EXPERIENCE THE OUT OF THE ORDINARY IN CENTRAL FLORIDA
Orlando is known as a tourist destination. In 2017, 72 million people
visited The City Beautiful, a record number. Of course, these record numbers are due to our theme parks: Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and Sea World, to name the few most well-known. Out-of-towners assume those of us who live here must visit the parks every chance we get. Some do, but most of us avoid these “tourist” areas.
Locals know Orlando has far more to offer than just the theme parks. If you’re looking for an experience that’s out of the ordinary, look no further. Here are 10 out of the ordinary things you can do in Central Florida that you may not have known even existed:
#1 STARGAZE AT KISSIMMEE PRAIRIE PRESERVE STATE PARK
The Kissimmee Prairie Preserve
is part of the Everglades headwaters and protects the largest remaining tract of Florida dry prairie. In 2016, the park was recognized as Florida’s first Dark Sky Park
by the International Dark Sky Association. Due to its lack of light pollution, visitors can see the Milky Way, Jupiter, Saturn, and the International Space Station (when it orbits) without a telescope.
Like most parks, the preserve is only open until sunset, but you can reserve a campsite ($16-$42) or an astronomy pad to spend the night and star gaze. Those of you with a horse can take advantage of their equestrian campsites
that come equipped with a paddock. You do, of course, need to arrive at the park before sunset.
Address: 33104 NW 192nd
Avenue, Okeechobee, FL 34972
#2 EXPERIENCE A LIVE VENOM EXTRACTION
Completely ignore this suggestion if you are afraid of snakes. If not, there are two places I recommend to get your herpetological
fix: Reptile World Serpentarium
and Reptile Discovery Center
. Both facilities perform live venom extractions that can be watched from the safety of a glass window. The demonstration is as educational as it is fascinating. I’ve seen the venom extraction at the Reptile Discovery Center, and it was terrifyingly amazing.
Reptile World Serpentarium does their shows at noon and 3pm Tuesday through Sunday. They’ve been around since 1972 and have over 80 species for your viewing pleasure (including a rare green mamba).
Address: 5705 E Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, St. Cloud, FL 34771
Reptile Discovery Center does their shows Thursday through Saturday at 11:30 and 3pm, and 11:30 on Sundays. You can also take a guided tour through their nature trail and get up close and personal with their Animal Encounter experience.
Address: 2710 Big John Drive, Deland, FL 32724
#3 TAKE A CRAFT COCKTAIL CLASS
Who doesn’t enjoy a nice craft cocktail? But making craft cocktails entails more than just pouring a couple ingredients over ice. Some recipes can be quite complicated. That’s where the class part comes in. Take a date or group of friends to one of these interactive mixology classes:
The Courtesy Cocktail Class
The Courtesy offers classes on the 1st
Saturday of every month. The class begins at 5:15pm and lasts 90 minutes. You’ll get a history lesson and learn how to make your favorite cocktails. The course costs $55 per person but that includes the materials you’ll need and the gratuity. And the bar is closed during the class.
Address: 114 N Orange Avenue, FL 32801
The Woods Private Class
The Woods says to “think of it as an interactive culinary class with booze.” This hands-on experience is uniquely designed to what you and your group want to learn. There is no set date or time for these classes; your event must be booked with the bar. The cost starts at $30 per person.
Address: 49 N Orange Avenue, FL 32801
Bitters & Brass Cocktail Class
Each Bitters & Brass class is uniquely themed: one might be gin cocktails, another vodka and so on. Not only do you learn the history of the drinks you’re making, but you get to do it at a personal mixing station. These classes are the 2nd
Saturday of the month from 3:30-5pm and cost $50 per person, which includes materials and gratuity. Custom classes are available for parties of 6-12.
Address: 410 Sanford Avenue, Sanford, FL 32771
#4 ENJOY AN INTERACTIVE FARM TOUR
Whisper Creek Farm
at Grande Lakes Orlando
is an 18,000 square foot farm that offers interactive tours. The tours are available year-round (weather permitting) for groups of 2-100 (booked 7 days in advance). Their tours are a bit pricey, but well worth it. They have three experiences available:
Farm to Fare
The Farm to Fare tour allows couples to pick favorite ingredients to be used for a romantic dinner for two at the Highball & Harvest
Chef’s Table at the Ritz Carlton. The herbs collected on the tour are infused into cocktails to be had before the dinner begins. The cost is $95
per person depending on the menu chosen.
Farm to Family
The Farm to Family tour is an extensive tour of the grounds with a sampling of fresh produce. The tour also includes a guided farming lesson and culminates in a picnic featuring dishes made from ingredients off the farm. The cost is $75
per person depending on the menu chosen.
Farm to Foam
The Farm to Foam tour showcases the different fruits and herbs used in beer production at The Brewery. Guests take a tour of the farm and brewery and finish with a beer and bites sampling at Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen. The cost is $85
Address: 4040 Central Florida Parkway, Orlando, FL 32837
#5 MAKE YOUR OWN GLASS ART
Thomas, the proprietor of Florida Glass House, teaches glassblowing workshops
out of his studio. The Florida Glass House Studio is located in Factur
, a maker space that houses different artists and tradespeople. During the workshop, Thomas gives a guided tour of the studio, explains the glass making process, and helps participants make their own glass art. He has 15 years of experience and has taught over 4000 classes, so you’ll be in expert hands.
Check out his Facebook page
to find out information on Date Night Workshops, Hand-Blown Glass Workshops, and Solid Glass Sculpting Workshops. Workshops start at $45 per person.
Address: 520 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803
#6 TAKE A COOKING CLASS
There are plenty of options to take a cooking class in Orlando, but my top recommendation is Truffles and Trifles
. Truffles and Trifles has been around for 34 years and was named one of the top 5 cooking schools in the country by the Food Network. This is a great idea for an interesting date night, but you could also go with a group of friends. They offer private parties, corporate parties, and kids parties too. Check out their website
to see upcoming classes as they each have different themes and menus. Did I mention you get to eat what you cook?
Address: 711 W Smith Street, Orlando, FL 32804
#7 ENJOY A NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM
If you’ve never been to the Orlando Museum of Art
(OMA), I highly recommend it. Aside from the 10-12 temporary exhibitions they host throughout the year, they also have staple collections to view. But I’m here to talk about their events. OMA has more to offer than just their art:
Known as “Orlando’s original art party,” the 1st
Thursday event happens—you guessed it—the 1st
Thursday of the month from 6-9pm. The event features local artists, live music, cash bars, and food from area restaurants. Aside from mingling with fellow art lovers, you have the chance to purchase local art and take a look at the current featured exhibit. The cost is only $15 per person, but if you have an annual membership to the museum, the event is free.
Art Night Out
Art Night Out is a teacher-led art class. It happens on select nights from 6-8:30pm. Each class is a different theme and the class is adults only (they serve alcohol). The cost is $30 per person, but that includes your supplies, and you get to take your masterpiece home with you when you’re finished.
Festival of Trees
Festival of Trees is a yearly event around the holidays. This event is in its 32nd
year and features Christmas trees of all sizes, holiday vignettes, wreaths, table décor, and more. Each piece is designed by local designers and is available for purchase. This year’s event is November 10-18th
and general admission is $15; however, they have VIP events
during the week as well.
Address: 2416 N Mills Avenue, Orlando, FL 32803
#8 TAKE A TOUR WITH MOSQUITO COUNTY TOURS
Mosquito County Tours
offers a variety of tours around the Orlando-Winter Park area. But these aren’t your boring, run-of-the-mill tours. These tours feature food, drink, and art, depending on your fancy. This is the perfect activity for a group of friends. Here are a few of their offerings:
There’s the Mills 50 Food & Art Walking Tour, a 3-hour tour through the Mills 50 District; the Artisan Bakery District Walking Tour, a 2-hour morning walk that takes you to 5 bakeries in the Audubon Park Garden District; and the APGD Brunchy Lunchy Food Tour, a great Sunday Funday tour.
If libations are more your thing, try the Barley Row Craft Beer Walking Tour, where you get to sample beer from 6 different spots, or the Crafty Cocktail Tour, a tour through downtown on select Saturday nights.
Coming in 2019, Mosquito County Tours will begin offering history tours, but they do currently offer private tours and custom tours. Tours cost $35 and up depending on the event.
Book your tour here.
Email address: email@example.com
#9 EXPERIENCE A ZOMBIE APOCOLYPSE
You read that right—a zombie apocalypse. Zombie Outbreak
is a totally immersive experience. You’re given life-like weapons, a crash course by your guide, and then you’re let loose in a military research lab overrun by real zombies (as in real people dressed up like zombies). Be warned: these are not your slow-moving zombies, they’re fast.
The zombies wear targets. When you hit the target (aim for the head), it stops the zombie for about 5-7 seconds and the targets register your statistics of kills. A group of 4-5 people can go through the lab together at $24.95 a person (that gets you an ammunition package of 150). After going through the first time, you have the option to go a second round for $12.95 per person. The second time around is more intense. You don’t get a guide; you’re on your own.
Address: 7364 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819
#10 PLAY A MEAN PINBALL
Inside the Oviedo Bowling Center is a The Pinball Lounge
that houses 30 pinball machines, some of them dating back to the 60s. If you love pinball, this is the place for you. Every Friday, the lounge hosts Flip-out Fridays, all you can play pinball from 8pm to close for only $10.
The lounge changes out the machines occasionally, but you can visit their website to see the current selection. They also have pinball leagues
. The leagues are cash leagues that run for 10 weeks. And don’t worry, they do serve food and drinks in the lounge, including alcohol.
Address: 376 E Broadway Street, Oviedo, FL 32765
#11 GO TO AN IMPROMPTU BLUEGRASS CONCERT
I know I said I was going to give you 10 out of the ordinary experiences, but I’m throwing in a bonus. The thing is, I can’t verify if this is still happening. You see, every Friday night for the past 20-some years, a group of Bluegrass
musicians gather in the parking lot of the Ocoee Twistee Treat to jam out. People bring lawn chairs, grab ice cream, and watch the show. But I went to their Facebook page and haven’t seen a post for the last 2 years. I’m not sure if the Friday night Bluegrass is still happening, but you’re welcome to check it out.
Address: 1500 Maguire Road, Ocoee, FL 34761
You might be wondering what any of this has to do with real estate
. Nothing. Whether or not you’re thinking of buying or selling a home (which we can help with), we want you to know what Central Florida has to offer. Real estate is about more than home sales, it’s also about building a community. So let us know if you try any of these experiences and how it went. We’d love to hear from you.
*Please drink responsibly and take an Uber or a Lift if you partake in any of these activities that involve alcohol.