By KEVIN FRITZN
Central Florida is a wonder. Its world-class attractions, hotels, restaurants and year-round warm sunshine continue to beckon millions of visitors. With so much to see and do, this area fascinates both children and adults alike. From the rural, Old Florida feel of Highlands County to the Ocala National Forest and all the magic in between, the Central Florida region summons your exploration.
A Day in...
Kissimee

Getting up before dawn is well worth it when you take in the sights of the theme parks and landscape from a hot-air balloon as the sun rises. Then continue your morning exploring the natural beauty of “Old Florida” as you paddle through the head-waters of the Florida Everglades at The Paddling Center at Shingle Creek. Historic Downtown Kissimmee is the perfect place for lunch as quaint Kissimmee Main Street offers great dining options, antique shopping and even ice cream made with liquid nitrogen. Ride the 85-foot custom-made ferris wheel at Old Town.

Orlando

Begin with a beverage from Barnie’s Coffee & Tea Co. on Park Avenue in picturesque Winter Park. Take a Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour through lush canals and peaceful lakes. Visit the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art to view the world’s largest collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Lunch at East End Market in trendy Audubon Park. Stop to smell the roses at Harry P. Leu Gardens. Enjoy a cocktail at The Woods in downtown Orlando. End with dinner at the French brasserie DoveCote followed by a performance at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

Polk County

Stop and smell the orange blossoms as you begin a day of citrus delight. Polk County (VisitCentralFlorida.org) offers delicious options, October through May, as one of the top citrus-producing counties in Florida. Watch citrus candy being made at Davidson of Dundee and pick up some citrus souvenirs in the gift shop. Have lunch at Lang’s Taste of Florida Café—don’t miss the award-winning grapefruit pie. Complete your day with an authentic Florida experience, picking fresh oranges from the tree at Ridge Island Groves.

Sebring

Start with a sunrise cycle or walk along the Cypress Trail boardwalk at Highlands Hammock State Park. Golf the Citrus Golf Trail featuring Florida’s most affordable courses. Stroll in charming Lake Placid with nearly 50 outdoor murals and small-town shops. Lunch at Fork & Folk Bistro in historic downtown Sebring, then browse through “City on a Circle” boutiques and artist galleries. Sample creative treats at the Sebring Soda & Ice Cream Works. Finish with dinner at trendy 18 East Main and a performance at the South Florida State College Performing Arts Wildstein Center.

ANNUAL EVENTS
JANUARY
  • Central Florida Scottish Highland Games, Winter Springs
JANUARY - FEBRUARY
  • Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities, Eatonville
FEBRUARY
  • Mount Dora Arts Festival
  • Silver Spurs Rodeo, Kissimmee
FEBRUARY – APRIL
  • Universal Studios Mardi Gras
MARCH
  • Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill
  • Super Sebring
  • Winter Park Sidewalk Arts Festival
MARCH - APRIL
  • Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival
APRIL
  • Florida Film Festival, Orlando
  • SUN 'n FUN Aerospace Expo, Lakeland
MAY
  • Mayfaire by-the-Lake Fine Arts Festival, Lakeland
  • Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival
JULY
  • Caladium Festival, Lake Placid
  • Red Hot and Boom, Altamonte Springs
AUGUST
  • Grape Stomp & Wine Festival, Lake Placid
AUGUST–NOVEMBER
  • Epcot International Food & Wine Festival
SEPTEMBER
  • Plantation Redfish Classic, Crystal River
  • Sebring Thunder Car Show
  • Tour of Sebring Cycling
SEPTEMBER - NOVEMBER
  • Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios
OCTOBER
  • MIDFLORIDA Auto Show & Lake Mirror Concours
NOVEMBER
  • Civilian Conservation Corps Festival, Sebring
  • The Lady of the Lakes Renaissance Faire, Tavares
NOVEMBER - DECEMBER
  • Christmas Town: A Busch Gardens Celebration
  • Epcot International Festival of the Holidays
  • Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
  • SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration
NOVEMBER - JANUARY
  • Holidays at Universal Orlando Resort