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    15 Things To Do In Central Florida Beyond The Theme Parks

    15 Things to Do in Central Florida Beyond the Theme Parks

    Fudge Insurance’s Guide to Central Florida Fun

    After you find the perfect vacation rental property amidst the sun and attractions of Orlando Florida, it’s time to explore. You’ve been to the theme parks and the beach more times than you can count. Now what? The Fudge Insurance offices are headquartered in Central Florida, so we have lot of ideas. From exceptional dining opportunities to relaxing parks, there are plenty of ways to explore and enjoy the Orlando area.

    Natural Florida

    1. Wekiva Springs State Park

    Just 16 miles from downtown, the spring and the river it feeds offers crystal clear waters perfect for swimming, canoeing, or kayaking. You can also explore Florida’s natural wonders on over 20 miles of trails. Pack a picnic, put on your bathing suit, and bring your sense of adventure as you discover Florida at its purest.

    2. De Leon Springs State Park

    A bit further from metro Orlando than Wekiva, De Leon Springs is well worth the drive. With an icy cold spring-fed pool and a pontoon boat tour, you can spend a fair amount of time enjoying this park nestled along the St. John’s River. Save your appetite for the Old Sugar Mill Restaurant also on park property. Once a Civil War grist mill, now you can cook your own pancakes using their special batter over your table’s griddle. The Mill gets crowded fast and waits are long so put your name on the list, go for a swim or a hike, then eat up. The Buckwheat batter is actually quite delicious.

    Arts and Culture at Loch Haven Park

    The grounds of this park connect four distinct attractions in Central Florida, each well worth a visit.

    1. Orlando Science Center

    Hailed as one of the best attractions in Orlando, the Science Center is engaging and interactive fun for the family. Explore for a day or visit often as a member to take advantage of special events, extra hours, and discounts. Four floors of exhibits showcase science and innovation. We love the bottom floor that features Florida wildlife. Where else can you find stairs that spiral around a giant swamp home for gators and turtles? Their kid’s zone is also uniquely Florida with an orange grove that drops an avalanche of oranges every 5 minutes so kids can experience harvesting, sorting, and shipping as a member of the citrus industry.

    2. Orlando Shakespeare Theater

    The play’s the thing—according to Shakespeare himself, and he’s right. Orlando Shakes (as they call themselves) presents spectacular theater from modern musicals to traditional Shakespearean shows in an intimate setting that allows the audience to practically become part of the action. Each production is lavishly detailed from stage design to costumes to lighting. Seeing a show here is truly an experience to savor.

    3. Orlando Repertory Theatre

    Featuring family-friendly productions, The Rep has a season stuffed with plays and musicals based on favorite children’s books and movies. Another intimate theater, each show is full of color and joy with clever staging and talented cast members.

    4. Orlando Museum of Art

    This small but engaging art museum hosts a unique collection along with traveling exhibits and seasonal exhibitions. Their festival of trees is a favorite at Christmastime when dozens of trees are decorated in unique and themed styles. OMA offers adult and family programs for the budding artist in you. Their First Thursdays let you linger with local artists as they present new works and enjoy refreshments and live music.

    Local Neighborhoods

    1. Winter Park, Park Avenue

    Notable for its luxury shopping and dining, grand homes and architecture, Winter Park’s Park Avenue and surrounding area are worth a trip. Stroll down the main street to enjoy boutiques, exquisite restaurants, galleries, and a sprawling park. You can even arrive via the Sun Rail train.  Morse Museum, at one end of the Avenue houses beautiful works of Louis Comfort Tiffany, while the opposite end of the street flows into the architectural treasure of Rollins College, which also houses the Cornell Fine Arts Museum on campus. A few streets over you can hop aboard a scenic boat tour, lazily winding through canals where mansions linger with natural Florida scenery.

    2. Little Vietnam (Mills 50)

    It may surprise you to find out that Orlando is home to a large Vietnamese population. The intersection of Mills (Orange) Avenue and State Road 50 (Colonial) is the hub of what locals call “Little Vietnam.” You’ll find scores of Asian restaurants and groceries, perfect for finding delicious food and unique gifts. Get your Pho fix or find Bahn Mi sandwich shops as well as Sushi, Thai, and Chinese cuisine. This unique area is also home to artists and colorful pop art adorns the walls of a score of buildings. After that it’s a quick hop to Orlando’s Lake Eola park where you can rent swan boats to paddle around the water or explore the trail around the lake.

    3. City of Oviedo

    Another charming area to spend a part of your day, Oviedo is a farm-town turned chic. Chickens still stalk its tiny main street and you may find some greeting you on the sidewalk at The Coop Antiques. Once famous for growing celery and citrus, most of the farms have given way to quaint parks and restaurants. If you head over between December and March, you can visit Pappy’s Patch U-Pick Strawberries. This patch captures the essence of the old farms with rows of ripe red berries you can pick till your basket overflows. Oviedo on the Park is perfect for an afternoon stroll with a circular lake path, splash pad, giant chess board, swan paddle boats, dog park, and playground. Just up the street you’ll find a host of restaurants featuring anything from scratch biscuits to ginormous gyros. You can also experience real Florida swamp life in nearby Black Hammock on an air-boat tour.

    4. Mt. Dora Historic Downtown

    One of the prettiest small- town shopping districts in the Central Florida area, Mt. Dora is the quintessential strolling destination. Featuring antiques, galleries, quaint novelty stores, and plenty of eateries, this old-school downtown is a relaxing destination. You’ll find tea rooms and unique pubs. Vintage boutiques, and local artists. Mt. Dora is known for its long list of festivals that fill the downtown streets throughout the year. The Ice House Theater brings local talent to the stage in full musicals and plays. You can also hop aboard a local steam train to take in views of old Florida.

    5. Downtown Winter Garden

    With historic structures dating as far back as 1890, this hometown avenue is charming and inviting. Plant Street Market, the newest addition, was made to look like an old market hall and features vendors dedicated to natural, crafted food and products. You’ll also find a railroad museum, the bike-friendly West Orange trial, plenty of shops and restaurants, and the Garden Theater.

    More Local Gems

    1. Planet Obstacle

    Well outside the tourist sphere, locals enjoy this indoor playground started by former Cirque de Soleil performers. Planet Obstacle offers both child and adult sessions where you can bounce on giant trampolines, complete a “Ninja” style obstacle course, zipline, climb a rock wall, and more.

    2. Southern Hill Blueberry Farms

    Located on over 100 acres in Clermont Florida, the farm is home to blueberries, peaches, and flowers you can pick when in season. Festivals and special events happen monthly so check their calendar before you plan your visit. There’s a yummy bakery on site as well as event space for weddings, parties, and corporate events.

    3. Lakeridge Winery 

    For a more grown-up outing, Lakeridge is one of the few wineries using Muscadine grapes, a native variety to Florida, to produce a variety of wines. Set on a sweeping 127-acre estate in Clermont, winery tours and tastings are complimentary 7 days a week. Lakeridge also hosts monthly themed festivals from traditional grape stomping to blues music and BBQ.

    4. Central Florida Zoo and Downtown Sanford

    Home to a diverse collection of animals and a treetop zip line adventure, The Central Florida Zoo is tucked away in a quiet corner of Sanford. Feed a giraffe, wander a raised trail through pine and cypress, or cool off in the splash park. This little zoo has a lot to offer, but doesn’t take an entire day. Pair your trip with a visit to Sanford’s main street where you’ll find an eclectic collection of restaurants (Willow Tree is German at it’s best), antique shops, art studios, and more. A quaint theater which dates to the 1920’s, Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center, is also home to tribute shows and community productions.  You can even choose to dine as you cruise the St. John’s on the historic Rivership Barbara Lee.

    If you purchase a vacation home in Central Florida, we’re happy to help with your insurance needs. We’re here to answer any questions as you go through the process of purchasing and insuring your dream vacation property. We also insure vacation homes in other states including North Carolina and Tennessee. Contact the Fudge Insurance offices online here or call us today at 407-965-4253.

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