Best Of 2015

Best New Place on I-Drive  to Get High
Photo by Rob Bartlett
8401 International Drive, 866-228-6438,

Looking to get elevated on I-Drive? We’d never advise anything illegal (and there’s absolutely no smoking inside the air-conditioned capsules), but we can’t think of a better place to get reeeeeally high than Merlin Entertainment’s new Orlando Eye observation wheel at I-Drive 360. During your 20-odd-minute odyssey up to 400 feet and back, you’ll be able to see for miles and miles and miles – so long as a sudden lightning storm doesn’t turn your revolution into a bad trip.

Mayor Carl T. Langford Park
Ashley Belanger
Mayor Carl T. Langford Park
Sure, the city randomly selected the trees that they dubbed “significant,” but we’d be stumped to find a more appealing way to while away a fall day than visiting Orlando’s most scenic parks (Dickson Azalea! Leu Gardens!) and most prestigious live oaks (Constitution Green Park’s 175-plus-year-old luminary! Loch Haven’s Mayor!). It’s a little shady how they chose the honorees, but luckily it’s even shadier in the tree tour’s mossy embrace.
Best Ball Kicking

Forget adult coloring books – blow off your adult frustrations with the game you always played during recess in elementary school. The World Adult Kickball Association is alive and kicking (har dee har) in this area, with three leagues playing at Barnett Park in Orlando and Soldier’s Creek Park in Longwood.

Best Throwback
Photo via Universal Orlando
6000 Universal Blvd., 407-363-8000,

The new Peter Jackson Kong movie is on its way, so naturally the powers that be at IOA are planning to tap into the hype behind the blockbuster, as well as capture the sentimental set who still remember the epic Kongfrontation ride that closed in 2002.

Best Do-Gooder Sunday Morning Activity
via Eco-Action Facebook

If it bugs you to see how much trash floats around in Orlando’s many lakes and streams, do something about it. Join Eco-Action for one of its regular Sunday morning lake cleanups, at which volunteers go out in canoes to collect the foam, plastic and other trash that clogs the waterways and injures wildlife. Don’t have your own canoe? No worries – Eco-Action brings them along. Just make sure to register for the cleanup to reserve your spot.

Best Comeback
Photo via Universal Orlando
6000 Universal Blvd., 407-363-8000,

At this point we can only speculate what the role of the much-beloved mascot for Halloween Horror Nights might be, but you can bet that fans of the fest are stoked about his return. Combined with the Freddy vs. Jason theme, this year’s Hallow’s Eve fete is shaping up to be all about the comeback, and we’re all about coming back … again.

Best Tailgate
Citrus Bowl, 1 Citrus Bowl Place,

God bless Mark Baratelli for saving us from our own shitty burgers and even worse stadium food. Now, on home match days, instead of wilty chili cheese fries and $8 Heinekens, we can feast on lobster rolls, wood-fired pizza, ropa vieja and mac & cheese-filled empanadas until kickoff.

Best Way to Feel Like a Baller Without Actually Being One
400 W. Church St., 407-440-7000,

You don’t have to shell out to sit in a private box and watch hockey in your hometown. Some of the companies who lease the boxes at the Amway Center release the seats to the public if they’re not being used. So for about $35, you’ll score a comfy lounge seat with prime viewing. Order a tower of pizzas and a couple of pitchers to feel like you’re really LeBron-ing it (or should we say Ovechkin-ing it?).

Best Bike Riding  for a Reason
Meet at 5:30 p.m. at Loch Haven Park on the last Friday of every month,

Nobody runs Critical Mass – it just happens. This cycling event (aka the world’s largest bike ride) coincides with other rides all around the world that take place on the last Friday of every month at about 5:30 p.m. People gather in a predetermined location, then ride through the streets of their city. Sometimes it’s for a cause, like when Critical Mass dedicated a ride to saving the trees in Orlando’s Constitution Green Park or when the group rides to remember cyclists killed by cars. But usually it’s just for the sake of cycling and reminding people that the streets should be safe for everyone, not just people driving gas guzzlers.

Best Excuse for Getting Locked in a Small Room With That Special Someone
Photo via Escapology
11951 International Drive, 407-278-1515,

Puzzle rooms and escape rooms have sprouted up around Orlando like mushrooms in the last year, and when done right they can be a wonderful opportunity (read: ploy) to spend an hour trapped in a tiny box with that special somebody. Escapology, the slickest incarnation of the idea that we’ve experienced locally, provides Hollywood-style music and detailed theming to make your together time especially memorable. And if you can emerge still on the same team after 60 minutes of being stumped by obscure solutions, your relationship can survive anything.