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Family Fun in Orlando

by Susan Barnes

Jul 15, 2018

© Javier Cruz | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / North America

Orlando … mere mention of the city’s name evokes images of mouse ears, wizards’ wands and roller coasters that make a splash. There is so much more to the city, however, than the theme parks, so when it is time to take a break from all the thrills and spills, consider these options.



Exploring Orlando’s neighborhoods can provide peeks into how the locals live. On the outskirts of the buzz of downtown Orlando, and mere steps from Lake Eola, is Thorton Park. This downtown neighborhood made a comeback and is now filled with restaurants, boutiques and neighborhood bars that welcome locals and visitors alike. Stroll along the brick-lined streets and peek into the Craftsman-style bungalows as you decide where your next stop may be.


Drive a bit from the downtown area and find yourself in Winter Park, which feels a world away from the theme parks and even downtown, though all are quite easily accessible. Wander the streets of Winter Park and admire the homes that have been there for generations, or pop into a cafe for a cup of coffee or sumptuous meal. More than 70 parks await discovery in Winter Park, providing myriad ways in which to lose oneself.


Art & Museums

While in Winter Park, stop by the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of Natural Art. In addition to the artwork that fills its galleries, the museum is home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by American designer Louis Comfort Tiffany. Another stop in Winter Park is the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens, dedicated to showing the works of Czech sculptor Albin Polasek. Finally, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum on the campus of Rollins College showcases more than 5,500 works ranging from antiquity to contemporary, and features the only European Old Masters collection in the Orlando area.


Ancient Egypt in National Museum of Natural Science in Orlando

Ancient Egypt in National Museum of Natural Science in Orlando © Pablo Hidalgo | Dreamstime.com


On the way back toward downtown Orlando, stop by the Orlando Museum of Art, founded in 1924. The museum hosts 10-12 exhibitions annually, as well as highlights its own extensive collections of African, American, Contemporary and Ancient Americas works. The Mennello Museum of American Art features an extensive collection of paintings by Earl Cunningham and, nearby, the Orlando Science Center delights science enthusiasts with its exhibits, experiences and events.



Aside from shopping in the aforementioned mentioned shops and boutiques along the tree-lined streets of Winter Park, there are more traditional options in Orlando. As far as shopping malls, The Florida Mall is the largest shopping mall in all of Central Florida at 1.8 million square feet; more than 20 million visitors shop the mall annually. The Mall at Millenia has more upscale and luxury brands from which to choose, including Cartier, Prada, Tiffany & Co. (should you be inspired after a visit to the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of Natural Art in Winter Park) and Versace.


If finding a deal on those designer brands is part of the fun of shopping for you, there are plenty of options around Orlando. More than 400 designer names can be found at the shops in the Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores, just one mile from Walt Disney World Resort. Or, go a bit smaller and shop the day away at Orlando International Premium Outlets and the 180 designer and brand-name outlet stores found within. For Mediterranean-inspired shopping, travel 10 minutes from SeaWorld Orlando to Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets, where you will find more than 160 stores in which to open your wallet.


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