The Perfect Day in Orlando

If you only have a day in the City Beautiful, make it magic. You can spend it at one of the Walt Disney World parks or at Universal Orlando Resort or, better yet, save those for another trip and get to know this charming city on its own terms. Full of lush wetlands and state parks and small charming enclaves like Lake Eola and Winter Park, Orlando has enough to keep you happy and well-fed without any theme park dazzle.

445 N Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789, USA
If you’ve ever admired Louis Comfort Tiffany’s intricate lamps, you’ll appreciate the chance to visit this museum wholly dedicated to the artist himself. Called the Morse Museum for short, this Winter Park institution houses the world’s largest collection of authentic Tiffany works, including wondrous pieces of jewelry, pottery, leaded-glass lamps, art glass, and windows. Plan to stay for at least 90 minutes to fully enjoy the riot of color on display, and be sure to watch the short film that explains the story behind the famous glassworks.
1920 N Forest Ave, Orlando, FL 32803, USA
While Orlando typically inspires images of amusement parks, the city is also home to sites that are completely separate from the manufactured worlds of Disney and Universal—such as the Harry P. Leu Gardens. The urban oasis teems with tropical plants like azaleas and palms, and includes an historic home once inhabited by the Leu family. With more than 2,000 camellia plants and 230-plus cultivars, its impressive collection ranks among the largest in the United States.
2424 E Robinson St, Orlando, FL 32803, United States
Chef Chico Mendonça brings a taste of Portugal to Orlando with his food truck, Bem Bom. For the signature Prego de Frango Piri-Piri, he marinates chicken in his own piri-piri and serves it on fresh, warm prego (a crunchy yet chewy Portuguese bread) with hot mustard, cilantro, and pepper relish. If you’re lucky enough to be at the truck when Mendonça has piri-piri for sale, don’t leave without buying a bottle.
Thornton Park, Orlando, FL 32801, USA
A stroll through this pedestrian-friendly neighborhood near Lake Eola in downtown Orlando yields plenty to see and do. Design a T-shirt on the spot at Mother Falcon’s clothing factory, or stock up on women’s clothing at Zou Zou. The Falcon ticks off a couple of boxes because it’s not only a bar but also an exhibition space for the works of local artists and there’s frequently live music.
290 S Park Ave, Winter Park, FL 32789, USA
At Luma on Park, James Beard Award semifinalist Brandon McGlamery works magic with a modern American menu. While the restaurant follows dining trends with handcrafted cocktails and small plates, it’s really more of a modernized steak house, with dishes like Harris Ranch short ribs, foie gras terrine, cobia ceviche, and classic wedge salad. For a night to remember, request an outdoor table and enjoy the prix-fixe menu alongside some of Orlando’s best people-watching.
3201 Corrine Dr, Orlando, FL 32803, USA
Opened in Orlando’s eclectic Audubon Park Garden District in 2013, this wildly popular market features a collection of gourmet purveyors in a refurbished industrial building. Among the merchants are an artisan baker, a small enterprise specializing in barbecue sauces and rubs, a specialty cheese vendor with selections from around the world, and a craft coffee roaster. At the market’s anchor restaurant, Domo, guests can also look forward to specialty cocktails, Pan-Asian ramen, and a lively scene that lasts long after the other vendors have closed up shop. Occasionally, the market even hosts community events, pop-up dinners, yoga classes, and courses on cooking, home brewing, and more.
430 East Central Boulevard
More than 70 wines are available by the glass at this urban-chic wine bar on Lake Eola. The list includes Old and New World bottles, with wines grouped into themed flights (two-ounce samples of four different wines) for those interested in oenological comparison. When you find one you like, you can take it home, since this bar is also a wine shop.
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Journeys: Africa + Middle East
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