Truth be told, I rarely visit the theme parks. I haven’t blogged about Disney once in the 16 months I’ve been blogging and only visited SeaWorld with my dad because his company hosted an employee event at the park.
That’s not to say I don’t like theme parks. Not true! I actually love them, but my wallet says otherwise. I seriously can’t wait to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal this year. I have pre-purchased tickets that are burning a hole in my pocket!
But this post is designed to tell you about the other side of Orlando. The non-theme park side.
First, Orlando is HUGE. It can take you 40 minutes to drive from one end of the city to the other. Disney World is actually located in Kissimmee, about 30 minutes from downtown Orlando (if there is no traffic, that is). If you come to Orlando, definitely take time to visit the theme parks, but if your travel plans allow for it, you may wish to take advantage of some of the other wonderful things Orlando has to offer:
Park Avenue in Winter Park: Park Avenue is an adorable brick-lined street located in Winter Park, an up-scale area of Orlando. Park Avenue is lined with delicious restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques, and opens up to a big grassy lawn where you may watch movies in the park. It’s dog friendly and is a great place to go for a hot date or brunch with family and friends.
- Winter Park Boat Tour and Dinner at Luma
- Dinner at 310 Park South
- Shopping at Williams-Sonoma + Registering at Williams-Sonoma
Baldwin Park: Baldwin Park looks like it should be the neighborhood where Stepford Wives was filmed. It’s an adorable cookie-cutter area of Orlando, with beautiful homes and Sadie’s all-time favorite dog park. Also, check out Farris and Foster’s, a neat chocolate shop where you can make your own chocolate!
Downtown Orlando and Lake Eola: Lake Eola is the large lake located in downtown Orlando. Joggers, families and couples alike all enjoy circling the lake and taking in the skyline of downtown Orlando. The lake is located within walking distance of several delicious restaurants, including the upscale Spice Steakhouse, trendy Dexter’s and casual, family-friendly BBQ joint, Wildside.
Weikwa Springs: Weikwa Springs is the location of a beautiful natural spring where people enjoy BBQs, picnics, kayaking and swimming in crystal-clear waters. Ryan and I absolutely love the hiking trails at Weikwa Springs State Park.
Other fun activities in Orlando include:
- Lakeridge Winery
- High Tea at the Ritz Carlton
- Orlando Magic Game
- Concert/Show at Hard Rock Live, House of Blues, Amway Arena, etc.
- Beer Fest in May
- Holiday Fun: ICE! at the Gaylord Palms or Festival of Trees
(Special thanks to blog reader Emily W. for inspiring this post!)
Question of the Afternoon
What is the one thing you would tell someone they have to do if they visited your hometown?