Orlando is also known as “The Theme Park Capital of the World” drawing more than 57 million tourists a year most who will visit Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios Florida, SeaWorld, Islands of Adventure or other famous thrill rides, family entertainment, shows and attractions.
But, what if you are not interested in Mickey Mouse or Roller-coasters? Or if you’re statement is “I’ve been there and done that”? We recommend to have a taste of the local community, nature, adventure outside the parks and Orlando’s nightlife! After visiting the city a few times, and with the help of former Orlando resident, Florencia Aimo, we put together our top 7 activities to experience in Orlando.
1. Take a stroll around Lake Eola:
Orlando is also nicknamed “The City Beautiful” and it’s symbol is the fountain at Lake Eola. I really enjoyed the festive farmer’s market that showcases live music and has a wine and beer garden. Buy some local produce and take in Florida’s warm climate having a picnic at the shore of the the lake full of swans.
2. Have an adventure in Airboat:
There is a natural side to Orlando: the Central Florida Everglades. Just 30-minute drive outside the city you can ride on a fast airboat deep into the 1,699 hectares of protected swamps, marshes and rivers. The tour guide signaled us whenever an exotic species appeared. We saw gators, birds, eagles, and even a cow in these beautiful wetlands.
3. Fly up high… indoors:
You can skydive without jumping off a plane! Indoor skydiving is a great experience for anyone that wants to recreate the feeling of free falling in a secure indoor setting. We went to SkyVenture, now iFLY Orlando. Their description: a 1,000 hp vertical wind tunnel generates a wall-to-wall cushion of air, on which you safely float. There’s no parachute, no jumping, and nothing attaching you to planet Earth. It’s just you and the air, it’s the most incredible adrenaline rush.
4. Discover Winter Park:
A charming little town that offers a collection of restaurants, shops, cafés, and art. Visit its local galleries, museum and performing arts venues – Enzian Theatre and Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of Natural Art, a must. You will also find more than 25 parks, all home to various events, festivals and celebrations throughout the year. Head to Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade retailer of artisan-crafted home decor, personal accessories and gift items from across the globe. I bought a lovely Piggy Pennies Bank handmade in Chile. Unwind at The Wine Room and sample some of the over 156 hand-selected wines in their new state-of-the-art Enomatic wine dispensing machines.
5. Go bar-hopping in Downtown Orlando:
Enjoy a night out in the city with music, drinks and lots of fun!, There’s a place for everyone in Orlando. You can enjoy some Spanish tapas and Flamenco perfomances at Ceviche. If you prefer Jazz, don’t miss the Bosendorfer Lounge with the best jazz acts in town. It’s located in the luxurious Grand Bohemian Hotel that has an art gallery featuring 100 works of art – a chance to check these out too! We also heard great things about Hanson’s Shoe Repair, that follows today’s trend of modern-day speakeasy. You have to call a number and they’ll text you a password if they’ve got space.
Home to many golf pro such as Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Sergio Garcia and Retief Goosen, Orlando is a true golfer’s paradise. Choose any of the more than stunning 170 golf designed by the likes of Nicklaus, Dye, and Fazio. Fortunate to have one of the best course in her own company, Flor would regularly enjoy the Waldorf Astoria Golf Club.
7. Escape to the beach:
Get away from the hustle and bustle of Orlando with a day trip to New Smyrna Beach, just one hour drive from the city. Fantastic place to practice surf, kitesurf, paddle board and most watersports.
Photos and content: Josefina Luna