Hotspots in Orlando, FL
Agriculturally, Florida is on a reversed season from most of the rest of the country. Our growing starts when the harvest moon wanes for everyone else. Thus, deep winter is the perfect time to get your hands on some fresh fruit. Just up the road from Orlando is Pappy's Patch, a real down-home experience bursting with friendly characters and charm. And once you get over how cute you look in your overalls, you'll see the berries are even more of a draw. Delicious, sweet and right off the vine, it's a flavor and sunny-day outing that can't be beat.
Let's face it: The best view of the City Beautiful is from above it. Imagine drifting over the Magic Kingdom at sunrise as if you and your partner were Jasmine and Aladdin on a magic carpet ride. Orange Blossom Balloons has been making this dream come true for couples for nearly 30 years. At the peak, they offer a full breakfast buffet and champagne toast as you glide above Green Swamp, an ecological preserve with an abundance of native wildlife. It does start early (like, before 6 a.m.) when the winds are the calmest, but that just gives you the rest of the day to build on the feelings you start at the top.
CB&S Bookstore is the alternative to the on-campus University of Central Florida (UCF) bookstore. This shop, located just minutes from the University, houses hundreds of new and used textbooks on all subjects and also accepts used books. The staff is friendly and helpful and has a plentiful amount of UCF memoribilia in stock. Students looking to save a few dollars and to make a few dollars after the semester ends need to visit CB&S. This bookstore is definitely a collegiate favorite in Orlando.
The most important thing a couple can share is interests. Whether you've fallen into a stale routine with your mate or you're on the market, you're bound to find something click over at Nude Nite. Some of the most talented visual and performance artists in Central Florida focus all their efforts on the human form for an exhibition that can't help but make you think. With 14 years under its belt, Nude Nite has a reputation for being risque and sexy while remaining tasteful and intellectual. Past performances have included bondage shows, wax play and live nude sculpture (from chocolate). Even if the two of you can't agree on the definition of art, you can always indulge in some decadence. Note: This event is held annually in February.
Amaya Papaya's indoor play space makes it easy to beat the Florida heat, but still get in that much needed play time. Maybe not for newborns, but for older babies, Amaya Papaya is paradise. There are several kids fun areas at this indoor play space, but one is especially designed for children ages 0-2 years old. This area features age appropriate soft play structures, toys and manipulatives for small children to master. Parents can feel comfortable watching their little ones learn to scoot, crawl, climb and walk. There are also regularly scheduled baby groups like Baby Drumming, Baby Boogie Bash and more. There's a great spot onsite for parents to chill out and catch up with each other too.
The closest thing to the Fountain of Youth, Wekiwa Springs State Park is a place where families will surely want to spend an entire day. Visitors will be astounded this natural treasure is just a half hour drive from Orlando's tourist district. The springs pump 42 million gallons of crystal clear water each day for splashing pleasure. A hillside area offers the perfect place to throw down a beach blanket and play in the waters all day. 13 miles of trails make for great biking or hiking experiences. The more adventurous travelers can camp out at the park for a minimal fee. Nearby, families are able to rent canoes and paddle down the Wekiva river. There are no lifeguards on duty so an extra eye on the kiddos is recommended.
The beautiful botanicals at Leu Gardens are much better admired under the stars when it comes to summertime in Orlando where the average temperature sits at about 90 degrees. The first Friday of each month, the park hosts a movie night under the stars where for the price of admission to the gardens you can enjoy a recent film and bring a picnic basket. Another fun time to go is when they have Jazz under the Stars on occasion. Check the website for event details. Summer evenings in Orlando mean the mosquitos are out in full effect, so bring along your bug spray.
Paddleboard yoga at H2YO is a 90-minute fitness-based class that focuses on core stability, yoga, stroke and paddle basics. When in Florida, it's mandatory for your workout to include water in some way! All levels of yoga and paddleboard expertise are welcome and even beginners will feel comfortable in a H2YO class. Classes tend to be smaller and more intimate and take place at different times of day, including sunset. Check the H2YO website for prices and locations and details about classes. Bring your own board or use one of the boards included in your lesson price. Leave your cell phone on shore and soak in the Orlando scenery from the center of one of the many beautiful area lakes!
Joseph Kellner's 24 years of experience in his industry have certainly paid off. He has won Best Haircolor in Orlando several times over - the honor has been bestowed upon him by Citysearch.com, Local.com, MerchantCircle.com, and Cityvoter.com. He specializes in corrective haircolor and offers other salon services such as special occasion hairstyling and makeup. When he's not at the salon, Kellner keeps busy as a full-time professional makeup artist for various forms of media including television, print and film. He also has his own mineral makeup line, JOTOVI. View the "Before and After" galleries on the salon's website, and I'm sure you'll agree his success is well deserved. Be sure to book your appointment in advance via phone or email.
For a taste of true Orlando, trot your dog over to the Audubon Park Garden District on Monday nights from 6-10 p.m. With a committed focus on local fare, this community market brings in organic produce – often grown within the city – seafood caught right off the coast, prepared food using local ingredients and handmade crafts, soaps and more from artists you can meet. Live music usually accompany the festivities, and you can check out information on how you can get involved in projects around town. Whether you’re interested in starting a home garden or you just want to support local merchants, this market will make you and your dog feel a little closer to the city.