By Tisa Newcombe | STC Student Member and Karen Lane | STC Fellow
Central Florida is known for attractions (Disney, Universal Studios, Legoland, Busch Gardens, Old Town, Holy Land Experience, and SeaWorld, to name a few)—check out VisitOrlando.com for tickets and ideas—but it has so much more you’ll want to explore, so plan to spend a few days here before or after the Summit and really get to know us.
Orlando and Nearby
Along International Drive, you can find many odd and interesting destinations, which you can read about in other articles in this series or ask at the host chapter hospitality desk in the conference center.
A short taxi (or Lyft or Uber) ride away are many unique areas to explore: museums, homes, places to stroll, and cafés to enjoy.
The Orlando Museum of Art (https://omart.org/) offers several collections including African art, American art, art of the ancient Americans, and contemporary art. During the Summit, OMoA will be featuring an exhibit of Seminole art.
Mennello Museum of American Art (https://www.mennellomuseum.org/) boasts a large-scale sculpture garden, a permanent collection of art from Earl Cunningham, and rotating exhibitions.
If your favorite museums contain not art but science and technology, be sure to visit the Orlando Science Center (https://www.osc.org/). On May 18th and 19th, the center will host an event called Star-Studded Evenings. These evenings consist of a feature-length film in the Digital Adventure Theater and an opportunity (weather permitting) to stargaze in the Crosby Observatory for $10 per person.
Thirty minutes north of the Summit hotel, Winter Park (https://cityofwinterpark.org/visitors/arts-culture/) is a charming community featuring parks, shops, cafés, and a world-class museum devoted to the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany. The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art (http://www.morsemuseum.org/) is open Tuesday through Sunday and has been described as “the most important collection of Tiffany material in the world today.”
A short walk from the Morse Museum on the beautiful campus of Rollins College, you can explore the collection and exhibits of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum (http://www.rollins.edu/cornell-fine-arts-museum/), the only European Old Masters collection in the Orlando area, also holding a sizable American art collection and the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art.
If you’re looking for entertainment or dinner theater, Orlando has all that, too. Novelty dinner theater opportunities such as the Sleuth’s Mystery Dinner Show (https://www.sleuths.com/) and Medieval Times (http://www.medievaltimes.com/plan-your-trip/orlando-fl/index.html) can make your evening feel like an adventure.
If you have a free day and a car (or can rent one), don’t miss the Kennedy Space Center (https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/) on the east coast. Only an hour’s drive from the Summit hotel, KSC is a space fanatic’s delight, featuring tours, exhibits, and IMAX films. Here you can see an actual Space Shuttle and many exhibits about the early space program, the quest to reach the moon, and NASA’s ongoing projects.
While you’re in the KSC area, explore some of the beautiful beaches nearby. And if you’re a bird watcher, you cannot do better than spending a few hours at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Merritt_Island/).
In the other direction, an hour-and-a-half drive west brings you to Tampa-St. Petersburg, a thriving metropolitan area with cultural resources and beautiful beaches. Notably, you can find a top-notch museum devoted to the works of Salvador Dalí (http://thedali.org/). Open seven days a week, the museum is a treasure on Florida’s west central coast, offering free tours with paid admission.
After visiting the museum, you can stroll and shop in Ybor City (in downtown Tampa), known as “Florida’s Latin Quarter,” a historic cigar-making district with a strong Cuban influence and wonderful restaurants.
If you are a beer drinker, Cigar City Brewing (https://cigarcitybrewing.com) in Tampa should be on your must-go list. Tours are held Wednesday through Sunday and include generous tastings; reservations are recommended.
Off the Beaten Path
Milk District (https://www.orlandomainstreets.com/districts/the-milk-district/)—A historic district in the heart of downtown Orlando with a weekly food truck rally, historic architecture, and trendy nightclubs and restaurants (30 minutes northeast).
Wekiwa Springs State Park (https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Wekiwa-Springs)—A great way to cool off from the heat. Enjoy canoeing and kayaking down the Wekiva River (40 minutes north).
Daytona Beach—A bit better known, this is a great beach location in Central Florida on the Atlantic Ocean. The historic Daytona boardwalk runs down the main section of Daytona Beach, offering traditional boardwalk fare (80 minutes northeast).