When people think of Orlando, Florida they think of Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, or any of the other 12 world-famous theme parks. But let me tell you guys, Orlando has so much more to offer than just the typical family vacation spots. I’ve been living in ‘the land of the mouse’ for about 12 years and love it when people ask me for tips on how to visit as travelers rather than tourists.
Central Florida has great weather year-round, so any time of the year is a good time to come explore. Keep in mind that Orlando’s public transportation isn’t always reliable so renting a car might be a good idea. Most of these are a bit of a drive from downtown-Orlando proper (Orlando isn’t the largest inland city in Florida for nothing), but so worth the visit!
Immerse Yourself in Good Ol' Florida Nature
If you’re like me, you love a trip that involves plenty of outdoor adventures. I love to go camping and my favorite place to do so near Orlando is Wekiwa Springs State Park. True to its name, Wekiwa Springs is home to a clear-water Florida aquifer that fills an entire swimming area and connects to the Wekiva River. It’s the perfect spot to kayak, paddleboard, or simply cool-off during the day. I’ve been camping in Wekiwa for quite a few years now and have had a great trip every time. I get my camping gear from Backcountry, which is a premium outdoor & lifestyle retailer based in beautiful Park City, Utah. I like to have plenty of space to move around in the tent so although it’s usually just Travis and I out there, I’ve always sworn by my 6-person tent from Mountainsmith! Plenty of room for us, the camping gear, and of course snacks of every kind. Backcountry’s semi-annual sale is going on during the entire month of August so you still have a couple of days to save up to 50% sitewide on clothing, gear, and accessories! If there’s one deal I recommend you jump on, it’s this yellow Herschel Supply backpack. I’ve been taking it everywhere with me lately!
If you like hangin’ out in nature but don’t really want to commit to an overnight trip, Orlando has a ton of great running and bike trails. Cady Way Trail is a really beautiful and well-maintained trail that’s about 7 miles along. I rode my bike over to Park of the Americas the other day, which is also a great spot. Side note: if you’re traveling with a 4-legged friend, Park of the Americas has the best dog park in Orlando. It’s a public park though so expect less greenery. These Free People jeans are my favorite to wear on bike rides because they’re super stretchy and comfortable, and sunglasses in Florida are always a must. These VonZipper ones have been saving my life lately.
Grab a Coffee
There’s a few coffee shops in Orlando worth mentioning. Stardust Café is a super indy shop featuring old record players, a ton of books, and great coffee. Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar is another great one that, aside of amazing soy lattes, also serves a ton of plant-based desserts. If you’re looking for something a little less hipster, opt for Downtown Credo. They’re modern, super involved in bettering the community, AND let you pay whatever you want. Yes, they’re a 100% donation based coffee shop – super cool.
Dip Your Feet in the Atlantic
Now, we all know Orlando is land-locked, but no trip to Florida is complete without a trip to the beach. This is where the rental car comes in handy, as Orlando’s closest beach is Cocoa Beach. I make the trip out there at least one a week during the summer, especially in the morning time. I kick off my sandals, set up my cute little towel from The Beach People and sit UNDER the umbrella because that Florida sun is no joke. You can usually catch me reading a David Sedaris book and sipping some sweet iced tea from my Mizu bottle.
If you guys have been checking out the linked products, you’d know they’re all still on sale. Backcountry’s semi-annual sale lasts until the end of August so hurry to get 50% off if you’re loving any of them!
Become a Space Cadet
For those of you wanting a little history out of your Orlando trip, there’s nowhere better to go than NASA. Otherwise known as Kennedy Space Center, this visitor center is home to many famous rockets including Saturn V and Apollo 8. There’s meet and greets with real astronauts, and if you’re there on the right day you can even see a real rocket launch. NASA is located on Cape Canaveral, right next to Cocoa Beach. I recommend making it a combo-trip by visiting KSC in the morning and catching the sunset at Cocoa later in the day.
Have you ever visited any of these locations? Are you planning to? As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave me a comment down below or send me a message on Instagram!
*Sponsored by Backcountry and ShopStyle.