New Experiences at This Year’s Christmas at Gaylord Palms Featuring ICE!

New Experiences at This Year’s Christmas at Gaylord Palms Featuring ICE!

Christmas at Gaylord Palms

Considered one of Central Florida’s most quintessential holiday experiences, Christmas at Gaylord Palms returns today for 52 days of Christmassy excitement inside one giant festive wonderland. As always, Gaylord Palms raises the bar year after year, adding new experiences and elevating its annual traditions. Christmas at Gaylord Palms presented by Pepsi is open daily from November 16, 2018 through January 6, 2019, including holidays. Here’s what’s new this year:

ICE! Featuring A Christmas Story

For the first time ever, the resort’s signature experience ICE! will feature the beloved holiday film “A Christmas Story.” Brought to life by ice artisans from Harbin, China, this year’s theme is recreated in a colorful frozen showcase, with hand-carved ice sculptures depicting movie scenes throughout the immersive (and very chilly) 9-degree attraction. 

A few tips: bring a hat and gloves to keep cozy while inside, and switch your phone over to airplane mode to preserve battery life while you take photos and video.

Tickets are $28.99 per adult (use promo code FLR18 to save $3 on ICE! tickets when purchased online in advance).

Fra-ra-ra-ra-ra

Dreams of Christmas Light Show

Gaylord Palms’ St. Augustine atrium is home to a brand new dazzling light show, Dreams of Christmas, making its debut. This multi-sensory experience features a new musical score accompanied by millions of dancing, choreographed lights surrounding the resort’s six-story Christmas tree. Shows are free and happen nightly. 

Adults-Only Polar Dash Party

This year Gaylord Palms has added something just for grown-ups. On Thursday, December 13, 2018, the resort will host its first nighttime Polar Dash party, an adults-only evening featuring the chance to experience the frozen world of ICE! in an unconventional way – in your swimsuit! Grab your sweetie and your friends and don your beachwear for this mishmash of Florida fun in a winter wonderland as you dash through the 9-degree attraction. You’ll also have access to eight snow tubing lanes and themed cocktails at the cash bar. Guests will also enjoy free hot chocolate and a live DJ. Details and tickets here

Santa Scavenger Hunt

Scour the resort decoding clues to find hidden Santa characters during the all-new Secret Santa Scavenger Hunt. Guests will utilize a Santa’s Secret Service Decoder Ring to decipher clues hidden throughout the resort’s atrium. $9.99 per booklet

Naughty or Nice Escape Room

Great for participants of any age, the new Naughty or Nice Escape Room has guests finding clues and cracking codes with a (sometimes mischievous) Jack Frost in the room to help or heed the sleuthing. Teams work together to follow the clues and solve the puzzles before the time on the clock runs out!
$15.99 per person

RETURNING FAVORITES

Sounds of the Season Concert Series
For the second year, Christmas at Gaylord Palms will host its Sounds of the Season Concert Series presented by Celebration Golf Club.

  • Grammy award winner Sandi Patty (Dec. 5)
  • Vocalist Deejay Young (Dec. 6)
  • A cappella group Voctave (Dec. 12)
  • Christmas movies Holidays in Hollywood (Dec. 18)
  • Pop star moms 4eva29 (Dec. 19)
  • Theatrical vocals of VoicePlay (Dec. 20)

All performances include a concert patron-exclusive admission to the ICE! attraction. Tickets start at $25 per person. 

Cirque Dreams Unwrapped
“Holiday thrills” take on a whole new meaning during Cirque Dreams Unwrapped, a 25-minute action-packed experience featuring soaring acrobatics, theatricality and imagination that will have guests on the edge of their seats. Cirque Dreams Unwrapped features new acts and performers each year to bring to life a magical and timeless Christmas wonderland, all imagined by Broadway director and renowned Cirque Dreams founder Neil Goldberg. FREE (guaranteed seating from $15.99 per adult)

Christmas Tree Trail
Guests exploring the meandering paths inside the resort’s Everglades atrium will find the Christmas Tree Trail, a display of nine magnificent trees provided by Balsam HillTM. FREE

Holiday Dining and Decor inside the Atrium
Gaylord Palms’ 4.5-acre soaring glass atrium is decked out beyond compare. Plan to spend some time wandering through the festive space and consider dining at Moor, Old Hickory Steakhouse or Socio as part of your visit. 

Also returning this year:

  • Gingerbread Decorating Corner (now located inside the NEW Alpine Village Sweet Shop)
  • Santa’s Snow Throw
  • Snow Tubing

OVERNIGHT PACKAGES

One-night packages start at $250 plus tax, resort fee and parking. Packages include ICE! tickets for two (with option to add additional adults or children) plus a souvenir family photo. Overnight guests may also schedule a visit to ICE! during the daily hotel guest-exclusive Extra Cool Hour from 9am to 10am.

DETAILS

Christmas at Gaylord Palms
November 16, 2018 through January 6, 2019

Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center
6000 W Osceola Pkwy
Kissimmee, FL 34746

For additional information and to book packages or tickets, visit ChristmasAtGaylordPalms.com.

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Pulptown’s Guide to a Downtown DeLand Day Trip

Pulptown's Guide to Downtown DeLand Day Trip

Admittedly, we’re kind of obsessed with Pulptown, a new daily email newsletter that’s dedicated to keeping you in the loop about all things Orlando. It covers everything from history tidbits to day trip itineraries and weekly events, plus the latest Orlando news stories. It’s truly an amazing resource for celebrating life in Orlando. So, we’re launching a new monthly series in which we’ll be sharing content from our friends over at Pulptown. Up first: DeLand…

FYI: This essay originally appeared in Pulptown, a new daily newsletter all about Orlando that will help you “live like you live here.” Sign up here.

Today, we’re traveling east to DeLand, nicknamed The Athens of Florida by co-founder Henry Deland. Henry’s desire was to make this small town mimic the positive attributes of the ancient Greek city-state — those attributes being innovation, natural landscapes and the preservation of its history.

Getting there

Historic downtown DeLand is 41 miles and approximately 45 minutes away from downtown Orlando. The quickest and most direct route is a drive along the scenic (joking) I-4. Once you’ve arrived, most everything is accessible by walking — so bring some comfy shoes.

DeLand Day TripThe Athens Theatre | Image credit: Athens Theatre / photo by The Studio Creative Group

Main event

Want to shop, play and explore like a local? Park near Woodland Boulevard and Rich Avenue, and take a walk. Among the many places to check out: the old Athens Theatre for films, concerts and other stage performances; the neo-classical architecture at the historic Volusia County Courthouse; the idyllic campus at Stetson College — the oldest college in Florida; and the stellar vinyl collection at Groovy Records. Just for fun, peep the old DeLand Opera House that now serves as the coolest apartment building in town.

If you’re looking to get all outdoorsy, we recommend a trip to Hontoon Island State Park, located six miles west of DeLand. The park is reachable by boat or park-operated passenger ferry only, but once there, you can hike, rent a canoe, or try your hand at fishing. If you’re wondering what DeLand looks like from 14,000 feet, then check out Skydive DeLand. While the sport wasn’t invented here, DeLand is known for putting it on the map.

Pulptown's Guide to Downtown DeLandHontoon Island State Park | Image credit: Florida State Parks

Do it for the ’gram

Did you even visit DeLand if you didn’t stop for a pic in front of the infamous DeLand Wings Mural? Check out DeLand’s Historic Mural Walk, and stop at the corner of Woodland Boulevard and Rich Avenue to take a pic of the massive art mural on the side of DeLand’s Museum of Art, commemorating DeLand’s Naval Air Station.

Image credit: Hannah Green, @visitexplorerepeat

Grab a bite

For breakfast and brunch, head over to The Table for the chicken biscuit or stay for the No Turns Burger. For lunch, you can’t beat the buffet at Cook’s Buffet, Cafe and Bakery the moussaka at Santorini Restaurant and the Taylor Trash or The Boulevard at BakeChop. For dinner, look no further than Cress Restaurant — their curry is top notch and their themed dinners, exceptional.

Grab a drink, stay awhile

Persimmon Hollow Brewing Company is a local’s favorite for an iced cold brew and it regularly hosts fun evening events like bingo, yoga and trivia. It is part of the SoNY neighborhood (South of New York Avenue), where you’ll also find Artisans Alley, home of several stylish boutiques and a Friday night open-air market.

Image credit: Persimmon Hollow Brewing Company

If you have more time…

Check out Chess Park on New York Avenue. More often than not, you’ll spot locals playing an intense game of chess, along with a few works of art to admire. Lastly, the DeLand Indie Market is coming up on Dec. 2, with vintage finds that make the distance worth the drive.

THE #DELAND INSTA-GRAMMY GOES TO@adventures_of_penn because only a pup could make these wings even more frame-worthy.

Ready to go? We made a little map for you. Tag us on Instagram if you make it over there and let us know how it goes.

Feature image credit: Cress Restaurant

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Exploring Celery City with Sanford Food Tours

sanford food tours

What could be better than spending a few hours strolling through a quaint, historic town with regular stops for great food and drinks in interesting, off-the-radar places? That, in a nutshell, is exactly the experience that awaits with Sanford Food Tours.

Launched in 2016 but completely redesigned this year, Sanford Food Tours aims to give visitors a taste of a town that’s quickly becoming one of Orlando’s best food and fun hubs. These days, Sanford’s Historic District is teeming with breweries, independently owned restaurants with seriously good eats, craft cocktail bars, cafes and cool shops. It’s the perfect place to explore on a food tour, which is just what we did this fall. 

Our jaunt on the Celery City Tour began at noon on a Saturday at the Historic Sanford Welcome Center on 1st Street, where our small group of hungry adventurers gathered to meet our guide, Rob, and begin our movable feast. 

From there we wandered to Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe, a Sanford staple that was opened by the Hollerbach family in 2001 and continues to thrive nearly two decades later. With mugs filled with German beer and plates piled high with delicious German fare (including amazing pork schnitzel), we met our fellow tourists and learned about the restaurant’s history and forthcoming expansion. 

 Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe

Onward we went, this time to one of our favorite restaurants: The Tennessee Truffle, where chef/owner Nat Russell warmly welcomed us into his brick-walled space and spoiled us with his house made biscuits and gravy paired with a delicious Florida IPA. 

With a cool fall breeze at our backs, Rob guided us through Sanford with detours by the lovely waterfront and down picturesque side streets, sharing little historic tidbits and fascinating local lore as we walked on to our next destination. 

Tennesse Truffle

A stop at Luisa’s Cellar, a relative newcomer to Sanford, not only revealed cheese and charcuterie plates paired with wine but also a surprising speakeasy, inhabiting the wine bar’s upper level behind a secret door. The game room upstairs, beautifully furnished outdoor patio and bottomless mimosas and sangria every Sunday all tempted us to return again very soon. 

After a quick detour to Magnolia Square Market to gobble a chocolate-covered cake ball, we headed to our final location, The Corner Cafe, where a lively conversation with the owner, giant pours of wine, and perfectly-sized desserts served as the finale to our delightful day tour. Full and happy, we said goodbye to our group and headed on our way. 

Luisa’s Cellar

NEED TO KNOW DETAILS 

In addition to the Celery City Group tours offered on Saturdays and Sundays only, private tours are offered 7 days a week. The experience consists of a four-hour walking tour of Sanford with multiple, changeable stops. Everything but your guide’s gratuity is included in the $65 ticket, which can be purchased in advance here: sanfordfoodtours.com/tours.  

  • Tours take place rain or shine. 
  • Children are permitted but are (obviously) not served alcohol

ADDITIONAL TOURS

Besides the Celery City Tour, Sanford Food Tours also offers the Brews & Bites Tour, which focuses on Sanford’s beer scene. Look to see a new tour focusing on International cuisine to launch later this fall. You can also book private, completely customizable tours and pair the tours with Limo Cycle for some extra-added fun. 

For more details, visit sanfordfoodtours.com

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Check Out Gatorland’s Immersive Gator Night Shine Tour

Gatorland Gator Night Shine Tours

Get ready to be immersed in the dark depths of the Alligator Breeding Marsh at Gatorland. Happening on select nights each week, the adventurous Gator Night Shine tour throws you into the notorious Florida alligator’s natural habitat after dark. You’ll be given just a flashlight to guide your path and a few hot dogs to please the alligators while you make their way through the swamp with a guide.

During the after-dark adventure, a tour guide will take you on an exciting journey through the alligators’ territory. You’ll walk winding paths past the murky waters the alligators inhabit.

Without the flashlight on you may feel alone, but shine it in the water and you will be met with the intimidating glares of hundreds of Florida gators, some of them as big as 14 feet long!

Gatorland Gator Night ShineImage credit: Gatorland

Bonus: your guide will also lead you up close to view other animals like boa constrictors, baby alligators and tarantulas, among others.

Gator Night Shines are offered every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Tours begin promptly at dusk.

The after-hours tour lasts 1.5 hours and attendees are restricted to the Breeding Marsh area.

Gatorland Gator Night ShineImage credit: Gatorland

Tickets

Tickets are $24.99/person and must be purchased at least 24 hours in advance.

Your ticket includes admission, insect repellant, a flashlight, and alligator food. In order for the tour to happen, a minimum of 5 guests must attend. There is a maximum limit of 25 guests each night.

Tickets for Gator Night Shine Tours can be purchased here.

Details

Gatorland
14501 S Orange Blossom Trail
Orlando, FL 32837
407-855-5496
https://www.gatorland.com

Gator Night Shine Tours are offered most every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, & Sunday evenings. Meet at the south end of the parking lot at dusk to begin the tour.

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5 Dates for Couples in the Curry Ford West District

6 Dates for Couples in the Curry Ford West District

Nestled between SODO and Conway lies an area on the verge of becoming the city’s hippest new neighborhood to dine and drink. The stretch of Curry Ford Road from Bumby to Conway is now Orlando’s newest Main Street District, dubbed the Curry Ford West District.

Though a number of the establishments in the district have been open since 2016, the area’s notoriety has increased with the forming of the Hourglass District, also a part of the Curry Ford West District. Add to that all the buzz that comes with housing the city’s best pizza joint (Pizza Bruno), a brewery, and a popular pub, and you have a variety of ways to enjoy date night in this budding district.

Dinner Date

Pizza Bruno
3990 Curry Ford Road

If you are going to have a pizza date in Orlando, your top choice needs to be Pizza Bruno. The laid-back atmosphere, perfect pies, and mouthwatering garlic knots guarantee a memorable meal. The pizza is Neapolitan-style and available in your choice of red or white. Or, try one of the special pie choices on the menu like the Crimson Ghost (Calabrian chilies, Soppressata, fresh mozzarella, basil, hot honey). Pizza Bruno was recently named one of Orlando Weekly’s 55 Best Restaurants in Orlando among numerous other accolades. They have also announced plans to expand to the Mills 50 area and are already serving their wood-fired pizza pies downtown at Orange County Brewers.

PIZZA BRUNO Curry Ford West DistrictPizza Bruno | Image credit: Arlene Laboy

Paint Date

Roque Pub
3076 Curry Ford Road

Everything is better with a drink in your hand. Yes, this includes painting! While Roque Pub offers a bevy of activities during the week, you’ll want to take advantage of Paint Nite on Monday nights. Make your canvas extra creative after throwing back a couple brews from the pub’s selection of 30 rotating craft taps and over 450 craft bottles. If you’re not in the mood for a beer, there’s also a full wine list. The cost to partake in Paint Nite is $45 per person. Other weekly events include Wednesday Night Trivia, Poker Night on Sundays and Thursdays, and Boozy Bingo & Game Night every Tuesday.

Image credit: Roque Pub

Yoga & Brews

Ocean Sun Brewing
3030 Curry Ford Road

Remember when we said everything was better with a drink? Yoga isn’t excluded from that list. Ocean Sun Brewery hosts a weekly taproom yoga and beer class every Saturday morning to get you prepared for the week ahead. Once you’re finished stretching and finding your inner peace, you can enjoy a pint of your favorite craft brew. The cost for the class is $10 and includes the yoga session and a pint of your choice. The brewery is pet-friendly and hosts other weekly activities including trivia on Tuesdays.

Brunch Date

Cafe Madrid Deli & Bakery
4502 Curry Ford Road

Cafe Madrid, which opened just a little over a month ago, offers Cuban and Puerto Rican dishes, a selection of breakfast items, sandwiches, pastries and sweets. Espresso lovers can get their cafe con leche fix, as the cafe brews Cafe Bustelo coffee. Additionally, there are shareable tapas including Tostones with Ceviche and Tostones con Chicharrones de Pollo. Brunchers can enjoy $14 bottomless mimosas on Saturday and Sunday.

Cafe Madrid in the Curry Ford West DistrictCafe Madrid | Image credit: Arlene Laboy

Lunch Dates

Leguminati
2401 Curry Ford Rd
Plant-based eaters have already been flocking to Curry Ford West, as word gets around quick when one of their favorite places has a new location. Leguminati opened in 2015 as a mobile vegan eatery and recently opened their first brick and mortar location inside the Hourglass Social House a few months ago. Be sure you try their fan favorite, the Crunchwrap.

Cilantro’s Taqueria
1427 S Bumby Ave
It seems tacos have taken over Orlando, and what would the new Curry Ford West District be if it didn’t have a taco spot? At Cilantro’s Taqueria, you and your honey can feast on variety of tacos, burritos, and quesadillas in addition to spicy street corn and, of course, guac and chips.

Zaza Cuban Diner
3500 Curry Ford Road
Zaza Cuban Diner has three Orlando locations, and the Curry Ford location is the first. Breakfast combos are available from 7-11am, served alongside espresso and drip coffee. For lunch, choose either one of their platos (your choice of protein and three sides) or a half sandwich combo (half sandwich, one side and drink).

Pho & Roll
3334 Curry Ford Road
Pho lovers can head to Pho & Roll for everything from beef pho to egg rolls. A $9.99 lunch special is offered which includes a summer or egg roll, choice of pho ga, pho tai, pho bo vien, or chicken fried rice and choice of soda or iced tea.

PRO TIP: stop by nearby Lake Underhill Park to take a pre-meal stroll. The loop is 1.3 miles long and offers beautiful views of the lake and the distant Orlando skyline.

Lake Underhill Park | Image credit: Stephanie Patterson

About the Author/Photographer
Arlene Laboy is a photographer and writer, UCF alumna, and lover of all things local. A wife and a mother, Arlene shares her love for adventuring around Florida through her Instagram account, @arlenemlaboy. Find out more about Arlene here.

All images by Arlene Laboy unless otherwise noted

Feature image credit: Curry Ford West District

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5 Out of the Ordinary Things to do in Orlando Before You Die

100 Things to do in Orlando Before You Die

Locals know there’s so much more to do in Orlando beyond the theme parks. But even if you’ve lived in Orlando for years, there are likely dozens of experiences you haven’t had, restaurants you haven’t dined at and quirky attractions you haven’t visited.

Central Florida’s under-the-radar and must-have experiences are the basis for the 2nd edition of 100 Things to do in Orlando Before You Die. Authors John Brown and Jon Busdeker set out to cover 100 ideas with the mission of bringing light to things even the locals haven’t done yet. The book spans the entire Central Florida region so you can really expand your horizons.

You can get a copy of 100 Things to do in Orlando Before You Die from Busdeker’s website or Amazon, but he gave us a little sneak peek below by offering up his top five ideas for date nighters.

Shoot at Zombies

It’s good to have a mate who can survive the zombie apocalypse, right? There’s only one way to find out and that’s at Zombie Outbreak on International Drive. The 9,400-square-foot attraction is like a real-life video game with actors playing the zombies. Good luck surviving…you’re going to need it.

Zombie Outbreak
7364 International Drive
Orlando, FL 32819
407-745-4068

Play a Mean Pinball

The Pinball Lounge in Oviedo is home to one of the largest concentrations of pinball machines in Central Florida. The retro arcade houses more than 20 machines, with some dating back to the 1960s. Grab some quarters! Enjoy unlimited play on Friday evenings from 8pm-midnight for just $10.

The Pinball Lounge
376 E. Broadway Street
Oviedo, FL 32765
407-495-2875

The Pinball Lounge OviedoImage credit: The Pinball Lounge

Hear bluegrass in Ocoee

For anyone looking for a cheap date, it doesn’t get much cheaper than the Parking Lot Bluegrass Jam in Ocoee every Friday night. For more than 25 years, a dedicated band of bluegrass pickers and musicians have gathered in the parking lot of the Twistee Treat for the open jam session. Just bring a lawn chair and sit back and enjoy the music.

Twistee Treat parking lot
1500 Maguire Road
Ocoee, FL 34761

See snakes in St. Cloud

This may not be something for all the couples out there, but a trip to Reptile World Serpentarium is something you won’t forget. This snake attraction houses more than 75 species of serpents. And every day, owner George Van Horn performs an “Extraction Show” where he removes venom from the snakes and you get to watch.

Reptile World Serpentarium
5705 E. Irlo Bronson Hwy.
St. Cloud, FL 34771
407-892-6905

Reptile World Serpentarium - 100 Things to do in Orlando Before You DieImage credit: Reptile World Serpentarium

Go Antiquing at Renninger’s Vintage Antique Center

Central Florida’s best spot to find antique treasures is at Renninger’s Vintage Antique Center in Mount Dora. Jewelry, furniture, books and just about everything else is for sale at this HUGE market. Stroll around for the day and when you’re hungry, be sure to stop at the Grub Hub Cafe and grab a burger. Trust us.

Renninger’s Vintage Antique Center
20651 U.S. 441
Mount Dora, FL 32757
352-383-8393

About 100 Things to do in Orlando Before You Die

Orlando is known as the Theme Park Capital of the World, but did you know there is so much more to Central Florida than Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld? The region is home to some of the world’s most unique restaurants, events, attractions and activities.

100 Things to Do in Orlando Before You Die is an insider’s guide to what makes Orlando so special. Did you know you can go zip-lining over alligators at Gatorland? Did you know the region’s largest concentration of pinball machines is at The Pinball Lounge? Have you ever been to Lee & Rick s Oyster Bar, one of the oldest restaurants in Central Florida? Whether you’re a resident or a visitor to Orlando, 100 Things to Do in Orlando Before You Die will help you discover the real Orlando.

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100+ Orlando Cooking Classes in November & December

Orlando cooking classes

This content is proudly supported by Aggressive Appliances

This content proudly supported by Aggressive Appliances

It’s hot in the kitchen, baby! Whether you’re hoping to learn some new skills, pick up some fresh ideas or just have a fun night out together, you’re bound to find something you love from our list of 100+ Orlando cooking classes happening this November and December 2018!

Where to take a cooking class in Orlando:
Truffles and Trifles
Publix Aprons Cooking School (Dr. Phillips and Winter Park)
Tapa Toro
Griffin Cooking School at JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes
Edible Education Experience Chef Night
Chef Nite Orlando
FitLiving Eats
Golden Plum – Chef Susan Ytterberg

Check out our guide to where to take a cooking class in Orlando for more ideas.

PUBLIX APRONS COOKING SCHOOLS

WINTER PARK

Holiday Wine Dinner – Winter Park
Thursday, November 1, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

A Night for the Ladies – Winter Park
Friday, November 2, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person
*Also offered November 24

Flavors from Underground – Winter Park
Saturday, November 3, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person
*Also offered November 30, 6pm

Holiday Brunch – Winter Park
Sunday, November 4, 10:30am
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$45/person

Holiday Finger Desserts – Winter Park
Tuesday, November 6, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

Gourmet Game Day Grub – Winter Park
Wednesday, November 7, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

The Cheesecake Bible Cookbook Author George Geary – Winter Park – NEW!
Thursday, November 8, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person (***BOGO – Select 2 seats and enter discount code BOGOCH1488 to get one free!***)

An Evening with ONE Hope Wineries and Garrett Boles, Sommelier – Winter Park
Friday, November 9, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

Orlando Cooking Classes in November and December 2017Publix Aprons Cooking School

Choice Cuts (2-course) – Winter Park
Saturday, November 10, 7:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$25/person

Couples Cooking: Holiday Hors D’Oeuvres – Winter Park
Tuesday, November 13, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$100/couple

In a Nut Shell – Winter Park
Wednesday, November 14, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

Quick, Delicious and Easy – Winter Park
Thursday, November 15, 10am
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person
*Also offered November 21, 6pm

Winter is Coming – Winter Park
Thursday, November 15, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person
*Also offered November 26, 6pm

Shiner Brewery Dinner – Winter Park
Wednesday, November 16, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

Seafood Wine and Dine – Winter Park
Thursday, November 17, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$60/person

Holiday Brunch – Winter Park
Sunday, November 18, 1pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$45/person

Gluten-Free Baking – Around the World – Winter Park
Tuesday, November 20, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$45/person

Holiday Homecoming – Winter Park
Friday, November 23, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

Basic Knife Skills
Tuesday, November 27, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$55

Couples Cooking: Holiday Hors D’Oeuvres – Winter Park
Wednesday, November 28, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$100/couple

DR. PHILLIPS

Basic Knife Skills
Thursday, November 1, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$55/person
*Also offered November 27, 6pm

A Night for the Ladies – Dr. Phillips
Friday, November 2, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person
*Also offered November 24, 6:30pm

Surrender to Quality with Wine Educator Thom Horsey – Dr. Phillips
Saturday, November 3, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$55/person

Holiday Brunch – Dr. Phillips
Sunday, November 4, 1pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$45/person

The Cheesecake Bible Cookbook, Author George Geary (NEW!) – Dr. Phillips
Friday, November 9, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person (***BOGO – Select 2 seats and enter discount code BOGOCH1439 to get one free!***)

An Evening with ONE Hope Wineries and Garrett Boles, Sommelier – Dr. Phillips
Saturday, November 10, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

Choice Cuts (2-course) – Dr. Phillips
Tuesday, November 13, 7:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$25/person

Winter is Coming – Dr. Phillips
Wednesday, November 14, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person
*Also offered November 26, 6pm

Seafood Wine and Dine – Dr. Phillips
Thursday, November 15, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$60/person

Orlando cooking classesPublix Aprons Cooking School

An Evening with Winemaker Jamie Benziger and Imagery Wines – Dr. Phillips
Friday, November 16, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

Shiner Brewery Dinner – Dr. Phillips
Saturday, November 17, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

Holiday Brunch – Dr. Phillips
Sunday, November 18, 10:30am
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$45/person

Gluten-Free Baking – Around the World – Dr. Phillips
Tuesday, November 20, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$45/person

Quick, Delicious and Easy – Dr. Phillips
Wednesday, November 21, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

Holiday Homecoming – Dr. Phillips
Friday, November 23, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

Couples Cooking: Holiday Hors D’Oeuvres – Dr. Phillips
Wednesday, November 28, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$100/couple

Gourmet Game Day Grub – Dr. Phillips
Thursday, November 29, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

Flavors from Underground – Dr. Phillips
Friday, November 30, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

TRUFFLES & TRIFLES

Southern Thanksgiving
Thursday, November 1, 6:30pm
Truffles & Trifles
$62/person

Macarons
Saturday, November 3, 10:30am
Truffles & Trifles
$60/person

Soups and Chowder, Salads and Desserts
Monday, November 5, 6:30pm
Truffles & Trifles
$58/person

Amazing Thanksgiving Side Dishes
Wednesday, November 7, 6:30pm
Truffles & Trifles
$58/person

Tuscan Delights
Friday, November 9, 6:30pm
Truffles & Trifles
$59/person

Elegant Dinner Party
Wednesday November 14, 6:30pm
Truffles & Trifles
$60/person

Cooking class in Orlando Truffles & TriflesImage credit: Truffles & Trifles

Date Night – Beef and Bourbon
Saturday, November 17, 6:30pm
Truffles & Trifles
$150/couple

Holiday Macarons
Monday, November 19, 6:30pm
Truffles & Trifles
$60/person

Holiday Cookies and Cupcakes
Saturday, November 24, 10:30am
Truffles & Trifles
$59/person

Amazing Food Gifts
Monday, November 26, 6:30pm
Truffles & Trifles
$58/person

Holiday Cookies
Tuesday, November 27, 6:30pm
Truffles & Trifles
$58/person

Holiday Cookies, Bars & Brownies
Wednesday, November 28, 6:30pm
Truffles & Trifles
$59/person

Holiday Desserts – Pies, Tarts, Cakes & Trifles
Thursday, November 29, 6:30pm
Truffles & Trifles
$59/person

LEU GARDENS

Casual Tuscan Cooking
Tuesday, November 6, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Leu Gardens
$25-$30/person

Irish Soups and Broths
Thursday, November 15, 6:30pm-8:30pm
Leu Gardens
$25-$30/person

One Dough – Endless Delicious Cookies
Saturday, November 17, 10:30am-12pm
Leu Gardens
$25-$30/person

Homemade Jelly Making
Monday, November 19, 1:30pm-3pm
Leu Gardens
$35-$40/person

COCKTAIL CLASSES

Bitters & Brass Cocktail Class
Saturday, November 10, 3:30pm-5pm
Bitters & Brass
$50/person

Where to take a cocktail class in Orlando: Bitters & BrassBitters & Brass cocktail class. Image credit: Stephanie Patterson

OTHER CLASSES

Sushi Class 101| Behind the Knife a Dragonfly Experience
Saturday, November 3, 11:30am
Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi
$80

Fall Comfort Food with Award-Winning Chef Susan Ytterberg
Thursday, November 15, 6-8pm
Emeril Lagasse Foundation Kitchen House & Culinary Garden
$110

This Honest Food: Hands-On Cooking Class at the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Kitchen House & Culinary Garden
Thursday, November 15, 6-8:30pm
Edible Education Experience
$65

Holiday Sweets
Saturday, November 24, 11am-1pm
JW Griffin Cooking School – Grande Lakes Orlando
$45/person

PUBLIX APRONS COOKING SCHOOLS

WINTER PARK

Culinary Traditions Dinner Party – Winter Park
Saturday, December 1, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

Holiday Finger Desserts – Winter Park
Monday, December 3, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person
*Also offered December 18, 6pm

Couples Cooking: Soups and Stews – Winter Park
Tuesday, December 4, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$100/couple

Gluten-Free Baking – Around the World – Winter Park
Wednesday, December 5, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$45/person
*Also offered December 17, 6pm

Quick, Delicious and Easy – Winter Park
Thursday, December 6, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

The Feast of Seven Fishes – Winter Park
Friday, December 7, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$60/person

Seasons Greetings – Winter Park
Saturday, December 8, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

Couples Cooking: Holiday Hors D’Oeuvres – Winter Park
Monday, December 10, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$100/couple
*Also offered December 20, 6pm

Handmade Pasta – Winter Park
Tuesday, December 11, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

Orlando cooking classes

In a Nut Shell – Winter Park
Wednesday, December 12, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

Classic Cookies – Winter Park
Thursday, December 13, 10am
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person
*Also offered December 19, 6pm and December 24, 10am

Chef’s Table: Dare to Pair – Winter Park
Thursday, December 13, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$65/person

Seafood Wine and Dine – Winter Park
Friday, December 14, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$60/person

An Evening with Lagunitas Brewing Co. – Winter Park
Saturday, December 15, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

Cookies with a Twist – Winter Park
Wednesday, December 19, 10am
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person
*Also offered December 24, 4pm

Chef’s Table: Champagne Dinner Party – Winter Park
Friday, December 21, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$65/person

Christmas in Viejo San Juan – Winter Park
Saturday, December 22, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

Holiday Brunch – Winter Park
Sunday, December 23, 10:30am
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$45/person

Choice Cuts (2-course) – Winter Park
Wednesday, December 26, 5:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$25/person

New Year’s Eve Celebration – Winter Park
Sunday, December 30, 5pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$60/person
*Also offered December 31, 5pm

DR. PHILLIPS

Culinary Traditions Dinner Party – Dr. Phillips
Saturday, December 1, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

Holiday Finger Desserts – Dr. Phillips
Monday, December 3, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person
*Also offered December 18, 6pm

Couples Cooking: Soups and Stews – Dr. Phillips
Tuesday, December 4, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$100/couple

Gluten-Free Baking – Around the World – Dr. Phillips
Wednesday, December 5, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$45/person
*Also offered December 17, 6pm

Seasons Greetings – Dr. Phillips
Saturday, December 8, 10am
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

Couples Cooking: Holiday Hors D’Oeuvres – Dr. Phillips
Monday, December 10, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$100/couple
*Also offered December 20, 6pm

Handmade Pasta – Dr. Phillips
Tuesday, December 11, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

In a Nut Shell – Dr. Phillips
Wednesday, December 12, 10am
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

Classic Cookies – Dr. Phillips
Thursday, December 13, 10am
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person
*Also offered December 19, 6pm and December 24, 10am

Cookies with a Twist – Dr. Phillips
Thursday, December 13, 6pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person
*Also offered December 19, 10am and December 24, 4pm

Seafood Wine and Dine – Dr. Phillips
Friday, December 14, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$60/person

Christmas in Viejo San Juan – Dr. Phillips
Saturday, December 15, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$50/person

Chef’s Table: Champagne Dinner Party – Dr. Phillips
Friday, December 21, 6:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$65/person

The Feast of Seven Fishes – Dr. Phillips
Saturday, December 22, 10am
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$60/person

Holiday Brunch – Dr. Phillips
Sunday, December 23, 1pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$45/person

Choice Cuts (2-course) – Dr. Phillips
Wednesday, December 26, 7:30pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$25/person

New Year’s Eve Celebration – Dr. Phillips
Sunday, December 30, 5pm
Publix Aprons Cooking School
$60/person
*Also offered December 31, 5pm

COCKTAIL CLASSES

Holiday Cocktails
Saturday, December 8, 3:30pm-5pm
Bitters & Brass
$50/person

OTHER CLASSES

Cuisine Corner: Holiday Open House
Monday, December 10, 6pm-7pm
Orlando Public Library – Cypress Room
FREE Admission (Registration required)

Holidays Made Healthy: FitLiving Eats Plant-Based Cooking Class
Wednesday, December 12, 6pm
FitLiving Eats
$80/person

Food 101: Chile Peppers
Wednesday, December 19, 6:30pm
Orlando Public Library (Albertson Room)
FREE Admission (Registration required)

Where to Take a Cooking Class in OrlandoImage credit: Fit Living Eats

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8 Ideas for a Crystal River Date Day

8 Ideas for a Crystal River Date Day

Located just an hour and a half west of Orlando, Crystal River is best known for the hordes of manatees that flock to the spring-fed waters of Kings Bay each winter. Thanks to stable year-round temperatures between 72-75 degrees, springs serve as a natural refuge for manatees in search of warmer waters. And with more than 70 springs comprising Kings Bay, it’s no surprise that Crystal River has been deemed the Manatee Capital of the World. It’s also the only place in the country where you’re legally permitted to swim with the gentle giants, hence the area’s popularity.

Beyond getting face to face with a manatee, Crystal River boasts stunning parks and springs, active adventures, historic ruins and kayaking. In light of Orlando-based clear kayaking company Get Up and Go Kayaking’s recent expansion into Crystal River, we figured it was time to shed light on all this Nature Coast city has to offer for couples looking for an adventurous date day trip.

Go Kayaking in a Clear Kayak

Paddle through the crystal clear waters of Hunter Springs and Three Sisters Springs marveling at manatees from a completely clear kayak. Get Up and Go Kayaking recently launched tours in Crystal River inviting you to observe manatees in their element. Manatee season generally runs from mid-November to the end of March. During your tour, you may also spot dolphins, fish, turtles and birds among other native wildlife.

Each tour lasts between 2-2.5 hours and there are even a few spots where you can hop out of the kayak and take a refreshing dip in the cool spring water. Tours begin at $55/person and must be booked online in advance.

Also try:
Rainbow Springs: Just 20 minutes from Crystal River; $50/person

Clear kayaking at Crystal RiverImage credit: Get Up and Go Kayaking

Snorkel with Manatees

Swimming with manatees is an adventure you can only experience in Florida. Crystal River is the only place in the entire country where you’re legally allowed to hop into the water and come face to face with manatees. While you aren’t allowed to approach them, they will approach you, sometimes even rolling over for a belly rub or coming in for a manatee hug.

There are dozens of tour companies offering snorkeling tours including the Plantation on Crystal River ($65/person), River Ventures ($64/person) and Manatee Tour and Dive ($64/person). Tour times vary, but for fewer crowds book early morning tours. While manatee season lasts from mid-November to March, it’s best to go during the colder months.

Crystal River Date Day - Snorkeling with ManateesImage credit: River Ventures

Dive for Scallops

If you want to return for another aquatic adventure, try another Crystal River must-do: scalloping! The season is relatively short, lasting from mid-July to mid-September. If you’ve never scalloped before, it’s relatively easy and suitable for beginners. Because you hunt for scallops in water no deeper than about six feet, all you need is a snorkel, mask, mesh bag for collecting scallops, and fins. Snorkeling along the surface, look for scallops in the grass flats and then dive down to collect them.

The Plantation on Crystal River has a convenient scalloping package, which includes a two-night stay, a guided scalloping tour with all required gear, and breakfast at the hotel. As an added bonus, a chef will also cook your catch!

Stroll the Springs

After greeting a manatee in the water, make your way to Three Sisters Springs where a winding boardwalk will give you a new vantage point on the sparkling blue waters below. The scenic ¼-mile boardwalk features several lookout platforms for spotting native wildlife, including manatees. Day passes to the park are $15 during manatee season and include a trolley tour to and from the refuge. There are also nature trails to explore.

Three Sisters Springs - Crystal River date day ideasImage credit: Three Sisters Springs

Glide on a Segway Tour

Another option for land lovers, Crystal River Segway Tours guides several Segway excursions throughout downtown’s scenic stops. Stops include parks, bridges, downtown Crystal River, picturesque trails and historic points of interest. For the best bang for your buck, book the 1.5-hour tour, which includes two Segway loops and potential manatee sightings.

Grab a Bite

Crystal River may be small, but it’s part of the Main Street America program and features a historic downtown area home to multiple bars and restaurants. For date night bites, try Vintage on 5th for seafood, steak, Southern fare and wine served in a renovated church/cottage from the 1940s. Further south, West 82 Bar and Grill at the Plantation on Crystal River is a scenic stop with a view of Kings Bay. Or, go casual with lunch and drinks at Margarita Breeze, a no-frills waterfront eatery with a tiki bar serving seafood and burgers. Speaking of drinks, Copp Winery & Brewery offers wine tastings of three wines for just $3, in addition to craft beer from their onsite brewery. FYI – the winery and brewery is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Image credit: West 82 Bar and Grill

Hit the Beach

If you decide to stick around for the entire day, head out to Fort Island Gulf Beach to watch the sunset before making your way home. It’s about a 15-minute drive from downtown Crystal River out to the coast where you’ll find a small beach area and fishing pier. Onsite parking is available, and there are also restrooms.

Explore Ruins & Archaeological Sites

Just 15 minutes from Crystal River is Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park. This Florida state park is home to the impressive remnants of a 5,100-acre sugar plantation dating back to the 1800s. Bonus: admission is free! For more historical fun, pay the nominal $3 admission fee to enter Crystal River Archaeological State Park. The Native American site includes six mounds including burial mounds and temple/platform mounds.

More ideas:

For more information, check out http://www.discovercrystalriverfl.com.

Feature image credit: Get Up and Go Kayaking

Disclosure: Get Up and Go Kayaking is one of our valued advertising partners.

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A Portland Inspired Date Night

A Portland Inspired Date Night in Orlando

Portland, Oregon is rainy, cold, and about as far from Orlando you can get within the continental US. But I assure you, Orlando and Portland share many similarities.

Perhaps you are most familiar with the Pacific Northwest city of Portland from the popular AMC show Portlandia. The satirical take on this PNW utopia pokes fun at the idealistic young denizens and their tree-hugging, pickle-loving, kale-eating, coffee-sipping ways. Without a doubt, Portland is known nationwide as a “hipster” haven, a mecca for millennials and anyone sporting a sleeve of tattoos or a full-length beard. But what I’ve noticed in my travels is that the civic-minded, local-loving people that define Portland’s personality are not exclusive to the region. You can find some of the flare of Portland in Orlando too, seen in our embrace of local entrepreneurship, cottage businesses, and locally-grown food.

“Keep Portland Wierd,” is the slogan that has put Portland on the map as a city proud of its funky people and one-of-a-kind businesses. Celebrate Orlando’s unique people by supporting these Portland-esque businesses on a Portland inspired date night.

Every year Portland hosts the World Naked Ride–a public group bike ride/protest done…well, naked. To be clear, I’m not encouraging a naked date night rolling around Lake Eola (that’s illegal, just FYI). Keep your clothes on but your love for cycling strong by joining in the monthly Orlando Critical Mass. Every last Friday of the month Orlando bike riders meet at Loch Haven Park and ride around town on a slow roll through the city. Safety is in numbers on these rides which attract hundreds of Orlandoans of all ages.

You can also join a Fleet Farming Swarm Ride to tend to community gardens around the Audubon Park Garden District.

Image Credit: Orlando Critical Mass

Portland is famous for coffee shops and bookstores serving up hot cups of caffeine.  In proper Portland fashion, many coffee shops pride themselves on roasting the beans themselves. Orlando’s local roasters Lineage Coffee, Credo Coffee and Foxtail Coffee take pride in every cup, be it cold brew or cappucino.

Portland is a coastal harbor town surrounded by the lush forests of the Pacific Northwest. The city has taken steps to consciously protect the natural landscape of the city and create parks for its people. Despite having dreary weather, denizens still enjoy the public spaces such as the riverfront, Japanese Garden, and Rose Garden. Enjoy Orlando’s incredible weather and beautiful city parks like Bill Frederick Park, Lake Eola Park, Mead Gardens, Kraft Azalea Gardens and Loch Haven Park.

Kraft Azalea Gardens | Image credit: City of Winter Park

Portland’s famous Salt and Straw ice cream parlor has become nationally recognized thanks to funky flavors like Black-Olive Brittle and Goat Cheese, Honey Lavender, and Avocado Hot Fudge. These brave flavor combos are a hit with those looking for more than just vanilla. Orlando’s own Greenery Creamery offers dairy and vegan flavors of a similar style, such as Black Ash Coconut or Earl Grey Tea. Also try Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream for freshly made ice cream with rotating seasonal flavors.

There’s an iconic scene from Portlandia where Fred Armisen and Carrie Bradshaw’s characters become irrationally obsessed with the life and story of the chicken they have ordered for dinner. No need to ask for Cluck’s family tree; several Orlando restaurants including The Ravenous PigThe Sanctum and Primo promise fresh farm-to-table food that you can be sure is freshly grown, locally reared, and humanely harvested.

Other farm-to-table favorites include: 

The Sanctum Cafe | Image credit: Arlene Laboy

Portland’s Voodoo Doughnut has been featured on the Food Network and the Travel Channel, to name a few. This once Portland-only donut shop has expanded nationwide, including a location in Orlando at Universal’s CityWalk. But the artisanal donut craze inspired by Voodoo Doughnut has taken the country by storm. In Orlando too, you can find freshly crafted donuts at locally-owned shops like Little Blue Donut Co. and Valkyrie Doughnuts.

Another favorite, Orlandough is a cottage business, which means the owner, Liz, makes the donuts in her house. You can place a custom order online, or find her selling donuts at pop-ups around town in partnership with businesses like Kelly’s Ice Cream, The Ravenous Pig, and New General Store. She also does periodic doughnut and beer pairing events at Orlando Brewing. Be sure to follow @orlan_dough on Instagram for the latest on where she’ll be selling and what seasonal flavors she’s cooked up.

Image credit: Orlandough

If you’re missing the Portland vibe, or think that the PNW city sounds too cool to be true, remember that a city is defined by its people. In Portland they screech to a halt for pedestrians, go out of their way to give directions, and greet you with a smile. Portland has rightly earned the reputation as being a friendly place to live and visit due to the kindness its denizens exhibit to neighbors and visitors. If you’re really looking to bringing a little Portland to Orlando, try exhibiting that daily kindness to your neighbors. Watch how it travels throughout the community and soon enough, we may be known as “Portlando.”

Feature image credit: © Universal Orlando Resort 2018. All rights reserved. 

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The Best Orlando Main Street Districts for Date Night

Things to do for Valentine's Day in Orlando

The Orlando Main Streets Program was developed in 2008 as a way to strengthen Orlando neighborhoods as part of the Main Street America movement. Today, there are 10 Orlando Main Street Districts, each with their own signature flair and walkable hub of restaurants, shops, bars and landmarks.

As an added bonus, each district just happens to boast endless activities for date night. Do yourself a favor and visit one–or all–of these districts to support local business and makers while discovering another source of pride for the city where you live and do date night.

Ivanhoe Village is so romantic it was named one of the three Most Romantic Main Streets in 2017! Besides romantic eateries and cozy bars, the district is a haven—literally—for art lovers. Loch Haven Cultural Park is home to multiple theaters and museums including Orlando Shakes and the Orlando Museum of Art. The latter hosts regular hands-on workshops for adults as well as a monthly 1st Thursdays after-hours event. Annually, the park hosts the Orlando Fringe Festival, a multi-day uncensored and unjuried arts festival showcasing performance art and more.

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If you’d prefer to create art instead, Factur is a creative co-working space, which hosts weekly open houses and hands-on workshops, like glassblowing and woodturning.

Dine on shareable tapas at Santiago’s Bodega (try happy hour for $3 sangria and $5 tapas) or watch the sun dip below the horizon from the lakefront patio at Mesa 21 or the rooftop of M Lounge. No matter what you do, don’t leave the district without dessert at Better Than Sex. This sultry dessert-only restaurant is decked out with risqué art on the walls and a decadent menu of naughtily named desserts and chocolate-rimmed glasses of dessert wine.

Santiago's Bodega Orlando happy hourSantiago’s Bodega | Image credit: Stephanie Patterson

Dine & Drink

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For a quintessential Orlando date, the Thornton Park District can’t be beat. Here you’ll find the iconic Lake Eola Park, a fixture for weekly community events and too many Orlando proposals to count. You can take to the water in a romantic swan paddleboat for a closer look at the fountain, or walk the paved trail around the lake checking out art installations along the way. The park is also home to the weekly Orlando Farmer’s Market and a community yoga class on Sundays.

Lake Eola Swan Boat rideLake Eola Swan Boats. Image credit: Arlene Laboy

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, there are dozens of restaurants and bars dotting the brick-lined streets. Dine on Southern fare at Soco or snag a table outdoors in the evening at Dexter’s Thornton Park. Both restaurants have patios, delicious weekend brunch menus, and date night ambiance. For dessert, savor artisan ice pops at The Pop Parlour (they’ve even got booze-infused pops) or inventive ice cream at The Greenery Creamery.

Soco

Dine & Drink

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yoga in orlandoYoga at Lake Eola Park, Sundays at 11am

On a budget? Orlando’s Mills 50 district is one of the best places to do date night for under $50. It’s also one of the most culturally diverse districts, home to impressive street art, multiple LGBTQ organizations, and restaurants covering a multitude of cuisines. You can’t visit Mills 50 without spending some time appreciating the colorful murals, electrical boxes and dumpsters. Rent a Juice bike by lil’ indies and set off to see how many murals you can find, or follow this self-guided street art tour to visit a few of our favorites.

Black Rooster Taqueria is one of our favorite local taco establishments, and it’s classy enough for a casual date. Prepare yourself to taste the best made-to-order guac in town along with authentic tacos like the Black Rooster Asada and Crispy Fish. Afterwards, head next door to The Guesthouse for craft cocktails served in a classy setting. In Orlando’s Little Vietnam, you can nosh on everything from pho at Pho 88 Vietnamese Restaurant and Laos street food at Sticky Rice to bao at King Bao and authentic Vietnamese eats at Little Saignon. For farm-to-table eats try The Strand, which sources ingredients from local farms and also serves a killer Saturday brunch.

Date Night in Orlando's Little VietnamImage credit: Kelsey Glennon

Dine & Drink

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Mills 50 district muralMural by Andrew Spear on Shine & Colonial. Image credit: Arlene Laboy

From a lush 50-acre botanical garden to an indoor food market and enough dessert-centric eateries to earn the nickname of the “dessert district”, Audubon Park has something for everyone. This eco-friendly neighborhood also hosts an assortment of fun events including a weekly community market.

Harry P. Leu Gardens is a fixture of the district, boasting 50 acres of manicured gardens and a monthly movie night (first Friday of most months). Pack a picnic and your favorite bottle of wine to enjoy while you watch a flick outdoors. For a more active date, join a walking food tour with Mosquito County Tours, or hop on your bike to partake in a Fleet Farming Swarm Ride to tend to community gardens.

The central hub for foodies is East End Market, home to a multitude of food purveyors, a coffee shop, Domu (the best ramen in town) and several local vendors. Date night must-dos include the weekly grilled cheese happy hour at La Femme Du Fromage, sinking your teeth into a gigantic Gideon’s Bakehouse cookie, and listening to free live music on the patio each Saturday. Cross the street to savor a scoop of homemade ice cream at Kelly’s (try the Mexican chocolate!). Get your drink on at Redlight Redlight, a craft brewery and beer parlour with more than 30 beers on tap and even more selections available by the bottle.

East End MarketImage credit: East End Market

Dine & Drink

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Orlando Events for September 2018Leu Gardens movie night | Image credit: Leu Gardens

The iconic Church Street District is our go-to for a fancy night out in downtown Orlando. Church Street Station, Orlando’s original train station, serves as a centerpiece with dozens of restaurants and bars lining the streets.

The Church Street District dates back to the 1800s so start your date by taking a self-guided walking tour of the area’s historic buildings. This map will give you details and background along the way. Get your game on at Hamburger Mary’s for a round of trivia every Wednesday, or watch a sporting event at Amway Center, home to the Orlando Solar Bears and the Orlando Magic. Soccer fans can celebrate at Lion’s Pride, a dedicated soccer fan bar and restaurant, before heading to Orlando City Stadium for a match.

Classy options for a dinner date are plentiful, from the swanky Kres Chophouse to The Rusty Spoon, owned by James Beard Award Nominee Chef Kathleen Blake. If you’re in the mood for a classic dinner and a movie date, dine at Chela Tequila & Tacos before heading to Cobb Plaza Cinema Café for a flick.

Church Street District Date Night ItinerariesImage credit: Church Street District

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More Orlando Main Street District date nights:

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A Discovery Cove Date Day

discovery cove

It’s hard to believe that just a few miles off I-4 there’s a place that will truly make you feel like you’ve been transported to a remote tropical island. White sandy beaches, palm trees swaying in the breeze and the sound of steel drum music playing in the distance might make you think you’ve traveled to the Bahamas. But no, you’re still in Orlando. You’re at Discovery Cove… and you’re about to have an unforgettable date day. 

Hosted by the PR team a few weeks ago, we had the chance to immerse ourselves in this anti-theme park on a warm October day. In short, it’s definitely something every Orlando couple needs to try at least once. Here’s why:

ALL-INCLUSIVE PRICE

Everything is included in your all-day ticket price. Breakfast, lunch, snacks, beverages (including beer and wine), masks and a take-home snorkel, sunscreen, day-use towels and wet suits are all part of your admission. Once you arrive, you can tuck your wallet in your locker (also included in the ticket price) and forget about it for the day. The value is extraordinary. 

Grand Reef

EXCLUSIVE ACCESS

Discovery Cove is limited to just 1,300 guests per day. During our visit, we were told there were about 1,000 guests onsite. It felt like there were about 200 people there. It never felt crowded, we hardly ever saw a line, beach chairs were plentiful, and the lazy river was never congested. 

Dolphin Lagoon

ALL-DAY ACTIVITIES

Lazy River
Float along a tropical river past sandy coves and lush rainforests under cascading waterfalls and through an underwater cave.

Beach and Serenity Bay
Soak up the sun with your toes in the sand or dip into the warm waters (always 85 degrees) of Serenity Bay, the resort’s peaceful water area.

Grand Reef
Grab your snorkel gear and dive into Grand Reef where thousands of tropical fish swim through their coral reef habitat. You can even swim up to an underwater shark exhibit. The exhibit is separated by glass to give swimmers the sense that they are shark diving without actually being too close.

Dolphin Interaction
An optional experience for day guests, you can choose to participate in a 30-minute meet-and-greet in the Dolphin Lagoon with one of the 40+ dolphins that were born at Discovery Cove. The experience includes learning some training techniques and the chance to swim one-on-one with a dolphin.

Explorer’s Aviary
Hand-feed parrots, toucans, and more in the free flight aviary home to innumerable exotic birds.

Map for experiences, dining, snacks and restrooms

FUN ADD-ON EXPERIENCES

SeaVenture
Experience an underwater walking tour along the reef floor, including shark encounters (through a 21-foot long panoramic window), and vistas of schools of fish and floating rays. From $49 per person.

Animal Trek
Opt for a private 90-minute, behind-the-scenes tour of the aviary and otter oasis, plus (possibly) meet an anteater and a sloth. $79 per person.

Other Add-Ons:

  • Swim with sharks
  • Ray feeding
  • Trainer for a day

Lunch!

PRIVATE CABANAS

Renting a private cabana is an added fee beginning at $199. And it’s worth every penny. It’s so great having your own private space tucked away with your own lounge chairs, hammock, locker, fridge filled with drinks, and a snack bar filled with goodies. Your cabana host will keep you stocked all day with snacks, drinks and fresh towels. Inventory is limited so be sure to book early.

Another option is to rent a Day Bed (starting at $69 each) which gives you a nice place to relax in the sun but doesn’t offer the privacy and bonus amenities that private cabanas do.

Private cabana entrance

NEED TO KNOW DETAILS

Cost
It really pays to be a Florida Resident when it comes to Discovery Cove admission. While admission fees can fluctuate throughout the year, you can expect to pay at least $119.00 per adult day pass, which does NOT include the dolphin experience but does include all your meals, parking, etc.

Times
Check in and breakfast begins at 7:15am. It’s a good idea to get there early to get situated. All the waterways are open from 9am – 5pm daily. The park unofficially closes at 5pm.

Location
Discovery Cove
6000 Discovery Cove Way
Orlando, FL 32821

For more details, visit discoverycove.com/orlando.

Lazy river cave

Disclosure: This experience was provided by the Discovery Cove PR team at no cost to the writer.

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Airbnb Experiences and Tours Locals Will Love

Airbnb Experiences and Tours Locals Will Love - Paddleboard Lake Jennie Jewel

You’re likely familiar with Airbnb when it comes to finding an affordable place to stay for a vacation or unique accommodations for a staycation. But did you know the site also offers a host of experiences and tours? There are just over a dozen options in Orlando. A local host guides each experience, ranging from activities like culture and food walks to hands-on workshops. Here are a few of our favorite options for date night.

Beer Tasting in Orlando’s Barley Row

Cost: $50/person
Upcoming dates: November 1, 6-9pm

Do you and your date love craft beer? Pack your Central Florida Ale Trail map for this beer-focused tour which begins at Ivanhoe Park Brewing Company and visits six breweries throughout the Ivanhoe Village and Mills 50 districts. You’ll receive a beer sample at each, plus food at one stop and two brewery tours. The tour lasts for 3 hours. Your guide, Mandy, is an Orlando local and bartender/bar manager with a serious love of craft beer. She founded her tour company, Mosquito County Tours, as a way to support the Audubon Park Main Street District where she lives.

Airbnb Experiences Barley Row Craft Beer TourImage credit: Mosquito County Tours

Paddling in Paradise

Cost: $30/person
Upcoming dates: Multiple dates and times available

Fall is the best time to take advantage of cooler temperatures and enjoy nature, especially on one of Central Florida’s lakes or waterways. This tour will teach you to paddleboard (also known as SUP – stand up paddleboarding) while exploring Lake Jennie Jewel with your guide, Jennifer, of Lake Life Paddle. You can also opt to kayak. The tour lasts two hours and includes instruction, paddleboard or kayak rental and a guided tour on the lake. You’re welcome and encouraged to bring some snacks to enjoy, or save your appetite for lunch at The Waterfront after your paddle.

Image credit: Lake Life Paddle

Walking Food Tour of Mills 50

Cost: $75/person
Upcoming dates: October 21, 12-3:30pm; November 15 & 29, 11am-2:30pm; December 6, 13 & 20, 11am-2:30pm

Mills 50 is one of our go-to spots for a casual and affordable date night, but it’s also rich in culture. Little Vietnam is a fascinating area to explore, and this tour is your ticket to taste your way through this part of the district while learning about the local Vietnamese community in the area, history, culture and art. You’ll also stroll by LGBTQ centers and explore shops and art exhibits. The tour lasts just over three hours, covers a distance of two miles and includes multiple food stops, so wear comfy shoes and arrive hungry.

Orlando's Little VietnamImage credit: Kelsey Glennon

Make Your Own Glass Blowing Art

Cost: $45/person
Upcoming dates: October 20 & 21, 6-7pm

This hands-on glass blowing workshop invites you to learn a new skill and take home an original piece of art. The workshop takes place at Factur, a creative co-working space in Ivanhoe Village. Your workshop host, Thomas, owns Florida Glass House, the studio inside of the Factur space where your workshop will take place. During the 1-hour experience, you’ll enjoy a tour of the studio and a brief demonstration followed by the workshop where you’ll make a piece of your own. Pieces take 12-18 hours to cool so you’ll need to arrange a time to pick up your piece or have it shipped.

Airbnb Experiences for Orlando LocalsImage credit: Florida Glass House / Arielle D’Ornellas

Walking Brunch Tour in Orlando’s Audubon Park Garden District

Cost: $55/person
Upcoming dates: November 4, 11am-2pm

There are so many great restaurants in the stretch of Corrine Drive that comprises the Audubon Park Garden District. This food tour is one of the best ways to experience a few of them in the span of a few hours. You’ll spend three hours exploring foodie stops inside of East End Market and along Corrine Drive. History buffs will enjoy commentary on the history of the area. Alcohol is included in the cost of the tour. This tour is led by Mandy of Mosquito County Tours, the same host who offers the Barley Row craft beer tour and Mills 50 food tours above.

Audubon Park Brunch Tour - Airbnb ExperiencesImage credit: Mosquito County Tours

More experiences to check out:

Feature image credit: Lake Life Paddle

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Airbnb Experiences and Tours Locals Will Love


Upcoming Events

  1. Miami/Brickell Festival of the Arts

    October 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - January 15, 2019 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  2. Comedian Gerry Dee World Comedy Tour in Naples, Florida

    November 21 @ 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm UTC+0
  3. Ocala Balloon Glow

    November 23 @ 5:00 pm - November 25 @ 10:00 pm UTC+0
  4. 9th Annual Shopapalooza Festival, Part 2

    November 24 @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm UTC+0
  5. Lake Helen Christmas Parade & Santa’s Village

    November 24 @ 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm UTC+0
  6. Christmas in the Country – Lights Display, Hay Ride & Festival

    November 24 @ 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm UTC+0
  7. Soul Beach: The Outdoor R&b / Jazz Concert & Comedy Show on the Water

    November 24 @ 7:30 pm - November 25 @ 1:00 am UTC+0
  8. 15th Annual X-Country Marathon, 30K, Half-Marathon & 5K

    November 25 @ 7:30 am - 2:30 pm UTC+0
  9. FREE TICKETS! Tampa Improv 11/27 Stand Up Comedy Show

    November 27 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm UTC+0
  10. FL Orchestra Happy Hour Concert – Nov 28

    November 28 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm UTC+0

Upcoming Events

  1. Miami/Brickell Festival of the Arts

    October 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - January 15, 2019 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  2. Comedian Gerry Dee World Comedy Tour in Naples, Florida

    November 21 @ 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm UTC+0
  3. Ocala Balloon Glow

    November 23 @ 5:00 pm - November 25 @ 10:00 pm UTC+0
  4. 9th Annual Shopapalooza Festival, Part 2

    November 24 @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm UTC+0
  5. Lake Helen Christmas Parade & Santa’s Village

    November 24 @ 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm UTC+0
  6. Christmas in the Country – Lights Display, Hay Ride & Festival

    November 24 @ 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm UTC+0
  7. Soul Beach: The Outdoor R&b / Jazz Concert & Comedy Show on the Water

    November 24 @ 7:30 pm - November 25 @ 1:00 am UTC+0
  8. 15th Annual X-Country Marathon, 30K, Half-Marathon & 5K

    November 25 @ 7:30 am - 2:30 pm UTC+0
  9. FREE TICKETS! Tampa Improv 11/27 Stand Up Comedy Show

    November 27 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm UTC+0
  10. FL Orchestra Happy Hour Concert – Nov 28

    November 28 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm UTC+0

Join our Fun Network

  1. Miami/Brickell Festival of the Arts

    October 20, 2018 @ 7:00 pm - January 15, 2019 @ 6:00 pm UTC+0
  2. Comedian Gerry Dee World Comedy Tour in Naples, Florida

    November 21 @ 7:00 pm - 9:30 pm UTC+0
  3. Ocala Balloon Glow

    November 23 @ 5:00 pm - November 25 @ 10:00 pm UTC+0
  4. 9th Annual Shopapalooza Festival, Part 2

    November 24 @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm UTC+0
  5. Lake Helen Christmas Parade & Santa’s Village

    November 24 @ 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm UTC+0
  6. Christmas in the Country – Lights Display, Hay Ride & Festival

    November 24 @ 6:00 pm - 8:30 pm UTC+0
  7. Soul Beach: The Outdoor R&b / Jazz Concert & Comedy Show on the Water

    November 24 @ 7:30 pm - November 25 @ 1:00 am UTC+0
  8. 15th Annual X-Country Marathon, 30K, Half-Marathon & 5K

    November 25 @ 7:30 am - 2:30 pm UTC+0
  9. FREE TICKETS! Tampa Improv 11/27 Stand Up Comedy Show

    November 27 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm UTC+0
  10. FL Orchestra Happy Hour Concert – Nov 28

    November 28 @ 6:30 pm - 7:30 pm UTC+0