Cultural, Heritage, Natural Treasures in Orlando
In a region where theme parks dominate the vacation
experience, visitors find an Orlando with surprisingly
diverse cultural and natural attractions. Here are some highlights:
All things to do in Orlando
Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens, listed on
the National Register of Historic Places, showcases nearly 200 of his
works in the Czech sculptor’s home, galleries and a 3-acre (1.2-hectare)
garden in Winter Park.
Bradlee-McIntyre House—Central Florida Society for Historic
Preservation offers guided tours of the 1885 Queen Anne-style,
three-story, 13-room winter vacation cottage. The only surviving
late-Victorian cottage in Orange and Seminole counties.
Casselberry Art House is a cultural arts facility
housing a unique gallery and art classroom. It has a full schedule of
classes, special events and exhibits.
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in
Winter Park is home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of
works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, as well as late 19th and 20th century
Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College in Winter
Park features European and American paintings, sculpture and decorative
Historic Waterhouse Residence & Carpentry Show Museums
in Maitland was built in 1884 and reflects the life and livelihood
during the late Victorian period.
The Mennello Museum of American Art is Florida’s only
museum showcasing works of self-taught artists, including renowned folk
artist Earl Cunningham.
Museum of Seminole County History in Sanford is
comprised of two buildings depicting early agriculture, transportation
and turn-of-the-century furnishings.
Orlando Museum of Art in Loch Haven Park features
traveling exhibitions and permanent collections of American art, African
art and art of the ancient Americas.
Sanford Museum contains exhibits dealing with the
history of the city and its founder, Henry S. Sanford, as well as
archives and a research library.
Water Ski Hall of Fame and Museum in Polk City gives
visitors the opportunity to spend a nostalgic afternoon traveling back
in time to see how the pioneers innovated and changed the sport.
Winter Park Historical Association Museum is located at
the north end of the historic farmers market. Features displays of
pictorial history, collectibles and memorabilia.
WordSpring Discovery Center allows visitors to explore
the history of the Bible, the world’s languages and the ongoing work of
Bible translation through interactive multimedia.
Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts in
Eatonville celebrates the works of the noted African-American writer,
folklorist and anthropologist, and other works by artists of African
City Hall of Orlando—Terrace Gallery showcases Florida
artists year-round and traveling exhibits throughout the year.
COMMA, An Alternative Art Space for Contemporary
Millennium Art is a gallery created to showcase contemporary, original
fine art by nationally known and Central Florida artists.
Crealdé School of Art in Winter Park offers changing
fine art exhibitions, free educational exhibitions and one of the
largest contemporary art sculptures in Florida.
DMAC—Downtown Media Arts Center is an 80-seat cinema,
café and gallery with live music, open mike nights and special events.
Grand Bohemian Gallery offers the finest in original
and contemporary artwork including paintings, photography, sculpture,
glass, jewelry and one-of-a-kind gifts.
Jamali Fine Art features works by artist Jamali. The
collection includes original paintings, bronze sculptures, limited
editions and photography.
Maitland Art Center features changing exhibitions,
concerts in the garden, a lecture series and numerous special events,
including a Children’s Art Festival.
Millenia Gallery in Orlando offers paintings by
Picasso, Chagall, Renoir and others, as well as works by distinguished
OVAL on Orange Gallery and Studios in downtown Orlando
is a working studio space and cooperative gallery where visitors can
watch the artists at work.
Suz Letzig Gallery features original art, Giclée and
limited edition prints.
Timothy’s Gallery in Winter Park, a “Top 100 Gallery of
American Craft” winner since 1997, features the works of more than 300
award-winning artists with jewelry, art, furniture, ceramics and more.
Theater and Music
Annie Russell Theatre at Rollins College in Winter Park
hosts four theatre productions and one dance production each season
featuring students as well as local and national professional talent.
ArtsFest, now in its third year, is a cultural sampling
for every taste and pocketbook. From moving ballet and opera to
cutting-edge film and art exhibits, this festival showcases Central
Florida’s best in arts and culture.
Bach Festival Society of Winter Park offers seasonal
performances with a 150-voice choir and guest soloists and ensembles.
Central Florida Ballet features performances of
Russian-based ballets including the annual Nutcracker, Swan Lake and
Cirque du Soleil in Downtown Disney West Side comes
alive with surreal sets, live music and high-energy choreography; the
show includes gymnasts, acrobats, dancers and clowns.
Enzian Theater is Central Florida’s oldest full-time,
nonprofit alternative cinema. Hosts the Florida Film Festival each
Festival of Orchestras permanent concert series in
Orlando features five or more internationally acclaimed symphony
orchestras each season.
Florida Film Festival is held each spring and showcases
the best American independent and foreign films. Produced by Enzian
Theater, the festival has been ranked eighth in America by the Ultimate
Film Festival Survival Guide.
Florida Music Festival is a three-day celebration of
up-and-coming musicians held in May in downtown Orlando. It was recently
ranked among the top 25 best music festivals in the Southeast.
Florida Symphony Youth Orchestra provides talented
young student musicians with orchestral experience and audiences with
the opportunity to watch.
JCC Center Players is an adult community theater that
produces plays and musicals, some of which have Jewish content.
The JESUS Film Project is located at the world
headquarters for Campus Crusade for Christ. Visitors can take a tour of
the facility and learn how the latest technology simulates translation
of the movie into 890 languages.
Mad Cow Theatre presents award-winning contemporary and
classic plays and musicals in an intimate setting in downtown Orlando.
Orlando Ballet is Central Florida’s only fully
professional ballet company with 24 national and international dancers.
Season runs September to May.
The Orlando Chorale is a 60-voice choir of professional
and experienced singers from Central Florida under the direction of
Orlando International Fringe Festival is 10 days of
theater, music and frivolity each May in downtown Orlando. More than 500
performances by local, national and international artists are offered.
Orlando Opera presents world-class productions with
live music by the Orlando Philharmonic and English translations
projected above the stage. Season runs October to April.
Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Central Florida’s
resident orchestra, presents several series each season, including its
“Phil at Carr” series with noted international soloists and the popular
Darden Family Series.
Orlando Repertory Theatre at Loch Haven Park in
Orlando’s “Cultural Corridor” presents professional theater based on
classic and contemporary children’s literature.
Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival features Shakespeare
classics and other plays year-round in a permanent home at Loch Haven
People’s Theatre, Inc. is a multicultural theater that
celebrates the multiethnic makeup of our communities through quality
Pinocchio’s Marionette Theater is a professional
marionette company performing original versions of children’s classic
fairy tales and stories for audiences of all ages.
Playwrights’ Round Table in Longwood features readings
and productions of original works for stage and screen by professional
actors and directors.
SunTrust Broadway in Orlando brings national Broadway
touring shows to the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre in downtown
Winter Park Playhouse is an intimate, professional
theatre specializing in musicals with live musicians and comedies from
Broadway and Off-Broadway.
Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central
Florida includes a museum, library and gallery.
New Day Enterprises offers ethnic heritage group tours
of the area, highlighting local landmarks, streets and structures named
in honor of African-Americans.
Orange County Regional History Center in downtown
Orlando explores 12,000 years of the area’s rich history with
interactive exhibits, artifacts, archives and special shows.
Wells’ Built Museum of African-American History
features exhibits, artifacts and memorabilia of African-American artists
and musicians who entertained in downtown Orlando.
Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour, a local attraction for
more than half a century, takes riders along the city’s historic chain
of lakes and connecting canals - a 12-mile (19-kilometer) cruise through
the “Venice of America.”
Withers-Maguire House and Museum in Ocoee is on the
National Register of Historic Places and gives a glimpse of life in
1888. Open only on weekends.
The Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts & Humanities
is held annually in January and celebrates the life and work of noted
African-American author and folklorist, Zora Neale Hurston, a native of
Parks and Gardens
Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake is a 178-acre
(72-hectare) natural park located near Orlando’s major tourism area.
Pavilions, boats, cabins and RV campsites are available for rent.
De Leon Springs State Park offers hiking trails,
narrated boat tours and is a great place for bird watching.
Fort Christmas Historical Park is a park and museum in
one, with a replica of the original fort built on Dec. 25, 1837 during
the second Seminole Indian War and a “Living History” community of seven
pioneer homes restored to their original condition.
Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando is a 50-acre
(20-hectare) botanical park with the largest camellia collection in
North America and the Leu House Museum, listed on the National Register
of Historic Places.
Historic Bok Sanctuary in Lake Wales features Fredrick
Law Olmsted-designed gardens, 204-foot (62-meter) tower and a majestic
Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando includes 43 acres
(17 hectares) with a walking trail, café and 23-acre (9-hectare) lake
Moss Park/Split Oak consists of 3,351 acres (1,356
hectares) of natural Florida forest and wildlife nestled between Lakes
Hard and Mary Jane. The park offers camping, boating, fishing, swimming,
hiking and picnicking.
Southport RV Park Campground & Marina is a natural
paradise located on West Lake Toho. The park is perfect for wildlife
Wekiva Springs State Park in Apopka offers 7,800 acres
(3,157-heactres) with a natural spring for swimming, canoes for rent and
an opportunity to see how the area’s American Indians lived.
A-Awesome Airboat Rides offers 90-minute guided tours
of Florida’s wetlands. Day and night tours are available on small
airplane engine-powered airboats.
Airboat Rides ‘Old Fashioned’ have licensed captains
with 30 years of expertise providing a real wildlife experience with
views of alligators, bald eagles and more.
A Pro Bass Guide Service, Inc. provides full- and
halfday fishing trips with a bass guide in a pro bass boat on Florida
Bass Anglers Guide Service offers half- and full-day
fishing expeditions in custom-rigged bass boats on the Butler Chain of
Lakes in Windermere.
Big Toho Airboat Rides in Kissimmee allows visitors to
view alligators in a modern day airboat.
Blue Water Balloons offers one-hour sunrise balloon
rides followed by a traditional champagne picnic.
Bobs Balloon Charters LLC will come directly to your
area to offer a customized balloon ride. Enjoy panoramic views of the
lakes, wildlife and skylines.
Boggy Creek Airboat & Swamp Buggy Tours in Kissimmee
takes riders through Florida wetlands for a look at native wildlife.
Eldora Charters, run by Capt. Brian Clancy, allows
experienced and novice anglers to fish for redfish and spotted sea
Fish Charters Inc. in Kissimmee offers guests the
option to take a scenic pontoon boat ride around Lake Toho or to go
Fly Envy Fishing Charters in Deltona allows anglers to
fish off of the Canaveral National Seashore.
Fun 2 Dive Scuba and Snorkeling Tours provides full day
scuba diving and snorkeling excursions.
Grand Cypress Equestrian Center is a British Horse
Society-approved equestrian center located at The Villas of Grand
Cypress Golf Resort.
Horse World Riding Stables is a 750-acre (303-hectare)
working ranch featuring trail rides for the beginner, intermediate and
Incentive Fishing Charters in Melbourne offers private
charters for up to six people.
InuTrax Outdoor Adventures offers guided kayak tours.
Explore the waters and wildlife of the “Real Florida.”
Little Big Econ State Forest offers activities
including hiking, biking, horse trails, canoeing on the Econ River and
Orange Blossom Balloons offers sunrise flights seven
days a week for a bird’s-eye view of Central Florida.
Orlando Dive and Snorkel Tours Inc. in Crystal River
shows guests how to get in the water and swim with the manatees. Also
offered are eco-tours, kayak rentals, fishing, scuba and snorkeling.
Rivership ROMANCE has daily lunch cruises and weekend
dinner cruises. Relax and enjoy nature in air-conditioned comfort while
cruising the historic St. Johns River.
Sea Spirit Deep Sea Fishing in Ponce Inlet offers full-
and half day fishing trips. All bait and tackle is supplied.
Wallaby Ranch Hang Gliding Flight Park teaches guests
to hang glide 2,000 feet (610 meters) from the ground. No experience is
West Orange Trail in Winter Garden is Orlando’s longest
paved bicycle trail, 19 miles (30.5 kilometers) through fields, forest
canopies and the towns of Winter Garden and Apopka, part of the
nationwide Rails to Trails program. Bicycles and rollerblades for rent.