Travel: Shelby's Trip to Orlando, FL
This Christmas, I took a trip down to Orlando, Florida to spend the holidays in the sun and of course, to visit my boyfriend who lives down there! Isn’t he lucky? He is Toronto born and bred, but plays professional hockey in Orlando for one of the Maple Leafs development teams.
With all of the hustle and bustle prior to the holidays, it was great to unwind and relax for a bit while I was there. However, with my birthday and New Year’s Eve/Day plus a few hockey games in between, we were pretty busy during my time there but luckily were able to explore some amazing places, and eat at some incredible restaurants.
In this post, i’ve highlighted some of the best parts of my trip, my favourite restaurants, and some fun things I did.
If you’re heading to Orlando and want to explore more than just the Disney parks, consider this a mini travel guide!
I hope you enjoy! xo - Shelby
For the best brunch in Orlando by far, try The Briarpatch Restaurant on Park Avenue in Winter Park. We went here on a Sunday morning and there was a lineup out the door and down the street - but it was totally worth the wait! A little birdy told me that the Raspberry Lemon Cream Pancakes were amazing...
We celebrated my birthday with dinner at Luma on Park. We got the recommendation from one of the local guys on my boyfriends team and it was was definitely one of the most stunning restaurants i’ve been to on the inside and out. It has an amazing outdoor patio that is pretty much open year round and the menu has something for everyone. Definitely a must-try!
If you love authentic Turkish food or are looking to try something new, Bosphorous is THE restaurant to try. After a long day shopping and exploring Disney World, we came back to Winter Park and dined on some babaganoush with lavas bread, lamb shanks, and tabbuli which couldn’t have been better. Such a good dinner!
If you’re exploring Winter Park and want to know where the locals eat, East End Market is worth a visit. It’s a unique neighbourhood indoor market that hosts small businesses that offer all kinds of food and drinks from organic juices to artisan cheese, groceries, wine, flowers and more. I recommend the Tropical Kale cold pressed juice from Skyebird, which is a vegan raw food restaurant there — so yummy!
For great outdoor shopping, you’ll have to check out the historic district in Winter Park! It's as charming as it sounds. It’s home to many of the restaurants I listed above, plus amazing boutiques and also chain stores like Williams Sonoma, Lululemon, Origins, Starbucks and more - it’s like a larger downtown Oakville but with palm trees and 25 degree weather in December… what more could you ask for?
One day when we had some time to kill, we walked around the campus of Rollins College which is just steps away from the historic district of Winter Park. The campus was beautiful and is located on a small lake where their sailing team is able to practice. If you remember the campus on the O.C., this was like an exact replica. It made me want to go back to school just so I could be a student there. A must-see for sure!
Orlando Solar Bears Game
Obviously, one of the main events of the trip was going to a hockey game to watch my boyfriend play. The games are played at the Amway Centre which is also home to the NBA team, the Orlando Magic. If you’re looking for a taste of winter down in Florida, especially for all the snow birds down there, this is great hockey that is definitely worth getting tickets to.
You can’t go to Orlando without seeing Harry Potter Land at Universal Studios — this was SO much fun. We drank butter-beers (which were disgusting but you have to try at least a sip) and went on all of the Harry Potter rides, including the train and the ride inside Hogwarts Castle. Make sure to buy the fast pass so you don't have to wait in the long lines!