US Travel | 5 Ways to Experience Orlando Like a Local

Lake Eola, Orlando, Florida (image: girlonthewire)

by: Grayson Leverenz

Brandon and I lived in downtown Orlando, Florida for three years. When we’d tell people that, they’d usually say, “Oh, I’ve never been to downtown Orlando.” To which we’d politely respond, “That’s why we live there.”

Locals in Orlando avoid most touristy places like children avoid doctors with large needles. That having been said, we know where we live, and some of the best things to do in Orlando are actually tourist attractions.

Here are 5 ways you can experience Orlando like a local. Click on each number for specifics.
1. Ride the Incredible Hulk at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
Any Orlando adventure begins with the theme parks; knowing which one not to miss is the benefit of being a local. For me, Universal’s Islands of Adventure tops the list. My adrenaline skyrockets just thinking about shooting out of the gate of the Incredible Hulk roller coaster.

2. Feed your inner artist at Café Tu Tu Tango.
Café Tu Tu Tango stands out among the chains on International Drive, (i.e. the most gridlocked, touristy street in Orlando). Inspired by the lofts of Spanish artists, they serve small plate style to encourage sharing, and house local artists to demonstrate their mediums while selling their work. Locals don’t frequent I-drive, but will make the trek after indulging in a theme park day.

3. Explore Lake Eola Park.
Watching children feeding swans along the 0.9 mile Lake Eola walking path creates picture perfect moments. Top the stroll off by visiting the Eola Wine Company. You can sit outside and watch the locals cruise by as you sip on your favorite red or white.

4. Eat at Dexter’s in Thornton Park.
Walking distance from Lake Eola, back in the cute neighborhood of Thornton Park, you’ll find Dexter’s. I recommend the Cuban sandwich if you can get it; the menu changes monthly. If it happens to be a Saturday, Dexter’s hosts an excellent jazz brunch at noon.

5. Visit Leu Gardens.
Orlando’s climate welcomes tropical flowers almost year round. It’s enough to wander through the outdoor gardens, taking in the beauty of your loved ones engulfed in colorful blossoms. But, Leu Gardens doesn’t stop there. With events like “Date Night” and Jazz Strolls, they keep people coming back for more.

What are your Orlando favorites?

Author: Grayson Leverenz

Grayson Leverenz founded MBA in the USA® to help international students build networks, find jobs, and have fun in the USA. Hundreds of global professionals have benefited from Grayson’s intercultural workshops, and she has worked with people from Brazil, China, India, South Africa, South Korea, the UK, and the USA to build effective virtual teams and craft brilliant careers.

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  1. Great article. I want to go back to Orlando and see the town that I missed.

  2. Thanks for your comment, George. I’m excited to go back, too!


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