Ask anyone about traveling to Orlando, FL and they’ll probably talk about Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, Legoland, or any one of the dozen other theme parks in the area. But if roller coasters and Mickey Mouse ears aren’t your idea of a perfect vacation, there are still plenty of things to do in Orlando. Here are a few of our favorite secret spots and hidden gems that you won’t find in every guidebook and “must do” list.
Hanson’s Shoe Repair – 27 E Pine St.
No, you can’t get your shoes repaired here, but if you know the password (Hint: Check their Twitter) you can get into the only speakeasy in Orlando and enjoy some of the best cocktails you’ll find anywhere. Located in what may be the oldest building still standing in downtown Orlando, acquired by Andrew Hanson in 1894 for his “Hanson Shoe Repair Shop”, Hanson’s Shoe Repair is really like stepping back in time to a classic speakeasy, and you can grab a drink and relax with friends on the rooftop patio.
Jack Kerouac Project – 1418 Clouser Ave.
This otherwise nondescript home is where Jack Kerouac typed the original manuscript of Dharma Bums, his sequel to On The Road. It’s now a writer’s retreat, and though it’s technically not open to the public, Kerouac fans who ask nicely can probably get in for a quick tour of the home.
The Thirsty Topher – 601 Virginia Dr.
Located in what they specifically call “Not The Shitty Tourist Part” of Orlando, The Thirsty Toper is a beer & wine bar that was built by bartenders and run by beer nerds. With 24 taps, Cicerone certified servers, no TVs, no WiFi, and no distractions, it’s a place that focuses on enjoying tasty beer, meeting your neighbors, and having a good time.
Epic McDonald’s – 6875 Sand Lake Rd.
No, it’s not a fancy restaurant masquerading as the fast food giant. BUT, this McDonald’s is something special: It’s the world’s largest ‘entertainment-style’ McDonald’s, and a perfect travel destination for McFoodies! This 19,000-square-foot McDonald’s features a two-story play area with slides, tunnels, and climbing features, an arcade, a 30-ft tall illuminated Ronald McDonald, and a singing animatronic of the chain’s 1980s moon-headed Mac Tonight spokesman. In addition to the McDonald’s classics, which you can customize with a “Create Your Taste” menu, there are also waffles, paninis, pizzas, pastas, and even breakfast omelets available to order.
Player 1 Video Game Bar – 8562 Palm Pkwy.
This beer bar features a rotating selection of classic arcade cabinets, as well as a large variety of consoles from every era, and you can play them all for a small $5 cover charge. In addition to arcade games, they feature a great selection of craft beers, sakes, meads, and wines, and on some nights the staff even cosplays their favorite video game and pop culture characters.
Wallaby Ranch – 1805 Deen Still Rd.
Since 1991, Wallaby Ranch has been the first and largest aerotow hang gliding flight park in the world. Instead of running down the side of a mountain to launch your hang glider, they use a system called aerotowing, where hang gliders are towed into the air with specially designed ultralight towplanes. You and an instructor are towed 2,000 feet in the air, and then set free to glide around for 15 minutes on your way back down to Earth. It’s a great way to see Florida from new heights, and you can even control the glider if you want the chance to “fly” yourself.
Presidents Hall of Fame – 123 S. Highway 27
This roadside attraction started life in the 1960s as a wax museum, but now includes animatronics, White House replicas, and Americana miniatures. The highlight of the museum is the miniature White House, a hand-made model that stretches 60 feet across, and features working televisions, crystal chandeliers, and an updated Oval Office to match the decor of each new administration. It took more than 500,000 man hours to research, design, and construct, and Ronald Reagan once called it, “a national treasure.”
Ready to join us on one of our trips to Orlando, FL? We can take you to all the secret spots and hidden gems, and make sure it’s a vacation you never forget! To book your trip with WNC Travels, click here or give us a call at (828) 595-9691