Known as “The Theme Park Capital of the World”, the city of Orlando has a population of 270,934 making it the fourth largest city in Florida and the largest inland city in the state.

European settlers began to arrive in the area in 1837 which was originally populated by the Seminole Indians. Disagreements began to occur regarding land, cattle, and slaves resulting in The Second Seminole War from 1835 – 1842. The US Army developed Fort Gatlin in 1838, in an effort to protect settlers. With the promise pf peace and the incentive of land grants, the Seminoles accepted a treaty in 1842.  The Armed Occupation Act, created by Congress in 1842, sought to prevent any further conflict between the Native Americans and new settlers.

Orlando, Florida

Orlando Downtown

The first permanent residents of the area were Aaron Jernigan, a military man, and his family. The town would ultimately bear his name, starting with the Jernigan post office in May, 1850. Renamed Orlando in 1857, and incorporated as a town on July 31, 1875, there are at least three stories surrounding the renaming of the area. The most common is that the town was name for Orlando Reeves, a soldier during the Second Seminole War who died from an alleged Seminole attack in 1835. To this day there is a memorial at Lake Eola that marks the spot where Orlando fell.

Florida became the hub of the citrus industry from 1875-1895. This time is often referred to as Orlando’s Golden Era. Many owners were force to give up their groves during the Great Freeze of 1894-1895 and as a result, land holdings were consolidated into the hands of a few who became known as “citrus barons.”

The years between the Spanish American War and World War l saw Orlando emerge as a popular resort area because of its inland location. The Florida Land Boom brought with it extensive housing development constructing many bungalow homes that still exist throughout the city. The neighborhoods around Lake Eola form the present day historic district and contain some of the oldest homes in Orlando. Today, the downtown skyline has been shaped largely by urban expansion and the growth of the central business district.

 

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Lake Lucerne Orlando

In 1965, Walt Disney announced his plan to build Walt Disney World in Orlando. Opening in 1971, the resort brought an economic boom to the Orlando area, and tourism soon became the backbone of the Orlando economy.

The 1990’s and the early 2000’s saw another boom, with a high tech explosion throughout the region. Orlando is now also recognized as a major industrial and hi-tech center.

Orlando is a city full of surprises offering so much more than theme parks. Our mini guide to Orlando will help you discover this city where children and adults alike can explore imagination and adventure!

Our Favorite Things to Do in Orlando Florida

Our mini guide below will help you find some of our favorite things to do during your stay in Orlando Florida

Scientifically Speaking

Fun comes in many forms… including scientifically! Arts & Culture includes both fun and learning. Jump in, have fun, and get an education when you visit these spots.

The Orlando Science Center

A must see for both locals and visitors to the area, The Orlando Science Center has been inspire creativity and exploration for sixty years. It’s the perfect educational activity, encouraging learning in a fun way, and it’s an easy way to spend a full day. Boasting four floors of exhibits, the Science Center also features large screen movies, and live programming. There’s an exhibit for everyone and it’s completely indoors!

Expand your scientific understanding of the world at: 777 E. Princeton Street Orlando, Florida

(407) 514-2000

The Artsy Side of Orlando

With some of the best and most creative theme parks in the world, it only follows suit that Orlando would have a dynamic arts community. A sanctuary for performers and artists, Orlando boasts innovation and imagination, providing both conventional and contemporary entertainment options for guests. From acclaimed art museums to a state-of-the-art science center, there is something for everyone in Orlando.

 

The Mennello Museum of American Art

Established in 1998, The Mennello Museum of American Art, located in Loch Haven Cultural Park on beautiful Lake Formosa, is a gem of an art museum. Owned and operated by the city of Orlando, the museum showcases American art spanning all genres and time periods, presenting 10-12 on site exhibitions each year.
With a prized, permanent collection on loan from a local philanthropist, the museum features rotating, exhibits from esteemed organizations like the Smithsonian, an intimate space that encourages reflection, and an opportunity to explore the beautiful grounds.

Explore local and American art at: 900 East Princeton Street Orlando, FL 32803

(407) 246-4278

CityArts Factory

The largest collective of art galleries in downtown Orlando, CityArts Factory showcases a mix of both local and international pieces which are rotated on a monthly basis. A non-profit organization managed by the Downtown Arts District, CityArts Factory is home to six independent galleries and has become a cultural destination where both performing and visual arts co-exist.

Have fun at: 29 S Orange Ave Orlando, Florida

(407) 648-7060

Plan a Family Night

There are lots of things to do with your family in Orlando – some are even free! Below are a few of our favorites.

Old Town

Old Town, a re-creation of a classic Florida town at the turn of the century, is a walking district in Orlando with a unique selection of shops, dining options and family-friendly amusements. It’s a great place to spend some time with family, friends, or on your own. They roll back the clocks on Saturday nights in Old Town, when you’ll find a free rock-n-roll concert and a parade of 300 vintage cars on the streets. The cars feature famous restorations along side new innovations, and you can vote for your favorite, whether it’s a big name like Gene Shelby, or a little known local enthusiasts. More information, and pictures of past weekly winners, can be found on their website.

Old Town is located at: 5770 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy Kissimmee FL, 34746

Phone : (407) 396 – 4888

 

Race a Lego Car

You can create and race a lego car against other lego fans at the LEGO Imagination Center in the Downtown Disney Marketplace. This is a free event, though you will not want to forget to bring your imagination, and there are other types of activities, too. Lego posts a full calendar of events on their website.

The Lego Imagination Center is at: 1672 E Buena Vista Dr Lake Buena Vista FL 32830-8401

You can give them a call at : (407) 828-0065

Eat Your Heart Out

2016 was a big year for Foodies in Orlando, as the area saw a lot of new restaurants open. Everything from sweet shops to upscale steak houses and trendy bars. A few of the newest are listed below, and should definitely make your “Must Try” list when you’re in the neighborhood.

 

Market on South

Market on South took forever to open, but it did! If you’re a fan of Valhalla Bakery’s vegan pastries or the Dixie Dharma food truck, it could not have taken any longer! If you love plant-based cuisine, you’re in heaven here. Featuring Celine Duvoisin’s inspired doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, butter tarts and Shaun Noonan’s gourmet vegan green tomatoes with chowchow and eggplant remoulade you might just move in.

Market on South is now serving salivating diners at 2603 E. South St.Orlando, Florida.

You can give them a call at: (407) 613-5968

 

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House

It seemed that splashy, upscale dining was going away some, until Del Frisco’s, that is… Now tourists and locals can relax into the luxury of a true high-end steak house, serving classic sides like shrimp remoulade and creamed spinach, or top-quality classic meats. Del Frisco’s also offers a 1,200-bottle wine cellar to pair with anything on the menu.

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House can be found at 9150 International Drive Orlando, Florida

You can call them at : (407) 351-5074

 

Herman’s Loan Office

No, you don’t need to apply for a loan at Herman’s Loan Office… but you really should stop in for a drink. Former bartender Rene Nguyen and his crew from Hanson’s Shoe Repair (you might remember they kicked off the speakeasy trend in Orlando a few years back), opened this cocktail lounge with the V Group. More than 75 years ago, Herman’s Loan Office operated as a pawn shop and loan shark office; today, Herman’s pays homage to its former life in lots of creative ways. The menu includes unique cocktails and caters to a refined palate.. A password is not be required for entry, unlike Hanson’s, and we’re betting that Herman’s will be just as successful.

Find your way over to Herman’s at: 22 W. Pine St. Orlando, Florida.

Give them a call at : (407) 649-0000

Wet ‘N’ Wild

While Orlando is known primarily for theme parks, there are planet of ways to get outdoor thrills that don’t include princesses and pirates. Although there are no mountains, Orlando offers abundant opportunities to enjoy water sports, wildlife exploration, and hiking. Travel to the not-so-far away corners of Orlando and you will find that it is still a rather wild place with amazing vantage points to spot alligators, manatees, and even bald eagles. So take a trip away from the crowd and experience Orlando’s wild side!

 

Adventures in Florida Day Tours

It’s been said that the real magic kingdom is natural Florida and a guided kayak tour is a great way to explore it. Adventures in Florida Day Tours offers experiences such as the Manatee Kayak Tour where you’ll observe hundreds of these “sea cows” in their natural habitat, and the Bioluminescence Kayak Tour which begins at sunset and offers you the opportunity to explore the legendary and natural phenomenon of the glowing waters.

Adventures in Florida Day Tours is committed to both preserving the natural environment and providing first class guest service.

Call them at: (407) 924-3375

 

Soaring H20 / Falcon Flyboarding

If you’ve ever had dreams that involved wearing a jet pack and hovering above the water, your ship has come in! Considered an extreme sport, Flyboarding allows you to soar high above or hover close to the surface of the water!

What IS flyboarding you ask? By donning a jetpack, water propulsion is supplied to your board and allows you to fly! With an instructor at your side, you’ll learn how to steer your hydroflight device in no time. Basic hand commands allow you to communicate with your instructor and give you full control of your experience. Flyboards don’t discriminate either; whether you are 17 or 70, you can shred the waters in no time.

Soar over the water at: 5638 Randolph Avenue Orlando, Florida

(877) 214-2600

 

Get Outside!

Florida offers a perfect balance of sunny days and generous rainfall. The tropical climate is perfect for outdoor activity and encouraging an abundance of blooms. Orlando’s public parks and acclaimed botanical gardens are a great alternative to theme parks and crowds.

The next time you have an urge to get a little fresh air and sunshine, try one of the places below…

Harry P Leu Botanical Gardens

Just minutes from downtown Orlando, the Harry P. Leu Botanical Gardens sit on nearly 50 acres of land. Donated to the city in 1961, it’s an oasis of peaceful pathways and gardens In the heart of the gardens, you will find a restored 19th century house (The Leu House) which now serves as a museum. The mission of the Gardens is to inspire visitors to appreciate and understand plant life.

You can enjoy the gardens at: 1920 N. Forest Avenue Orlando, FL 32803

(407) 246-2620

 

Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve

Sitting on 440 acres, The Tibet-Butler Preserve marks the western corner of Orlando. Here, you’ll find well-groomed trails with gentle walks that are perfect for families. You may even see alligators, owls and the occasional bobcat. There are 32 learning stations along the path, and the Vera Carter Environmental Center which features nature exhibits. The Preserve offers quiet spaces with wonderful views of Lake Tibet-Butler and has received a certificate of excellence from TripAdvisor, awarded to attractions that consistently receive great reviews from travelers.

Visit the preserve at: 8777 Winter Garden Vineland Road Orlands, Florida

(407) 254-1940

 

Back to Nature Wildlife Reserve

Dedicated to rescuing, raising, rehabilitating ad releasing Central Florida’s injured and orphaned native wildlife, Back to Nature Wildlife Reserve has been committed to caring for these animals in need for 25 years. The reserve offers guided educational tours of the wildlife rehabilitation center and a chance to meet some of the exotic and non-releasable animals who are now permanent residents of the wildlife refuge.

Back to Nature can be found at: 10525 Clapp Simms Duda Road Orlando, Florida

(407) 568-5138

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