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Best Outdoor Dining Venues in Tampa

April 14, 2021
Exterior of Gaspar's Grotto in Tampa

Tampa’s beautiful year-round weather allows many restaurants to offer outdoor dining options. Whether you’re trying to social distance during your meal or you just like the ambiance of outdoor dining, you can easily find a Tampa eatery that will meet your group’s needs. And if you need transportation for your corporate group or wedding party, Falcon Charter Bus can help. Just give us a call at 813-944-3146 to book an air-conditioned bus for your next brunch or dinner at one of these outdoor dining spots. 

Large group laughing over food outside

Columbia Cafe-Riverwalk Tampa

Columbia Restaurant’s original location in Ybor City opened in 1905 and is the oldest still-standing restaurant in Tampa. The Columbia Cafe along the Riverwalk isn’t nearly as old, but unlike its older sibling, it has outdoor dining. Part of the Tampa Bay History Center, Columbia Cafe-Riverwalk Tampa features an expansive patio that overlooks the Hillsborough River and Tampa Bay. 

If you make a reservation here, you’ll experience Spanish cuisine crafted from Floridian ingredients. One of Columbia’s most popular dishes is the “1905 Salad,” made with iceberg lettuce, baked ham, Swiss cheese, and garlic dressing. Locals also rave about the chicken Ybor with yellow rice, and vegetarians can indulge in black bean cakes and plátanos maduros. 

Address: 801 Water St #1905, Tampa, FL 33602
Charter bus parking: Your charter bus can park for a fee at several paid surface lots near the Tampa Bay History Center. 

Ulele

Ulele (pronounced “you-lay-lee”) takes inspiration from the cuisine of Florida’s indigenous peoples. The owner, Richard Gonzmart, comes from the same family that founded Columbia Cafe and identifies as having Native American and Spanish ancestry, which is reflected in his food. Try the alligator hush puppies, jalapeno corn beer muffins, or fire-roasted chicken, all made from locally sourced ingredients. 

Ulele lies next to Water Works Park and offers views of the Hillsborough River from two outdoor dining spaces: a beer garden and a rooftop terrace. The beer garden also serves craft beers from the Ulele Spring Brewery, located on site. Give Ulele a call at 813-310-3701 or email groups@ulele.com to make an outdoor reservation for your group. 

Address: 1810 N Highland Ave, Tampa, FL 33602
Charter bus parking: Ulele has its own parking lot near Water Works Park. 

Friends have dinner outside at night

Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe

Ella’s Americana Folk Art Cafe isn’t just a restaurant—when social distancing isn’t in place, it also serves as a live music venue and an art gallery. Owner Melissa Deming established this Seminole Heights restaurant to bring the neighborhood together and filled the building with eclectic found object art. Outside, you’ll discover a spacious deck that can accommodate groups of up to 30 people. 

If your group is lucky enough to visit on a Sunday, you can partake in “Soul Food Sunday Brunch.” The menu includes chicken and waffles, fried catfish, “Bloody Ellas” (Bloody Marys with a BBQ rib accent), and giant mimosas. The rest of the week, you’ll find bacon-wrapped meatloaf, chicken and biscuit pot pie, and an array of veggie burgers with toppings like vegan coleslaw and vegan cheese. 

Address: 5119 N Nebraska Ave, Tampa, FL 33603
Charter bus parking: Ella’s has multiple parking lots, including one behind the building and an overflow lot at 5108 N Nebraska (near a blue building with an Elvis mural). If both those lots fill up, your bus can park in the neighboring AA Casey lot after 5 p.m. or in the Pawn Shop lot after 7 p.m. and all day on Sunday. 

Heights Public Market at Armature Works

The Heights Public Market is a large food hall inside the multi-purpose Armature Works building. You can find all types of cuisine here, from empanadas to sushi, pizza, and vegetarian sandwiches. If you’re with a large group of people who can’t decide what they want to eat or your group has a mixture of adventurous and picky eaters, Heights Public Market is a great choice.

You can sit inside or in the expansive outdoor dining space. Seating is first-come, first-served, so you won’t have to worry about reservations for a casual lunch with your sports team or after-school group. After you finish eating, treat yourself to an enormous cookie or brownie from local bakery Bake’n Babes. 

Address: 1910 N Ola Ave, Tampa, FL 33602
Charter bus parking: Armature Works has its own parking garage and surface lots. Since charter buses probably won’t fit in the garage, you can use the surface lots or street park on W 7th Ave, W Palm Ave, Oak Ave, Market Street, or N Highland Ave. 

Parents and two kids eating outside

Rick’s on the River

Rick’s has three main attractions: their personal marina that lets guests arrive by boat (don’t worry, you can take a car or bus too), their outdoor deck that overlooks the river, and their oyster bar. Request an outside table for your group and indulge in steamed or raw oysters served with horseradish, lemons, and cocktail sauce. 

Not an oyster fan? Rick’s also serves fried shrimp, Little Neck clams, and fried catfish, as well as non-seafood options like buffalo wings and chicken tenders. The outdoor bars make it easy to grab a cold beer while you eat, and live music will return once social distancing protocols end. 

Address: 2305 N Willow Ave, Tampa, FL 33607
Charter bus parking: Rick’s has a large parking lot for guests arriving by bus instead of by boat. 

Gaspar’s Grotto

Gaspar’s Grotto takes its name from local pirate Jose Gaspar, so it’s not surprising that this bar and restaurant in Ybor City features a pirate theme throughout. Established in 1985 by a retired sea captain and currently operated by his wife, Gaspar’s has been a Tampa landmark for more than 30 years. 

Say hi to Tanker Ray, the bar cat, and then order dishes like Cuban sandwiches, roasted pork with black beans and rice, and devil crabs. If you take your group out for Sunday brunch, you can treat yourself to three-egg omelets, biscuits and gravy, and lemon-blueberry French toast. Gaspar’s is also an easy place to dine outdoors, since it features two patios with plenty of tables for groups. 

Address: 1805 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605
Charter bus parking: Parking a bus at Gaspar’s can be tricky, but your driver can drop you off in front of the bar and park in a nearby paid lot. 

Exterior of Gaspar's Grotto in Tampa

Image credit: Lindsey Turner on Flickr

Rose Bar Tampa

This upscale restaurant in SoHo uses local ingredients but takes inspiration from cuisines around the globe. You can try eccentric dishes like the crab martini (crab and seasonings served in a martini glass), a Philly bao (a bao filled with Philly cheesesteak ingredients), and skirt steak smothered in chimichurri sauce (an Argentinian sauce made with red wine vinegar and pepper flakes.) 

As the name indicates, Rose Bar also specializes in craft beer and custom cocktails. Make reservations for a table just outside the restaurant and sip a handcrafted martini or Manhattan with your friends. Rose Bar is also owned and operated by an African American chef, making it a great place to celebrate Black culinary excellence in Tampa. 

Address: 122 S Howard Ave, Tampa, FL 33606
Charter bus parking: Rose Bar Tampa has its own parking lot next to the restaurant. 

Miguel’s Mexican Seafood & Grill

A Tampa staple since 1992, Miguel’s serves authentic Mexican dishes and fresh seafood. Your group can request seats in the outdoor courtyard before dining on popular dishes like shrimp brochettes, ceviche Cancun, and lobster tacos. Not a seafood person? Opt for a chicken quesadilla or build your own fajitas. Pick your favorites of 5 toppings and 8 proteins, all accompanied by rice, frijoles charros, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, and handmade tortillas. 

Miguel’s is also known for its signature Patron margaritas and other creative cocktails, like Mexi-tinis and fruity Las Frescas. Whether you’re with friends who want to try the margaritas or kids that just want tacos, chips, and salsa, this eatery is a relaxed, casual spot for group dining. 

Address: 3035 W Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, FL 33609
Charter bus parking: Miguel’s offers an expansive parking lot that should have plenty of room for a bus. 

Young couple eating salad together

Dine Outdoors in Tampa With Your Group

Whether you choose one of the restaurants on our list or another local dining spot, there are plenty of picturesque places to eat outdoors in Tampa. And when you book a bus from Falcon Charter Bus, you won’t have to worry about finding parking for a dozen cars or volunteering as DD. Your professional driver will drop you off at dinner and pick you up afterward, and all you’ll have to do is lean back in a plush seat and enjoy the AC. Just give us a call at 813-944-3146 to book a charter bus for your next group outing.

Complete Guide to Southeast Charter Bus Rentals

February 16, 2021
Gray tour bus outside building

If you’ve never rented a charter bus before, you probably have a lot of questions about the process. What are charter buses like on the inside? How many people can fit on one? Will your bus have WiFi? And how much will a bus rental cost?

Falcon Charter Bus has compiled a list of answers to the questions we receive most often about renting a charter bus. Check out our guide to charter buses, and when you’re ready to book a motorcoach, give us a call at 1-866-217-2168. We can provide full-size charter buses and minibuses for groups traveling throughout the Southeast, whether you’re headed to Nashville, New Orleans, or Miami.

Gray tour bus outside building

The Basic Facts

What are charter buses?

A charter bus, also called a motorcoach, is a bus reserved for use by a business, wedding party, school, sports team, or other organization. Unlike public buses, charter buses follow your itinerary and take you exactly where you want to go.

How many seats do charter buses have?

Charter buses come in a variety of sizes, but most buses have 56, 25, 20, or 18 seats. Buses with 56 seats are considered full-size charter buses, while buses with 25, 20, or 18 seats are considered minibuses.

What do charter buses look like?

On the outside, full-size charter buses will have large panoramic windows with luggage storage bays beneath them. Some buses are all-white or all-black, while others have the company’s logo on the side. Minibuses don’t have storage bays, and the windows will be smaller.

When you climb the stairs or use the wheelchair lift to go inside, you’ll see the driver’s cockpit and rows of cushioned, reclining seats for passengers. Both charter buses and minibuses have overhead bins for storing bags above the seats. Most full-sized buses also have a small bathroom with a toilet and handwashing station at the back.

Black, plush seats inside minibus

What amenities do charter buses come with?

All charter buses come with comfortable seats, large windows, and climate control, and coaches built after 2016 also feature seatbelts. When you call to book, you can request optional features like power outlets, WiFi, and TVs with DVD players.

Can I bring food and drinks?

Most charter buses allow food and drinks onboard, but you’ll need to notify your reservation specialist if your group plans to eat or drink during the drive. You’ll also need to clean up your trash so you aren’t charged an additional cleaning fee at the end of your trip.

Some charter bus companies allow passengers to drink alcoholic beverages on the bus too, but alcohol policies depend on the bus company and the city. Make sure you tell your reservation specialist if you want to drink on the bus, and note that you may have to pay an additional deposit to do so.

Couple sitting together on bus

Are pets allowed on charter buses?

Certified service animals are always allowed on charter buses, but bus companies get to decide whether they’ll accept any other pets. Even if you request and receive a pet-friendly bus, you’ll probably need to keep your furry friend in a carrier or crate during the journey.

Do charter buses have accessibility features?

ADA-accessible charter buses are available by request, and it’s a good idea to book at least two weeks in advance if you need one. Your accessible bus will come with wider aisles, railings along stairways and in the bathroom, a wheelchair lift, and a wheelchair seating area.

Can I drive the bus, or will I have a driver?

All charter buses come with a fully licensed, certified driver, and they’ll handle taking you to every stop on your itinerary. You’ll need to ensure your driver gets an 8-hour break after every 10 hours of driving and that you book a hotel room for them if you’re going on an overnight trip.

Woman driving bus

Pricing Guide

How much does a bus rental cost?

How much a bus costs depends on several factors, like:

  • How far you’re traveling
  • How long your trip is
  • What time of year you’re traveling
  • What city you’re being dropped off and picked up in
  • The size of bus you need
  • What amenities you request

Because so many factors go into a bus’s price, the best way to determine how much your bus will cost is to call us at 1-866-217-2168 for a free, personalized quote. That said, we understand that you may want a rough idea of prices before you get a quote. These costs are subject to change, but here’s an example of our average hourly, daily, and per-mile prices:

Per hour Per day Per mile
Charter bus $135-159 $1,295-1,400 $4.20-4.80

Does my quote include everything, or will there be additional costs?

Your quote includes your charter bus, the services of your driver, gas, and standard bus amenities like climate control, reclining seats, and storage space. Once you receive a quote, you won’t be surprised by any hidden fees. You may still have to pay for costs we don’t control, like tolls, parking fees, a hotel room for your driver (required for overnight trips), or a tip for your driver. Most charter bus drivers receive a tip of around 10% of the total cost of the trip.

Little boy using wheelchair on bus

Can you give an example of how much a trip may cost?

Sure! Let’s say you’re going on a field trip to the Georgia Aquarium from your school in Marietta, Georgia. Your trip will take about 6 hours, and since it’s a one day trip, you’ll be charged by the hour.

Charter bus for 6 hours:         $870 ($145 per hour x 6 hours)

Then you’ll need to add in additional costs, like parking fees and a tip.

Parking:                                   $25
Tip:                                           $90

When you add all your costs together, this one-day trip will cost $985. If you’re taking a charter bus for several days or over a longer distance, your costs will go up accordingly.

How to Rent a Bus in the Southeast

What information do I need when I book my bus?

When you call us to book, you should have an itinerary with all of your stops, dates, and times on hand. You’ll also need to know how many people you’re bringing, what amenities you want, and whether you need any accessibility features.

How far in advance should I book?

To ensure you get exactly the bus you want, we recommend booking your charter bus rental at least 1 to 3 months in advance. If you’re traveling in a busy month like April, May, or June or during a major event, you should try to book at least 6 to 9 months in advance.

Don’t worry if you missed your window, though. Although Falcon Charter Bus can’t guarantee we’ll always have exactly the bus you want, we do our best to accommodate last-minute requests whenever possible.

Three young women looking at phone on bus

Still Got Questions?

Our 24/7 team at Falcon Charter Bus will be happy to answer them. Just contact us at 1-866-217-2168 and we’ll provide specific information about the buses we have available and exactly how much they’ll cost for your specific trip. Once you make your reservation, you’ll be free to explore Atlanta, Charlotte, or Orlando while a professional takes care of the driving. Give us a call today!

Haunted Locations to Visit with a Group in Orlando

December 23, 2020
Exterior of Orange County Regional History Center

When you think “haunted,” you may not immediately think “Orlando,” especially when Halloween Horror Nights isn’t up and running. But Orlando has plenty of Victorian and turn-of-the-century buildings that may boast a spirit or two. Add a twist to your next trip with your friends, sports team, or school marching band by putting some of Orlando’s most haunted locations on your itinerary.

Whether you want to visit Lake Lucerne, Greenwood Cemetery, or historic Church Street, Falcon Charter Bus can help your group get there. Just give us a call at 407-274-9808 to book a bus rental with reclining seats, panoramic windows, and optional amenities like WiFi. Your professional driver can then take you to exciting, spooky destinations like the ones below.

Woman riding piggyback on man

Lake Lucerne

Although Lake Lucerne isn’t huge, it is surrounded by historic homes that date back to the late 1800s, like the charming Dr. Phillips House. This makes the lake a popular destination for people who love Victorian architecture, and it may be why the lake boasts its very own ghost. The Lady in White, a woman dressed in 19th-century garb, sometimes appears beneath an old oak tree by the lake before disappearing into the night.

Even if you don’t catch a glimpse of The Lady, you can still treat your group to a wedding, a brunch, or a meeting in the Dr. Phillips House. You can also stay overnight in one of the Victorian-style rooms when you book an event and see if that prompts any ghosts to appear.

Fountains in Lake Lucerne

Address: 135 N Lucerne Cir E, Orlando, FL 32801

Charter bus parking: There are several public parking lots near the lake, and the Dr. Phillips House can provide information about parking if you host an event there.

Orange County Regional History Center

The building that currently holds the Orange County Regional History Center was built in 1927 and served as Orlando’s courthouse for decades. In 1980, serial killer Ted Bundy stood trial there. After his execution, ghost hunters claimed they could sense his ghost in the courtroom where he was convicted. True crime aficionados now visit the museum to see if those rumors are true.

The space also supposedly hosts other, less frightening ghosts, like a little girl named Emily who appears mainly to children. On the other hand, plenty of groups have visited the museum for field trips without a single specter sighting and still had an amazing time. The museum’s four floors cover 12,000 years of Orlando history, with exhibits on topics like Florida’s indigenous peoples, the arrival of Spanish settlers, the growth of the cattle and citrus industries, and the experiences of African Americans in Orlando.

Exterior of Orange County Regional History Center

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Address: 65 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801

Charter bus parking: The OCRHC offers parking vouchers for the Orlando Public Library parking garage. If your bus won’t fit in a garage, there are other paid lots around downtown Orlando.

Lake Eola

Located walking distance from the Orange County Regional History Center, Lake Eola hosts many of Orlando’s seasonal festivals and holiday celebrations. It also has a long history dating back to 1883, so it’s no surprise that the lake is rumored to have a ghost. It’s more surprising that the ghost is a dog!

The spirit dog is supposedly a small brown terrier who runs and plays along the eastern shore of the lake before disappearing into thin air. No one knows where the friendly pup came from, but it may have belonged to one of the families who visited the lake over the past 130 years. You can look for the adorable ghost while your group goes for a walk, rents a paddleboat, or feeds the lake’s famous swans.

Swans on Lake Eola

Address: 512 E Washington St, Orlando, FL 32801

Charter bus parking: Since Lake Eola lies downtown, you’re probably going to have to rely on either metered street parking or public paid lots.

Hamburger Mary’s

Not far from Lake Eola, you’ll find Hamburger Mary’s on Church Street. One of the oldest shopping districts in downtown Orlando, Church Street originally sprang up around the Orlando railroad depot, which was completed in 1889. Most of the original Church Street businesses are long gone now, but many ghosts from the 1800s supposedly still linger there.

Though Hamburger Mary’s is best known for delicious burgers, creative cocktails, and irreverent drag shows, many locals claim the restaurant is also home to the ghost of a young girl from the 19th century. No one knows how she died, but she’s apparently a happy spirit who spends her nights tapping on the restaurant’s windows, waving at guests, and skipping down the street. Settle in for dinner and a drag show and keep your eyes open for a glimpse of her.

Drag queen posing

Address: Church Street Station, 110 W Church St, Orlando, FL 32801

Charter bus parking: Like most places downtown, Hamburger Mary’s doesn’t have its own parking lot. However, you can find metered street parking and public parking lots nearby.

Rogers Building

In 1886, Gordon Rogers opened this Queen-Anne-style building on Lake Eola to serve as a social club for upper-class English men. Given its turrets and its rich green color, the Rogers Building quickly became one of the most iconic landmarks in downtown Orlando. It’s housed many businesses over the years, but today it serves as the CityArts gallery and performance space. It’s also supposedly haunted.

Gordon Rogers’s wife (whose name, unfortunately, has been lost to history) was unhappy that only men were allowed in her husband’s social club. Her spirit attempts to right that wrong by wandering freely throughout the building and appearing to people who visit the gallery. Look out for her next time your group attends an art show or musical performance.

Outside of Rogers Building in Orlando

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Address: 39 S Magnolia Ave, Orlando, FL 32801

Charter bus parking: CityArts validates parking at the Plaza Parking Garage, but if you’re in a bus, there’s a good chance you’ll need to park at a different public lot.

Greenwood Cemetery

Originally called Orlando Cemetery, Greenwood Cemetery opened in 1880 because the lack of an official city cemetery led to confusion and missing graves. The cemetery now spans 100 acres and still provides a final resting place for many of Orlando’s most prominent citizens. It also provides a home for many ghosts.

Greenwood offers Moonlight Walking Tours for free when your group books two weeks in advance. These 4-mile tours visit more than 100 graves, and some tour participants have reported seeing ghosts of children laughing and playing between the tombstones. Other visitors have spotted ghosts of Confederate soldiers wandering among the oak trees and a ghost believed to be Fred Weeks drifting around the mausoleum that bears his name.

Woman kneeling at cemetery

Address: 1603 Greenwood St, Orlando, FL 32801

Charter bus parking: The Greenwood Cemetery offers parking, and there should be room for your bus as long as the cemetery isn’t very busy.

Explore Orlando’s Haunts and History

Falcon Charter Bus would love to help you learn about Orlando’s history and maybe spot some spirits along the way. Take a break from theme parks and see some of Orlando’s less-visited attractions on a spacious charter bus with plush seats. Just give us a call at 407-274-9808 to book your bus rental and explore Orlando with your group.

Haunted Spots to Visit with Your Group in Atlanta

November 30, 2020
Two parents carrying kids piggyback past fall trees

If you love the supernatural, you can learn about Atlanta’s history while searching for ghosts at some of the city’s most haunted locations. Gather your small group for a trip to a cemetery, theater, or Gilded Age hotel. No matter where you want to go, Falcon Charter Bus can help you get there. Just give us a call at 404-400-3545 to book a charter bus for your virtual-learning pod or sports team, and then visit a few of these haunted locations.

Two parents carrying kids piggyback past fall trees

Oakland Cemetery

Established in 1850, Oakland Cemetery is Atlanta’s oldest public park as well as a graveyard for more than 70,000 notable Atlanta residents, including governors, city leaders, and celebrities. It’s also rumored to be haunted. If you visit the part of the park where Confederate soldiers are buried, you can supposedly hear a soldier doing roll call while his fellow soldiers respond.

Other visitors have reported seeing a grieving young woman searching for her beloved, a Union soldier hanging from a tree, and eccentric local businessman Jasper Newton Smith rising from his statue. But even if you don’t spot any ghosts, Oakland Cemetery is a beautiful place to visit, with 48 acres of trees, gardens, and winding paths.

Address: 248 Oakland Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30312

Charter bus parking: Parking is available in a lot outside the cemetery’s front gates as well as along Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive and Oakland Avenue.

Tombs at Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta

Kennesaw House (Marietta Museum of History)

The Kennesaw House was built in 1845 and served as a cotton mill and a hotel before being turned into a hospital and morgue during the Civil War. Given that many sick and dying soldiers were housed here, it’s no wonder that the building is nicknamed “house of 1,000 ghosts.”

The Kennesaw House now holds the Marietta Museum of History, but you can still spot spirits among the exhibits. Keep an eye out for a young boy standing in front of the elevator or a smiling woman in an old-fashioned light-blue dress with pink trim. The woman is supposedly Mrs. Fletcher, the wife of the house’s second owner.

Some ghost hunters also claim they’ve taken photos of floating orbs and a female apparition (Mrs. Fletcher, or someone else?). The weirdest account of Kennesaw House, though, comes from a group of guests who were allegedly in the elevator when it went to the basement of its own accord. When the doors opened, the guests saw soldiers in hospital beds and a man that appeared to be a surgeon walking among them before the doors closed and the elevator started up again.

Address: 1 Depot St, Marietta, GA 30060

Charter bus parking: The museum recommends that visitors park in the public lot on the corner of 120 Loop and Mill Street, which offers parking for up to 2 hours.

Downtown Marietta street signs

Fox Theatre

The Fox Theatre in downtown Atlanta dates back to 1929, so it’s no surprise that it may be haunted. It first served as a movie theater before being transformed into the site for theatrical and musical performances that it is today. None of its transformations have gotten rid of the ghosts, though.

The original owners and some guests and staff members have reported seeing shadowy figures, closing doors, and mysterious orbs inside the theater. Some people have also experienced sudden blasts of cold air. If you want to say hi to the spirits, you can let your kids or friends know that one of them is nicknamed Roosevelt.

The Fox sometimes offers seasonal ghost tours that can take your group to haunted locations like the hospital room, power room, and stage freight elevator. But even if ghost tours aren’t being offered when you visit, you can keep your eyes and ears open for paranormal phenomena while you watch a Broadway show or ballet performance.

Address: 660 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30308

Charter bus parking: The theater has many public lots around it, and the cost to park is usually $5-$30 depending on the lot.

Fox Theater sign in Atlanta

Winecoff Hotel (Ellis Hotel)

The Winecoff Hotel, constructed in 1923, welcomed visitors to downtown Atlanta until it was gutted by a devastating fire in 1946. Because the hotel had no fire doors, alarms, or sprinklers, 119 people lost their lives in the blaze.

The Ellis Hotel was later built on the same site, and guests at the new hotel have reported seeing ghosts in the windows, smelling smoke, and hearing children screaming. Perhaps creepiest of all, the fire alarm sometimes goes off at 2:48 a.m., the exact time the Winecoff fire started. Book rooms at the hotel for your group, or stop by when the restaurant is open to see if you can spot any ghosts.

Address: 176 Peachtree St NW, Atlanta, GA 30303

Charter bus parking: The Ellis Hotel relies on public parking garages, so your driver will need to take advantage of one of the paid bus lots in the area.

Ellis Hotel in downtown Atlanta

Bulloch Hall

This plantation in Roswell features one of the saddest stories behind why it’s haunted. Many enslaved people lived here under the control of James Stephens Bulloch, and one young woman died in a well on the property. It’s unknown if she fell, was pushed, or jumped, but she allegedly haunts the 1839 plantation. She’s said to flicker the lights and cause other electrical disturbances. Visitors also claim to have seen ghosts dressed in Civil War-era clothing in the second-floor windows.

Many people visit Bulloch Hall because it was once the home of Martha Bulloch Roosevelt, the mother of President Theodore Roosevelt. But it’s important not to forget the tragic history of all the people the Bulloch family enslaved. If you want to learn more about their stories, your charter bus can help your group travel out to Roswell and then back to the heart of Atlanta.

Address: 180 Bulloch Ave, Roswell, GA 30075

Charter bus parking: Parking is available a few minutes away from Bulloch Hall at Roswell City Hall. The nearby Mill Kitchen & Bar also has parking for groups who choose to eat there.

Bulloch Hall seen from the outside

St. James Episcopal Church Cemetery

This Marietta cemetery dates back to 1842, so it’s no wonder that it’s rumored to have ghosts. The most famous ghost is Marion “Mary” Meinart, who has a statue above her grave of her holding her twin baby daughters. If you ask the statue, “Mary, Mary, what happened to your babies?” she’s rumored to weep either tears or tears of blood. The other famous ghost is a barefoot young girl who can be seen crying at her parents’ grave.

If you visit the cemetery during regular hours, you can see Mary Meinart’s statue and the grave of JonBenet Ramsey. But if you want a chance at spotting the ghosts, you’ll probably need to sign up for a seasonal nighttime ghost tour in Marietta when they become available. Your charter bus can drop you off for the ghost tour and pick you up after.

Address: 161 Church St, Marietta, GA 30060

Charter bus parking: The main church parking lot is located on Polk Street (to the west of the church, bordered by the railroad tracks and North Marietta Parkway).

Man in blue jacket standing by grave

Plan a Tour of Atlanta’s Most Haunted Spots

Whether you’re deeply into the supernatural or just interested in Atlanta’s history, you can have a great time exploring the most haunted spots in the city with your group. Gather your small pod, rent a coach or minibus from Falcon Charter Bus, and set off on a spooky tour of Georgia’s capital.

7 of the Spookiest Places You Can Visit in Miami

October 8, 2020
Biltmore Hotel in Miami

It’s finally fall, and that means pumpkin spice lattes are here, temperatures are usually below 90, and it’s the perfect time to go ghost hunting in Miami. Miami has plenty of (supposedly) haunted mansions, cemeteries, and theaters for you to explore with your group. Many of these locations also serve as art galleries or event venues, so you can easily take kids without worrying about them getting too scared.

Looking for transportation to your next haunted house or graveyard? Falcon Charter Bus can help. We provide clean, sanitized charter buses throughout the Southeast, including in Miami. And if you’re planning a trip while social distancing is in effect, you can wear masks and request a bus with plenty of space for your group to spread out. Just give us a call at 1-866-217-2168 to start planning your spooky-season outing.

Miami City Cemetery

The oldest municipal graveyard in Miami-Dade County, the Miami City Cemetery was established in 1897 and boasts more than 9,000 graves. You can visit the gravesite of Julia Tuttle, the city’s founder, or of Carrie Barrett Miller, whose husband infamously covered her body in concrete to preserve it forever. The cemetery also provides a resting place for veterans of the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II.

With so many important people buried in this cemetery, it’s no wonder that visitors have reported paranormal phenomena like mists, cold spots, and feelings of being watched. Dr. Paul George of HistoryMiami hosts a Ghosts of Miami City Cemetery Tour every year in October, and though he personally professes not to believe in ghosts, he can tell you about the cemetery’s history of grave desecrations and even animal sacrifices. The tour is $30 for adults and $10 for children, though you can visit the cemetery on your own when a tour isn’t happening.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Address: 1800 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33132

Charter bus parking: Although the cemetery doesn’t have designated parking, there are several paid public lots in downtown Miami where your charter bus can park.

Coral Castle

The Coral Castle in Homestead, FL may or may not be haunted, but it’s definitely weird. Edward Leedskalnin built this massive structure from oolite limestone (not actual coral) after his fiancée left him the day before their wedding. It took him 28 years, from 1912 to 1940, to create the towers, water fountain, sundial, walls, and doors of his castle.

Though that may be a bit obsessive, it’s not the truly weird part. Leedskalnin had a 4th-grade education, no engineering experience, and, as far as anyone can tell, no outside help. He was also a small man, only about 5 feet tall and 100 pounds, yet he somehow managed to build this massive structure. Some people claim he must have used magic or psychic powers, and others claim he still haunts the building. If you want to see Leedskalnin’s creation for yourself, your group can visit for $18 per adult, $16 per senior, and $8 per child.

Address: 28655 S Dixie Hwy, Homestead, FL 33033

Charter bus parking: Coral Castle has a designated parking area with room for charter buses.

Deering Estate

In 1915, Charles Deering decided to build a massive home on land that Native people had once used as a cemetery. Four construction workers died in an accident while working on the mansion, and in 1925 Mr. Deering died inside his new house. Given that history, it’s no surprise that people report hearing whispers and slamming doors, feeling cold spots, and seeing apparitions around the house. A team of ghost hunters even reported hearing a woman begging for help to save a drowning child.

Although you can tour the estate all year long, in October you can sign up for a Historic Ghost Tour, which will teach you about the Native tribes who lived in the area and the life of Charles Deering. The tours are $40 per adult. In past years, the Estate has also hosted events like  Spookover, where ghost hunters lead an overnight tour, or Spirits’ Speakeasy, where you learn about the spirits while sipping historic cocktails. Keep an eye on the Deering Estate’s website to find out what events they’re hosting when your group visits.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Address: 16701 SW 72nd Ave, Miami, FL 33157

Charter bus parking: Your charter bus can park at the Visitor’s Center of the Estate.

Curtiss Mansion

Glen Curtiss, a famous Miami developer and aviator, built this Mission Revival house for him and his wife, Lena Curtiss, in 1925. Glen died just 5 years later, but Lena claimed that she could still hear him working on new projects and talking about aviation with other pilots around the house. Independent ghost hunters have since supported her claims.

You can schedule historic house tours here all year long, as well as private events like weddings, quinceañeras, and celebrations of life. In October, the Curtiss Mansion hosts scary events like “A Nightmare at the Curtiss Mansion.” If you’ve ever wanted to visit a haunted house event in a house that may really be haunted, this is your chance.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Address: 500 Deer Run, Miami Springs, FL 33166

Charter bus parking: The Mansion has its own parking lot where you can leave your charter bus.

Biltmore Hotel

This elaborate Spanish Colonial-style lodging was built in 1926 and still serves as a hotel today. Your group can splurge to stay here or just stop by for some food and to explore. Either way, you may catch a glimpse of some of the ghosts the hotel has acquired over its almost 100-year history.

In 1929, gangster Thomas “Fatty” Walsh was shot here after an argument over gambling. He’s now rumored to be an active but friendly spirit who passes by mirrors, smokes cigars, and shakes bottles and glasses at the bar. Some guests and staff have even claimed that he can make the elevator go to floor 13, the floor he was shot on, when no one presses a button.

Fatty Walsh isn’t the only resident ghost, though. During World War II the hotel was transformed into a hospital for soldiers who had been injured, and the ghosts of men in WWII uniforms have also been seen around the property. Keep an eye out for them if you decide to stay here.

Address: 1200 Anastasia Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134

Charter bus parking: The Biltmore Hotel has free self-parking that your charter bus driver can take advantage of.

Villa Paula

Villa Paula was Miami’s first Cuban consulate, built for Consul Domingo J. Milford, who named it after his wife. With 10 bedrooms, 18-foot ceilings and beautiful white walls, the house was one of the most beautiful in the city when it was completed in 1926. Sadly, Paula died just a few years later following complications from a leg amputation.

After her death, visitors reported smelling fresh-brewed coffee and roses, two of Paula’s favorite things, around the house even when neither was actually there. Other visitors claimed to hear knocking and footsteps, and some people even caught glimpses of a black-haired woman with one leg wandering around the villa. Eventually, Villa Paula came to be known as Miami’s most haunted house.

The villa currently functions as an art gallery and event space, so you’ll only be able to get inside if you sign up for an event. But you’re free to view the house from the outside even if you can’t find an occasion to tour it.

Address: 5811 N Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33127

Charter bus parking: Villa Paula offers free parking for people attending events. If you’re only looking at the house from the outside, your charter bus can just drive by.

Colony Theatre

When the Colony Theatre first opened in 1935, it was a movie palace for Paramount Pictures. Today, this beautiful theater in the heart of Miami Beach hosts music, dance, and comedy performances and is the home of the Miami New Drama theater company. It’s also rumored to be haunted.

Actors and guests have reported hearing mysterious footsteps backstage, and some people have also seen the ghost of a woman in 1930s clothing. But the Colony Theatre’s most unique apparition is the ghost of a white toy poodle that has been seen running around the theater. If you want a chance of glimpsing the dog, you’ll need to buy tickets to a performance, but you can always stroll by the theater if you just want to see the outside.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Address: 1040 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Charter bus parking: The Colony Theatre lies on a pedestrian-only pathway, but your charter bus can drop you off close to the theater entrance at the corner of Lenox Avenue and Lincoln Road. Your charter bus can then park along Lenox Avenue, and you can pay the meter or use a mobile app to pay for parking online.

Explore Miami’s Most Haunted Places

Make your spooky season (or any season!) extra-special with a tour of Miami’s most haunted destinations. Your charter bus can easily take your group from the Biltmore Hotel to the Miami City Cemetery, the Coral Castle, or any other location you want to ghost-hunt in. Give Falcon Charter Bus a call at 1-866-217-2168, and we’ll find the right bus to help you relax when you’re finished getting scared.

Budget-friendly Activities for Groups with Kids in Atlanta

August 20, 2020
a group of kids smiling

Atlanta offers dozens of exciting destinations for kids, from the Georgia Aquarium to Zoo Atlanta and World of Coke. But while those destinations are fun, they aren’t cheap. You may be able to swing buying tickets for a few kids, but admission for your entire scouting troop, class, or basketball team could quickly blow your budget.

Luckily, Atlanta also has museums, nature centers, and parks that your group of kids can visit for free or for a small fee. We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite budget-friendly attractions that children will love. And if you need a way to get there, give Falcon Charter Bus a call at 404-400-3545. We offer charter buses that can transport your entire group for less than the cost of multiple rideshares—and we’ll also ensure you don’t have to beg parents to drive!

Group of kids smiling

Museums

Atlanta has a rich array of museums, though most, like the High Museum of Art and the Fernbank Museum of Natural History, charge substantial admission fees. But the High Museum offers free admission every second Sunday, as does the Museum of Design Atlanta. Both also provide hands-on art activities for kids during their free days and feature stunning art in their galleries.

High Museum of Art

Price: Free every second Sunday of the month
Address: 1280 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309
Where to park: Bus parking areas are shown here.

Outside of the High Museum of Art

Museum of Design Atlanta

Price: Free every second Sunday of the month
Address: 1315 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309
Where to park: Bus parking areas are shown here.

Atlanta also boasts several museums that are always free. If you have coin collectors in your group, head to the Federal Reserve Bank’s Monetary Museum, where you can learn about how currency works and how it’s created. Got kids who have always dreamed of being firefighters? At the free Marietta and Roswell Fire Museums, your kids can see antique fire equipment and real fire trucks.

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Monetary Museum

Price: Free
Address: 1000 Peachtree St NE, Atlanta, GA 30309
Where to park: There is no designated parking for charter buses, so your bus will need to drop you off and park in one of several nearby paid lots.

Marietta Fire Museum

Price: Free
Address: Fire Station, 112 Haynes St #51, Marietta, GA 30060
Where to park: There is a free parking lot behind Marietta City Hall.

Little girl dressed up as firefighter

Roswell Fire Station #1 & Museum

Price: Free
Address: 1002 Alpharetta St, Roswell, GA 30075
Where to park: There’s a parking lot large enough for charter buses near Roswell City Hall and the Cultural Arts Center, which are located about half a mile from the fire museum.

If you’re willing to spend a little bit of money, catch a show at the Fernbank Science Center planetarium for only $7 for adults and $5 for kids. Let your kids lean back in plush chairs while stars and planets swirl overhead, and then take them outside to the picnic tables for lunch. Your charter bus will have plenty of storage space for coolers and brown-bag lunches.

Fernbank Science Center

Price: $7 for adults, $5 for kids
Address: 156 Heaton Park Dr, Atlanta, GA 30307
Where to park: The Fernbank Science Center has a parking lot where your charter bus can wait for you.

Image of sun during planetarium show at Fernbank Science Center

Image Credit

Historical Destinations

You don’t have to go to a museum to learn about the history of Atlanta. One of Atlanta’s most important areas, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park, is completely free to visit. Take your group of kids to Dr. King’s birth home and the old Ebenezer Baptist Church where he used to preach (the new Ebenezer Baptist Church is also nearby).

Then, visit the King Center to see displays about Dr. King, Coretta Scott King, and Mahatma Gandhi. This is also where you can pay your respects at Dr. and Mrs. King’s tombs, which are surrounded by a beautiful fountain.

Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park

Price: Free
Address: 450 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30312
Where to park: Since there is no designated parking lot, your charter bus will need to drop you off and park in one of several paid lots a few minutes away.

Dr. and Mrs. King's tombs

Image Credit

Another notable historical destination in Atlanta is Oakland Cemetery. First erected in 1850, it provides a resting place for famous Atlantans like Margaret Mitchell, Maynard Jackson, Bobby Jones, and Selena Sloan Butler. It’s also large, making it a great place to let your kids stretch their legs. The cemetery hosts a 5K run every year, and it’s always free to visit.

Oakland Cemetery

Price: Free
Address: 248 Oakland Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30312
Where to park: Buses can’t fit in the cemetery’s parking lot, so your charter bus driver will need to park along the street on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive or Oakland Avenue.

Nature Centers

Atlanta has plenty of nature centers on the outskirts of the city where you can go for a hike or stop for a picnic with your group. Dunwoody Nature Center offers woods intersected by walking trails and a playground, while Autrey Mill Nature Preserve & Heritage Center combines its walking trails with historic buildings from the late 1800s that you can explore as you hike.

Dunwoody Nature Center

Price: Free
Address: 5343 Roberts Dr, Dunwoody, GA 30338
Where to park: The Nature Center has a small parking lot, and nearby Dunwoody Park offers additional parking if your charter bus won’t fit.

Autrey Mill Nature Preserve & Heritage Center

Price: Free
Address: 9770 Autrey Mill Rd, Johns Creek, GA 30022
Where to park: Multiple parking areas are available on Autrey Mill Road surrounding the preserve.

Historic house at Autrey Mill

Image Credit

If you’d like to stay within the city, consider Blue Heron Nature Preserve. Located in northern Atlanta, this 30-acre wooded area includes the 3-mile Blueway walking trail, bike rental, a turtle sanctuary, and wildflowers.

Or maybe you’re willing to go a little farther out, but you want more space to explore in exchange. Try Chattahoochee Nature Center, which has 127 acres of woods filled with walking trails, creeks, and wildlife like owls, bats, and beavers. You can even treat your kids to canoeing or ziplining if you’re willing to spend a little extra money.

Blue Heron Nature Preserve

Price: Free
Address: 4055 Roswell Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30342
Where to park: The Preserve doesn’t have much parking, so your charter bus driver can drop you and your kids off and then park in one of the public lots in the North Buckhead neighborhood.

Chattahoochee Nature Center

Price: $10 for adults (18+), $7 for teens (13-17), $6 for kids (12 and under)
Address: 9135 Willeo Rd, Roswell, GA 30075
Where to park: Chattahoochee Nature Center has its own large parking lot where your bus can wait for you.

Parks and Running Trails

You don’t have to go to a nature preserve to walk or have a picnic. If you’re with young kids who might get lost in the woods or you want to stay closer to the center of Atlanta, the city has a variety of parks and walking trails you can take kids to.

One of Atlanta’s most popular greenspaces is Piedmont Park. Located in the heart of Midtown, Piedmont offers abundant space for biking or picnics and also hosts free seasonal festivals like the Atlanta Dogwood Arts Festival and the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival. The paths are paved and many are wheelchair-accessible, making this a great option for kids with disabilities. You can request an ADA-accessible charter bus with a wheelchair lift, wider aisles, and wheelchair seating if you need one.

Piedmont Park

Price: Free
Address: 400 Park Dr NE, Atlanta, GA 30306
Where to park: Piedmont Park doesn’t have its own parking, but your charter bus driver can drop you off and find parking in a paid lot in Midtown.

People jogging in Piedmont Park

If you’re already going to Piedmont Park, you’ll want to check out the attraction nearly everyone in Atlanta recommends while you’re there. The Beltline, Atlanta’s most popular walking trail, runs from Piedmont Park in the north to Inman Park in the south and is always filled with groups biking, running, or just strolling.

On your way down the Beltline, take a break from exercising at Ponce City Market, a shopping/dining complex where you can treat your group of kids to ice cream or tacos. Your charter bus can even pick you up here if your kids are getting tired and need some AC.

Ponce City Market along the Beltline

Price: Free
Address: 675 Ponce De Leon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30308
Where to park: Where your charter bus parks depends on where you want to be picked up from the Beltline. Piedmont and Inman Park have paid lots nearby, and Ponce City Market has pick-up areas and parking surrounding it.

Atlanta Beltline in the evening

Explore Atlanta with Kids on a Budget

You don’t have to spend a fortune on tickets to Six Flags or the Georgia Aquarium to have a great time with kids in Atlanta. The city has plenty of parks, walking trails, nature centers, and museums that you can visit with your art class or dance team for little or no money.

Once you finish drawing up your itinerary, give Falcon Charter Bus a call. We’ll help you transport your kids safely without worrying about carpooling or blowing your budget on rideshares. Contact us today at 404-400-3545 to start planning your trip.

Budget-friendly Orlando Activities for Groups with Kids

July 14, 2020
Kids sitting in circle on grass

Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld aren’t cheap. But you can still take a large group of kids to Orlando without blowing your budget. Whether you need an alternative to theme parks for one day or for your entire trip, Orlando offers museums, shopping complexes, and state parks that can keep you busy for free or for a small fee.

You can also save money with a large group by taking a charter bus rather than multiple rideshares or rental cars. When you rent a bus from Falcon Charter Bus, we’ll provide you with a single, upfront price that includes the services of your driver and bus for the entire trip. Once the trip begins, you’ll only have to pay for any parking fees or tolls and a room for your driver⁠.

Group of kids sitting in circle on grass

Give Falcon Charter Bus a call at 407-274-9808 when you’re ready to start planning, and keep reading to discover all of the budget-friendly activities you can do with your group of kids.

Dining and Shopping

Orlando’s many shopping/dining/entertainment complexes make it easy to have fun without spending a ton of money. You can stay in control of your budget by planning whether you want to have a quick meal at Moe’s or a sit-down dinner at Planet Hollywood and whether your group will souvenir-shop or just window-shop.

Disney Springs

Although Walt Disney World’s theme parks are far from free, WDW’s shopping and dining district, Disney Springs, is free to enter. You and your kids can take in beautiful views of the water before browsing the endless Stitch and Baby Yoda merchandise at World of Disney. If you get hungry, spend a little money to have a cupcake from Sprinkles or a custom pizza from Blaze.

Buildings near water at Disney Springs

Have some members of your sports team or youth group who love to build? You won’t want to miss the LEGO Store. You’ll see thousands of LEGO kits as well as stunning displays made entirely from the tiny blocks, and kids can use open containers of blocks to craft their own creations.

Where to park your bus: Disney Springs has 3 free parking garages and 2 free parking lots. Since your bus probably won’t be able to fit in the garages, you’ll want to try the Strawberry or Watermelon parking lots.

Address: 1486 Buena Vista Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

Disney’s BoardWalk

Who would have guessed that Disney World has more than one place you can visit for free? Although the BoardWalk isn’t as big as Disney Springs, it also has beautiful water views, live outdoor music, and plenty of places to eat and shop. Stop by The Pizza Window for a quick slice, or make group reservations at the ESPN Club for classic American food that won’t intimidate picky eaters.

Disney's Boardwalk with restaurants by water
Image credit: Flickr

But the best reason to visit Disney’s Boardwalk has to be Ample Hills Creamery. The BoardWalk is the only place outside of New York where you can find this boutique ice cream shop, which serves unique flavors of ice cream that almost any kid will love. There are also nut-free and dairy-free options for any kids who have allergies.

Where to park your bus: You can park at the Boardwalk Inn, or, if that lot is full, at another lot across the street. Note that the Boardwalk Inn charges for parking.

Address: 2101 Epcot Resorts Blvd, Kissimmee, FL 34747

Universal CityWalk

Universal’s shopping and dining district, like Disney’s, is free and can be super fun for kids. Grab a quick meal at Moe’s or make a group reservation at Hard Rock Cafe before browsing the shops packed with Harry Potter, Minions, and The Fast and the Furious merchandise. Universal CityWalk also has free live music on many nights.

If the kids from your robotics team or cheerleading squad get a little overexcited about all the wands and stuffed yellow creatures, don’t worry⁠—there will be plenty of storage space for souvenirs on your charter bus. You can also request reclining seats if your kids need to relax or nap on the way back to the hotel.

People wandering around Universal's CityWalk
Image credit: Flickr

Where to park your bus: Universal CityWalk has a parking garage where minibuses may fit. But if you’re in a full-size charter bus, you’ll need to ask your driver to drop you off near the garage and then park back at your hotel or in a public lot.

Address: 6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819

Natural Springs

Central Florida is known for its natural springs⁠—in fact, Florida has more springs than any other state in the U.S. And unlike true hot springs, the springs in Florida hover around a comfortable 68-70 degrees, so you can swim in them for hours. Although it costs money to visit the various state parks where the springs are located, the fees are usually affordable, making the springs a great budget-friendly option for families and kids.

Wekiwa Springs

Wekiwa lies about 45 minutes outside of Orlando, so you may want to request WiFi or TV monitors on your bus so your kids won’t get bored on the way there. There won’t be any chance of boredom once you arrive, though. The crystal-clear spring offers a beautiful place for little ones to swim, float in tubes, or play mermaids for hours, and there are restrooms and concessions so you won’t need to leave until you’re ready.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Keep in mind that Wekiwa Springs has limited capacity and fills up quickly during the summer. You’ll need to leave your hotel early in the morning if you want to swim, and you’ll have to pay $6 for your vehicle and then $2 for every extra passenger after the first 8.

Where to park your bus: Wekiwa Springs offers on-site parking.

Address: 1800 Wekiwa Cir, Apopka, FL 32712

Rock Springs

Rock Springs inside Kelly State Park is one of the most popular natural springs in Florida, probably because it features the Rock Springs Run, a small river where you can go tubing. Like Wekiwa Springs, this spring has beautiful, clear water, concessions, and a designated parking area.

Image credit: Flickr

Parking costs $5 for the vehicle and an additional $1 for each passenger beyond the first 8. Like Wekiwa Springs, Rock Springs lies about 45 minutes from Orlando, and you’ll need to leave your hotel early in the morning. Make sure you request power outlets on the bus so your kids’ iPads or phones don’t die on the way there.

Where to park your bus: Kelly State Park has a designated parking area.

Address: 400 E Kelly Park Rd, Apopka, FL 32712

Museums

People may not immediately associate Orlando with museums, but the city has a wide selection of art and history museums, and many of the smaller ones charge as little as $5 per person. If you’d like to sneak some education into your trip, check out these affordable options.

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art

This museum has the largest collection of art by Louis Comfort Tiffany, who’s probably best known for the lamps that bear his name. In addition to many lamps, this museum also contains his jewelry, stained-glass windows, pottery, and paintings.

Image credit: Flickr

You’ll need to go about 30 minutes outside of Orlando to find the museum, but you can put an episode of a TV show on the monitors or help the kids do research on their iPads during the drive. This museum is also super affordable—adults pay $6, while seniors pay $5, students pay $1 with a valid ID, and children under 12 get in free. That means all of the kids with you will almost certainly be free or $1 each.

Where to park your bus: The museum has a free parking lot.

Address: 445 N Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789

Mennello Museum of American Art

The Mennello Museum focuses on American folk art. Most of the collection consists of work by self-taught painter Earl Cunningham, but the museum also has pieces from other artists, like the sculptor Barbara Sorensen. The best part? The prices are reasonable. Adults pay $5, seniors pay $4, and students or children ages 6-17 pay $1. Children under 6 are free.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

This museum is also accessible. Your ADA-compliant bus can drop passengers off at the front porch, which has a ramp as well as stairs. The Sculpture Garden outside the museum offers a flat concrete pathway for guests using mobility devices, and large-print copies of all the artwork descriptions are available by request.

Where to park your bus: The lot next to the museum offers free parking.

Address: 900 E. Princeton Street, Orlando, Florida 32803

Orange County Regional History Center

This highly interactive history museum lets kids explore central Florida’s natural environment, learn about the indigenous peoples who lived in Florida first, and discover facts about African American history in the Orlando area. Once they’re done playing with a butter churn in a 19th-century log cabin, they can walk past replicas of planes and models of theme parks while you talk about what they’ve learned.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Themed guided tours for schools are available for $7 per student. Teachers can enter for free, and chaperones are free as long as there’s only 1 for every 10 students. If you want to explore on your own, tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, students, or military members, $6 for children ages 5 to 12, and free for children under 5.

Where to park your bus: The History Center shares a parking garage with the Orlando Public Library, but charter buses probably won’t fit. Your driver will need to drop you off and then return to your hotel to park.

Address: 65 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801

Plan a Trip to Orlando with Kids Without Blowing Your Budget

Whether you’re headed to Orlando for a marching band competition, a student council conference, or a baseball tournament, you can find plenty of fun activities that kids will love and that are free or cost very little. Falcon Charter Bus is here to help you get to the museums, state parks, or shopping districts you choose. Just give us a call at 407-274-9808 to start planning your next budget-friendly trip to Orlando.

5 Budget-Friendly Group Activities in Miami

April 8, 2020
People riding bikes past palm trees in Miami

Although it’s often associated with celebrities, yachts, and luxury hotels, Miami has a lot more to offer than glitzy parties and designer boutiques. The city’s rich blend of Cuban and American culture has made it a hotspot for live music, delicious food, and vibrant festivals. This means Miami draws in families, tour groups, and conference attendees working with a variety of budgets.

Fortunately, the city also has an abundance of activities that are either free or very inexpensive, so you don’t have to spend a ton of money to have an amazing time. You also don’t have to spend a ton of money to get there. When you’re traveling with a large group, renting a charter bus can prove much cheaper than buying flights for everyone.

People riding bikes past palm trees in Miami

If you do decide to opt for a motorcoach, Falcon Charter Bus would love to help. Give us a call at 305-359-3962, and we’ll find an air-conditioned charter bus with plush seats to take you to southern Florida. And once you’ve secured your transportation, check out this list of inexpensive things to do in Miami so your group can have an amazing, budget-friendly trip to The Magic City.

1. Go to the beach.

One of the most popular things to do in Miami is also one of the least expensive. Miami features an abundance of public beaches that you can visit for free. Although they may get crowded for large groups, especially during the summer or holidays, you can usually find enough space if you go during off times.

Miami’s beaches are beautiful, with bright blue water and soft dunes, and many feature kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing as well as swimming and sunbathing. Spend a day flying kites and building sand castles with your youth group, or relax with your senior citizens group after exploring the Art Deco District. Most public beaches offer parking areas, but if the spots fill up, your charter bus can drop you off, return to the hotel, and then pick you up at the end of the day.

Sunset over a beach in Miami with a lifeguard stand visible

Check out these popular Miami beaches that welcome groups:

Crandon Park

Known for: Amusement park rides and tennis courts as well as a beach

Address: 6747 Crandon Blvd, Key Biscayne, FL 33149

Haulover Park

Known for: Dog-friendly beaches, proximity to South Beach

Address: 10800 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33154

Lummus Park

Known for: Location along South Beach, easy access to Art Deco district, playgrounds for children

Address: 1130 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139

South Pointe Beach

Known for: Fishing pier, off-leash dog park, picnic areas

Address: 1 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

2. Stroll through the Art Deco District.

Miami’s Art Deco architecture is as iconic as its beaches, and taking a walk in the Art Deco District is completely free. The city experienced its biggest building boom during the 1930s, and the architects of the time combined tropical influences with Mid-Century Modern ideas to create the Miami Modern style. Characterized by clean lines and bright colors, Miami Modern architecture can be seen on the hotels, houses, restaurants and museums of the Art Deco District.

The district proper covers only about one square mile, but it’s a difficult area to drive in. The roads are narrow, and traffic can get intense. You can ask your charter bus to drop you off at the Art Deco Welcome Center so you can join a guided walking tour or pick up a map for a self-guided tour. If walking or biking isn’t a good option for your group, Falcon Charter Bus has ADA-accessible minibuses that are small enough to fit through the streets and help you see the sights.

Yellow, blue and white buildings in Art Deco District

Don’t miss these destinations in the Art Deco District:

Art Deco Welcome Center

Why you should go: This is the place to start your tour with a map or a professional tour guide.

Address: 1001 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Colony Hotel

Why you should go: One of the first hotels to be designed in the Tropical Art Deco style, this historical hotel was created by Henry Hohauser, one of the most acclaimed Art Deco architects.

Address: 736 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139

The Hotel of South Beach

Why you should go: The Hotel is one of the biggest and most impressive examples of Tropical Art Deco style, with huge porthole windows and stark white architecture.

Address: 801 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Washington Avenue United States Post Office

Why you should go: Not many post offices have architecture as beautiful as this one. The inside also contains a decades-old mural depicting the meeting of Spanish Conquistadors and Native Americans, which, while not historically accurate, is still fascinating to learn about.

Address: 1300 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33119

3. Explore Little Havana.

Cuban immigrants have played an essential role in making Miami the city it is today, and Little Havana is the epicenter of the city’s Cuban culture—and, in recent years, of Nicaraguan and Honduran culture as well. Lead your students to the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame, which has pink marble stars that resemble those on the Hollywood Walk of Fame but are dedicated to Latin American celebrities. Then head to the El Pub Restaurant to take a picture with the giant, colorful gallo (rooster) sculpture.

Elderly people's hands playing dominos in Domino Park

You also won’t want to miss Máximo Gómez Park, aka Domino Park, where older inhabitants of the neighborhood gather to drink Cuban coffee and play extremely competitive dominos. Though you probably won’t want to jump into the games unless you really know how to play, your group is free to linger in the park and watch the masters at work, especially if you speak Spanish so you can chat with the other spectators. And all of these attractions are free! It doesn’t get much more budget-friendly than that.

Stop at these landmarks:

Calle Ocho Walk of Fame

Address: SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135

Gallo Statue at El Pub Restaurant

Address: 1548 SW 8th St, Miami, FL 33135

Máximo Gómez Park

Address: 801 SW 15th Ave, Miami, FL 33135

Bus tip: All of these destinations lie within walking distance of one another in Little Havana. Parking in the neighborhood can be tricky—although you can find street parking and several paid lots, they fill up quickly. If you’re in a minibus, you should be able to park, but if you’re in a full-size charter bus, your bus may need to drop you off and return to the hotel.

4. Go to a free museum.

Miami has a mix of museums that are always free and museums that are free on certain days. That means that with a little bit of careful planning, your art class or tour group can explore several museums while spending very little or no money. For example, if you’re in town on the first Friday of the month, you can go to the Frost Museum of Science to see a free planetarium show.

Love art? The MDC Museum of Art and Design, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the Pérez Art Museum Miami, and the Wolfsonian are all either free or have free days. All four of them can accommodate groups, but they have limited parking, so you may want to ask your charter bus driver to drop you off and return to pick you up at the end of your tour.

Holocaust Memorial in Miami with statue of hand outstretched toward sky

If you’d like to explore Miami’s Jewish culture, the Jewish Museum of Florida offers free admission on Saturdays. You can also spend a solemn afternoon at the Holocaust Memorial, which depicts a hand outstretched toward the sky as suffering people try to climb upward beneath it. It’s a disturbing image, but a critically important one.

Explore these museums during your group trip to Miami:

Frost Planetarium at Frost Museum of Science

When it’s free: First Friday of each month

Address: 1101 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132

MDC Museum of Art and Design

When it’s free: Last Sunday of each month

Address: 600 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132

Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami

When it’s free: Always

Address: 61 NE 41st St, Miami, FL 33137

Pérez Art Museum Miami

When it’s free: First Thursday of each month

Address: 1103 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132

The Wolfsonian

When it’s free: Friday nights from 6-9 p.m.

Address: 1001 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Jewish Museum of Florida

When it’s free: Saturdays

Address: 301 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Holocaust Memorial

When it’s free: Always

Address: 1933-1945 Meridian Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

5. Take part in a cultural festival.

Miami offers free art and cultural festivals throughout the year, and attending one is an exciting, budget-friendly way to help your group experience the city. At Coral Gables Gallery Night Live, held on the first Friday of each month, you can explore the art galleries in downtown Coral Gables, a charming town just 15 minutes south of downtown Miami. Ask for free WiFi on your charter bus so you can look up local artists and galleries before you get there.

If you want to experience a gallery walk that’s more like a block party, check out the Wynwood Art Walk every second Saturday. Not only do all of the galleries in the Wynwood neighborhood open their doors, but many local stores stay open late and area restaurants set up stands to serve food. This is also a great opportunity to see the Wynwood Walls, a legendary site for street art.

Woman in floppy hat and navy blue maxi dress standing against wall painted bright blue, pink and yellow

Little Havana gets in on the action too with Viernes Culturales (Cultural Fridays), a festival held every third Friday in Domino Park. In addition to the always-present dominoes games, you’ll find Cuban cigars, coffee, and mojitos for sale, Latin American art on display, live music, and dancing. Parking for this event can be extremely limited (read: nonexistent), so it’s a good idea to ask your charter bus to drop you off before the event begins.

Discover these festivals with your group:

Coral Gables Gallery Night Live

Best for: arts aficionados, people who prefer slightly smaller crowds

Address: San Lorenzo Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33146

Wynwood Art Walk

Best for: those who love street art and exciting block parties

Address: 2520 NW 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33127

Viernes Culturales

Best for: groups craving a taste of Cuban, Honduran and Nicaraguan culture

Address: 801 SW 15th Ave, Miami, FL 33135

Experience Miami with Your Group on a Budget

Having an amazing time in Miami with your group doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Whether you want to take your tour group to the beach, explore Little Havana with your class, or treat your sports team to the Wynwood Art Walk after a tournament, you can do it for no or very little money. And Falcon Charter Bus will be right there to help you navigate Miami’s heat and traffic in air-conditioned comfort. Call us at 305-359-3962 to start planning your budget-friendly journey to Miami today.