With spring-cations in the air, there is no better place to live than Central Florida. That’s because the area is home to a variety of fun attractions, award-winning golf courses, relaxing spas, outdoor activities as well as many tasty restaurants to try.
With weather that isn’t too cool and not yet too hot, now is a beautiful time to gather friends and family to explore all that the area has to offer. So pick a weekend (or play hooky from work for a day) to spend time together in the sunshine.
Here are our favorite ways to stay and play in Central Florida.
An Afternoon or Evening on the Town
The pandemic has caused significant shifts in the event industry; however, venues have worked hard to find ways to safely host guests for an afternoon or evening of fun. Since December, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts has presented its Frontyard Festival series with a lineup that has included Live & Local Lunch concerts on weekdays, movie nights on weekends and live musical performances. Attendees have enjoyed shows in socially distant boxes that hold up to five people. From now until the series ends in May, shows include UCF Symphony Orchestra on April 10, a showing of “Pirates of the Caribbean” on April 25 and An Evening with Kevin Smith on May 8, among many others.
Every fall, local foodies anticipate the annual Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic, featuring an evening of unlimited food and beverage tastings and live entertainment along the resort’s causeway. Now, they get a special taste of this culinary classic on April 17. The limited-ticket event encourages social distancing throughout the expansive outdoor space.
Across 12 food stations, attendees will find sample-sized bites from the hotel’s award-winning restaurants, dessert from executive pastry chef and world pastry champion Laurent Branlard and more than 50 beverage selections. Popular items such as the salt roasted prime NY strip loin from Shula’s Steak House and the shrimp & grits from Todd English’s bluezoo are just some of the highlights.
Plan to bring your four-legged family members to Paws in the Park in downtown Orlando on May 8. This free event returns to Lake Eola Park, where there will be activities for both human and pets, photo stations, costume contests, vendor marketplace, food trucks, pet adoption opportunities and more. There will also be virtual elements for individuals who prefer to enjoy from the comfort of home. Paws in the Park is a fundraising event that supports the mission of Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando to educate, shelter, place and heal pets and their families.
Fun New Experiences in Central Florida
The area’s attractions have also shown both resilience and creativity in the past year, even opening new experiences while preparing new procedures for guest safety. Locals have had the opportunity to experience them first, and a spring-cation is the perfect time to do just that.
Last month, ICON Park introduced a brand new attraction, located in The Wheelhouse, with gamers in mind. Guests enjoy free admission to In The Game, only paying for the games they want to play. This interactive experience features 40 cutting-edge games, multi-player virtual reality games, a mirror maze, a space-themed escape room and an XD motion theater that offers a 3D video experience with full movement.
Further down International Drive, Dezerland Park has taken over the former Festival Bay Mall and Artegon building. Florida’s largest indoor attraction, it features an arcade, a trampoline park, a boutique bowling alley, a go kart track and so much more. There is truly something for everyone. With all of these experiences, along with an auto museum, shops and places to eat and drink, you could spend an entire day exploring and enjoying time together as a family.
Just a short drive from Orlando, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is not only home to rocket launches but also various attractions that take guests on the journey of the space program, from the first step on the moon to now. In March, KSC reopened its Apollo/Saturn V Center, which features interactive exhibits that relive the excitement of the Apollo era and the race to the moon. This experience is included in KSC admission but a transportation reservation is required to get to that part of the complex.
A Breath of Fresh Air
Outside activities never go out of style. And one of the things that makes Central Florida such an amazing place to live is that we have the best of both worlds: fun attractions that people travel here to visit as well as parks and venues that bring us back to nature.
See a new side of Winter Park on the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour, a guided tour through three of the seven lakes and two narrow, manmade canals on the Winter Park chain. Catch the boat on Lake Osceola in a quiet suburb that is less than 10 minutes from downtown Orlando. You might see cranes snagging a fish or a crew team from Rollins College racing through the water, but you will definitely see Florida’s natural flora and fauna with exquisite estates nestled throughout. With the dock less than five minutes from Park Avenue, stroll through the upscale shops or stop at one of the area’s tasty restaurants when you’re done.
Another great way to experience the great outdoors is to take a day trip to Wekiwa Springs State Park in Apopka. From bicycling on designated trails to enjoying the picture-perfect, 72-degree water, there are many family friendly activities for everyone to enjoy. Water activities include canoeing or kayaking along the Wekiva River or Rock Springs run and snorkeling or swimming in Wekiwa Springs. Be sure to pack a picnic for when you get hungry.
There is so much to see and do right here in Central Florida. Whether you choose to participate in an exciting event, visit an amazing attraction or spend a day enjoying nature, have a fun, safe spring-cation.