Orlando, Off the Beaten Path
AAA Travel Editor Sherry Mims
Are you hoping to find fun things to do in Orlando that don’t involve theme parks or expensive Orlando resorts? Head off the beaten path, and check out some likable but lesser-known options in “The City Beautiful.”
For a colorful and creative experience, check out the Crayola Experience, where you can let your imagination run wild. The East End Market is a hidden gem for foodies, boasting a variety of local goods and food places. If you're looking for a night out, head to the Barbarella Orlando for some dance music and good vibes. And for some retail therapy, don't miss the Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores. Lastly, nature lovers will enjoy the Orlando Loch Haven Park, offering a green oasis in the area. With so many unique and budget-friendly options to choose from, Orlando has plenty to offer beyond the usual tourist hotspots.
8001 Orange Blossom Tr.
With colorful Crayola décor, this isn’t your usual Orlando attraction, even if it can be found in the well-visited Florida Mall. A number of activity stations, featuring topics like coloring and painting, give families options, as do occasional ticketed events like adult coloring nights. Before you leave, remember to make a customizable crayon label!Read More
East End Market
3201 Corrine Dr.
Get a hint of the Orlando dining scene at this foodie hub. A garden out front reveals “fresh and local” aren’t just hype but a major trend in the Orlando restaurant scene. In addition to plants, you’ll find hand-crafted goods and freshly prepared foods offered by the small businesses inside. Outdoor tables and a conventional restaurant also add options.
Barbarella Orlando FKA Independent Bar
4141 John Young Pkwy., Suite 3
Don’t settle for a touristy nightclub experience when there’s an interesting one to be had each Saturday in Orlando. Billed as “the sweet spot between dance club and dive bar,” the establishment serves up delicious concoctions and plays a wide range of music catering to 18 and older; everyone’s welcome. Check the schedule for cover fees and themes, new wave to new dance!
Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores
15657 S. Apopka Vineland Rd.
Most Orlando outlets are hard to navigate, but this expanded shopping center with dozens of retailers offers convenience with storefront parking. Nice touches abound, such as a fountain near the food court, outdoor seating and a walkable layout. If you show your AAA card at the office, you’ll also receive free coupons.
Orlando Loch Haven Park
777 E. Princeton St.
This lakeside district—once destined for development before the Great Depression—serves as Orlando’s cultural hub and features theaters and museums. It provides an alternative to the high-energy Orlando theme parks with plenty of places to pause and reflect, such as "The Mayor," a long-lived oak tree. You may even catch someone reading a book in one of the Adirondack chairs by The Mennello Museum of American Art. The Orlando Museum of Art presents yet another option for art enthusiasts. For those with kids, the Orlando Science Center offers floors of hands-on exhibits, including a special toddler-friendly “Orange Grove.”Read More
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AAA Travel Editor Sherry Mims
AAA Travel Editor Sherry Mims is an AAA Travel Expert.