel with the space and privacy of a condo. Rates start at $129 a night and are valid through May.

Visit thepoint-orlando.com or call 866-956-2015.

The Pink Shell Beach Resort on Fort Myers Beach is promoting Florida Beach Vacation Special packages for winter and spring. Package rates from Feb. 15 through April 30 start at $329 a night, including two welcome drinks and a buffet breakfast for two. If you can act quickly, through Feb. 14, the offer starts at $199 per night.

Call 888-222-7465. For resort details, visit pinkshell.com.

In Fort Myers proper, the Florida Repertory Theatre has figured out a way for people with young children to see the plays. With $10 Baby Sitting Nights, parents see the show while their progeny ages 4 to 11 take part in an interactive theater workshop, have a snack, and play games. The cost is $10 with the purchase of two regularly priced tickets to selected performances.

Visit floridarep.org or call 877-787-8053.

For romantics, the LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort in Naples has two pricey packages available this month. The Ultimate Spa Romance, starting at $879 per night, includes deluxe beachfront accommodations, two ritual baths in side-by-side soaking tubs, two 50-minute rose-infused Balinese massages, the resort fee, valet parking, and spa gratuities. The Ultimate Beach Romance, also starting at $879 per night, features those deluxe beachfront accommodations plus a private beach dinner including a four-course meal and a bottle of wine, the resort fee, valet parking, and dining gratuities.

Visit laplayaresort.com or call 800-237-6883.

Leave it to the Florida Keys to come up with watery ways to celebrate holidays, such as the Underwater Easter Egg Hunt in the waters off Key Largo on Sunday, March 23. The fund-raiser for Kids In Special Situations, which provides gifts and holiday cheer to needy children, will be aboard the Atlantis. The boat will head to a secret location on one of the Keys' reefs. Then a scuba-equipped Easter bunny, bearing an uncanny resemblance to Atlantis Captain Spencer Slate, will submerge to hide his eggs, followed by egg-hunting divers, all of whom will win prizes. The fee is a discounted $60 per person, whether passengers dive in or not.

Visit captainslate.com or call 800-331-3483.

In an effort to keep people coming back, the Orlando area's theme parks keep coming up with new attractions. At Universal Orlando, a Simpsons ride is scheduled to open sometime this spring, in which you accompany America's most beloved dysfunctional family as they hurtle through thrills. At Walt Disney World, Disney-MGM Studios has been renamed Disney's Hollywood Studios to emphasize its celebration of Hollywood's new entertainment as well as its golden age. For instance, "High School Musical 2: School's Out!" is an interactive event with performers on a traveling stage inviting all ages to join in the singing and dancing that the movie made popular. One-day tickets at both parks cost $71 at the gate, but go to the websites or see a travel agent for better deals.

Visit universalorlando.com and disneyworld.com.

For skiing families

Rentalo.com maintains that families can cut the cost of a ski vacation by renting vacation chalets and apartments. One example: A chalet-in-the-woods in Stratton, Vt., is close to Stratton, Bromley, and Okemo, sleeps nine guests, and boasts a well-equipped kitchen, Jacuzzi, and fireplace. The cost is $300 a weeknight and $400 a weekend night, plus cleaning. Visit rentalo.com or call 877-710-5914. Use ID 163630.

Luxe Valentine's Day

For those with pockets as deep as their love, there is the Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers Luxury Valentine's Day Package. Included are an overnight stay in the Presidential Suite, a personal chauffeur and limousine service for the day, a personal executive chef who will fix dinner and breakfast, a couples massage, a dozen long-stem roses, a bottle of Cristal champagne, chocolate-covered strawberries, rose-petal turndown service, complimentary overnight parking for one vehicle, and a 2 p.m. checkout. The package is only available Feb. 14 and costs $8,000, with taxes and tips included.

Call 617-457-2404. For hotel information, visit bostonparkplaza.com.

When not included, hotel taxes, airport fees, and port charges can add significantly to the price of a trip. Most prices quoted are for double occupancy; solo travelers will usually pay more. Offers are subject to availability and there may be blackout dates. Richard P. Carpenter can be reached at carpenter@globe.com.

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