Orlando: Off the Beaten Path
Escape the ticket lines and crowds and join us as we head off the beaten path and away from the theme parks to explore the diverse neighborhoods of Orlando, bustling with cultural attractions and activities, state parks and lakes, sidewalk cafés and eclectic shops. A treasure chest of hidden gems waiting to be discovered. You’ll find exciting adventures for both young and old!
Lake Eola Park
Lake Eola Park is nestled in the trendy neighborhood of Thornton Park. A hub of activity surrounded by excellent dining, shopping, and entertainment, Lake Eola Park is an oasis in the heart of downtown Orlando. Take a leisurely stroll along the paths under the oak trees, feed the swans, and browse the stalls of the weekend farmers market. Rent an iconic swan paddle boat to ride the waters and be sure to catch the famous centerpiece fountain light up at the end of each day. The nearby funky CityArts Factory and SAK Comedy Lab are worth a visit for an inspiring collection of art and hilarious improv comedy shows.
Put on your walking shoes and head to the nearby Ivanhoe Village (formerly known as Antiques Row), a half-mile stretch of antiques, quirky stores and great restaurants just north of downtown in one of Orlando’s most treasured historic neighborhoods. The beautiful blue waters of Lake Ivanhoe are great for kayaking and fishing with scenic picnic spots and superb views of the city.
Loch Haven Culture Park
The cultural heart of Orlando is Loch Haven Culture Park, a tranquil park nestled between three lakes and home to some of Orlando’s finest museums, galleries, and theaters. Art lovers are in for a treat at the Orlando Museum of Art, Mennello Museum of Folk Art and Lakeside Sculpture Garden. Experience some of the finest local entertainment at the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, the Orlando Repertory Theatre, or the Orlando Ballet School. Take the kids to the Orlando Science Center to discover four floors of fun exhibits. On the other side of Lake Rowena lies a hidden Orlando gem - the Harry P. Leu Gardens & Museums. Be inspired as you explore 50 acres of gardens and the restored 19th-century house museum.
Without a doubt, Winter Park is a must see! The quaint cobbled streets are lined with boutiques and cafes on the shores of Lake Osceola. Dine in world-class restaurants along Park Avenue or take a scenic boat tour through the lakes and canals. Visit the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens along the shores of Lake Osceola and Rollins College on the shores of Lake Virginia. Rollins College is home to the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, where you can view the famous works of Matisse and Picasso, as well as the Fred Stone Theatre which hosts fun student-produced shows. The jewel of Winter Park, however, is the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art where galleries display the most comprehensive collection of Tiffany Glass in the world.
The charming historic town of Maitland is where you will find the extraordinary Enzian Theatre, a unique theater experience where you can enjoy foreign and independent movies from the comfort of a fluffy couch or under the stars. Stroll the streets of the historic corridor near Lake Lily, picnic in the parks, or hike the trails of the nature preserve. Wander the grounds and historic art colony at the exceptional Maitland Art Center before heading to the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey where bird lovers can watch some of Florida’s most beautiful birdlife.
On the shores of Lake Monroe lies the charming historic town of Sanford. Browse the antique shops along the downtown riverwalk on the picturesque St. John’s River and walk the tree-lined streets framed by Victorian homes. Relax in the botanical gardens and visit the animals at the Central Florida Zoo.
A mere 40 miles from Orlando lie the beaches of the Space Coast, and an incredible experience awaits you at the Kennedy Space Center. Meet an astronaut and explore space, then quietly watch the turtles nesting while you dip your toes in the ocean waters at the Canaveral National Seashore with 24 miles of shoreline and pristine beaches to explore. The drive from Orlando takes you through the Fort Christmas Historical Park with lovely hiking trails and several historical structures, including a full-size replica of Fort Christmas. A little further on is the Orlando Wetlands Park with marshes, lakes, and scenic trails through hardwood hammocks and along scenic lakes teeming with wildlife (as well as alligators).
Southern Dreams Vacation Rentals has an Orlando vacation rental to make your experience perfect. So when planning your Orlando vacation, consider not only the top Orlando attractions but be sure to make time to head off the beaten path to experience all the other unique attractions our city has to offer.