Each year, tourists flock to Orlando in order to experience countless attractions, shopping, dining and much more. Little do they know, there's more to Orlando than just it's huge malls and popular theme parks. If you're a Central Florida native and you haven't experienced things other than Disney World and the Mall at Millenia, then you're truly missing out. From one local to another, here are some of the best hidden gems in Orlando!
If you're an outdoors enthusiast, an animal lover, or love the idea to watch a movie in a park these are the best outdoor activities in Orlando:
- Orlando Tree Trek Adventure - Have you ever thought what it'd be like to live like Tarzan? At Orlando Tree Trek you can do just that by jumping from tree-to-tree, at this high-flying obstacle course. Perfect for family-friendly fun and company team building!
- Cassadaga - Located just north of Deltona, Cassadaga is a spiritual community known as the "Psychic Capital of the World." Established around 1875, this historic town has a lot of exciting things to offer such as walking tours and psychic readings.
- Wekiwa Springs State Park - Thousands flock to Central Florida's Wekiva Springs every summer and often times it gets quite crowded. Inside the same state park, is Wekiva Island. Here you can escape much of the crowd and take kayak and canoe trips down the river OR saddle up at the outside bar to enjoy the sun and an ice cold adult beverage. No need to pack a cooler!
- Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge and Education Center - Get back to nature by visiting this animal refuge and education center. This place isn't a zoo, nor is it the Animal Kingdom. Here you're able to educate the little ones and participate in rehabilitating injured wildlife.
- Leu Gardens - Take a stroll through this beautiful, 50-acre botanical garden. Every month, you can catch a movie amongst the beautiful landscape. Bring a bottle of wine and light bites, kick back and relax, at this perfect date night spot.
- Butler Chain of Lakes - Home to some of Orlando's wealthiest individuals, the Butler Chain of Lakes is spring-fed which means it's some of the cleanest water in the Central Florida area. Which was once a fish camp is now part of the most expensive real estate around. I mean, Shaquille O'Neal is selling his home for 28 million dollars! Rent a boat, soak up the sun, and enjoy the views!
- West Orange Trail - Who's ready to get hot and sweaty?! The West Orange Trail stretches 22 miles starting at the edge of Orange and Lake County. If you're up for a bike ride, this is the best way to do it!
Orlando is home to unique shops, boutiques, and my personal favorite, VINTAGE.
- Rock 'n Roll Heaven - If you love old school vinyl records then you've officially hit the JACKPOT. Browse through hundreds of thousands of genres from every decade, even from your favorite music artists of today!
- Vintage/Reclaim/Thrifting Stores - From retro, vintage, classic, and modern styles. Orlando has some of the best resale stores in Florida. Find your hidden gems at stores like Deja Vu, Etoile Boutique, and Dechoes.
- East End Market - If you like the idea of farmer's markets, but hate being stuck outside in the rain or heat, East End Market is perfect for you! Some of their merchants include local farmers, bakers, artisans, and jewelers.
- Carmine Oddities Boutique - This boutique is everything, but normal. These odd, but surprisingly functional accessories may be the perfect addition to your home or office. Their official hashtag is #ODDLANDO and it's totally their vibe. Are you an odd Orlandoan?
Fun Orlando Dining & Drinking Experiences
- Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards- There are very few ACTUAL wineries in Florida and if you want the full experience of what it takes to make delicious wine, Lakeridge is just a short ride away. First and foremost, grapes are essential for winemaking so with the rich and nutritious soil of Florida, you can expect superb, tasty wine. Take a tour of the vineyard, it's absolutely stunning!
- Orange County Brewers - This brewing company is located in the heart of Downtown Orlando and let me tell you, they put the "brew" in BREWmaster. Learn how they perfect their beers during a guided tour and be sure to try out their Tele-Porter and Vanilla Ice because they're 10% alcohol ;)
- Lee & Ricks - Open since the past 65 years, Lee and Ricks is 100%, without a doubt, the BEST oyster joint in the Orlando area. Saddle up at the bar and watch your oysters shucked right in front of you. Don't forget to put a few coins in the jukebox and listen along to your favorite tunes. For some reason, their Bud Light draft is so tasty or maybe it just goes well with their FRESH oysters.
- Black Hammock Lazy Gator Bar on Lake Jospeh - Take a boat tour to explore 9,000+ Florida alligators, but don't forget to eat and drink before because this lake is home to the largest concentration of gators in the US. On Sundays, you can even watch them feed the gators, but don't be scared because they are professionals.
Museums in Orlando
- SKELETONS: Museum of Osteology- This museum is one of only TWO skeleton museums in America. Based off of an educational experience, you're able to learn about various vertebrae from animals all around the world. Check out their "Why on Earth?" blog to witness some of their eye-opening exhibits.
- Orlando Science Center - Sometimes museums can be all too boring because all you're able to do is LOOK. At the Orlando Science Center, you're able to interact and learn all at the same time!
Whether you live in Orlando or not, there's SO much more to the city besides what you see on TV. For more information on all the things to do in Orlando subscribe to 407area. It's FREE. Have a hidden gem in Orlando we didn't mention? Tell us in the comments below.