Beyond Mice and Minions: Get a Taste of Orlando Outside The Parks
Photo courtesy of Thinkstock. All other photos courtesy those featured.
Fairy tales, pixie dust and Mickey Mouse probably come to mind when you think about Orlando. If you’ve ever traveled to this theme park mecca you may have wondered if people actually live in The City Beautiful, and if so, why? What you probably don’t know is that after taking a short trip down I-4, you’ll find quaint neighborhoods, incredible boutiques and a culinary scene that’s nabbed some national accolades.
Located a few miles from Downtown Orlando, the city of Winter Park is bursting with charm and some of the South’s best restaurants. If you’re headed to Orlando and burned out from too many “magical days,” head north for some unforgettable meals and hidden gems.
A self-proclaimed “Southern Public House,” with craft beers that are made in-house, their Nashville Hot Chicken is so tasty you’ll forget about that $8 hot dog from the parks. Save room for dessert because the homemade ice cream sandwich with a seasonal filling is unreal. 565 W. Fairbanks Ave. in Winter Park.
The Taps at Cask & Larder. Decisions, decisions...
Locals enjoy Hillstone for its food, but also for the notable atmosphere. Step outside and you will find a seating area unmatched by any other restaurant in town. The outdoor seating on the edge of Lake Killarney is filled with an herb garden and Adirondack chairs that beckon for wine and conversation. The sunsets here are majestic and you can even reserve the dining dock that overlooks the lake.
After some wine and before your entrée, you must try the Spinach & Artichoke Dip served with warm tortilla chips. Sounds simple, but this is the best way to eat spinach.
If salads are your thing, try the Thai Steak & Noodle Salad with marinated filet mignon, mango, avocado and fresh herbs from their garden. Go for the view, stay for the food and wine. Hillstone is located on Lake Killarney at 215 S. Orlando Ave. in Winter Park.
Brilliant sunsets at Hillstone
The last thing you want to do on your Orlando vacation is wait in more lines. Briarpatch doesn’t take reservations because, well, they don’t have to pre-reserve tables. Orlando locals flock to Park Avenue for brunch and lunch throughout the week.
Dieters beware, there’s not much for you! Go for the Smoked Salmon Scramble with onions, cream cheese and grits. If you need to carb load for a day in the parks, order the Raspberry Lemon Cream Pancakes. Briarpatch is always tasty and it’s guaranteed you won’t leave hungry. 252 N. Park Ave. in Winter Park.
Your little ones will be just as thrilled on the boat tour as they were riding Splash Mountain. Okay, probably not entirely true, but head over to the Winter Park Boat Tour and Morse Museum for some laid-back fun. The boat tour departs daily and glides between the pristine Winter Park Chain of Lakes. You may even see an alligator or two. You can find the boat tour at 312 E. Morse Blvd. in Winter Park.
The Morse Museum houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, including the artist and designer’s jewelry, windows and more. Oh yes, that Tiffany, the one that comes in the shiny turquoise box. The Morse Museum is located at 445 N. Park Ave. in Winter Park.
Whether you dine, drink or hop on a boat, you’re sure to make some memories away from the theme parks while in Winter Park.
More by Lauren Yochum
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Recent Travel Opinions
Airlines & Airports