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Cultural, Heritage, Natural Treasures in Orlando


museumIn 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. 407-647-6294

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.     407-262-7720

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 American art. 407-332-0225


Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College in Winter Park features European and American paintings, sculpture and decorative arts. 407-646-2526


Historic Waterhouse Residence & Carpentry Show Museums in Maitland was built in 1884 and reflects the life and livelihood during the late Victorian period. 407-644-2451


The Mennello Museum of American Art is Florida’s only museum showcasing works of self-taught artists, including renowned folk artist Earl Cunningham. 407-246-4278


Museum of Seminole County History in Sanford is comprised of two buildings depicting early agriculture, transportation and turn-of-the-century furnishings. 407-665-248


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. 407-896-4231


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. 407-302-1000


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. 863-324-2472


Winter Park Historical Association Museum is located at the north end of the historic farmers market. Features displays of pictorial history, collectibles and memorabilia. 407-647-8180


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. 407-852-3626


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 descent. 407-647-3307




City Hall of Orlando—Terrace Gallery showcases Florida artists year-round and traveling exhibits throughout the year. 407-246-4279


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. 407-671-1886


DMAC—Downtown Media Arts Center is an 80-seat cinema, café and gallery with live music, open mike nights and special events. 407-992-1210


Grand Bohemian Gallery offers the finest in original and contemporary artwork including paintings, photography, sculpture, glass, jewelry and one-of-a-kind gifts. 407-581-4801


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. 407-539-2181


Millenia Gallery in Orlando offers paintings by Picasso, Chagall, Renoir and others, as well as works by distinguished contemporary artists. 407-226-8701


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. 407-648-1819


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. 407-629-0707


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. 407-646-2145


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.  407-363-5872


Bach Festival Society of Winter Park offers seasonal performances with a 150-voice choir and guest soloists and ensembles. 407-646-2182


Central Florida Ballet features performances of Russian-based ballets including the annual Nutcracker, Swan Lake and Cinderella. 407-849-9948


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. 407-939-7600


Enzian Theater is Central Florida’s oldest full-time, nonprofit alternative cinema. Hosts the Florida Film Festival each spring. 407-629-0054


Festival of Orchestras permanent concert series in Orlando features five or more internationally acclaimed symphony orchestras each season. 407-539-0245


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. 407-644-5625


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. 407-999-7800


JCC Center Players is an adult community theater that produces plays and musicals, some of which have Jewish content. 407-645-5933


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. 407-826-2300


Mad Cow Theatre presents award-winning contemporary and classic plays and musicals in an intimate setting in downtown Orlando. 407-297-8788


Orlando Ballet is Central Florida’s only fully professional ballet company with 24 national and international dancers. Season runs September to May. 407-426-1733


The Orlando Chorale is a 60-voice choir of professional and experienced singers from Central Florida under the direction of Gregory Ruffer. 407-896-8624


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. 407-648-0077


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. 407-426-1700


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. 407-896-6700


Orlando Repertory Theatre at Loch Haven Park in Orlando’s “Cultural Corridor” presents professional theater based on classic and contemporary children’s literature. 407-896-7365


Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival features Shakespeare classics and other plays year-round in a permanent home at Loch Haven Park. 407-447-1700


People’s Theatre, Inc. is a multicultural theater that celebrates the multiethnic makeup of our communities through quality community theater. 407-426-0545


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. 407-677-8831


Playwrights’ Round Table in Longwood features readings and productions of original works for stage and screen by professional actors and directors. 407-788-8468


SunTrust Broadway in Orlando brings national Broadway touring shows to the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre in downtown Orlando. 407-950-4647


Winter Park Playhouse is an intimate, professional theatre specializing in musicals with live musicians and comedies from Broadway and Off-Broadway. 407-645-0145




Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida includes a museum, library and gallery. 407-628-0555


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. 407-836-8500


Wells’ Built Museum of African-American History features exhibits, artifacts and memorabilia of African-American artists and musicians who entertained in downtown Orlando. 407-245-7535


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.” 407-644-4056


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 Eatonville. 800-972-3310


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. 407-299-5581


De Leon Springs State Park offers hiking trails, narrated boat tours and is a great place for bird watching. 386-985-4212


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. 407-246-2620


Historic Bok Sanctuary in Lake Wales features Fredrick Law Olmsted-designed gardens, 204-foot (62-meter) tower and a majestic 60-bell carillon. 407-676-1408


Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando includes 43 acres (17 hectares) with a walking trail, café and 23-acre (9-hectare) lake with paddleboats.


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 viewing. 407-933-5822


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. 407-884-2008


Outdoor Adventures


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. 407-568-7601


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. 407-568-4307


A Pro Bass Guide Service, Inc. provides full- and halfday fishing trips with a bass guide in a pro bass boat on Florida lakes. 407-877-9676


Bass Anglers Guide Service offers half- and full-day fishing expeditions in custom-rigged bass boats on the Butler Chain of Lakes in Windermere. 407-656-1052


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. 407-894-5040


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. 407-466-6380


Boggy Creek Airboat & Swamp Buggy Tours in Kissimmee takes riders through Florida wetlands for a look at native wildlife. 407-344-9550


Eldora Charters, run by Capt. Brian Clancy, allows experienced and novice anglers to fish for redfish and spotted sea trout. 386-409-7380


Fish Charters Inc. in Kissimmee offers guests the option to take a scenic pontoon boat ride around Lake Toho or to go fishing. 407-908-5688


Fly Envy Fishing Charters in Deltona allows anglers to fish off of the Canaveral National Seashore. 386-479-3429


Fun 2 Dive Scuba and Snorkeling Tours provides full day scuba diving and snorkeling excursions. 407-322-9696


Grand Cypress Equestrian Center is a British Horse Society-approved equestrian center located at The Villas of Grand Cypress Golf Resort. 407-239-1938


Horse World Riding Stables is a 750-acre (303-hectare) working ranch featuring trail rides for the beginner, intermediate and advanced rider. 407-847-4343


Incentive Fishing Charters in Melbourne offers private charters for up to six people. 321-676-1948


InuTrax Outdoor Adventures offers guided kayak tours. Explore the waters and wildlife of the “Real Florida.” 352-455-9892


Little Big Econ State Forest offers activities including hiking, biking, horse trails, canoeing on the Econ River and primitive camping. 407-971-3500


Orange Blossom Balloons offers sunrise flights seven days a week for a bird’s-eye view of Central Florida. 407-239-7677


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. 407-466-1668


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. 407-321-5091


Sea Spirit Deep Sea Fishing in Ponce Inlet offers full- and half day fishing trips. All bait and tackle is supplied. 386-763-4388


Wallaby Ranch Hang Gliding Flight Park teaches guests to hang glide 2,000 feet (610 meters) from the ground. No experience is necessary. 863-424-0070


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.

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