When planning a trip to Orlando, Florida, one might be tempted to devote the entirety of the vacation to the awesome adventures to be had at places like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando, the City Walk at Universal, and countless other campuses in the Theme Park Capital of the World. And sure, when the chance to visit Harry Potter World comes to the table, I’d probably be game to cozy up with a frothy mug of butter beer and watch the antics of the wizarding world as well for an entire week. But to confine yourself to standing in line at an amusement park, sizzling like an egg on Sunday morning, would be like eating only the candy shell around a Peanut M&M: the best of it comes by diving a bit deeper. Don’t be like every other tourist. Here’s how to travel like a true local during your next trip to Orlando.
Live the Local Life: Spend It Outdoors
To really experience how Orlando earns its name The City Beautiful, you’ve got to spend some time outside. And who wouldn’t want to? With an average temperature of over 70 degrees––even in the middle of the winter months––Orlando offers year-round activities under the sun. Swing the club at one of the dozens of scenic golf courses in the area, including our favorite, Dubsdread Golf Course. A historic, vintage venue designed in 1924, you can be sure this course will still provide a proper challenge to golfers of all calibers. Next, spend some time fishing for trophy bass with our friends at Close Encounters Fishing Charters. Boasting a 100% customer-satisfaction rating on Trip Advisor, this wildlife adventure will take you around the estuaries that encompass Orlando to give you the thrill that comes with hooking your first big catch. Be sure to book ahead! Lastly, spend one of your days in the great Floridian outdoors getting a thrill at Orlando Watersports Complex. A controlled environment where you and your family can either learn to wakeboard or show off your skills by sporting big air on one of their many jumps, OWC’s advanced cable system can give you this experience without the worry of renting a boat. If this doesn’t quite float your boat, there are plenty of other fabulous family-friendly activities in Orlando.
Wall Street Plaza: Block Parties and Sunday Fundays
If you’re in Orlando for only one day or one night and looking for the best place to maximize such a small amount of time, head on over to Wall Street Plaza. It is a downtown neighborhood of the city’s best bars and restaurants. It’s kind of like a Sesame Street for adults–only with a whole lot fewer strange creatures and a whole lot more cocktails, music, and excitement. Swing by Hooch and take in the fresh air on their massive outdoor patio while putting back pints of draft beer or jars of their famous House-Batched Moonshine. Feel like taking in the true tropical feel that is synonymous with the Florida climate? Head on over to WaiTiki for happy hour mojitos or sail away with the 64oz WaiTiki Rum Fish Bowl. This puppy packs a punch, so keep in mind if sipped alone, you may resemble a distant Caribbean pirate forefather of the area: one eye pressed tightly closed, a slightly sideways snarl, and guttural noises escaping every other wandering step. The best part about the entire Wall Street Plaza is that you don’t have to slam your drinks before heading to the next bar. You can take drinks from one place to the next. So put on your best day-drinking shirt and let the no-pressure pub crawl commence!
Be sure to check out their upcoming events, including Block Parties every Friday.
Songs of Fire and Ice: A Chilly End to a Tropic Vacation
A perfect pairing, like peanut butter and bananas or Limoncello and grandmothers, to compliment the hot sun is an evening spent at ICEBAR Orlando. It’s literally exactly what you think–a bar comprised of over 70 tons of ice serving up chilled cocktails and good times. This place is unreal–absolutely like nothing I’ve ever seen before. You don’t need to come sporting a winter jacket and snowpants; upon arriving, everyone dons a thermal coat and gloves to maintain maximum comfort levels in this intentionally arctic environment. Although on the slightly pricier spectrum of places to go in Orlando, you can be sure it will lock a place in your memory and be something you’ll tell all your friends about when you return home.
Prefer the chill on your lips and not on your legs? No sweat. Head on over to Chillers on Church Street in downtown. It is a self-proclaimed Frozen Daiquiri Party Bar catering to big crowds that enjoy fun energy and Key West style. Be sure to swing by on Wednesdays where every week it is one-dollar drink night.