Orlando Area Travel Guide
9:51 PM EDT, March 11, 2012
POSTCARDS FROM FLORIDA
The Postcards column often is laced with whimsy, but today's edition is powered by fear.
July 6, 2010
From souvenirs at the theme parks or amazing discounts at the outlets, to picturesque Park Avenue, Central Florida stores offer something for everyone. Whether you visit Downtown Disney for the day or spend an afternoon at the Florida Mall, you can't go home without a purchase.
February 11, 2010
On a recent, chilly evening, I looked up and saw more stars than I ever had in the Florida sky. I was 45 feet above the ground and my heart was racing. Then, I stepped off my platform into an inky abyss. I could barely see the glimmer of a swamp below.
October 31, 2008
In an ornate, late-19th-century building on downtown Orlando's historic Church Street, a trendy Spanish tapas bar and restaurant is abuzz with tourists and locals. Upbeat rhythms from Seville fill the air.
August 20, 2009
Even though Mary Jo Smith and her husband had just arrived in Orlando to start their vacation late the night before, they still showed up for noon Mass at the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe before hitting the theme parks with their five children.
March 19, 2009
For shoppers, there's trendy ... and then there's Tren-D — a women's clothing and accessories store opening today at Downtown Disney. The concept is Disney meets Anthropologie, with a target audience in the 18-to-35 range.
January 14, 2009
Zipping through the treetops is no longer just for the birds.
May 2, 2004
Standing in the leafy garden of the Courtyard at Lake Lucerne, with its tropical foliage and the sound of water trickling from fountains, I find it hard to believe the spot was once a parking lot.
May 2, 2004
Here in the land of make-believe, where theme-park creators can launch you into space, take you on safari and spin you through a fantasyland of flying elephants, there's another novel experience to be had.
February 1, 2005
A mecca for collectors, this quaint town has more antique stores per square foot than most places in Florida. Located 25 miles northwest of Orlando, via U.S. 441, it is a lovingly preserved, frozen-in-time town (pop. 8,000) with a dozen turn-of-the-century buildings clustered around its downtown shuffleboard courts, including the eerily exuberant Steamboat Gothic Donnelly House straight out of a Charles Addams cartoon.
April 3, 2005
It's been a long day at Central Florida's theme parks and you are tired and hungry, though still ready for another dose of fantasy. Head for one of the many themed diners in Kissimmee and the surrounding area. They are fun and family-friendly, so parents and grandparents can bring the kids without a second thought.
May 25, 2003
For my first visit to Florida, I had only one requirement. I didn't want the experience to be one big theme park. No problem, as it turned out; I was sent there to work, at a trade show in Orlando. With my colleague Dwayne, a landscaper and avocational botanist, I flew in a couple of days early to seek out remnants of a low-tech, untrendy, offbeat Florida.
It's becoming increasingly difficult in this state to find lil' ol' hideaways, places that really fit the overused phrase, "Florida the way it used to be."
May 5, 2002
Bok Tower and Gardens in Central Florida is a quietly beautiful, serene sanctuary for birds and people. Visitors enjoy just wandering around the paths, looking at the flowers and foliage and feeling tension drain away. It's a great stress-buster.
In much of the United States, most kids wouldn't their childhood slip by without trying to persuade their parents to take them to Walt Disney World in Orlando.
November 3, 2002
The prime parking spot in front of the Ted Williams Museum and Hitters Hall of Fame still is reserved. The bronze sculpture depicting the late Boston Red Sox slugger sitting in uniform on a bench remains undisturbed, save for two small American flags that have been placed in its grasp. Since Williams' death on July 5, the museum has attracted thousands of fans looking to pay their respects.
July 14, 2002
There are not many inns in the state, or the country, sitting smack dab in the center of a major metropolitan area, but downtown Orlando has one, or rather four of them, called collectively the Courtyard at Lake Lucerne.
The Florida innkeeping industry is not plagued by the here-today-gone-tomorrow problems of restaurants. There are many inns, in large towns and little settlements, that have been pleasing an escape-hungry clientele for years and years.
Chalet Suzanne in Lake Wales is my choice for Florida Inn of the Century. Greeting guests for 70 years of that century, it's listed as a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places and has been owned and operated by the Hinshaw family ever since the Depression, when the indomitable Bertha Hinshaw turned her home into an inn and hammered her simple, hand-made "Chalet Suzanne -- Lake Wales" signs on trees and fence posts around the country.
Florida's country inns escaped the ravages of summer's flames and floods, but several came close to total disaster, including a Victorian charmer tucked into a forested yesteryear in Lake Helen, a few minutes from the spiritualists in Cassadaga and only seven miles from DeLand.
Now that the furor has died down about some covert plan to convert Jews, it's possible to look at Holy Land Experience as its owners wanted people to: As another theme park in Orlando. How does it stack up?
October 10, 2003
The last time astronaut Charles Bolden Jr. vaulted from the Earth was in February 1994 when he was commander of the space shuttle Discovery.
If you're yearning for a time-warp weekend free of theme parks and other excesses of modern-day living, think about an escape to the New England of Florida, the antique capital as well as the rose capital of Central Florida. Think Mount Dora.
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