It used to be that entertaining yourself through a long, hot Orlando summer was a matter of stamina and several glasses of afternoon lemonade.
You cracked your doors and windows, turned on several fans and tried to stay as immobile as possible until the wind picked up before suppertime.
All that's changed, of course. We no longer live in the years B.A.C. (before air conditioning), so we move around as much as we like, even if it is scurrying between car, home and office.
Perhaps because of A/C, nobody seems to have minded that, over the decades, we seem to have lost our afternoon breeze.
"I notice that there is a difference now. It seems like it's hotter than it used to be," says Georgia Woodley, who has survived 76 Orlando summers. "Maybe it's because I've gotten older."
It never hurts to look into your options as soon as possible. June, July and August are the hottest and wettest months in Central Florida. Expect 90 percent humidity and temperatures above 90 degrees. The wind, if it blows at all, rarely reaches 10 mph. We aren't quite the tropics, but it often feels that way.
So what do you do if you want to find what little breeze is left? You have two options: Either locate a place where a gentle wind still floats by, or -- if you're looking for adventure while searching for a breeze -- you might try the latest in technology.
Hot air balloons. This is the perfect way to start a breezy day. It might seem like a paradox -- hot air to keep cool. But it's possible if you can wake up for an early-morning departure. Passengers on Orange Blossom Balloons (407-239-7677) meet at 6 a.m. in the parking lot of the Days Inn located near Disney World's front gate. You have to help prepare the balloon for its one-hour trip, which promises to be invigorating. You're served champagne when you land -- a ballooning tradition -- no doubt to give a silent toast to the wind gods for allowing another successful flight. Then it's breakfast at the Days Inn. The cost for the whole package is $165 per person.
Parasailing. After you've digested breakfast, you can go up in the air again. Sammy Duvall's Watersports Centre (407-939-0754) near Disney's Contemporary Resort Hotel offers tandem or single parasailing trips on Bay Lake. You're anchored by a 450-foot nylon rope, and depending on wind conditions, you can be moving as fast as 20 mph. The ride isn't bumpy or scary, so you can bring a camera and take pictures. Solo flights are $75. Tandems run $115.
Beaches. For a vegging-out spell after all that morning excitement, head for the ocean -- preferably in a wind-catching convertible. Any of the beaches -- New Smyrna, Cocoa or Daytona -- average a 10-knot wind most summer days, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, and they're all within an hour's drive of Orlando.
Air boats. Through the bull rushes and cattails we go, looking for alligators and bird wildlife. Several companies offer rides out of Kissimmee or Orlando, and half-hour trips are in the neighborhood of $16 for adults, $12 for children over 3. Prices vary for longer rides. Night tours are available, for an added coolness. One drawback: The boats are loud. Bring earplugs.
Parks. Settle down from the buzz of the air boat by lolling in a nice green space. Try Langford (east of Mills Avenue in Colonialtown), Lake Ivanhoe (off Ivanhoe Boulevard) or Engelwood (at Lake Underhill Road east of North Semoran) for picnic tables or gazebos. Plenty of shade.
Roller coasters. Ready for a theme park? OK, riding roller coasters is probably not the most efficient means to keep cool, especially when waiting in line for an hour is likely to make you sticky or mopey. Still, there's a good reason to hop on a coaster this summer, and it's name is Kracken. It's the tallest, fastest, longest roller coaster in Orlando, opening June 1 at (of all places) Sea World (407-363-2613). Some of Kracken's track will be over water. Some of it will go underground. Riders will fly at 65 mph and flip through seven inversions, including a zero-gravity roll. The kicker is that Kracken's cars don't have floors or a typical body, so you feel like you're flying through the air in an E-Z-Boy.
Rooftops. For the end of the day, there's always a bar under the stars. Alcohol isn't generally the best way to go when the weather's hot, because it dehydrates you. Yet if you must party and don't want to relinquish the breeze, try the rooftop of Latitudes nightclub (35 W. Church Street; 407-649-4270). There's plenty of tourists to keep you company, and industrial-sized fans provide a constant draft. One warning: "If it rains, it sucks [up there]," one Latitudes patron says.
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