Laura

Feb 252015
 

SunrailThe SunRail® will offer free train service during the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival on Saturday, March 21, and Sunday, March 22, 2015. The train usually doesn’t operate on weekends and, of course, it’s not always free!

Free SunRail parking will be available at the following stations along the corridor: Sand Lake Road, Maitland, Altamonte Springs, Longwood, Lake Mary, Sanford and DeBary.

Saturday, March 21, and Sunday, March 22, departing times:

  • Last train leaving Winter Park heads northbound @ 4:41 p.m.
  • Last train leaving Winter Park heads southbound @ 3:36 p.m.

The Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival is one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most prestigious juried outdoor art festivals.  It has been voted #1 in ArtFairCalendar.com’s Top 10 list of “America’s Best Juried Fine Art Fair” and ranked #1 in the southeast and #5 in the nation in Sunshine Artist Magazine’s 2014 list of “Best 200 Fine Art and Design Shows.”

Feb 242015
 

Orlando Science CenterWalmart $5 Day is back at the Orlando Science Center on Sunday, March 1. For just $5, you will experience all OSC has to offer from exhibits and hands-on activities to giant-screen films. General admission fees are usually $19 for adults and $13 for kids — a family of four will save $44!

Discover the latest traveling exhibit “Dora & Diego — Let’s Explore”; see the newest 3-D film “James Cameron’s Deepsea Challenge 3D”; catch the newly released giant-screen spectacular “Humpback Whales”; and experience four floors of hands-on exhibits and live activities that will engage the family and inspire their curiosity.

The discount admission is offered by Walmart Foundation. The $5 admission makes it possible for the Central Florida community to visit the Orlando Science Center, inspiring science learning for life at a significant discount.

Orlando Science Center
777 E. Princeton Street
407-514-2000

 

Feb 232015
 

In celebration of National Pancake Day, IHOP is serving FREE pancakes on Tuesday, March 3. This family-friendly tradition aims to raise needed funds and awareness Greater Orlando Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, benefiting UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital and Arnold Palmer Medical Center.

For every short stack of buttermilk pancakes served on National Pancake Day between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m., IHOP guests are invited to make a voluntary donation to Greater Orlando CMN Hospitals to celebrate this “Decade of Giving.” Since 2006, IHOP National Pancake Day has raised approximately $16 million to provide life-saving treatment, programs and medical equipment for child patients — including the 250,000 children treated annually at the two benefiting Greater Orlando CMN Hospitals.

IHOP locations supporting Greater Orlando Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals can be found in six counties throughout Florida, including Brevard, Osceola, Orange, Seminole, Volusia and Flagler.

Feb 222015
 

Orlando EyeAccording to Priceline.com, Orlando is the No. 1 “hot spot” for travelers in 2015. After a multi-year surge of blockbuster expansions at Orlando’s world-class theme parks, Orlando’s retail, dining and entertainment scene is following suit in 2015. Visit Orlando, the destination’s official tourism association, uncovered 15 new openings 2015 travelers will be among the first to experience:

INTERNATIONAL DRIVE
In the heart of Orlando’s tourism corridor, International Drive will see significant development in 2015 with the addition of several retail, dining and entertainment venues.

  1. I-Drive 360, a new entertainment complex from Merlin Entertainments, will open a trio of new attractions. At the heart of the complex,The Orlando Eye is a 400-foot-tall (12.92-meter) observation wheel providing breathtaking views of Central Florida in all directions within fully enclosed, air-conditioned glass capsules. Madame Tussauds, the world’s most famous celebrity wax attraction, offers visitors the ultimate fame experience with its signature red carpet treatment. SEA LIFE Orlando delivers a new wave of underwater adventures with beautiful displays of colorful fish, sharks, jellyfish, sea horses and more, that turn the traditional aquarium observation on its head. The Yardhouse, Tin Roof and more retail, restaurants and entertainment yet to be announced, will add to the experience.
  2. Orlando welcomes one of South Beach’s hottest dance clubs with the addition of Mangos Tropical Café. With 55,000 square feet (5,109 square meters) of entertainment space, the Orlando location is a massive restaurant and nightlife destinationoffering high-energy entertainment for a wide variety of tastes. Guests will enjoy Salsa, Bachatta, Reggae and Pop performances with Floribbean Cuisine and tropical cocktails.
  3. Escapology Orlando brings a new kind of entertainment to Orlando with its first U.S. location. The attraction challenges guests to be their own heroes in a thrilling game of adventure and mystery. Teams of up to six players are locked in a themed room with just 60 minutes to combine clues, solve puzzles and discover the key to escape.
  4. Nearby International Drive, The Florida Mall takes coloring to a new level with the opening crayola experienceof Crayola Experience. The 70,000-square-foot (6,503-square-meter) attraction will offer 25 hands-on activities.
  5. The list of dining and entertainment options unique to Orlando continues to grow with the addition of The Whiskey on Sand Lake Road, welcoming lovers of gourmet burgers, craft cocktails and rock ‘n roll fun. With over 100 brands of whiskey for the thirsty connoisseur, the venue will also host live entertainment, from musical guests to head-to-head “food fights,” where local chefs will pit recipe against recipe.
    THEME PARKS
  1. Walt Disney World Resort is transforming Downtown Disney into Disney Springs doubling the number of shops, restaurants and other venues. The new area will open in phases starting in 2015 and include, Morimoto Asia, a one-of-a-kind dining experience created by Chef Masaharu Morimoto, of Iron Chef America fame. For the master chef’s first pan-Asian dining experience, Morimoto Asia’s extraordinary, 36-foot (11-meter) tall, two-story layout includes a vast range of areas to explore including open terraces, a grand hall, private rooms, long bar, cocktail lounge, waterside seating and more.Disney Springs
  2. The BOATHOUSE is an upscale, waterfront-dining restaurant at Disney Springs that will immerse guests with experiences beyond the cuisine. Guests can listen to live music or take a romantic Captain’s guided tour aboard The Venezia, a beautifully crafted 40-foot (12-meter) wooden Italian Water Taxi featuring champagne toasts and chocolate-covered strawberries. The BOATHOUSE will be showcased in an expansive restaurant with three distinctive bars, one built over the water. Guests will enjoy a gourmet menu served daily until 2 a.m. featuring steaks, chops, fresh seafood and a raw bar.
  3. STK Orlando blends two concepts into one—the modern steakhouse and a chic lounge. Unique features include a live DJ, high-energy atmosphere and a sleek environment designed to encourage guests to interact and mingle. STK Orlando boasts the only rooftop dining venue in Disney Springs.
  4. LEGOLAND Florida Resort will open a new land called Heartlake City, set to welcome guests this summer. The expansion will include a horse-themed disc coaster called Mia’s Riding Adventure, an interactive show titled ‘Friends to the Rescue’ and new shops inside the Heartlake Mall.
  5. SeaWorld Orlando will debut an all-new show, Clyde & Seamore’s Sea Lion High, a hilarious tale, filled with amazing animal behaviors and splashy audience fun. The comedic sea lion duo will be joined by mischievous otters, a 2,300 lb. (1043 kg) walrus and a cast of goofy human characters.
    DOWNTOWN ORLANDO
  6. The Phillips Center for the Performing Arts delivers a stellar lineup of 2015 entertainment for its Dr. Phillips Center for Performing Artsinaugural season: Broadway productions including Disney’s Newsies, Motown the Musical, Pippin and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast; big-name musicians John Mellancamp, Jason Mraz and Idina Menzel; and comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno and Bill Maher will complement an ongoing Jazz Roots series and Orlando Ballet season.
  7. Orlando City Soccer Club is Major League Soccer’s newest expansion team set to debut in 2015 with global soccer icon, Kaká. The Orlando City Soccer Club will kick-off their first MLS season at the newly rebuilt Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium. After a $207 million reconstruction, sports fans will enjoy an all-new lower bowl with more legroom, improved broadband and Wi-Fi coverage and expanded concession with healthy and gluten-free options.
  8. An influx of restaurants will join new downtown Orlando venues in 2015, including: Two Chefs Seafood, featuring comfort food and seafood from former chefs of Emeril’s Orlando and The Palm Restaurant; and North Quarter Tavern, a chef-driven neighborhood tavern by the team behind downtown Orlando’s power-lunch staple, Citrus Restaurant.
  9. Disney’s Polynesian Villas & Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort will feature 20 Disney's PolynesianBungalows on Seven Seas Lagoon and 360 Deluxe Studios. The Bungalows will be the first of this type of accommodation at Disney, sleep up to eight guests, and feature a plunge pool with views of fireworks over Magic Kingdom Park. The first phase is scheduled to open in 2015. The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel is getting a $125 million, multi-phased, multi-story upgrade.
  10. The JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes will welcome new restaurant concept based on the resort’s 13,000-square-foot (1,208-square-meter) farm. Whisper Creek Farm: The Kitchen, will serve up farm-fresh food and signature craft beer.
Feb 102015
 

Lake EolaBy Laura Perry & Kristen Manieri, founder of Orlando Date Night Guide, a website that’s been giving date night ideas to Orlando couples since 2007. 

  1. Date Night at Leu Gardens
    On starlit evenings, you and your sweetie can snuggle up on a blanket in the beautiful 50-acre Harry P. Leu Gardens. Hundreds of lovebirds flock to Date Night at Leu Gardens on the first Friday of most months when the outdoor screen shows romantic flicks and blockbuster hits. Tickets are just $6.
  2. Wine Room at Winter Park
    Wine aficionados and newbies alike will enjoy a DIY wine tasting experience at The Wine Room at Winter Park, where the Enomatic Wine Serving System gives guests the chance to sample selections of over 150 different types of wine simply with the touch of a button. Couples load up a debit card with cash and then wander through the living room-esque locale sipping wines and noshing on gourmet cheese plates.
  3. The Food Truck Bazaar
    With over a dozen starlit shindigs scheduled each month, The Food Truck Bazaar offers couples an atypical dining experience with a reputation for gourmet food like lobster rolls, chorizo tacos and root beer flavored cupcakes. Don’t forget chairs or a blanket; seating is typically scarce.
  4. Wednesday Night Pitcher Show
    Arguably one of the prettiest bars in Orlando, Enzian’s Eden Bar hosts the weekly Wednesday Night Pitcher Show, a laid-back cocktail party featuring a retro classic film on a giant outdoor screen. Jell-O shot movie trivia add to the fun.
  5. Lakeridge Winery
    Travel through the rolling hills of Clermont for an unexpected Florida wine experience. One weekend every month, theLakeridge Winery entertains visitors with free (or $2 donation entry) events featuring live music, artist vendors, crafts and food. You can also stop by any day of the week for complimentary wine tours and tastings.
  6.  1st Thursdays at Orlando Museum of Art
    The first Thursday of each month, the Orlando Museum of Art showcases a new theme of art by local artists accompanied by live music, a cash bar and café with selections by area restaurants. Tickets are $10 and include admission to the museum’s featured exhibitions.
  7. Bach Festival Society
    Add a little culture to your date night calendar with free community events by the Bach Festival Society. Check their website for special events throughout the year in Winter Park including one of our favorites, Spring Pops in the Park.
  8. Farmers’ Markets
    Pick out fresh flowers, taste local fare and stock up on produce to cook dinner together that evening. Our favorite markets are Winter Park on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and downtown Orlando on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  9. RDV ice-skating
    Don’t forget your sweaters and socks when you visit to RDV’s Ice Den, where the Olympic size ice skating rink is kept at a chilly 50 degrees Fahrenheit. On Friday and Saturday evenings DJs fill the rink with TOP 40 tunes for the coupled-up skaters gliding across the ice. Skate rentals, as well as hot chocolate, are available on site.
  10. Lake Eola Swan Boats
    Paddle out on Lake Eola via a swan boat during the next warm evening. Boat rentals, which cost $15 per half hour, can be secured at the swan dock across from Relax Grill until 7pm Sunday – Tuesdays, and until 10pm Wednesdays – Saturdays. Reservations are not required.
  11. Picnic
    There’s nothing more romantic than a picnic, especially in a picturesque setting. Fortunately, Orlando has many to choose from such as Lake Eola, Cranes Roost, Central Park or Azalea Park in Winter Park. Pack a spread of finger foods, a bottle of wine and blanket for a relaxing day at the park.
  12. Moonlight Walking Tour at Greenwood Cemetery
    If your date appreciates history and isn’t afraid of the dark, stroll through the Moonlight Walking Tour at the historic Greenwood Cemetery. Explore the 100-acre cemetery with visits to 100 graves of notable individuals in Orlando’s history like T.G. Lee, James Parramore and Joseph Bumby. The tour is free, but advance registration is required.
  13. Winter Park Boat Tour
    Float through the canals and lush landscape of Winter Park’s waterways on a tranquil Scenic Boat Tour. The hour-long tour is $12 for adults.
  14. Old Sugar Mill Grill at De Leon Springs
    Start off your morning by making your own pancakes at the Old Sugar Mill Grill located next to the natural swimming hole of De Leon Springs. The server will provide you with the batter and toppings for you to cook on your own griddle. After your meal, take a dip in the chilly springs or take a walk around the park.
  15. Stargazing
    Take your date night out of this world, literally, with a visit to the Planetarium at Seminole State College where weekly interactive shows bring thousands of stars and the stories behind them into clear view. Cost per person is typically $6.
  16. Visit Mount Dora
    With quaint streets, boutiques, and small-town charm, Mount Dora is one of the most romantic towns in Central Florida. There are plenty of special events throughout the year like the Mount Dora Art Stroll, Lighting of Mount Dora during the holidays and art and craft festivals; but any day is a good time to check out this local gem.
  17. SAK Comedy Lab
    The couple who laughs together stays together. Get your giggles at SAK Comedy Lab where a professional ensemble of improv actors graces the stage every night. Tickets can start as low as $5 each for select shows.
  18. Friday Night Live
    The Eddie Rose Amphitheatre at Uptown Altamonte hosts local bands for Friday Night Live, a weekly live music most Friday nights beginning at 7 or 8pm. Free and open to all music lovers, the outdoor concert features an ever-changing line-up of musical styles, from calypso to rock to jazz. Afterward, take a stroll through Cranes Roost Park, where a 1-mile lakeside trail winds through the 45-acre park.
  19. Trivia Nights
    Engage the heart and the mind with a little mental stimulation on your next date night: Earth Trivia is played at bars and restaurants all over the Orlando area seven nights a week. The game is divided into rounds of ten random questions that you answer as a team. You write your answers on the sheets provided and then hand them in at the end of each round. Winners are announced and prizes (usually gift certificates to the restaurant) are given away.
  20. The Great Outdoors
    Think about renting a canoe at Wekiwa Springs, a tranquil and untouched state park north of Orlando where a beautiful spring and river gives couples the option for swimming and kayaking. Rent tubes and float through the natural spring at Kelly Park/Rock Springs Run. Or perhaps rent some bikes and head for a ride along the West Orange Trail or Seminole Wekiva Trail.
  21. Lake Mary WineArt Wednesday
    Lake Mary WineArt Wednesday features local artists, the Daily City Food Truck Bazaar and a beer and wine garden on the first Wednesday evening of every month. Walk along the sidewalk lined with displays by local artists, sip on wine and listen to live music in Central Park next to Lake Mary City Hall. Entry is free but bring cash for unique finds, food and drinks. The event is just a short walk from the Lake Mary SunRail station.
  22. Thornton Park Wine & Art Walk
    On the second Thursday of every month, celebrate the arts with an evening of food, wine, shopping and showcases by Orlando-based artists at the Thornton Park Wine & Art Walk. For $10, you’ll receive a wristband, wine glass and a map of locations where you will be greeted with a complimentary pour of wine.
  23. Sanford Art Walk
    Stroll through art venues, mingle with Central Florida artists, and enjoy live music at the Sanford Art Walk on the fourth Friday of every month. While in downtown Sanford, take in the views of Lake Monroe from the Riverwalk and stop at one of the best German restaurants in the United States, Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Cafe. Prost with Das Boot, share a gigantic pretzel and enjoy live authentic German music.
  24. Rent bikes in downtown Orlando
    For $5 an hour, you can explore the City Beautiful with your date by renting bikes through the Orlando Bike Share program. Simply reserve a bike online or through the app, release the bike to ride and then return at any one of the designated stations.
  25. Disney’s Boardwalk
    Take a step back in time with an evening stroll along Disney’s Boardwalk, a quarter-mile promenade boasting endless charm and architecture inspired by 20th century coastal cities like Coney Island and New Jersey. Watch street entertainers, enjoy an ice cream cone or Saltwater taffy from Seashore Sweets’ and tour unique shops, restaurants and nightlife venues.
Feb 072015
 
Photo: City of Orlando

Photo: City of Orlando

Why not be romantic AND budget savvy this Valentine’s Day in Orlando? We’ve selected a long list of inexpensive things to do to for Valentine’s Day in Orlando. Whether you connect through outdoor adventures or more romantic gestures, we have date ideas for whatever floats your boat. Most of the Valentine’s Day are free.

Bach Festival Society: The Sweetest Sounds
Bring a picnic basket, spread out a blanket and spend the afternoon with your sweetheart listening to a free Valentine’s concert on Park Avenue.
February 8, 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Sanford’s Alive After 5
Free street party with live music, local artists and food vendors.
February 12, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Food and beverage sampling tickets are $7.

Popcorn Flicks in the Park
Pack a picnic and blankets for a free movie in Winter Park’s Central Park. The romantic feature is, “The Philadelphia Story.”
February 12, 7 p.m.

Thornton Park 2nd Thursday Wine & Art Walk
Enjoy an evening of food, wine, shopping and showcases by Orlando-based artists.
February 12, 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
For a $10 fee, you’ll receive a glass and map of locations for drink samples.

Art & Music in the Park, Food Truck Bazaar
Snuggle up for a fun evening under the stars with live music and culinary delights at Concord Park in Casselberry.
February 12, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Free entry.

Heavenly Love at Seminole State Planetarium
Discover the romance behind the tapestry of the night sky.
February 12, 8:30 p.m. February 13, 8:30 p.m. February 14, 7 p.m. & 8:30 p.m.
Tickets are $6 each.

UCF Jazz Faculty Recital
February 12, 8 p.m.
Free and open to the public.

Music in the Galleries at Morse Museum
Admission is free to the galleries on Fridays.
February 13, 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Lakeridge Winery Winefest XXV
Sip and savor the results from a bountiful harvest, enjoy live music, free tours, tastings, and arts and crafts vendors.
February 13 & 14, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
February 15, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Entry is a $2 donation to benefit the South Lake Chamber of Commerce.

Old Florida Outdoor Festival
Celebrate some of the best Florida outdoorsy activities and listen to country concerts by Montgomery Gentry (Feb. 14) and Joe Nichols (Feb. 15).
February 14 & 15
Tickets are $15 in advance.

Sak’s Valentine’s Comedy Show
February 14 at 5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. & 9:30 p.m.
Tickets are $16.

Valentine’s Day Stroll at Leu Gardens
Stroll through the beautiful gardens under the moonlight. Bring a picnic, wine and blanket to enjoy an evening of live music.
February 14, 7 p.m.
Advance tickets are $17 per person, plus tax.

Music at the Casa
Visit the historic Casa Feliz for a free tour and live music.
February 15, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

For more cheap date night ideas:
8 cheap date night ideas
10 inexpensive Orlando date nights under $20

Jan 282015
 

Old Florida Outdoor FestivalEnjoy a weekend outside celebrating some of the best Florida activities and entertainment February 14-15, 2015 in Apopka. The Old Florida Outdoor Festival will feature birding, fishing, hunting, Highwaymen art, kids’ activities, chili cook-off, a local farmer’s market, beer tents and more. The kids can jump on a bounce house and meet animals at a petting zoo. Stay through the evening for concerts headlined by national country music recording artists. General admission is $15 in advance ($20 day of event) and $5 for kids (under 5 are free).

Northwest Recreation Center
3710 Jason Dwelley Parkway
Apopka, FL 32712
407-703-1809

Jan 272015
 

Mount Dora Art FestivalA colorful array of art will fill the quaint downtown streets of Mount Dora February 7-8, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mount Dora’s annual Art Festival is one the best and biggest festivals in the area attracting hundreds of artists from around the world. Stroll through endless rows of fine art, including oil paintings, watercolors, acrylics, clay and photography. Enjoy live music at a main stage in Donnelly Park, grab lunch at a local restaurant and soak up the views of Lake Dora. This is a very popular event, so get there early to find parking. Entry is free.

Jan 232015
 

Seaworld OrlandoSeaWorld Orlando is offering a special BOGO deal for Annual Passes. When you buy one annual pass to SeaWorld, you will get one free. This BOGO deal is available when purchased by February 28, 2015. One annual pass is $156 and you can add on access to the Aquatica water park for $24 more. Pass holders enjoy these theme park perks: 1-year unlimited access to SeaWorld Orlando, free parking, 10% off food, drinks and merchandise and discounts for accompanying guests.

If you have a little one in your house, the Preschool Pass has returned at SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay theme parks. Kids five and under can explore the depths of the ocean and the wonders of Africa for FREE with their own special pass now through December 31, 2015.

Jan 212015
 

LegolandBuild family memories at LEOGLAND Florida for less. Florida Residents can enjoy 12 months of fun at both LEGOLAND Florida and LEGOLAND Waterpark for just $99. This Florida Resident 2-Park Annual Pass is a great deal with more than 50 rides, shows, attractions, water park access and entry to all the special events. The annual pass gives you free parking, discounts and doesn’t have any blackout dates. Offer available for a limited time.

Jan 202015
 

Orlando Bike ShareThe Orlando Bike Share program has rolled into town and is a great transportation alternative to experience downtown or commute to work. For $5 an hour, you can explore the City Beautiful without paying for gas or sitting in traffic. Simply reserve a bike online or through the app, release the bike to ride and then return at any one of the designated stations.

For more details, visit the FAQ page on the City of Orlando’s website.

Jan 202015
 

StrawberryThe Florida Strawberry Festival celebrates the abundant strawberry harvest with tons of fun activities February 26-March 8, 2015. Travel to Plant City for an exciting line-up of entertainment, competitive contests, youth events, thrilling rides and of course—delicious strawberries.

Regular gate admission tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids (6-12, 5 and under are free). Participating Publix locations are offering advance tickets January 29-March 8 for $8 for adults and $4 for kids. There will be plenty of options to save on tickets with special discounts for kids, seniors, farm workers and more.

303 North Lemon Street
Plant City, FL 33563
813-752-9194