48 Hours in Orlando: Your Guide to Skipping the Lines and Seeing the City

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Either way, Orlando, which is sometimes referred to as the theme park capital of the world, has become synonymous with massive theme parks. And while theme parks can be lots of fun, there’s also more to “The City Beautiful” than roller coasters and costumed characters. 

Mouth-watering food, distinctive culture, and lush green parks can all be found outside theme park limits. Whether you’re looking to escape Orlando’s theme park scene for a few days, or you want to explore the real Orlando, there’s a lot to see and do.

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Orlando-Style Eats 

Turns out Orlando cuisine has more to offer than Mickey-Mouse-shaped foods! If you’re trying to eat your way through the city, make sure you check out these three restaurants.


White Wolf Cafe & Bar 

Bistro Food and Drinks with a Quaint Atmosphere

1829 N Orange Avenue 

Lake Formosa | whitewolfcafe.com

The White Wolf’s menu includes breakfast, brunch (weekends only), lunch, dinner, drinks, and desserts. Check out Happy Hour Wednesday through Saturday from 4 pm to 6:30 pm! Image courtesy of @white_wolf_cafe on Instagram.

Waking up is a lot more pleasant if your first stop of the day is the White Wolf Cafe. It’s got a cool, antique-y vibe—plus, a pet-friendly patio and out-of-this-world cinnamon rolls, cheese grits, and crab cakes Benedict.

“Always great for brunch or lunch… The indoor seating is eclectic, outdoor seating allows you to bring your dog and enjoy a relaxing weekend meal.” - Yelp Review

The White Wolf Cafe & Bar cuisine, images courtesy of @white_wolf_cafe on Instagram


4 Rivers Smokehouse

A Local Favorite Founded in Winter Park

1600 W Fairbanks Ave

Winter Park | 4rsmokehouse.com

While the original location is in Winter Park, 4 Rivers Smokehouse has expanded to several locations in the area, which means delicious Florida BBQ is never far away. Image courtesy of @4riverssmokehosue on Instagram.

When it comes to BBQ, Floridians don’t mess around. Founded in Winter Park in 2009, this now award-winning chain of smokehouses is a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Family-owned 4 Rivers Smokehouse is renowned for their slow-smoked BBQ and homestyle sides. And if your meal doesn’t leave you feeling stuffed (or even if it does!) you can always top off your visit with a sweet treat from 4 Rivers Smokehouse’s selection of delicious fresh bakery items.

“They say what you don't know won't hurt you, but it breaks my heart that I waited so long to try 4 Rivers.  It's that good.” - Yelp Review


The Ravenous Pig

Locally-Sourced Ingredients from the Sunshine State

565 W Fairbanks Ave

Winter Park | theravenouspig.com

Check out Sunday brunch with plates like chicken and waffles, pork belly hash, and avocado toast and daily Happy Hour with $4 beer, $6 wine, and $5 cocktails! Image courtesy of Orlando Weekly

Just outside of the city, the Ravenous Pig is a gastropub that specializes in pub grub with a gourmet flair (in a setting that’s picture-perfect). Rabbit terrine, bacon chops, and house-made charcuterie are the kinds of things you’ll find on the menu. 

“Their ingredients are top-notch and so much love & attention to detail goes into every dish. Cannot rave about this place enough.”

- Yelp Review 

The Ravenous Pig American Gastgropub cuisine, images courtesy of @theravenouspig on Instagram


Bubbalou’s Bodacious Bar-B-Q 

Classic Florida Barbecue at an Affordable Price

5818 Conroy Rd 

Windermere | bubbalous.com

In addition to its two in Orlando, Bubbalou’s also has locations in Florida’s Altamonte Springs, Apopka, and Winter Park. Image courtesy of TodaysOrlando.

There are a lot of swanky places to eat in and around Orlando, but sometimes you just need to eat a massive serving of pulled pork and smoked brisket (smothered in sauce out of one of those red plastic baskets like you’ll find at Bubbalou’s Bodacious Bar-B-Q). The sides—always important to the BBQ experience—won’t disappoint either, with classics like collards, mac and cheese, coleslaw, and baked beans. 

A Bubbalou’s Review From Trip Advisor … 

“Bubbalou’s may not be fancy, but it has some of the best BBQ in the Orlando area.. I enjoyed the sliced pork dinner on this visit which comes which yummy crinkle cut fries, great coleslaw, beans which are near perfect and Texas toast.”

Can’t Miss Orlando Culture 

Don’t get us wrong—we love celebrating cultural icons like Cinderella and Harry Potter, but if you’re in the mood for an alternative to sunburn, long lines, and crowds everywhere, then these three places are sure to give you a memorable experience, no FastPass needed! 

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The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art

Art Glass, Pottery, Paintings, and More 

445 North Park Avenue 

Winter Park | morsemuseum.org

Various tour options are available, including complimentary cellphone audio tours, guided tours, and group tours (with reservation). You can visit the museum’s website for more information. Image courtesy of @paoconnor0903.

Adults - $6 adults | Seniors - $5 | Students - $1 | Children under 12 - Free
(All visitors free 4 pm to 8 pm on Fridays November through April)

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art isn’t huge, but it’s still brimming with treasures nonetheless—specifically, treasures created by Louis Comfort Tiffany, the son of the jewelry store magnate who founded Tiffany & Co. But rather than crystal and sterling silver, the younger Tiffany was best-known for stained glass. The Morse Museum has the world’s largest collection of his lamps, windows, and other Art Nouveau works on display, along with other pieces of American art. 

“Take the road less traveled if you're coming to Orlando and check out this museum. While you're at it, check out what this town of Winter Park has to offer as well! A lot of history within in this town to be explored.” - Yelp Review

Hanson’s Shoe Repair

Trendy Bar Downtown with Major Gatsby Vibes

27 East Pine Street 

Downtown | thehansonbuilding.com/hansons-shoe-repair

Hanson’s Shoe Repair is located on the rooftop of the Hanson Building, which is thought to be the oldest building in downtown Orlando. Image courtesy of @hansonsshoerepair on Instagram.

Make sure you’re dressed appropriately, and that you’ve learned the password to get into Hanson’s Shoe Repair—because this speakeasy is worth it. Dim lighting, jazz music, craft cocktails, and an incredible patio create the perfect 1920s atmosphere. (Hint: You can find the password on Twitter or by calling or texting 407-476-9446.) 

 “The drink menu is wonderful and any true craft cocktail lover will be impressed.”

- Yelp Review


The Eo Inn 

A Room with a View

227 N. Eola Drive 

Thornton Park | eoinn.com 

Within walking distance of an array of city hotspots, the Eo Inn is known as the “Crown Jewel of Thorton Park.” Image courtesy of @theeoinn on Instagram.

Since we’re exploring Orlando’s less corporate side, book a stay at the Eo Inn, a funky boutique hotel in the downtown area. The historic building features rooms that have balconies overlooking the city’s lovely Eola Park, as well as pieces from local artists on the walls, adding some unique Orlando flavor to your stay.

“Lovely choice for our couples get away to the city. We were able to walk to some amazing restaurants and around Lake Eola.” - Yelp Review 

Natural Beauty in Orlando

Nothing in the city of Orlando can rival the magic of Mother Nature. Looking for some natural beauty during your time in Orlando? These three places will help you to enjoy some time outside taking in the city’s gorgeous scenery, (seemingly) far away from the stress and chaos of the theme parks. 

Mead Botanical Garden

Take a Break from the City at This Green Oasis

1300 S. Denning Drive

Winter Park | meadgarden.org

Mead Botanical garden is 48 acres of wetlands, flowers and fauna, birds, butterflies, trails, gardens, and more. The best part? It’s free to the public. Image courtesy of @ariannemeberg on Instagram.

Free Admission

Journey slightly outside the city to Mead Botanical Garden and experience Central Florida in all of its marshland glory. Explore the swamps lined with boardwalks, check out the butterfly gardens, gawk at the citrus trees, dip your feet in the freshwater ponds, and take a leisurely stroll while soaking up the Florida sun.

“What a beauty! This free lovely park is great for a stroll through the gardens. It's not big but there are a lot of spots to admire. I come here often with my friends and always find new things to explore.” - Yelp Review

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Lake Eola Park

From Picnics to Paddle Boats 

512 East Washington Street 

Downtown | orlando.gov

Experience Lake Eola firsthand by renting a swan paddle boat—or simply admire the water from nearby when you walk or jog on the sidewalk that circles the lake. Image courtesy of @lakeeola on Instagram.

Lake Eola Park’s beauty is highlighted by its views of the surrounding city and of course, Lake Eola. Swans and turtles are just two types of wildlife that call this strikingly scenic park home. Events also frequently take place here, from farmers’ markets and craft shows to salsa festivals and marathons. Take a stroll, chill out on the grass, and enjoy a few moments of peace.

“Lake Eola Park (LEP) goes to show that Florida is more than just theme parks! Located in the heart of downtown Orlando, you would never know you were in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city.” - Yelp Review 

Loch Haven Cultural Park

An Artistic Paradise 

777 E Princeton Street 

Lake Formosa | orlando.gov

In addition to being an outdoor performance plaza itself, Loch Haven Park also boasts attractions like the Orlando Shakespeare Theater and the Orlando Ballet. Image courtesy of @stephaniewestendorf on Instagram. 

Loch Haven Cultural Park offers visitors more than a few great museums—the Orlando Science Center, the Orlando Museum of Art, and the Orlando Garden Club are just a few—and it’s also where “The Mayor” lives. The Mayor is what locals call the epic oak tree, one of Florida’s oldest and biggest, that stands in the park.

 “This is one of the most beautiful parks to just come and relax. The view is so beautiful with the water. I love all the shade the mossy trees provide.” - Yelp Review

Local Sports in Orlando

Orlandao has so much to offer, and one of those attractions is their local sports. Home of the professional basketball team the Orlando Magic, local sporting venues are a must-see attraction in Orland for any sports enthusiast. 

Amway Center

Home of the Orlando Magic

400 W Church StParramore | amwaycenter.com

The Amway Center is THE place to catch major sporting events and large-venue concerts in Orlando. Image courtesy of @armwaycenter on Instagram.

Recognizable for its signature spire and dazzling modern architecture, The Amway Center is one of Orlando’s most iconic destinations. Located downtown, the arena stands out even amongst the rest of Orlando’s vibrant skyline. Seating up to 18,500 fans, The Amway Center serves countless basketball fans every season. If you visit Orlando during basketball season, be sure to snag tickets to a game!

The Best Time of the Year to Visit Orlando for a 48-hour Adventure

Summer in Orlando brings with it hot, humid weather, as well as thunderstorms and large mobs of people. If you can manage it, September and October are ideal in terms of both weather and crowds. The most popular—and therefore most expensive—times to visit often revolve around school breaks, like spring, winter, and summer vacations.

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As we all know, Orlando, Florida, was founded in 1971 by Walt Disney—just kidding, but sometimes, it does feel like that. After all, the first thing that comes to most people’s minds when they hear “Orlando” is mouse ears and fairytale castles (unless you’re talking to a Harry Potter fan, in which case the Wizarding World of Harry Potter over at Universal Studios might have them under a spell.) 

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