Travel // Orlando FL, Beyond the Theme Parks {visiting Celebration and Winter Park}

May 04, 2018

Carrying on from Part One {here}, the second part of our week in Orlando. We chose to just spend three days at the theme parks and really enjoyed the rest of our time in Orlando exploring some of the other things the area has to offer and discovered some new favourites. 

// Celebration

This small town, built by Disney back in the day, is a total dream and we wished we'd discovered it on previous trips! Full of the most picture perfect houses and manicured streets, we loved hiring bikes here and cycling the trail that the bike shop showed us on the map which went through jungley boardwalks, around beautiful lakes {where we spotted alligators on the banks!! Seriously, don't step near any water in Orlando or Florida as a whole}, and of course picking out our fantasy new house. The town itself, by the water, is worth a trip alone and the ice cream parlour is out of this world. The whole place almost feels like a movie set. Similar to Wisteria Lane out of Desperate Housewives!

Some of these houses across the water had huge water slides going from the top bedrooms into their pools below, seriously cool. 

Leafy suburban America.

Mini mansions! I'd love to come back here at Halloween or Christmas. They go all out for decorations and in December even have fake snow falling on certain evenings, can you imagine?!

My top was from Australia, shorts are online here.

Always happiest when cycling somewhere sunny. Thinking back, hiring bikes has been a highlight of nearly every trip we've been on.

We decided that this house was our favourite. And used a bike in the middle of the road as a quick tripod for a family photo!

Plus the cycling made us feel better about the {insanely good} pancakes from Denny's on the way there! A must for breakfast in America.

// West Orange Trail and Winter Gardens

We loved the cycling at Celebration so much that we decided that we wanted to spend another morning out on bikes, this time at the West Orange Trail that I'd heard lots about. It's a dedicated bike route that goes for miles, we did the section from the bike rental {Bikes and Blades} to Winter Garden, a historic town with a beautiful farmers market and lots of independent restaurants/brunch spots. It was adorable, and so unlike a lot of the rest of Orlando which feels a lot newer and busier. This felt like that classic small town America.

The trail wove through small towns and housing developments {some with beautiful wreaths on display!}, and past a lot of lakes full of alligators! We were so fascinated by them, looking out the whole ride for them. We spotted 2 babies by the lake, but didn't fancy getting any closer! Unlike Celebration, this was a car free route which was perfect, and just the right distance. We had planned to go shopping that afternoon so turned around once we got to Winter Park, but we could have kept cycling and cycling for miles if not. 

Bad photo but those two humps in the water above? Alligators!

Beautiful Winter Gardens. We were sad to have missed the farmer's market the day before, the whole town turns out for it. 

// Shopping

America is always a fun place to shop, and despite the poor exchange rate compared to previous years, there are still lots of bargains to be had. We always try and take relatively empty suitcases to bring some shopping home with us. The best malls around Orlando are the Vineland Premium Outlets {especially for J Crew and Old Navy}, The Florida Mall {for non-outlet shopping including a huge Macy's} and the Mall at Milennia. 

// Walking around Celebration

We couldn't resist one more trip to Celebration before we left, for that ice cream at Kilwin's and a walk around the lake. It confirmed just how much we loved this place.

This boutique hotel by the lake looked so beautiful. If we ever go back to Orlando I'd definitely look at staying around Celebration.

// Mini Golf

You can't come to Orlando and not play crazy golf, it's the rules! Well, in our family anyway. It's always been a favourite of ours, my Dad and Brother are golf mad - and the rest of us find it fun. Although it can get very competitive between the boys. My Mum & I were very proud of our hole in ones! The courses in Orlando are themed which makes it extra fun, our favourites were Pirates Cove Adventure Golf {they have a few locations, we went to the one on International Drive} and the Congo River Golf. 

The best holes are when you have to hit the ball over some water, some even have water rivers that carry your ball to the hole!

// Rifle Paper Co and Winter Park

One morning, Ben and I drove about an hour north {or half an hour north of Orlando} to Winter Park, home of my beloved Rifle Paper Co. It's a stationery company I've been obsessed with over the past few years, collecting prints {and often having them shipped over from the States} to fill our house. Rifle's HQ is in Florida so I was psyched the minute I knew we had a trip booked to visit. My husband very kindly came with me, I treated him to lunch at Chipotle ha. Winter Park itself was such a gorgeous place to visit, a historic university district with lots of parks and lakes, again this feels worlds away from the theme parks.

The shop was a lot smaller than I was expecting but it stocked almost the full range, they have a book with their prints in for you to look through and ask for if they're not already out. I shamefully already had most of the ones I liked the look of. But we stocked up on some cards {they have a good sale section} and bought a couple of notebooks along with some gifts. They also had some special editions in there like the Florida themed prints.

Swooning over this fabric. You get a glimpse into the studio where all the magic happens behind! We saw a big board meeting going on in front of a wall of Rifle prints, dream office situ.

As well as Chipotle they had a Shake Shack which we were tempted by set on this beautiful lake with a jetty. Plus a Yogurtland {the best fro-yo in America hands down} and a Trader Joe's to get our fix of some of our favourite American brands.

The downtown area of Winter Park is full of independent brands and al-fresco cafes, it was bustling and felt so lovely even on a weekday morning. 

// A few notes on food/misc

American Supermarkets. End of. They just have SO much choice, so many amazing options ranging from the uber healthy to the er, complete other end of the scale. As a family we adore going around all of the aisles deciding what we want, looking at all the things we can't get at home {Rao's pasta sauce!!! Protein frozen yogurt that wasn't full or rubbish, smoked turkey, superfood green pasta the list goes on but I won't bore you}

Not just specific to Florida, but grocery shopping is fun wherever you are in the States if you're anything like me.

Our wheels for the trip, the boys thought it was funny to choose a Texas plate in the airport for us to make it look like we'd driven from Texas!}.

Driving under blue skies and along palm-lined roads. I was chief navigator so got to ride up front with Dad on all the roadtrips.

Sunsets from the back of our villa each evening and walks over the golf course.

A new dress from the Old Navy Outlet and balmy evenings. I don't think I felt cold once over that whole two weeks, heaven as somebody who's normally always freezing!

There are a crazy amount of food options in America. I mean, you're in America for a start. Some of our favourites are Bahama Breeze and Bonefish Grill, but call ahead if you'll be there at a peak evening dinner time - the restaurants are always packed around Orlando any day of the week, even outside of school holidays. Also Longhorn Steakhouse {probably our best meal of the trip - I don't eat steak but they have really good fish there too} and of course, Five Guys {heart eyes - have you tried their shakes?!}

Also - randomly, we all loved going into Target {the Supertarget version} one evening after dinner because they sell pretty much everything, and their interiors and even some clothing is really good. Even Ben bought some Hunter welly boots, they have lots of large companies collaborating with them fairly often. And you can't miss the pharmacies {CVS, Walgreens} for stocking up on make up, American candy and things you can't get over here like melatonin. 

Where are your favourite places when stateside? We used this website to help plan our trip, you can find more with Visit Orlando here.

Back with part 2 next week with the Gulf Coast and the rest of our trip in Marco Island and Naples.

R <3 xx 

{a huge thank you to Visit Orlando for helping us plan this trip and gifting some of the experiences but as always all opinions are 100% my own and this is not a sponsored post}

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  1. What was the name of the bike shop you rented bikes from?


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