Because I am in the business of working with clients on trade shows, I end up in Orlando a lot! I’ve always kind of thought of the city as a cultural wilderness (i.e. lots of chain restaurants and Disney-themed and other touristy shops) So last time I was there, I was determined to see what else Orlando had to offer and headed into downtown. What a great surprise! I found several terrific one-of-a-kind restaurants and shops, I got a taste of the local nightlife, and actually made my way back over one afternoon to the quaint neighborhood of South Eola.
This historic downtown neighborhood has quaint, cobblestone streets (historical – not Disney-made), large shade trees dripping with Spanish Moss and cute bungalow homes. The best part of the neighborhood though was Lake Eola Park. There was a fantastic Farmer’s Market, locals gathered to do yoga in the large lawn, and swans swimming in the lovely lake. The lake is encircled by a .9 mile walking path that includes some small gardens, a swan boat rental dock, and several sculptures.
It was a great reminder to me to throw away any preconceived ideas I may have about a place, dig deeper, and be prepared to be delighted by what I find.