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Local Top List

Top Local in YAH Global

Best Day Trip Escapes From Orlando

1

Kennedy Space Center
Approximate drive time: 1 hour 15 minutes

 

Next to actually sneaking aboard the next shuttle launch you’re not going to get a more interactive experience with what the boys and girls at NASA go through on a day to day basis in preparation for their journey into the great unknown. Kennedy Space Center is the perfect departure for those seeking a trek away from the “make believe” land of Orlando and into reality, albeit a reality concept that allocates billions into the inspiring search for “something” in the stars. 

 

At Kennedy Space Center, you get the opportunity to take one small step onto launch sites, meet veteran astronauts, take-on training simulations, stare up at a monolithic shuttle, and if you plan your visit accordingly, you may get to witness an actual launch (great timing for an impromptu marriage proposal, fellas).

 

Kennedy Space Center Attractions

 

Directions From Orlando on State Road 528

Travel east on SR 528 to the SR 407 exit to Kennedy Space Center and Titusville. Take SR 407 until it dead ends into SR 405. Turn right (east) onto SR 405 and follow the signs for Kennedy Space Center. You will travel approximately nine miles on SR 405. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is located on your right.

Directions From Orlando on State Road 50

Travel east on SR 50 until you pass under the I-95 overpass. At the next intersection, turn right (east) onto SR 405 and follow the signs for Kennedy Space Center. You will travel approximately 11 miles on SR 405. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is located on your right.

2

Cocoa Beach
Approximate drive time: 1 hour

 

Cocoa Beach is what people come to Florida for. Perhaps not the specific city per se, but this little beach town represents everything an image of the quintessential beach town is when one draws upon their subconscious for their perfect world destination scenarios. Cocoa Beach is the closest beach to Orlando and close enough to the above mentioned Kennedy Space Center that during a launch, one would be impossibly pressed to find a better position to lay out a blanket and watch the dramatic event unfold, putting the best of sunrises to shame.


Attractions


There are many attractions in the Cocoa Beach vicinity that range from museums to mini-golf, casinos to racetracks, and go-kart theme parks to zoos, but keep in mind that with this Cocoa Beach recommendation we’re trying to send you away from the “packaged” experiences of Central Florida and into some serious relax time. Take a stroll on the 840 foot outreaching pier and stare of into the Atlantic, spotting dolphins and pelicans and throwing out a fishing line (on site rentals available) if you’re so inclined.  Cocoa Beach is also the home of 11 time World Surfing Champion Kelly Slater, complete with a bronze statue erected in his honor, located at Triangle Park, on State Road A1A, across from the "Glass Bank" – a definite can’t miss photo opportunity.


Shopping


Cocoa Beach is a beach town and is thus packed to the gills with surf, skate, and souvenir shops. There are also many charming boutique stores where you can find one of a kind fashions and accessories, as well as galleries featuring the works of individuals from within thickly rooted artisan community. Be sure to stop by Ron Jon Surf Shop, - the big kahuna of surf shops.


Activities


Every imaginable beach based activity is at your beckon call at Cocoa Beach but this is still Florida, and thus there are more than a few world class golf courses in the area for those that find solace on the green versus the golden sands, sand traps included.


Dining & Nightlife


There are nearly 30 nightclubs, pubs, lounges, and bars in Cocoa Beach with even more eateries in the area to accommodate the tastes of everyone.


Accommodations

 

Four Point Sheraton Cocoa Beach


There are many accommodations to suits the needs and budgets of anyone visiting this popular beach town but without question our favourite is the colorful and surf inspired Four Points Sheraton, convenient and steps from the beach. Rates starting from $105/night.

3

Silver Springs Nature Park
5656 E. Silver Springs Blvd., Silver Springs, FL
Approximate drive time: 1 hour 15 minutes

 

Every day, approximately 550 million gallons of crystal clear aqua pours into the springs of this natural Florida attraction, which has aided in creating one of the most unique eco-systems in the country. The highlight of Silver Springs is the Glass Bottom Boat River Tour where passengers get the ultimate view through the transparent (both boat and stream) surface of a diverse collection of fish, shellfish, alligators, turtles (six different species) and fossilized remains of crustaceans that inhabited these waters tens of millions of year ago.   


Silver Springs also features Wildlife exhibits that include a peak at the rare albino alligator (also see Gatorland in Orlando), as well as the endangered Florida Panther, North American Black Bear, and brown furred Kodiak Bear.


There are an assortment of person-made rides and activities that includes The Lighthouse Ride - a towering 80 foot high carousel type contraption that spins guests around for a panoramic view of the nature park , as well as a Kid’s Playland, and reptile based shows.


For more information on Silver Springs, visit their website here

4

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
Approximate drive time: 1 hour 30 minutes

 

At the heart of this 210 acre nature park is a 45 foot deep natural spring that reaches nine miles out into the Gulf of Mexico, which attracts a unique array of both saltwater and freshwater fish, in addition to all sorts of animals, birds, and reptiles. But the headliner attracting the most attention to Homosassa Springs is the misshapen blimp like manatee. The manatee love to cozy up in the relative sanctuary of the year round 72 degree springs of Homosassa River. Visitors come from all over the country to view these obese yet fascinating beasts of the sea via a floating underwater observatory or atop the springs where they are a literal arms length away from one’s touch.


For visitor information, follow the link here

5

Tarpon Springs, FL
Approximate drive time: 2 hours

 

Tarpon Springs is a historic fishing town in Florida known for having the largest Greek population in the U.S.. Next to the amazing eateries you can find in a village that combines fresh seafood with one of its best complementary ethnic cuisines, Tarpon Springs’ biggest attraction is found at the sponge docks - Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks DistrictThe harbor here is home to one of the largest hauls of Sponge Bob Square Pants kin in the country. The industry here is so big that we’re surprised that the wacky yellow fella isn’t Tarpon Springs’ official mascot. City council could do well do suggest a theme park based on everyone’s favorite animated ocean bottom feeder, although there is a Spongeorama Museum and Movie House. All jokes aside, Tarpon Springs is severely charming and home to amazing people, sightseeing, dining, and shopping (especially for those with an eye for marine based collectibles). 


The Tarpon Springs Aquarium is definitely worth a visit, where visitors can feed AND pet sharks and stingrays.  Gulfstar Fishing offers deep sea fishing expeditions, and Spongeorama Cruise Lines will take you out for Dolphin Sighting. Bottom line, Tarpon Springs is a pure escape from Orlando and the other more bustling tourist destinations of Central Florida. Quiet, quaint, and a little quirky. Perfect.

 

Sponge Bob Square Pants Approved Attraction!

 

Courtesy of UnitedSpongeBob.Com


The OTHER Attractions of Orlando

Everyone knows Orlando for the Big 3 - Disney World, Sea World, and Universal Studios. For the most part, those attractions are what brings people to Orlando from all over the planet. Chances are that's why you are there, headed there, or planning to go there. But while these multi-million dollar staples of Orlando tourism are plenty of fun, there are a few "other" notable points of interest in place for those with more particular tastes. Some are off-beat, others reap with nostalgia, and some are just downright weird, making for an eclectic potpourri with something for everyone and quite possibly more memorable than an experience shared with the other million plus people in town to see the Big 3.

1

Gatorland
14501 South Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL

 

Gatorland sounds like it could be one of those cable TV reality shows about the backwoods of some Florida locale where gators run rampant to the detriment of old ladies and their collection of backyard cats. Instead, Gatorland in reality is an obscure but popular attraction found only about 20 minutes from Disney World. Watch out Mickey, mice also make good snacks.

 

For over 60 years this 110 acre wildlife park has been packing in visitors to get up close and personal with Florida's infamous reptilian mascot. They may strike fear in our hearts but the curiousity they peak exceeds it. Your interest will not go unsatiated as Gatorland is home to literally thousands of alligators and crocodiles where you can witness first hand a fascinating breeding marsh with a boardwalk and observation tower for viewing from a (safe) distance.

 

The highlight for many includes Gatorland's "collection" of four rare Albino Alligators - ghost white, over ten feet in length, and blessed with sharp blue eyes that may darn well hypnotize you should you stare into them for too long. There are also unique shows that you won't see elsewhere such as the Gator Jumparoo (jumping alligators) and Gator Wrestlin' (like it sounds). There are also swamp tours and educational for those seeking more insight into the modern day dinosaurs. To top it all off, they also have a petting zoo at Gatorland. Fear not, your fingers aren't the price of admission at this particular attraction as the petting zoo includes the standard cute and cuddlies (lambs and such). However, one wonders what becomes of these furry animals of the park after nightfall. Is it a petting zoo, or simply a temporary holding area for the main residents' buffet? Sorry, bad joke.

2

WonderWorks

9067 International Drive, Orlando, Florida, FL

 

The photographic opportunity of the building exterior alone is worth the visit to WonderWorks Orlando. The extremely slanted building you see in the photo is not some photoshop error nor is the real deal the result of a sink hole construction nightmare, although at WonderWorks they WILL tell you the building came to be as a scientific experiment (man made tornado machine) gone wrong near the Bermuda Triangle. The tale may as well be true as once you enter WonderWorks reality takes a vacation. Your world gets turned upside down (literally) the minute you enter this wacky Orlando attraction and on site there are over 100 interactive exhibits that are fun for the whole family. From science to silly (often both) WonderWorks offers a wide array of adventurous, entertaining, and puzzling activities for the mind and body to experience. Everything is on-deck from Laser Tag to 4D Theater, from NASA replicas to the Bed of Nails experience (exactly like it sounds), and even an evening dinner comedy/magic show to wind down to. WonderWorks is a great way to have fun with the family, and learn something in the process, without feeling overwhelmed.

3

Ripley’s Orlando

8201 International Drive, Orlando, FL

 

Ripley's Orlando doesn't fall from the appeal of the aforementioned WonderWorks listed above, complete with a slanted building that appears to be sinking, nor does it require much explanation as many are already quite familiar with the Ripley's Believe It Or Not brand attractions. This venue is home to some weird, wild, wacky and, well, unbelievable exhibits that make you question how much more is out there that we don't know about and why aren't these things on the news more often? The 10,000 square foot Orlando "Odditorium" includes items such as 7 legged sheep, shrunken human heads, fertility statues (don't get too close), fossils from genetic abominations, and hundreds of other items that defy description.

 

Any Ripley's is worth a visit, so if you happen to be looking for something a little less candy coated when in Orlando, this is it.

4

Titanic The Experience

7324 International Drive, Orlando, FL

 


Those fascinated by nautical lore and/or Leonardo DiCaprio will want to take in this low key but historically rich Orlando attraction. Titanic The Experience is as the name states - a period based attraction that not only includes a museum full of artifacts and treasure, but it also transports patrons to the romanticized time that the tragedy took place. Tours come with guides dressed in the appropriate attire, complete with mannerisms and language of the period, that accompany those that walk through dark wooden and ornately decorated walls made to replicate the once thought unsinkable ship. The Grand Staircase made famous in photographs and film was made with such painstaking attention to detail that attendees are whisked away by their own imaginations. Actor re-enactments (Leo and Kate not included) only add to the vivid pictures painted in one's head. An underwater exhibition also aids in the dramatic undertones of the experience, reminding visitors about what those that met their end on the fateful day may have went through. While this attraction was created for specific tastes, it is certainly fulfills the heart's desire of those caught in the fold of the tale of the Titanic.

5

Kissimmee Air Museum

233 North Hoagland Boulevard, Kissimmee, FL

 

Speaking of specific tastes, the Kissimmee Air Museum is definitely one for the books for those that have a passion for aviation history. Even those in Florida to check out the Kennedy Space Center can appreciate the past when wings took humans only so far into the skies before technology catupulted us into the stars. The air museum holds aircraft displays and educational exhibits. Witness aircraft restoration in progress and partake in exciting flight training exercises in actual WWII fighter-trainer planes. On site Warbird Adventures will provide you with 100% hands-on experience where you will be allowed to take the controls in the front seat of a military plane while seasoned instructors will teach you everything you want to learn about flying. Whether you want an exhilarating aerobatic adventure or a smooth straight-and-level flight, Warbird Adventures at Kissimmee Air Museum will provide you with a once in a lifetime experience in the skies.


Best Food Trucks in Orlando

1

Crooked Spoon

 

The Crooked Spoon looks more like a mobile dessert catering service upon first inspection. The white truck carriage with its name written in what appears to be chocolate sauce dripping from its namesake utensil may have had people pass it by looking for a more viable lunch option, IF it were not for the crowd out front diving into Mac'n'Cheese. The scent of juicy angus beef wafting through the air is the other give-away.

 

The Crooked Spoon takes patrons away from a city lined with theme parked styled eateries and delivers comfort food at its best. However, don't take the term "comfort", and the fact that the food is served from a truck, to infer anything about the quality of the menu. Executive Chef/Owner - Steve Saelg - is gourmet all the way, but without a hint of the pretention that can often accompany the adjective. Instead, Steve offers items such as fine dining catch - sword fish - to create the wonderfully buttery signature dish - Sword Fish & Cheesy Grits - which magically disappears any hint of seafood taste that may traditionally scare away those averse to such an order. Our favorite item is the 420 Burger, which packs in angus beef, bacon, an onion ring, swiss cheese, and a sauce concoction (honey mustard, brown sugar, and secret spices) that gets sandwiched between a glossy exteriored brioche bun. The 420 is sweet, salty, with a perfect hint of sour (the good kind). While we named the 420 as our "favorite", the essential order of the day, any day, is Crooked Spoon's Mac'n'Cheese, which combines 6 varieties of cheese! We'll let your taste bud's imagination run away with that one, but if you intend on nabbing this dish, arrive early or go home disappointed. The Crooked Spoon sells out of the Mac'n'Cheese each and every day.

 

Take an hour away from your time in Orlando to hunt down this gem of a food truck, its about as magical as any other "attraction" in the city.

 

For current location, call 407.927.1587 OR Follow @TheCrookedSpn on Twitter.

2

Treehouse Truck

 

The Treehouse Truck is a sharpie graffitied food truck that serves up the street food you know and love - burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches. But don't confuse the small itemized list to mean that there is anything standard about their menu. They've taken the hand held classics and converted them into something that's nothing short of spectacular to the taste buds.

 

Their staple Chimoo - Churrasco Marinated Steak and Chicken with sweet potato fries, coleslaw and mango BBQ sauce on a Puerto Rican sweet bread - is amazing. The mango BBQ sauce adds a really unique sweet kick that dares description. Blue Cheese isn't for everyone BUT it will be if they could only sample the Blue Horsehoe - Angus Burger topped with Grated Horseradish, Crumbled Blue Cheese and Pickled Red Onions. Depending on if it's on the menu that day, you'll want to indulge with the the Treetrunk WowWow - a deep fried hot dog (which should be enough to seal the deal) with sauerkraut, onions, and chili thrown in to boot. Blatant use of the deep fryer concept really kicks in when you get to the goodies at the end of the menu, where you absolutely have to order up the Deep Fried Oreos (our salivating recommendation) or the Deep Fried Twinkies!

 

For current location, call 407.921.1696 OR Follow @TreehouseTruck on Twitter.

3

Melissa's Chicken & Waffles

The fried chicken & waffles concept made famous by the likes of Roscoe's House in Los Angeles and Gladys Knight & Ron Winans restaurant in Atlanta has made its way to Orlando and made it mobile. We're a picky bunch when it comes to anyone attempting to take on one of our favorite comfort foods but Melissa has worked some magic in that bright Florida orange toned truck of hers.

 

If a waffle was compared to pizza, you would most often find the fried chicken accompaniment of the New York thin crust variety. But Melissa's makes hers more akin to Chicago deep dish style - big and fluffy - which sets her apart from the rest. While we may be wary of this fact, as fluffy textures sometimes remove taste from the equation, Melissa's injection of buttermilk into the waffle and creamy gravy topping take the meal to a new level of flavor that will make fans of those previously averse to the fried chicken & waffle concept. This food truck also serves up waffles sandwhiches and of course some delectable desserts.

 

Melissa's Chicken & Waffle Truck can be found on the corner of Colonial and Primrose in Orlando but for complete up to date location information call 407.371.2887 OR Follow Melissa @melissaswaffles on Twitter.

4

Big Wheel Provisions Truck

 

As a catering company, mobility is simply a part of daily operations, so it only makes sense to transition into the food truck business. Big Wheel Provisions Truck with Head Chef Tony Adams at the helm has rolled out a true gourmet menu in a landscape where many make the claim of "gourmet" but fall short nine times out of ten, at least. The key to Chef Adams success is his interpretation of the Charcuterie process - taking whole cuts of meat and making it into sausages, pates, terrines, rillettes, and other delicious goods that translate well into food that patrons can order and eat on the go. Their menu changes daily, but it's not uncommon to find items such as duck or soft shell crab sandwhiches on the menu in addition to more common southern bites (but still with a gourmet twist) like tatertots and grits. One "must try" is BWP's Johnny Five w/Brown Sugar Fries.

 

Big Wheel Provisions can be found on the corner of Orange and Washington in Orlando but for complete up to date location information (and menu changes) call 407.494.4297 OR Follow BWP @BigWheelTruck on Twitter.

5

Korean BBQ Taco Box

It's not all that surprising to see a blend of Korean BBQ and Mexican these days in the food truck business. From Florida to the Pacific Northwest we have witnessed this fusion of ethnic foods to the benefit of palates cruising the vicinities these trucks are parked in. Korean BBQ Taco Box seems to be thriving off of this new concept and thus their bright yellow truck often found under the tropical cover of central Florida palms attracts a slew of regulars and passerbyers.

 

As the name states, its all about box meals at this food truck and there are a selection of 5 meat varieties (Galbi - boneless short rib marinated, Beef, Spicy Pork, Chicken, and Chicken Teriyaki) to order w/rice and all orders are accompanied by a house salad and Korean side dishes: 1 spicy chicken wing, 2 pcs fried cheese roll, fried tofu with teriyaki sauce, and 1 pc of egg omelette roll. Our recommendation is to opt for the special Fried Cheese Roll - Korean rice, korean beef, with mozzarella cheese, topped with special sauce.

 

For current location, call 407.844.3990 OR Follow Korean BBQ Taco Box @koreanbbq_2011 on Twitter.

6

Gastro Truck

This Orlando food truck's paint job gives the appearance that its white exterior may have been ripped open by the likes of Godzilla. This is entirely possible because the main focus on Gastro Truck's menu is CHEESE, which has been known to drag all sorts of hungry creatures out of the bottom of the ocean, caves, and Central Florida condos in search of gooey goodness.

 

All sorts of burgers, sandwiches, sliders, and of course, macaroni, serve as the canvas for the main ingredient which culinary artisans Lori Bragg (owner) and Catarina Triacca (chef) designed the menu around. They manage to paint a cheesy grin on the faces of anyone that orders from their food truck, especially with their "Create Your Own Grilled Cheese" concept where you dare to bare your soul in creating the ingredients you wish to see in one of America's most popular hand held comfort foods. We will RARELY state that pretty much everything on the menu at any eatery is a "hit", but honestly, if you enjoy cheese and sandwiches, the Gastro Truck is on target everytime with each item on its menu, leaving it up to the customer to decide which is their favorite. Our picks (difficult choices) include; Ham & Cheese Pleeeease - sliced ham, tomato, muenster, chipotle gouda & cheddar cheeses, homemade pickles, and Mojo Mayo on Cuban bread - which is so rich, flavorful, and salty (but not overwhelmingly) that its damn near stupid (in a great way); and the Apple Bacon Harvest Grilled Cheese - thin sliced apples, sharp cheddar, clover honey, and bacon, on multi grain bread - which concocts a flavor that combines the aforementioned with an appealing vague sour taste the makes it unique. The menu can change from time to time but there always seems to be some sort of coconut based dessert (cookie, squares, etc...) on the menu and you can't go wrong with ordering which ever appears in neon chalk on the given day you arrive at the Gastro Truck.

 

For current location, call 407.688.6534 OR Follow the Gastro Truck @GastroTrina on Twitter

7

CK Jerk Shack

 

CK Jerk Shack brings island flavor - Jamaican - to Orlando with a mobile expansion of their popular community catering business. If you happen to come across this mysterious (they don't update their social media accounts) yet very festive food truck you can expect to see a menu that includes the Jamaican classics such as Jerk Chicken, Jerk Pork, Coconut Rice & Beans, Jamaican Callaloo Greens, Jamaican Beef Patties, Jamaican Ginger Beer, and weekly specials that play on the same concept. They offer the spiciest cuisine in Orlando's food truck network so if you get the opportunity, order a plate from CK and let them know to stay on top of their communications so you can find them again. You'll want to.

 

For current location, call 407.301.1363 OR Follow CK Jerk Shack @CKJerkShack on their RARELY updated Twitter (kind of pointless but perhaps they will begin updating when they see more followers).