When simply “seeing” a destination just won’t do.
FEATURE ADVENTURE: Scotland in Florida
It’s the closest thing you’re going to get to playing the famed Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland – without having to leave American soil. Designed by Jack Nicklaus, the New Course at Villas of Grand Cypress was built to model the Scottish links masterpiece. While the entire course isn’t an exact copy of St. Andrews, it certainly has the feel with double greens, stone bridges and walls, gorse mounds, burns, and pot bunkers as deep as 12 feet. Holes number 1 and 18, however, are replicas – hole 18 is a dogleg right that replicates the legendary Road Hole, while hole 1 includes a drive across a stone bridge.
SeaVenture Tour | Discovery Cove
WALK ON THE WILD SIDE
After shimmying into wet suits and easing into a man-made coral reef consisting of 1.2 million gallons of saltwater, a dive helmet is lowered over you, feeding oxygen as you wander along the bottom of the reef floor. During the 20-minute experience, you’ll come eye-to-eye with sharks, pet velvety rays, and cut through schools of fish like Moses parting the Red Sea.
Airboat Cruise | Boggy Creek Airboat Rides
SPEED THROUGH THE SWAMP
Four unique airboat adventures soar up to 45 miles per hour atop the swamp water around Lake Tohopekaliga in Kissimmee, then slow to sashay through canals and marshlands to take in views of exotic birds, turtles, and the Florida alligator wallowing in their natural environment. Daily 30-minute, 45-minute, and one-hour tours are available.
Wakeboarding | Orlando Watersports Complex
GET UP GUARANTEE
Whether you're learning to get up for the first time or trying to master advanced tricks, a one- to four-hour lesson at Orlando Watersports Complex is guaranteed to take your ability to the next level. Regardless of your skill, a wide range of different cables allows even the most seasoned riders a challenge.
Like a Local
Quirky, under-the-radar highlights only a local could recommend.
Disney Springs is an outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment complex at the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida, near Orlando. The complex offers a great mix of unique shops, one-of-a-kind restaurants, lively entertainment, and activities for the entire family, while couples enjoy quality-time and business travelers relish time away from work.
Scenic Boat Tour
Winter Park, famous for being one of the most scenic small towns in America, is home to Scenic Boat Tour, a leisurely one-hour boat ride through the Winter Park Chain of Lakes. During the tour on the 18-passenger pontoon boat, you will enjoy spectacular local scenery, including views of extravagant waterfront mansions and Florida wildlife.
Paddleboat at Lake Eola
Escape from Orlando’s busiest attractions with a fun paddleboat ride on Lake Eola. Better yet, head out on a Sunday to pair it with stroll through Lake Eola’s renowned Farmer’s Market, featuring much more than your average farmer’s market, including seasonal fresh produce, unique drinks, home-cooked barbeque, and much more.
Coca-Cola Orlando Eye
Located at one of Orlando’s newest shopping and dining complex that features a sea aquarium perfect for kids, this 400-foot Ferris wheel is the largest on the East Coast. Enjoy scenic views of Orlando from above whether it’s day or night.
How to spend 36 hours in Orlando, with Villas of Grand Cypress as your base camp.
5 p.m. | Bike & Dine around Villas of Grand Cypress
Get your bearings of this 1,500-acre golf resort by borrowing a bike from the pool and taking it for a spin around the grounds (there are designated bike trails). Finish with dinner at The Club. Cap off the night relaxing by the pool that is central to the villas.
11 a.m. | Pontoon Tour with Scenic Boat Tours
These hour-long pontoon-boat cruises bring a little bit of Venice to Florida. Starting on Lake Osceola in Winter Park (just a few miles from downtown Orlando), you travel through two different narrow man-made canals – one into Lake Virginia to the south; the other into Lake Maitland to the north – passing azalea gardens, cranes, and multi-million-dollar mansions on the way.
12 p.m. | Afternoon on Park Avenue
Leave your car in the Scenic Boat Tour parking lot, and walk the two blocks west to Park Avenue, Winter Park’s classy shopping and dining district. The tree-lined 10-block stretch is home to more than 100 shops, from upscale national retailer Williams-Sonoma to modern-boho styles of the one-of-a-kind Forema Boutique. Grab lunch at one of the many sidewalk cafés (some of our picks: Prato, Luma on Park, Boca).
7 p.m. | A Show in the Church Street District
Head to Orlando’s historic downtown, home to the city’s top entertainment venues, fine dining, and nightlife, for a 7:30 show at Mad Cow Theatre. Photos from more than 100 productions – a mix of classics, contemporary plays, and musicals – from 15 seasons grace a colorful wall in the lobby. While a small theater, that just means you’re that much closer to the stage.
9:30 p.m. | Kasa Restaurant & Bar
The kitchen of this restaurant just a block down from Mad Cow doesn’t close until 11, so if you haven’t had dinner or just want a quick tapas plate or two after the show, this is the place. The menu – boasting Spanish and Asian influences, as well as a raw bar – is as fresh as the decor’s mix of warm wood and cool aquamarine.
10 a.m. | Lounge Out at the Villa Pool
The beauty of the Villas at Grand Cypress is that you’re right on the edge of Disney World, yet you couldn’t feel further away. Relish the serenity at this pool, reminiscent of a natural lagoon that weaves through tropical vegetation and rocks. Drinks are brought to your lounge chair under the shade of palm trees.
Crooked Can Brewing Company
It’s not easy to find good craft beer at $4 to $5 a pop, but Winter Garden’s new microbrewery has done it with 16 taps serving beers only brewed in-house, ranging from stouts to IPAs to amber ales. The best part? Crooked Can is located inside the Plant Street Market, a cluster of artisan shops, so you can actually walk around and peruse the other stores with a beer in hand.
ERIN MCKENNA’S BAKERY NYC
Indulgent edibles are around every corner in Disney. However, this bakery, which opened in 2015 in the Disney Springs shopping district on the edge of the park parameters, filled a hole in the dessert roster: It only serves vegan and gluten-free items, including some of the best cookies, cupcakes, focaccia, and cinnamon rolls that even non-gluten-free patrons have said they’ve ever had.
Quantum Leap Winery
Central Florida’s first urban winery has a two-fold mission: to make good wine from grapes from around the world, but to do so in an environmentally friendly way. All raw, unrefined wines are imported not in bottles but large plastic vessels to their Ivanhoe Village location, where – after aging, blending, and finishing – they’re packaged in kegs, pouches, or boxes – all low-carbon-footprint vessels.
Based in a historic building in downtown Winter Garden, Scoops is the old-fashioned ice cream shop of your childhood dreams with classic wooden counters and stools and checker-topped tables for a game of chess. Flavors range from key lime to cappuccino to salted caramel and include sorbets, sundaes, and milkshakes, but what the spot is really known for is its generous portions; one scoop is technically the size of three at only $2.50 to boot.
- Like a LocalQuirky, below-the-radar highlights only a local could recommendRead More
- The WeekenderHow to spend 36 hours here, with the resort as your basecamp.Read More
A Gemstone Collection Hotel
Villas of Grand Cypress, One North Jacaranda, Orlando, Florida 32836 P: (407) 239-4700 Toll Free Reservations: (877) 330-7370