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Hidden Gems from the locals
The “best people watching” spot for Linda Jamison and daughter Mandy is the patio of 310 Park South restaurant in Winter Park, where New American cuisine shines.
Locals also recommend the warm glow of La Cava del Tequila (Tequila Cave) in the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot for having the best adult libations in any of the Orlando theme parks!
Orlando resident Mark Smith says the Doggie Derby held every spring in Baldwin Park near downtown is a “don’t miss.” The fundraiser features 25-yard Fun Run races going all day.
Jim and Millie Green drive up from the Solivita community in Kissimmee for a night of theater at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando.
The consensus holiday event not to miss is the Disney Candlelight Processional at Epcot, which runs nightly from Thanksgiving to Christmas. A celebrity narrator reads the story of Christmas accompanied by the Disney orchestra, Liberty Singers, and a high school choir.
Eat Like a Local
Lake Mary residents Mike and Linda Jamison’s favorite place for brunch is in Winter Park at Briarpatch, “a cute little nook and cranny spot with lots of flowers and hanging baskets…and great food.” thebriarpatchrestaurant.com
Other Winter Park finds include The Wine Room for tastings and informative wine lectures (thewineroomonline.com) and Chez Vincent for impeccable French cuisine. chezvincent.com
Award-winning Stefano’s offers up perhaps Orlando’s best steak and Italian fare. Chef Steff Tedeschi has been a guest on numerous national television food and sports shows. stefanosgrill.com
For a sumptuous and meaningful coffee experience try Downtown Credo, a non-profit café that supports a network of coffee growers in Central America. downtowncredo.com
Who Thought Orlando as Lake Country?
If you’re lucky enough to have a window seat on approach to Orlando International Airport, you’re struck by the sheer number of lakes, of every shape and size, that dot the landscape below. They’re unexpectedly everywhere and they thoroughly influence life in Florida’s fourth largest city.
At the core of life in Orlando is downtown’s Lake Eola, where locals recreate and celebrate in all fashions, and the 4th of July fireworks are not to be missed. Arnold Palmer, Orlando’s beating heart and the world’s most iconic golfer, is known more in the city for the downtown children’s hospital he has brought forth overlooking Lake Beauty than any championship won.
The tiny streets of downtown Winter Park, a northern enclave of Orlando, melt into Lake Osceola and are a must for dining, shopping or just strolling the streets catching the drips off an ice cream cone.
In Orlando you can also embrace the cultures of Morocco, Norway, Mexico, and Canada, all overlooking the World Showcase Lagoon (big lake) at Epcot Center. Oh, did we mention Disneyworld® is just minutes from Orlando? Cirque du Soleil and House of Blues are there, too, lakefront at Downtown Disney®. And a menacing Great White Shark lurks in a shadowy lake at Universal Studios theme park just across Interstate-4 from Sea World, where real penguins and dolphins frolic and whose park centerpiece is, you guessed it, Fountains on the Lake!
“Briarpatch is a cute little nook and cranny spot for brunch with lots of flowers and hanging baskets.”