Bleisure Guide To Orlando

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by Rachelle Lucas - 11 December 2018

Orlando is synonymous with theme parks and fun, but it’s also known as The City Beautiful. With more than 100 lakes and an up-and-coming reputation for being a major food city, there’s quite a bit to see and taste. If you’re here on business, it’s easy to squeeze in a little time outdoors soaking up Florida’s legendary sunny weather and indulge in some delicious nibbles too.

Your Arrival: Orlando International Airport (MCO) is one of the busiest airports in the United States, but it doesn’t feel that way. Tall palm trees and sunlight fill the terminals with a laid back vacation vibe. Once inside, a monorail will shuttle you over to the main building. Who says you have to visit the theme parks for a fun ride? Once you pick up your car at Hertz, the 12 mile drive to downtown Orlando is a pretty straight forward. Just take 436 north to the 408 and then head west. Be sure to have a couple of U.S. dollars in hand for the toll roads to get you there a little quicker.

Your Car: The VW Jetta is a fun, sophisticated ride that will get you around Orlando’s neighborhoods with ease. Plus, the fuel economy is perfect for cruising over to the coast for an extended weekend at the beach.

Your Accommodation: If location is key, then the Grand Bohemian Hotel is in an ideal spot. Located in downtown Orlando right across the street from the Dr. Phillips Center For The Performing Arts and just blocks away from SAK Comedy Lab, your nighttime entertainment is as close as it can get. After checking in and settling in your room, go for a swim in the outdoor rooftop pool, or head to the Bohemian’s Bosendorfer Lounge for jazz and cocktails to unwind after a long flight.

Your Running Route: There are a lot of options for runners, with two gorgeous scenic lake front routes near downtown. The Orlando Urban Trail is 5 miles long and will take you past five lakes. Bring your phone for Insta-worthy pics along the way. To get there, park your Hertz rental car in Gaston Edwards Park and walk over to Highland Avenue to find the well-marked trail. For a shorter distance, head over to Lake Baldwin Park to run a breezy 2.5 miles around Lake Baldwin.

Your Breakfast Meeting:  Get your caffeine fix (and a sugar high too) at Se7en Bites Bakery, a trendy American diner located in Orlando’s “Milk District.” There’s an endless list of tempting fresh-baked sweets, but I recommend ordering up a hearty breakfast of eggs served with a side of Southern comfort food — buttermilk biscuits, grits, and pimento cheese. Se7en Bites was recently featured on the Food Network show, “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” so if you don’t mind having dessert for breakfast, indulge in the famous Vanilla Bean Bourbon Bacon Moon-pie. For a lighter option, try The Sanctum Cafe for locally roasted coffee and avocado toast.

Your Business Lunch:  For great food and quiet conversation, head to the The Rusty Spoon. Chef Kathleen Blake has received countless accolades, including two James Beard Award nominations. But the Farm-to-table fare is served in a gastropub atmosphere that isn’t fussy at all, just easy-going and delicious. Another fantastic option close by is DoveCote French Brasserie, helmed by Chef Clay Miller, who has worked with famous names like Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud.

Your Drinks With Clients: End the day in style at Mathers Social Gathering, a sophisticated speakeasy that serves craft cocktails, bubbles, wine, and spirits with a splash of vintage charm and local history. The Mather Building dates back to the late 1800s, a charming contrast to the more modern glass high rises that dot the city of Orlando. Another fun option is Reyes Mezcaleria for more latin-influenced craft cocktails and the most extensive list of fine Mezcal outside of Mexico.

Between Your Meetings:  What to do between your meetings completely depends on the weather, which can be anything between pleasantly sunny, to wet and tropical. If clear skies are overhead, take a walk around Lake Eola and rent a swan boat to paddle around the central fountain. And if the forecast calls for afternoon showers, drive up to Lock Haven Park to stroll through Mennello Museum of American Art. If sports are more your thing, and if your schedule matches up with Orlando City Soccer Club (you might call it football), then head over to the new Orlando City Stadium to see a game.

Your Gift Buying: Orlando’s trendy food hall, East End Market, has a great selection of locally made craft goods and delicious treats too. Bring home a couple of giant chocolate-chip cookies from Gideon’s Bakehouse. Named “Best Cookie In Florida” by Delish, it will be surprising if these tasty gifts actually make it home. Another option is Market On South for locally made art and Dear Prudence for handcrafted jewelry.

Your Weekend Extension: A day at the beach is a must when visiting Florida. Once the workweek is done, drive down to Clearwater Beach, named one of the Top 10 Beaches In America by both USA Today and Trip Advisor. Stay at the Sandpearl Resort and go to the pier for the daily sunset celebration. Then head to the legendary Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill on the beach for a grouper sandwich and mojitos.

To book your car hire in Orlando, click HERE.