You’ve decided to escape the cold winter months and head for sunny Orlando, Florida. If it’s your first time here, you’ll want to know the best places to go and what’s on. Here’s CLC World Orlando resorts’ guide to Orlando for snowbirds.
You’ve come to Florida so you can enjoy the great outdoors without snow and ice, and to make the most of your snowbird lifestyle. In Orlando, there’s plenty to help you keep active.
With more than 150 golf courses, it’s no surprise that so many pro golfers live in Orlando. Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman and Tom Fazio designed several of the local courses.
CLC Regal Oaks is only 2.5miles to Celebration Golf Club, co-designed by Robert Trent Jones “The Father of American Golf Architecture” and his son, Robert Trent Jones Jr. It’s an unparalleled Florida golf experience – the 7,028-yard, 18-hole course is built on scenic wetlands.
With miles of rivers, lakes and canals — not to mention the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico just an hour away on either coast — the Orlando area offers unforgettable action for anglers of all skill levels.
On the days when you don’t want to go too far, you can enjoy the tranquil, tropical setting with lake, walking trails and ‘catch and release’ pier of your accommodation at CLC Encantada.
Outdoors and Ecotourism
Ecotourism has never been more popular, and in the heart of Florida — a state named for flowers and sun — Orlando’s natural beauty shines through.
Orlando Nature Trails and Parks
For hiking, bicycling and other outdoor activities, Orlando’s many nature parks and preserves offer a treasure trove of wildlife for you to explore. If you love cycling, you’ll love the West Orange Trail, with nearly 21 miles of paved routes, with restroom, picnic and playground facilities, stretching from Winter Garden to Apopka in the north.
Lake Eola Park is Orlando’s urban park, great for a stroll in the sunshine. If you’re feeling romantic, hire a swan-shaped boat and head out onto the water. From there it’s an easy walk to some of the city’s best dining.
The best place to catch a sunset in Orlando has to be Lake Underhill. Time your walk around the park’s 0.75 mile exercise trail, equipped with eight fitness stations, or your fishing and boating to capture the moment. You can also enjoy the park’s 1.3-mile loop trail, which connects to other public parks and the lake’s bridge.
Springs near Orlando
Crystal-clear waters at several pristine natural springs less than an hour from Orlando are perfect for perfect scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming and fishing — and the occasional manatee encounters.
Apopka, about 30 minutes from downtown Orlando, Wekiwa Springs State Park offers everything nature-lovers could want, from trails and canoe rentals to untouched wild vistas and family-friendly play areas.
Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, approximately 50 minutes from downtown Orlando, is famous for its annual influx of manatees. Blue Spring is especially popular in the winter months.
About an hour from downtown Orlando, De Leon Springs State Park combines all the beauty of natural Florida springs with a historic and delicious addition: the popular Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill and Griddle House.
MUSEUMS AND CULTURE
Some would have you believe Orlando didn’t exist before the arrival of Walt Disney, but nothing could be further from the truth. There’s a rich and varied history to be explored, from the prehistoric era, indigenous Americans, Spanish cattle ranchers and citrus growers to an historic African-American community, astronauts, visionaries and other trailblazers.
Orange County Regional History Center has the lowdown on Orlando’s history. From its heritage as a frontier, particularly in the 19th century, to the story of a group of African American artists (Florida Highwaymen) who emerged in the 1950s this museum is a must for lovers of history.
Downtown Orlando is home to the Wells’ Built Museum of African-American History and Culture, which was originally the historic Wells’ Built Hotel. Today, it houses memorabilia of Orlando’s African-American community, exhibits about the Civil Rights movement, and African art and artifacts.
The Orlando Museum of Art has one of the region’s most extensive collections of historic Hispanic and Latino artifacts. It has more than 900 works of art from over 35 ancient cultures, including the Aztecs of central Mexico and the Inca of Peru. Of particular note are 160 Mexican Chupicuaro figurines — the most comprehensive museum collection of its kind in the southeastern U.S.
In Maitland, about 15 minutes from downtown Orlando, is the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida. Nearby, Art & History Museums — Maitland offers three different museums featuring unique architecture, beautiful gardens, and quality exhibitions and programs.
Orlando’s expansive dining and nightlife districts have a range of dining options from dishes prepared by celebrity chefs, local legends, global cuisines and lots of farm-to-table goodness. Many restaurants also offer open-air seating so you can dine under Orlando’s warm skies, as well as takeout, pickup and delivery options.
International Drive in Orlando — aka I-Drive — is a destination in its own right, packed with unforgettable adventures, dining, nightlife, shopping, entertainment and other activities. If you like a side of entertainment with your dinner, you’ll love I-Drive’s unique dinner shows. If the grandkids are visiting, they’ll enjoy The Outta Control Comedy Magic Dinner Show at WonderWorks, while if it’s just the tow of you, legendary stage shows will have you dancing while you dine at Mango’s Tropical Café.
Orlando’s Restaurant Row district features some of Orlando’s most acclaimed eateries, including Dragonfly — Robata Grill & Sushi, Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar.
Orlando is a wonderland for those who like to shop without breaking the bank. There are 2 Premium Outlet sites, great for grabbing a bargain and designer shopping on a budget:
Orlando International Premium Outlets. This mall is the larger of the two, and houses names such as Armani, Calvin Klein, Converse, Disney, Levi’s, Polo Ralph Lauren and others.
Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets you’ll find the likes of Burberry, Guess, Coach, Gap, Nike and more.
As well as these two outlet giants, there is also the more compact Orlando Outlet Marketplace, located next door to the Orlando International Premium Outlet.
Insider tip: Both of the Orlando Premium Outlets locations tend to get very busy, particularly towards the afternoon. Valet parking is offered, but if you prefer to, arrive early in the day to increase your chances of finding a convenient parking space.
Located in the heart of the attractions area, Pointe Orlando is another outdoor venue with retail, dining and entertainment choices. Among the landscaped walkways, you’ll discover an eclectic mix of shops and fun boutiques.
There are walkable neighborhoods throughout Orlando including the charming Winter Park with its tree-lined, cobblestoned central thoroughfare, Park Avenue, and adjacent streets. You can shop at more than 60 upscale retailers offering everything from clothing, jewelry, footwear, gifts, wine, books and other lines.