Spring is in the air in Orlando and the sun is shinning. We have loved our time here more than I ever imagined. Because we have had time to go and explore so many wonderful places, I thought I would post several different places that you might love, other than Mickey&Minnieville.
Because some of our kids live here, plus we are staying at a friends’ condo here in downtown Orlando, we have been so privileged to find local places that have simply won our hearts.
Besides the gorgeous lakes that seem to be around every corner, the people we have met and the wonderful restaurants, we have simply fallen in love with Orlando. In times past of visiting here, we always thought of Orlando as one of those places that could never seem like “home”. But our opinions have changed. Orlando is simply put, “magical”. No wonder Mickey and Minnie love it.
It will be hard to leave. We are thankful for the hospitality of CC, our sweet friend who invited us into her home here and put up with us for 2 months. She also has a home in The Villages where she also invited us for a weekend. We have been so blessed to share meals and worship services and made some sweet new memories with our kids here.
We have seen alligators, fairy hair, (which yes, I had put in my hair), walks around beautiful moss filled trees and views that we woke up to outside our windows of lakes and gorgeous buildings which outline downtown Orlando.
When you visit Orlando, get off the beaten path and walk around Winter Park. Sit in the park and people watch, then head across the street to one of their many wonderful restaurants. Be sure to stop in for a chocolate chunk coconut gelato at Penbrooks Chcocolate shop.
For the best Turkish/middle eastern food, make a rsvp at Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine. Best hummus you can ever find, plus the most wonderful puffy pita bread.
Hop on the train across the street for a ride.
If you love wildlife, head over to Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. It is free and you can see so many beautiful birds and alligators just resting in the marsh and along the edges of the lake, You drive through on a road that allows you to see so much nature.
On Saturday mornings, the Farmers Markets of Winter Garden and Winter Park cannot be beat! They are fabulous! From kettle corn to jewelry to fabulous fresh fruit!
The restaurants which we have fallen in love with here are:
Breakfast/lunch The Coop in Winter Park
Hamburgers That One Stop Burger, Ocoee
Sonny’s Barbecue, several locations
Great Appetizers & lunch/dinner RuSTeak in Ocoee
Awesome Beef/pastrami Sandwiches Beefy King in Downtown Orlando
Italian Bella Italian in Winter Garden
German Food Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe in Sanford
Seafood JB’s Fish Camp where you sit outside and sometimes see manatees and great view of the coastal inland.
in New Smyrna Beach or Norwoods Tree House! You actually eat up in a tree house.
For Great Deli Sandwiches and the Best Chocolate Chip Banana Cake head to
TooJay’s. There are several of them so choose the one closest to your hotel.
If you have time be sure to spend time in Sanford and DeLand. Beautiful small towns about an hour away from Orlando and many antique stores and small family owned restaurants that will truly make you want to go back. In fact, we are headed back to Hollerbachs in Sanford this Sat with our kids to have more amazing Spatzle with gravy and Schnitzel. We love this place and their Honey Bee Almond Cake is out of this world. You will be too full to eat it then but treat yourself and take a slice to go.
For Beaches, head to New Smyrna. They have a wonderful beaches with free parking and a boardwalk which gives you easy access to sit and enjoy the sunshine and beautiful Atlantic ocean. This beach is a little less touristy so you don’t have as many crowds. I love this one because there are as many older ladies with hail damage on their legs as I have and cover ups that cover them up from neck to knees, just like me.
One of the most beautiful walks we took was around Lake Eola in downtown Orlando. The fountain in the middle of the lake was simply gorgeous and the tree lined lake makes for a most relaxing walk. Treat yourself to this beautiful part of town. Lots of restaurants close by also.
If you need a mall, choose the Millenia Mall. It is just gorgeous and so easy to get to. Exit 78 off the 4 takes you to an area that has every type of restaurant you could want. Even a very nice Dollar Tree and Target are here.
For Sunday services there are so many wonderful churches. If a choir and orchestra are something that is important to you, head to First Bapt Orlando 8:30 Sunday Service. Amazing preaching also.
We visited First Presbyterian downtown Orlando and was so very blessed with beautiful music and preaching.
First Bapt Winter Garden is where our kids belong and we have been several times with them. We love the pastor and the people are so friendly. The music is a little more contemporary but very spirit led and awesome praise band.
So there you have it. Will add to this list in the next couple of weeks as we end our time here before heading over to Italy for our 3 month adventure. But wanted to go ahead in case some of you were planning your summer here in Orlando. It will be so very hard to leave, but are so thankful for the time we have been here and the new memories which are going with us.