POPULAR CITIES IN CENTRAL FLORIDA
Apopka, is just 12 miles northwest from downtown Orlando. It has a small town feel and with many beautiful natural resources and a host of outdoor recreational activities. The Apopka Amphitheater has many concerts and events. There is the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive with over 360 wild bird species to observe and larn about. The Apopka Museum is a great place to visit to learn about local history. Canoeing, hiking or camping is always fun at at the Wekiwa Springs State Park and Kelly Park/Rock Springs, there are also plenty of shops and great places to eat around the town.
The City of Arcadia is the county seat for DeSoto County. It is centrally located between Orlando, and Lake Okeechobee at the crossroads of US 17 and State Route 70. Arcadia is widely regarded as the Antique capital of Florida for its historic downtown antique district. On the fourth Saturday of each month, vendors from surrounding locations take over our streets with thousands of great Antiques and rare treasures. Tucked between the many antique shops, you’ll have the chance to enjoy cafes, home cooking, a tea room, and a smoothie shop. The Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo is held in March, the Annual Watermelon Festival in May at the height of the harvesting season, and car shows, parades, and special events take place throughout the year.
Bartow is another great historic town, founded in 1851 it is loaded with family-owned antique shops and cozy bed and breakfasts; an historic courthouse and the embedded Polk County Museum of Art and Genealogical Library. Every year Bartow has it’s Bloomin’ Arts Festival timed perfectly to display the area’s bloom season. Bartow is also home to the famous Wonder House. The house stands four stories tall, with an additional two stories underground. The Wonder House was made from concrete reinforced with steel, and inlaid with glass and tile mosaics. The house featured many time saving devices like delayed light switches, a laundry chute and inventions including air conditioning in the 1920s and can be toured by appointment.
Dunnellon has two rivers that run along the town, The Rainbow and Withlacoochee Rivers. Rainbow Springs State Park is perhaps the best known – swim, snorkel, tube or paddle this cool, clear, beautiful river. Just south of Dunnellon, you will find the Withlacoochee State Trail at its Gulf Junction Trailhead. There are also two great river-side bars to check out — The Blue Gator Tiki Bar & Restaurant, on the banks of the Withlacoochee, and Swampy’s Bar & Grille on the Rainbow. They are about a mile away from each other, or short paddle away.
In the late 1800s, Dunnellon became a Florida boomtown due to the discovery of high-grade phosphate. Every April to celebrate this historical period, the city hosts a festival and street party that’s spread out over multiple blocks in the downtown historic district. For more than 50 years the draws over 8,000 visitors annually, features live music, cowboy entertainment, a kids’ zone, food and craft vendors, and other fun stuff.
Thousands of vacationers flock to Kissimmee every year to enjoy the Orlando area. This Orlando neighbor has more than 70,000 accommodation options including over 50,000 vacation homes by owner where you and your family will have a personalized without high cost resort fees and many other costs associated with Resorts and Hotels.
Old Town has nightly main stage performances and weekly car cruise-ins, along with attractions like a human slingshot and Ferris wheel. There are Swamp buggy and airboat rides and great bass fishing onn Kissimmee’s Chain of Lakes (Lake Kissimmee and Lake Tohopekaliga – Lake Toho to locals – are the biggest); and the Silver Spurs Rodeo keeps its calendar full of roping, racing and riding at Osceola Heritage Park. Several local organizations have collaborated to improve Kissimmee’s historic downtown, now marked by streetscapes, events on Toho Square (including a farmers’ market on Thursdays) and Key’s Welcome Station, a 1926 service station adapted into an outpost of the town’s visitors’ bureau.
Lakeland is an energetic community located along I-4 between Tampa and Orlando. Lakeland has many lakes providing scenic areas for recreation. Downtown Lakeland is a an enjoyable place for residents and visitors. There are great shops, casual restaurants, pubs, craft breweries and fine-dining experiences to be found in and around the historic brick buildings that surround the historic Munn Park town square.
The City embraces its past and that is evident strolling the tree lined, brick streets in the historic neighborhoods found throughout Lakeland. The area is home to Southeastern University, Florida Polytechnic University, Polk State College’s Lakeland campus, and Florida Southern College, which hosts the largest on-site collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.
Visitors to Lakeland will love the history of our city and will surely enjoy museums such as the Polk Museum of Art, which features exciting exhibitions by featured artists and a permanent collection that includes pieces by some of the most notable names in art—Ansel Adams, Marc Chagall, and Henri Matisse to name a few! Flight enthusiasts can’t miss the annual SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In & Expo, the second largest event of its kind in the world and is Florida’s largest annual flight/fly-in convention. Classic car enthusiasts won’t want to miss the annual MIDFLORIDA Auto Show & Lake Mirror Concours, which draws top car collectors from all over the southeastern United States during this renowned showcase of classic automobiles.
Lake Buena Vista
Most people believe Disney theme parks are located in Orlando, however they are located in Lake Buena Vista. Lake Buena Vista, a municipality controlled by the Walt Disney Company. In Lake Buena Vista, guests find that everything from dining to shopping qualify as amusements. Restaurants with delectable cuisine from around the world can be sampled both inside and outside Lake Buena Vista’s theme parks. And it is not difficult to find the special brand of dining entertainment known as dinner theater to delight young and old with shows, music, comedy, dancing and even medieval jousting. Several golf clubs are also located here. For a well-rounded vacation, don’t miss Lake Buena Vista.
Doing Disney is a Florida vacation mainstay, and Walt envisioned centering the Florida fun on one magical locale: Lake Buena Vista. Hop between four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom) and two water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach). If you need more stimulation, Disney Springs won’t disappoint – here, Cirque du Soleil performs, and House of Blues rocks. Themed restaurants, including one by Wolfgang Puck, will keep your appetite stimulated too.
Mount Dora is one of the most beautiful small towns in the State of Florida. There is just something special about this place. The “Bass Capital of the World” is surrounded by beautiful lakes, this place takes you to a place time forgot. The Lake Dora waterfront has a lighthouse, piers for fishing, an annual regatta and a holiday boat parade. Mount Dora is a well-known spot among antiques collectors (weekends are for Renninger’s, operator of a mega antiques, farmers’ and flea market with heavily attended extravaganzas throughout the year. Bring the entire family and enjoy and old-fashioned, small town celebration.
The Ocala/Marion area is officially named the “Horse Capital of the World® Ocala/Marion holds the record of producing some of the finest champions in the sport. With a beautiful, mild climate all year long and soil rich with limestone calcium for strong bones, Ocala/Marion County is home to more horses than anywhere else in the country.
Ocala/Marion is also one of the best places in the state of Florida to take a family or romantic vacation. Ocala is home to the Silver Springs State Park where visitors can experience a Glass Bottom Boat tour. Kayak the five-mile Silver River. Explore the Silver River Museum and Cracker Village. Camping, hiking, dining and shopping as well!
Although Disney is located in Lake Buena Vista most every other theme park is located in Orlando. It is home to Universal Studios Florida and Islands of adventure and CityWalk for s fantastic dining, shopping and nightlife experience. SeaWorld Orlando, Discovery Cove and Aquatica water park are all located in this town.
There are many theme parks but are many other places to see and activities for the entire family International Drive, Pointe Orlando and the Mall at Millennia are great shopping destinantions.
Orlando is home to over 5,000 restaurants featuring celebrity chefs and local favorites, plus options for every palate and price point. It’s also home to vibrant dance clubs, craft breweries and wineries, playfully furtive speakeasies, and other enticing choices.
Winter Haven is located between Tampa and Orlando, it is home to beautiful lakes, a majestic tower, a world-class collection of vintage aircraft and the largest LEGOLAND in the world – plenty of places to play, explore and reflect.
Here you can experience the lakeside lifestyle – pontoon boat tours, paddle-boarding, wake-boarding, water skiing, kayak tours and fishing as well as – watch vibrant orange and pink sunsets from a dock while sipping on a glass of wine or a Winter Haven brewed craft beer.
There are many art galleries and interactive artistic experiences, locally-owned artisan restaurants and shopping, a restored historic downtown business district and the revival of locally-grown music at Gram Parson’s Derry Down and the historic Ritz Theatre. It’s also home to the one of Florida’s best community theaters, Theatre Winter Haven. One great way to experience the city is by booking a culinary experience with Winter Haven Food Tours.