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Sure, Orlando is known for its world-class attractions, but few are aware of its blossoming food scene. Enter Hawkers: eclectic pan-Asian street fare meets family-style tapas. The atmosphere is fast-paced and friendly — everything is a la carte, made to order, and served as it is ready. We suggest starting with the buttery soft roti with curry dipping sauce, then trying one of the many delightful soups and sharing a few small plates (like the pork belly bao; it’s amazing). Appetizers and entrees range from $5-9, so you can order a wide variety and try a bit of everything without breaking the bank. Hawkers has 2 locations: Mills 50 District and Conroy-Windermere Road.
As seen on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, Se7en Bites is a Southern comfort food restaurant open for breakfast, brunch, and lunch in Orlando’s Milk District that’ll make you want to put on your stretchy pants and stay awhile. Owner/baker Trina Gregory-Propst has received non-stop accolades since opening her bakery — garnering praise as one of the Essential 28 Orlando Restaurants and also being featured in Forbes, so she’s kind of a big deal. Pro tip: Se7en Bites’ signature Vanilla Bean Bourbon Moonpie is made from scratch daily and is only available until they run out. Get there early. It’s worth it.
If the 1946 classic movie It’s A Wonderful Life were to be remade in Florida, Downtown Winter Garden would likely be the location for the city of Bedford Falls. Everything about this charming little town just 20 minutes west of Orlando harks back to a simpler time. Make your way from the clock tower, past the centennial park fountain onto the sidewalk lined with crepe myrtles, and just a bit farther you’ll find a large pavilion surrounded by magnificent live oaks. It is here, every Saturday from 9a-2p, that Winter Garden hosts the largest farmers market in the entire state of Florida. Hundreds of vendors fill the town’s original brick streets where you can find everything from organic produce to fresh squeezed lemonade and the salty scent of kettle corn wafting through air. There is free parking along the streets and a large garage adjacent to the pavilion.
The West Orange Trail is a completely paved, multi-use trail right outside of Orlando that stretches 22 glorious miles from the rural town of Oakland up to the city of Apopka. This trail is wonderful for running, cycling, and leisurely walking. Shade abounds on the trail’s winding path thanks to the canopy of large oaks and other native hardwoods, making it accessible and enjoyable year round. There are also several outposts along the trail where bike rentals and well-maintained restrooms are available. Looking for a little bit more of a workout than a stroll? For even more elevation change, head west past the Killarney outpost and the trail connects to the Minneola Trail and continues into the rolling hills of Clermont.
Located just 10 minutes from downtown Orlando, Scenic Boat Tours takes small groups on pontoons through narrow canals and out into the open Winter Park chain of lakes. On the hour-long tour you will pass Rollins College and several notable homes of celebrities both past and present. Fun Fact: most tours take you past the late Fred Roger’s residence while he attended Rollins College. You might not be able to live in his neighborhood, but this is almost as good. Admission is $14 for adults and $7 for children.
Looking for the best boutique shops and some of the most critically acclaimed restaurants in the Greater Orlando Area? Whether you’re looking for high-end fashion, housewares, a niche cafe, or upscale dining, Park Avenue has it all. Nestled right off of Central Park, the shopping experience is less indoor mall and more outdoor village. Cobblestone streets add to the charm of the area as well. One thing to consider is parking, which can be a challenge. But once you’ve found a spot, you’ll want to roam the Ave for hours and hours.
Located in the heart of downtown Orlando, Lake Eola Park is the Central Park of the City Beautiful. A sidewalk of just under one mile circles the lake, and in the middle of Lake Eola you’ll spot the large water feature called the Centennial Fountain which has become an Orlando icon in and of itself. For $15 you can enjoy a 30-minute Swan paddle boat rental on the historic lake. The whimsical boats seat up to five adults and are on a first-come, first served basis and are pet friendly and wheelchair accessible. With just two people, you can leisurely paddle nearly the entire lake. Last rentals are around 5pm, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying the magic of the fountain. Every night it displays a brilliant light show you don’t want to miss.
Consisting of over 5,000 acres and 13 different bodies of water connected by canals and channels, Butler Chain of Lakes is a hidden gem of Orlando. Ideal for bass fishing, boating, jet-skiing and all kinds of recreational water sports. There are two public access points to this otherwise exclusive chain of lakes: R.D. Keene Park and Boat Ramp and Lake Down public access directly across from the prestigious Isleworth neighborhood main entrance on Conroy-Windermere Road. Access is available from sunrise to sunset, so you can boat all day and catch a spectacular view of both.
Tako Cheena translates to Latin-Asian fusion happiness. Ok, that’s not a literal translation, but it’s still the truth. This local hole in the wall taqueria is sure to have your heart and your stomach filled with joy. Located in the Mills 50 District, Tako Cheena exudes New York City hipster vibes without all the pretense or the price point. Menu items are mostly a la carte and range from around $2-$4 — like the delicious Chinese BBQ Char Siu Pork Belly Tako with mixed cabbage, cilantro, ginger, and scallions. Honestly, don’t you just want to eat that last sentence? With a myriad of other inventive selections, Tako Cheena will delight the senses and may have you asking yourself, “is this my new comfort food?”
The Mills 50 District is Main Street USA in Orlando, FL. Named after the two intersecting roads at the epicenter of The City Beautiful – Mills Avenue and State Road 50 (also known as Colonial Drive) – the area is a mosaic of small local restaurants and shops, and is home to some of the most impressive large scale graffiti murals. If you’ve ever wondered: beyond the well-known tourist attractions, where can I find Orlando’s local culture and identity? … Mills 50 is a great place to start your search.
What is a bao? Imagine a sweet, fluffy, perfectly steamed bun that sort of resembles a small taco shell. Imagine it being sent down from heaven filled with tender chicken, pork, beef, or seafood. Now imagine one of these heavenly wonders, not much bigger than the palm of your hand, served with a side of truffle tater tots. You’re at King Bao – an Asian-inspired, new concept that blends the freshest ingredients from eastern and western foods. One of the very first restaurants you’ll find on the Mills 50 strip, this tiny hole-in-the wall could be easily missed, but we beg of you, don’t. It’s a small but mighty shop that’s been featured on USA Today’s 10Best and is an absolute must-stop for foodies everywhere. Baos are a la carte and range from $2 – $3.75 each.
Quick-service barbecue with a Spanish twist. Whether you’re in the mood for the classics, or looking to try something completely different — Pig Floyd’s has got you either way. This spot has all the standard entrees: tender ribs, juicy brisket, and mouth-watering pulled pork. But it also has menu items you won’t find anywhere else. Like the Matahambre sandwich (which translates to Hunger Killer) – Oakwood smoked brisket, fried cheese, fancy sauce, potato sticks, and sunny side up egg all in a toasted baguette. The sides are as delightful as the portions are generous – the elotes (spanish street corn), plantains, and black beans and rice are arguably the best in Orlando. Pig Floyd’s has 2 locations in the Orlando area: Mills 50 District and Lake Nona.
Better than your obligatory hipster coffee shop. This is craft coffee roasting at its finest. Lineage sources its product from a wide variety of locations — Colombia, Guatemala, Kenya, and Brazil — and then expertly roasts all of it in-house with Shoalin Monk-like patience to create flavors that will make even the most distinguished coffee snobs blush. The barista vibes are as chill as you’d expect, and on any giving day you’re likely to find the store filled with locals using it as their quintessential 3rd space in downtown Orlando. Lineage has 2 locations in Orlando: East End Market and Mills 50.
Boba tea, sometimes called “bubble tea,” is a sweet, tea-based drink that was invented in Southeast Asia and has continually gained popularity in the US over the years. Chewy Boba is named after the deliciously chewy black balls made from tapioca and brown sugar at the bottom of the drink (although you can choose to have any drink without boba, if you like). There are a wide-variety of teas that are either milk-based or not, and slushies and smoothies are available as well. We recommend trying the Taro slush with boba. Great for a grab-and-go quick treat, Chewy Boba has 2 locations in the Orlando area: Mills 50 District downtown and Orange Blossom Trail (closer to the attractions district).
You can see it from almost anywhere, high above the cityscape. As the 5th-largest observation wheel in the world, The 400 ft high Wheel at ICON Park towers above the attractions skyline on i-Drive. Modeled after the famous London Eye, The Wheel takes guests up 40 stories smoothly in capsules built for up to 15 people where the panorama of Orlando can be taken in. We recommend going in the evening when The Wheel displays an amazing lightshow on its exterior and allows incredible unhindered views of the fireworks spectacle from neighboring attractions. Tickets start at $27.99 per person.
Be your own paparazzi and say “cheese!!!” Madame Tussauds Wax Museum grants you all-access to living your best life with your favorite celebrities and superheroes. Ever dreamed of standing arm in arm with the Biebs or Miley Cyrus? How about Superman or Wonder Woman? Get ready to impress all your insta-followers and get up-close with endless selfies alongside the who’s-who of the world of TV, sports, music, and beyond! Tickets start at $25.50 per person.
Located in ICON Park in the heart of i-Drive, Sea Life Aquarium is an indoor experience like none other. Boasting Florida’s only 360 degree tunnel, you can observe all the creatures of the ocean above, below, and all around you! Educational scuba diving shows run throughout the day as experts explain these wonderful creatures in their own habitat. SeaLife also offers great group rates for as little as $10 per adult and $8.50 per child. If you’re looking to beat the Florida heat for a few hours, this aquarium is a great option.
Right across the lawn from The Wheel at ICON Park, you’ll find Yard House. While it’s more than a brewery, it’s certainly not less. Home to an extensive selection of domestics, imports, craft, and IPAs (over 130 beers on tap!), you’re sure to find whatever libation you’re looking for here. The restaurant also prides itself on its globally-inspired menu that claims over 100 made-from-scratch items, so everyone should be able to find something to enjoy. We recommend one of their signature grilled burgers cooked to order on a toasted brioche bun.
A local family-owned farm with one hundred twenty acres of u-pick options of fresh blueberries, peaches, and sunflowers. Take the windy clay Schofield Road back to this idyllic destination just 25 minutes from Orlando in Clermont, Florida. After enjoying the fields at Southern Hills Farms you can rest under one of the three covered barns on property and relax with a blueberry lemonade and cobbler ala mode. Bring the entire family out on the weekend and take a farm wagon ride (just $2 per person), and don’t forget to stop by the Southern Hills Market and Southern Hills Bakery on property to pick up your seasonal sweets and maybe a souvenir hat and t-shift before you go. Depending on the season, the farm is typically open 10:30a – 5pm, Tuesday through Sunday.
You can spot a Twistee Treat from a mile away. You’ll find this locally owned ice-cream establishment all throughout the Orlando area — each of the buildings are shaped like an ice cream cone with an ice cream roof! While Twistee Treat’s soft serve ice cream is the stuff of legend, they also offer classic sundaes, slushies, shakes, malts, banana splits, and their signature Twirls (soft serve with mixed-in candies). Locations are open 10:30a – 10:30p.
This local haunt is as fun as its quirky name. Located in the historic Brockman House in the little town of Gotha right outside Orlando, Yellow Dog Eats exudes hippy-community-meets-dive-bar vibes with nearly every square inch of the place covered in puppy pics from its patrons. After placing your order at the front of the house, find a comfortable table downstairs, upstairs, or in the backyard. You can even choose to dine in the converted old red Volkswagen minibus out back! As you might’ve guessed, dogs are always welcomed, so bring your furry friends too. We recommend trying The Rufus sandwich: tender pulled pork topped with thick cut brie cheese, cherry pepper rings, drizzled with their famous raspberry melba and topped with Fish’s Gold BBQ sauce. While you’re at it add bacon, shoestring potatoes and crispy fried onions. It’s a flavor town explosion in your mouth for only $12.99. Yellow Dog Eats is open 11am – 9pm daily.
If you’re looking for the best burgers in Orlando, look no further than That One Spot. A hole-in-the-wall joint just outside of Orlando, in Ocoee, Fl, That One Spot specializes in made-to-order burger perfection making it the go-to place for locals and in-the-know tourists alike. We recommend trying the BB burger: two 6 oz. beef patties topped with pecan smoked bacon, a generous slice of brisket, caramelized onions, substitute brie cheese for the standard cheddar, and housemade horseradish sauce all on a brioche bun all for $8.50. That One Spot is open 11a – 9p daily.
Whether you’re looking for a weekend brunch or a midweek escape, Briar Patch on Park Avenue in Winter Park is sure to delight you with its locally-sourced, classic American cuisine with Southern influences. With so many one-of-a-kind items on the menu, it’s hard to know what to choose. We recommend going for brunch and trying the irresistible homemade lemon raspberry pancakes or the savory and sweet pork belly waffle. And, if the weather permits, you should definitely sit out front under the shade of the magnificent oak so you can people-watch on Park Ave. Briar Patch Restaurant is open daily 7a – 5p.
Down on International Drive, right next to The Escape Game, you’ll find tex-mex that is both out of this world good and Elvis-approved. Yes, it’s a chain. But don’t let that discourage you. This import from Austin, Texas is the real deal. The restaurant has worked hard to maintain authentic food preparation with flavors to match. Chuy’s only uses the freshest ingredients and hand makes their tortillas right in front of you on a hot stone wheel called a comal. If you’re up for something a little spicy, we recommend the Chicka-Chicka Boom Boom: two tender pulled-chicken stuffed flour tortillas covered in their signature creamy, cheesy, boom boom sauce. Chuy’s is open daily 11a-10p.
C’mon! You’ll probably get McDonald’s on your trip at least one time anyway, so you might as well swing by the world’s largest entertainment McDonald’s and PlayPlace while you’re in Orlando. This 3 story colossus boasts a 22-ft-tall PlayPlace and over 100 arcade games upstairs. On the corner of Sandlake and International Drive right in the heart of the tourist district, you’ll find this McD’s serving up more than the usual Big Macs and Quarter Pounders. It offers 50 additional menu items like brick oven pizzas, belgian waffles, and even made-to-order omelets!! With a 30 ft LED Ronald McDonald waving his hand at the entrance of the building, you can’t miss it. Epic McD is open 24 hours a day.
Over 50 acres of semi-tropical and tropical botanical gardens await you at this historic site in the downtown Orlando area. Named after Mr. and Mrs. Harry P. Leu, who through the 1930s – 1960s travelled the world and brought many exotic species of plants back with them for their garden. Classes, camps, and clinics are offered throughout the year. There is no food provided on site, but you are allowed to bring your own bag lunch and enjoy it on the patio at the welcome center. We recommend planning a one to two hour visit to take in the gardens. Admission is free for all ages, and the Gardens are open 9a – 5p daily.
Hailed as the world’s tallest swing ride, the Starflyer takes adrenaline junkies and those saying “I-should-have-never-agreed-to-this” alike up 450 ft above the International Drive skyline. Traveling at speeds of nearly 60 mph, guests are safe and secured by dual harnesses on this thrill ride. There is no age or weight limit on the ride. Before or after the ride, you can enjoy an adult beverage at the i-Drive Star Bar. There is an age limit at the bar. Tickets are around $12 per person and Starflyer is open daily from 12 -10p on weekdays and 10a – 10p on weekends.
Dollar for dollar, The Escape Game is the best hour you’ll spend anywhere in Orlando. If you’re unfamiliar with the escape room concept, we totally understand. Escape rooms are a newer option for live entertainment, but they’ve gained popularity across the United States over that past several years. Here it’s about much more than solving a room full of locks and keys. The Escape Game provides the very best in immersive escape room entertainment by making you, the guest, the hero of each of its compelling stories. The i-Drive location has six different 60-minute, family-friendly adventures to choose from: ever wondered what it’d be the hero in an art heist? How bout an undercover CIA agent? Now’s your chance. Tickets are $34.99 per person and experiences are by reservation. You can book yours now at https://theescapegame.com/orlando/#book-now
The vision of the Orlando Science Center is to be the spark that ignites innovation. With 4 floors of incredible interactive exhibits, the center is an experience that makes good on its vision. Far from a look-don’t-touch museum, the Orlando Science Center is hands-on and engaging throughout: offering everything from children’s programs like the STEM Discovery Center, to adult events like Science of Wine. General Admission tickets start at just $15 for youth and $21 for adults. The Orlando Science Center is open Thursday through Tuesday 10a – 5p.
Need some retail therapy while in Orlando? It’s not the biggest, but it’s unarguably the most beautiful mall in Orlando. From the likes of Louis Vittoin and Cartier to H&M and JCrew, with 147 retailers, The Mall at Millenia has something for everyone. The upscale mall is an expansive atrium where natural light pours in overhead as you peruse the very finest designers of clothes, technology, and home goods. If you need a break you can enjoy the upper level food court with plenty of options to delight and refresh your palate before returning to shop some more. The Mall at Millenia is open Monday through Saturday 10a – 9p and Sunday 11a – 7p. Valet parking is available.
Ever wanted to know what it’s like for you and a friend to be rocketed off the ground by a rubber band and nearly touch the moon? If so, we’ve got just the thing for you. One of several thrill rides on International Drive, the slingshot is not for the faint of heart. You are literally catapulted into the Orlando sky 390 ft at 100 mph. To put it mildly – it’s intense. There’s an option to purchase a t-shirt and video too, so you can show all your friends and family that, yes, you did the crazy Slingshot thing in Orlando. Tickets start at $25 per person, but there are multiple packages available. The slingshot is at Magical Midway Park and is open daily from 12p – 12a.