Things to Do In The Area
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Our list of recommended venues is broken into several categories.  This information should provide you with a good head start in planning your trip to central Forida along with the more popular websites that you can visit on your own.  There are plenty of no-cost or low-cost recommendations with no need to spend a fortune visiting the area.


General Information
There are some general sites that provide information on the area that are worth visiting.  These include a site highlighting Orlando dining and entertainment, tips and information on visiting central Florida, and general information on central Florida.  These sites contain links to several other attractions and activities in the area.

Driving in Central Florida
The Resort is about 20-30 minutes from Orlando International and 1 hour from Orland Sanford.  While driving in central Florida be aware as many drivers get distracted or make sudden turns without warning.  Also note that the speed limit just outside the resort is strictly enforced and police regularly sit along the road looking for speeders!  In the central Florida area you will surely encounter toll roads.  Many of the exits don't have attendants and accept exact change only, so take plenty of quarters!  You can read more about tolls in the central Florida area here.

Sports & Recreation
In central Florida there are plenty of sports activities in which to participate or watch.  See a game during spring training at the ESPN Wide World of Sports venue, where the Atlanta Braves hold their spring training.   You may also want to check out the many parks that Polk County has to offer.  Perhaps you prefer to walk among the many playing fields or have a picnic at a pavilion at the Northeast Regional Park, adjacent to the resort.

Hiking and Kayaking
We have found some great locations to hike and/or kayak.  Our favorites include Wakewa Springs State Park and Sebastian Inlet State Park, which are both great for kayaking and are both worth a bit of additional explanation.

Wakewa Springs features a large spring where the water is always in the 70's.  Admission to the park is about $6 per carload.  Note however, that the tolls from the resort to the park are also close to $6!  The spring is surrounded by a wall where you can sit and dangle your feet in the water, or if  you wish, you can also swim there.  There's plenty of room to spread out a blanket and just catch the sun.  The spring flows into the Wakeva River where you can kayak.   Paddleboats and kayaks are available for rent for about $25 for 3 or 4 hours.  The river abounds with fish and birds, and you may see an occasional alligator!  The river has several branches to explore and if you go far enough you will encounter Wakeva Island, where you can rent a cabana, get a cool drink and relax on the many adarondack chairs along the river.  Check out the video on the website for a real appreciation of the beauty and serenity of the Wakeva River.

Sebastian Inlet State Park is also a great place to visit.  While its coastal location just north of Vero Beach makes it a full day trip it is well worth it.  The inlet is a haven for several species of migratory birds which line the many alcoves, making it a great location for observing a wide variety of birds.  Viewing them by kayak affords visitors the opportunity to get very close to the birds without them taking flight.  There are also several hiking trails in the area which include bird observation platforms which provide great viewing points.

Another hiking area worth mentioning is The Disney Wilderness Preserve.  Make sure to call or email in advance to ensure they are open.  We visited and were unable to get in because the Preserve was closed on that particular day.

Free Attractions & Shopping
There are many areas in the Orlando/Davenport/Kissimmee area that one can visit which do not require an admission.  Some of our favorites are:

Celebration - Celebration is a planned community that was originally intended to be a Disney venue.  Contrary to what you may read, Disney does not own the community but you will note the Disney-like appearance when you visit.  Many of the homes have a nostalgic look yet are relatively new, featuring large wooden front porches, picket fences, etc. and all are very neatly kept.  At the center of the community is the Town Center, adjacent to a lake with a walking trail around it.  The Town Center has many quaint shops and restaurants with large outside eating areas facing the lake.  One of our favorites is the Celebration Town Tavern.  Another favorite is Imperium Food and Wine, where you can order a bottle of wine, sit at one of the outside tables and enjoy the surroundings.  The Town Center features several events during the year so check their schedule before arriving.

Disney Boardwalk - The Disney Boardwalk is a great place to take a walk around the large lagoon.  You will enjoy some of the boardwalk entertainers especially suited toward kids, featuring magicians, jugglers, etc.  It also has several shops and entertainment venues.  To access the Boardwalk, follow the signs to the Disney Boardwalk Hotel.  When you arrive at the parking area you will need to check in at the guardhouse.  Just tell them you are coming to walk the Boardwalk.  They will ask to see some form of ID and direct you to the appropriate location to park.  Proceed toward the Boardwalk Hotel and enter through the hotel or follow the steps directly to the Boardwalk.

Downtown Disney - Downtown Disney is situated along a lake and features several shops, entertainment venues, restaurants, night clubs and Circ-du-Sole.  Although we've never been there during the day, there are several steet performers during the night with music for all tastes.

Golfing (for Beginners!)
Since we are just beginning to learn the sport of Golf, our preference is for smaller 9-hole executive courses.  Its easy to find information on the many golf courses in the area, but finding information specific to executive courses is more challenging.  Two executive courses that we have played are Kings Ridge and Orange Lakes Resort.  Call ahead for tee times.  Each is situated within a resort.  Upon arrival you must fist check in at the gatehouse.  Tell them you are coming to golf and they will assist you with directions to the golf courses.

Grocery Stores
There are several grocery stores in the area.  The nearest is on Rt. 27 about a mile south of Florence Villa Grove Road.  To get there exit the resort and make a right.  At the light make a left and proceed south on Rt. 27.  The store is located about a mile down on the right.  Another alternative if you arrive late is to go to the Wal-mart at Cagan Crossing.  Make a right instead of a left onto Rt. 27 and head north about 2 miles.  The Wal-mart is on the right.

Restaurants
There are many, many restaurants within a few miles of the resort, especially along Rt. 192 (6+ steakhouses alone, but who's counting)!  Below is a list of some of our favorites.

Along Rt. 192 you will find Millers Ale House and Bahama Breeze.  Both are located very close to the Resort and have good food and outdoor eating venues.  Bahama Breeze often features outdoor entertainment such as a steel drum player.

On Rt. 27 you will find Manny's Chophouse and Gator's Dockside.

Manny's is a local favorite.  They have 3 restaurants and are opening a 4th but we visit the original location in Haines City, which is is about 30 minutes south on Rt. 27 on the right side of the road.  It is well worth the ride.  They have a 2 for 1 happy hour from 4pm-7pm.  When you order, you only order 1 drink.  They will give you 2.  We were surprised the first time there and had to consume twice the number of drinks we anticipated (what a shame)!  The steaks are great and the service is friendly but call ahead (863-422-3910) to be put on the list since it is always very busy.

Gators Dockside is in the Towncenter at Cagan Crossing.  Make a right onto Rt. 27 and head north.  About 2 miles up the road is a traffic light with the Town Center on the left and the Wal-mart on the right.  Make a left at this intersection.  Gators is adjacent to the town square.

Our other two favorites are in Celebration, Celebration Town Tavern and Imperium Food and Wine, which we referenced earlier in the section on Celebration.

We hope this information is helpful and hope that you will stay at our villa.  However, whatever you choose for accommodations, we wish the best for you during your stay and hope that you will come back and visit again.

Dave and Janet Shultz