What image comes to mind when you hear the name Orlando (as in Florida)? To many folks, it may be the four Walt Disney World theme parks, with its two water parks, and Disney Springs or Universal Studios’ two parks including CityWalk, or even perhaps SeaWorld with Aquatica and Discovery Cove. In addition to these prominent attractions, Orlando FL has evolved into a metropolis that is home to Lake Eola Park with its endlessly illuminated fountain and Swan shaped paddle boats in the center of it all.
Nearby at Loch Haven Park you’ll find the Orlando Science Center, the Orlando Museum of Art, the Mennello Museum of American Art, the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orlando Repertory Theatre, the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, the Orlando Fire Museum, and the Orlando Garden Club. Just around the corner from there you’ll find the Harry P. Leu Gardens which houses the Leu House Museum (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) with permanent exhibits of paintings and sculptures.
In the heart of downtown at Church Street Station and Orange Avenue there is an eclectic choice of restaurants and music venues such as Firestone Live (vintage tire store architecture). Orange Avenue is also the address for the historic Beacham Theater. “Down the street” and across from the Orlando City Hall with its iconic Tower of Light Sculpture, is the recently completed state of the art Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center.
Not far from there is the colossal Amway Center which is host to a wide lineup of key concerts and sporting events. Also in the heart of downtown is the CityArts Factory which houses seven separate and diverse art galleries that showcase exhibitions at multiple venues.
In addition to the diverse arts offerings, Orlando FL is rich in natural resources. At the University of Central Florida is the Florida Arboretum with eight natural ecosystems including Swamp Habitat. If you travel northwest you will find Wekiwa Springs State Park and Rock Springs Run State Reserve where you can canoe/kayak, snorkel, and camp overnight.
Near the theme parks is world renowned International Drive with entertainment that is not limited to land. It is celebrating the premier of The Orlando Eye Ferris Wheel where you get a bird’s eye view of Orlando as far as Cape Canaveral and in the same complex you’ll find the world famous Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and SeaLife Aquarium experience.
As if that were not enough, you can also ride a helicopter with the Air Florida Helicopter Charters. At iFly Orlando you can experience freefall skydiving in a wind tunnel without the need of a parachute. A longstanding attraction on IDrive has been the thrilling Wet n’Wild water park. For lovers of mini-golf, there is quite an array of sites to choose from. In addition to Magical Midway and FunSpot amusement ride attractions, there are many more “experience” attractions and themed dinner shows to entertain the most demanding tourist.