Globetrotting Wild, Wacky, Unique and Fun Orlando, Florida

by Lawrence Ferber

While the big three theme parks (Disney, Universal, and Sea World) may define the vision of Orlando for many, there’s a whole lot of local life and neighborhoods brimming with unusual, wild, and inventive things to do, see, and eat.

Lawrence Ferber

You’ll spot “Safe Place” decals on many storefronts, depicting a rainbow patterned police badge, to indicate that this business will provide shelter and protection to victims of anti-LGBT crimes as they wait for authorities and assistance to arrive. The initiative was launched six months after the June 2016 Pulse Massacre, which is currently marked by the Pulse Memorial (1912 S. Orange Ave.) and Memorial Murals.

Just across the street and a block or two down from The Lovely is East End Market (3201 Corrine Dr. Tel: 321-236- 3316. www.eastendmkt.com), a foodie must-go thanks to its local artisanal food and craft vendors, including Lineage Roasters (www.lineageroasting.com), whose bottled cold brew with organic cream and local honey is one of the best I’ve tasted, perfectly measured in sweetness, acid, and mouth feel (and I’m a cold brew snob), and Gideon Bakehouse (www.gideonsbakehouse.com), Orlando’s answer to NYC’s famed Levain Bakery thanks to its hefty, decadent cookies, bulging with chocolate chips, candied walnuts, and more. Be quick—they often sell out some of the day’s varieties by lunchtime. Also be sure to browse Freehand Goods’ (www.freehandgoods.com) stall for clever Orlando-centric T-shirts and locally handmade leather, clothing, and men’s grooming goods.

Pulse Memorial

Foodies should check out the Facebook group Orlando Foodie Forum (www.facebook.com/groups/orlandofoodieforum) and website Tasty Chomps (www.tastychomps.com) for dish (pun intended) about what’s good to eat around town. One certain highlight is The Rusty Spoon (55 W. Church St. Tel: 407-401-8811. www.therustyspoon.com) where Iowa-born chef Kathleen Blake funnels seasonal, local ingredients into seriously tasty fusion-tinged American fare. Hey, omnivores and carnivores, the pepper-crusted beef carpaccio is not to be missed, while vegetarians can savor handmade pasta.

Although Earl’s (4200 Conroy Rd. Tel: 407- 345-8260. www.earls.ca/locations/orlando) is a chain restaurant, I loved my first Impossible Burger, a genuinely meaty meatfree patty that’s 100% plant based and served with tomatoes, onions, lettuce, pickles, mayonnaise, and mustard on a freshly baked brioche bun.

 

Finally, come evening, before hitting the nightlife, you can experience a reallife version of Pandora’s sparkling, sci-fi nature environment on a tour with Get Up and go Kayaking (www.getupandgokayaking.com) of the nearby Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge sparkling blue and green bioluminescent waters in a seethrough kayak.

Unique and wonderful Orlando indeed!

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