Orlando is referred to locally as ‘the City Beautiful.’ It is part of the Sun Belt that covers most of Florida and boasts a delightful subtropical climate. It is also one of the most visited cities in the world.
The reason that this city draws on such a wide tourist base is that it hosts more than a dozen theme parks. The most famous of these are Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, and these two draw cards alone pull in hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
The city’s theme parks may be an attraction to many visitors, but one should not assume that these are all that there is on offer here. There are two notable art museums, the Mannello Museum of American Art and the Orlando Museum of Art, and both are highly recommended to art lovers.
The city also offers a wide variety of seafood and southern cuisine as well as some popular craft beer factories that often serve food as well.
There are a number of reasons to make a stop in Lakeland. The city is built around thirty-eight lakes and this affords great hiking and biking opportunities. The swans that you are bound to see are descendants of a pair donated by the Queen of England in 1954. There had been swans there since 1923 but they were eaten by alligators and, at the request of a concerned local, the Queen agreed to send a pair from England.
Another great reason to stop here is to pay a visit to the Polk Museum of Art. Founded in 1966, this diverse museum has over 2800 items on display. They offer a broad range of exhibits which include contemporary art as well as works from Asia, Africa, and the pre- Columbian era.
From Lakeland, the journey to Tampa will take just over an hour and if you time things right you should hit town at just about lunchtime. As you are so far into the Deep South it would seem a shame not to dedicate yourself to a little southern soul food.
Ella's Folk Art Cafe might just be the ideal place to treat your taste buds and enjoy some seriously eclectic art at the same time. The art collection is scattered randomly around the dining area and outdoor spaces and has been collected by the owner over a number of years. It is mainly made up of found objects and outsider art. Some is for sale and some isn’t. That all just adds to the quirkiness.
By way of food, you might like to try some equally quirky sounding dishes. Chicken and Biscuit Pot Pie, Olè Molè, and Chicken and Waffle Sammy are just three of the options available.
To build on the Tampa experience the Local Loop Brew Bus is a hop-on hop-off tour of local breweries and they do a pick-up right outside the restaurant. Their goal is to drive up the appreciation of small craft breweries and this is a memorable way to get to different breweries without needing to bother with all the driving.
Sarasota is less than an hour south of Tampa riding along the eastern edge of Tampa Bay. When you get there you needn’t feel your adventure is over because there is still a wealth of attractions to visit.
The Ringling Museum of Art is the official art museum of Florida and if you feel that you have done enough art for one day, there are still the fine white sands of the Siesta Key Beach or the Marie Selby Botanic gardens to enjoy. The city also offers a thriving nightlife.