Orlando for Adults: no mouse ears required.

Beautiful Winter Park

Beautiful Winter Park

I’m Canadian and, until two weeks ago, I had never been to Florida. I know, shocking.

Why? I thought it was all Disneyworld and Universal Studios, golf courses and, well, aging Canadians. I hadn’t stopped to think that people actually live there. And where people live, there’s inevitably a unique culture based on history, geography and climate. The same is true for Orlando. I discovered that there is lots to do beyond Disneyland.

But, before I share my discoveries, a bit of practical information. This city requires a car. I usually take public transport when I travel but it’s not easy there. Fortunately, I was going to Orlando to speak at The Travel Bloggers Show and Thrifty Car Rental noticed, got in touch and offered me a car. Before accepting I checked with a Rachelle of Inn the Kitchen to see if I needed one. Absolutely she said. So I accepted and was very glad I did.

Discover Winter Park
Winter Park is a beautiful city at the north end of Orlando. True to its name, it has a gorgeous park, (see photo above) as well as other attractions. The main street is Park Avenue and features Peterbrooke Chocolatier, The Wine Room which offers wine by the ounce, The Morce Museum which holds that largest collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany in the world and many great restaurants and shops to poke around in. On Saturday mornings there’s a farmers market and a couple of blocks off the main street is Lake Osceola. There’s enough in Winter Park for a full yet leisurely day.

The famous Peterbrooke Chocolatier in Winter Park

The Wine Room will have a dedicated post. It's great.

Discover great, organic local beer.
At the other end of town and the opposite end of the real estate market I discovered  some great beer at the Orlando Brewing Company’s Tap Room. It’s located in a warehouse district and you won”t know that you’re on the right track until you arrive. But finding it is well worth the effort. Try their standards like pale, red and brown ale. But then get adventurous with some of their unique blends like Pompous Ass and Blackwater Porter. I tried a flight of 4 brews. Details to come in another story next week.

The Tap Room has fabulous beer and offers tours.

Discover Lakes and Green Space
When flying into Orlando I was struck by the number of lakes I could see from the air. They were everywhere and, when driving around, you discover just how many there are and what a beautiful contribution they make to the look and feel of the city. While parks (not theme parks but real parks) may not be what you are looking for in Orlando, they do exist and present a nice break from the hype of the city. I spent the morning in Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake.

Orlando has natural green space as well. This is Bill Frederick Park At Turkey Lake Park.

Orlando has plenty to offer beyond the theme parks that one associates with the city. It has a fine art museum and a science center as well as many smaller museums.

  • solotraveler

    Hi Mariel, thanks for writing. Yes, Winter Park was great. I did make it to Thornton Park and have yet to write about it and Orlando Brewing. All in time. :)

  • Mariel

    It was lovely having you in Orlando Brewing! – your bartender =)

    Also, thank you for writing about Winter Park. If you get another chance to visit, check out Thornton Park. It is the historic district just walking distance from the city. It is full of cobble stone streets, mossy trees, and Lake Eola holds a market every sunday.

    Even most people in Orlando say Disney and Universal are in Orlando… just by default to not confuse people. But the parks are actually in Kissimmee. It is a great place to take the kids, but if you want culture, history, art, music, local life, etc… – you will want to stay away from that area.

    Have a great day, Janice!

  • Microwave Cart ·

    all of my kids enjoy the park and rides in Disney World, disney really knows how to please kids .,’

  • L-Tyrosine Dosage :

    my kids love to go disneyworld, i think every kid would love to go there~*;

  • http://holeinthedonut.com Barbara Weibel

    Thank you for writing about something other than Disney! I lived in Florida for three years until I finally made the decision to become a full-time digital nomad a year ago. I found some amazing places that just oozed “Old Florida” where they eschew the “Disneyfication of Florida” for the simpler pleasures of the State.

  • http://tiny.cc/Peterbrooke Jami Wray

    Hi Janice, I loved reading this! My husband and I own Peterbrooke Chocolatier and we really appreciate that you mentioned us in your blog. Thanks for shedding light on the many great things Winter Park and Orlando have to offer travelers. I think Winter Park is a very special place (soooo not “Disney”), and hope your blog will bring more visitors to the area. Thanks again, and enjoy your travels!

  • solotraveler

    Thanks for the catch Andrea. I’ll fix it now.

  • Andrea

    As a Floridian, I am pleased to read that you enjoyed your time in Orlando. However, I would like to point out that DisneyLAND is in California and Disney WORLD is in Florida. Disney World is actually made up of several parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, Animal Kingdom and several others.

    On a side note, I am currently in Calgary. This was a short trip – 3 days – but I enjoyed it immensley and hope to return for a longer visit soon.