Orlando beyond the theme parks
When you think of Orlando, FL, I’m sure Mickey Mouse pops in your head, maybe the Cinderella castle or the “It’s a Small World After All” song…if you’re the adventurous type, you may remember the thrill of roller coasters at Islands of Adventure (I’m not one of those people…take me to the Beetle Juice Musical performance and I’ll be thrilled). But, there’s so much more to Orlando besides Theme Parks.
If you’ve been to these parks more times than you have fingers and toes to count them, then it may be time to search for a different kind of adventure next time you visit Mickey’s summer home in Florida.
I decided to go with my mom for her birthday weekend, and since my brother lives in the city, he had a few places up his sleeve to show her the best of the best. Since it’s relatively a short drive from Miami (3-4 hours), Orlando is a local, convenient and fun getaway destination.
Our two-day stay:
We arrived on Saturday at noon, starving, so we headed to a restaurant in Gotha, a neighborhood in the Orlando area. The restaurant is called Yellow Dog Eats Restaurant, Cafe & Bar, and it is basically BBQ heaven. The hipster paradise and dog-lovers hang out spot has a very homey ambiance with a very good vibe, outdoor sitting in between trees, fans, and a vintage Kombi van. The inside has two floors and you can sit among artwork, dog pictures and spicy sauces. You would think it was part of the That 70s Show set. The menu offers sandwiches, wraps, tacos and subs with delicious BBQ pulled pork…among other things. To see the full menu, click here.
In the afternoon, we headed to Downtown Disney to walk around the lake, shops and attractions. As my mom put it, is as if you were in Disney World without the rides. This place is excellent to spend an afternoon, grab a coffee at Starbucks and go bonkers inside the Disney Store. Lego lovers can also enjoy an afternoon of fun at the store, and if chocolate is your thing, the warm, sweet aroma of Ghirardelli chocolate will attract you to the store.
On Sunday, we visited the Downtown Orlando Farmer’s market by Lake Eola. The market takes place every Sunday from 10am-4pm. The locals open their tents to offer anything from fresh fruit, coffee, home-made breads, spices, dips, vegan doggie treats, italian ice, art, clothes, accessories and more! While the market is going on, people can sit around a big tree in the middle of the park and listen to some jazzy tunes by a local live band.
Our day in the market was during the summer solstice where the temperature reached the high 90s (Fahrenheit), so we had cold coconut water and fresh fruit to satisfy our thirst. It was a very nice day, but definitely recommend wearing light clothes and a hat if you want to spend some time there this summer.
Watch a recap of our weekend below: