When most people think of Orlando, Florida, they probably see images from long-dead advertising campaigns for the likes of Disney World, Universal Studios and more than a few images of the beach, wild parties and rampant excess. But there is a much quieter, much quirkier side to the Sunshine State’s biggest tourist destination.
When you check into your hotel in Orlando, you can be sure you’ll be looked after and enjoy a fine accommodation experience. Meanwhile, the nearby attractions will offer you a different, much more exciting view of this popular tourist destination.
Try Winter Park
Located just 20 miles away from some of the region’s most popular theme parks, the town of Winter Park offers a quiet, reclusive escape from the noise and traffic of the nearby attractions. Home to several restaurants, bars, upscale boutiques and galleries, the famous Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival takes place there every month, allowing visitors to see, and perhaps indulge in local art.
There are two very unique and very different attractions that people often overlook in Orlando: Ripley’s Believe it Or Not! Odditorium and WonderWorks. The former is home to some of the most unusual, and often bizarre exhibits that titillate and confuse equally, including interactive exhibits and relics housed in 16 different galleries, such as a real shrunken human head and a 25 foot tall mural of Jimi Hendrix, made from 8,500 playing cards.
By contrast, WonderWorks explores tricks and feats of architecture; well, what else can you expect from a building that appears at first glance to be upside down? With over 100 interactive exhibits designed to educate and entertain, must-see attractions include the bed of nails and the Disaster Zone, which allows visitors to experience an artificial earthquake.
What most people don’t often realize is that Florida is comprised of a lot of unspoiled green space, which makes it the ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Bok Tower Gardens in Late Wales, one of the best-known public gardens in the region, boasts a secret capstone garden and a fort lookout point, making it a great place to go to escape as a couple or a young family.
There is a lot to do in Orlando, and many hotels in Orlando can recommend unusual activities once you arrive, so ask a local for some advice on where to go once you arrive and miss the theme parks completely.
Images by Charles P. and paulhami, used under Creative Commons license.