Thursday, March 7, 2013

Outing: History on Foot

"History" isn't a word most people associate with Orlando.  However, despite the city becoming famous for Disney World in the 1970s and experiencing tremendous growth in the 1990s and early 2000s, Orlando's original business strips and neighborhoods are thriving.  Home to diverse historic districts, the city boasts a collection of beautiful buildings ranging from the 1880s to the 1920s. 

Fun  The City of Orlando has put together a self-guided walking tour that explains many of the important buildings that shaped a young city.  There are two options for the guided walking tour through historic downtown Orlando.  The east loop (red) takes you through the central business district, highlighting some of the oldest business buildings.  The west loop (orange) takes you into Parramore and showcases some important buildings that represent Orlando's African American heritage.  Optionally, the green loop takes you through trendy Thornton Park along brick streets lined with hundred-year-old houses and even older oaks.  Each route is about 1.3 miles.

Option:  For those who want a heavier dose of Central Florida history should stop at the Orange County Regional History Center (free to $12, find out how to save) and see their permanent and traveling exhibits.

Food  On Wall Street, a pedestrian-only strip of bars and restaurants in the heart of downtown, you'll find Waitiki Retro Tiki Lounge, a Hawaiian-themed bar/lounge/restaurant.  Sit outside and try a unique Island Burrito ($8.99), a banana flour tortilla filled with juicy chicken, sweet chili sauce, and mango.  Adventurous guests can try the Gator Bites ($8.99).

If you decide to take the green route to 903 Mills Market, you have to try the Greatful Bread, which is basically Thanksgiving on a sandwich ($6.89).  But really, any one of their sandwiches, salads, or wraps is delicious.  Plenty of vegetarian options as well.

Dessert  If you walked all the way to 903 Mills Market (and even if you drove), you deserve to enjoy a sizable slice of their cake-of-the-day ($2.99) while sitting on their patio under huge oaks with a view of the lake.  If you stayed downtown, check out one of the frozen yogurt shops and customize your own treat.

Total Cost for lunch, dessert, and a self-guided tour: around $12 per person.

For an even more in-depth look at Orlando buildings decade by decade, pick up a copy of A Guide to Historic Orlando