So you’re planning on taking a holiday in Orlando! Already I’m 99% sure that, all things considered, I don’t blame you. Those famous theme parks are going to be a main feature of your trip, no doubt, and they are popular for a reason. But don’t let them blind you to the fact that there are plenty of other things to do in this part of Florida too! Here’s a selection of the crazy, quirky and unusual attractions we’d recommend slotting into your itinerary.
Quieten things down with a trip to Leu Gardens, set just outside downtown Orlando. The 50-acre site contains a dizzying variety of plants. Yup that’s right, dizzying. There are bamboo groves, a banana plant collection, a floral clock, a wetland garden, display of vines and tropical fruit. Need I go on? The garden is best known for the collection of camellias – the garden’s origins lie in the travels of Mr. and Mrs. Harry P. Leu who brought back 240 varieties from their wanderings.
Florida Citrus Tower
This attraction harks back to an earlier time in Florida’s history. Built in 1956, it was once the most visited attraction in the Orlando area, when the view from the top was miles and miles citrus groves. Nowadays the view from the tower includes housing developments and shopping centres but don’t let this put you off. The Florida Citrus Tower is still the tallest observation point in all of Florida, and a striking landmark.
Get away from it all at the Blue Spring State Park, which is a designated haven for manatees. It’s all about enjoying the fresh air, and fresh water here, with hiking trails, picnic areas, boat tours, canoeing and kayaking and even swimming, tubing and scuba diving in the clear and warm spring! Acres of space without a queue in sight, and all the attractions are made from nature. You’ll have to make your own fun, but it’ll be worth it!
The Holy Land Experience
Now I’m not trying to say that most theme parks are shallow, but I’ve not come across one that promotes the word of God before. Instead of the usual stomach-churning rides you get re-enactments of the Last Supper, the chance to browse the stalls of Ancient Jerusalem and inspirational water shows. And if that’s not enough, there’s even a hedge that is the representation of the Gospel quote ‘He Is Risen’.
Ringling Museum of Art
After spending plenty of time immersed in all things Disney, you may think you’ve been transported to the Beast’s mansion here with more quirky furniture than you can shake a stick at! Be our guest? Yes please! And there’s more – wander the art collection with everything from Titian to Ruebens and a replica of Michaelangelo’s David, check out the circus museum, catch a show in the 18th century European Theatre (yes, moved all the way to Florida) or get lost in the amazing gardens. You’ll be wondering if they do a week pass here too!