100 things you must do in Orlando before you die

A list of things everyone who lives in Orlando should do at least once

1. Chug das boot full of beer at Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café (205 E. First St., Sanford, willowtreecafe.com) while the crowd chants, German beer hall-style, “Tiki-toki, tiki toki … hoy! hoy! hoy!”

2. Ride the Incredible Hulk Coaster at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure (universalorlando.com).

3. Find a new favorite record at Rock and Roll Heaven (1814 N. Orange Ave., rock-n-rollheaven.com).

4. Keep your radio tuned to WPRK 91.5 FM, “the best in basement radio,” for a week straight.

5. Wrestle a gator at Gatorland (14501 S. Orange Blossom Trail, gatorland.com) – it’s much safer than it sounds.

6. Wear lingerie to CityWalk at Universal Orlando for a Rich Weirdoes performance of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Just make sure you wear a trench coat or something non-revealing as you move through the entrance checkpoint. (every second and fourth Friday and Saturday of the month, AMC Universal Cineplex 20, 6000 Universal Blvd., richweirdoes.com).

7. Take the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour (312 E. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, scenicboattours.com), which takes you through an amazing series of lush, narrow canals that connect the Winter Park Chain of Lakes.

8. See a show at the Timucua Arts White House (2000 S. Summerlin Ave., timucua.com). This unique music venue is actually the living room of local musician Benoit Glazer and his family, but don’t by shy – they’ve transformed it into an acoustically pleasing venue with seating for up to 150. Most shows are free, but bring a bottle of wine to share. A pittance for such a gorgeous experience.

9. Get your smoochy face on the Orlando Magic kiss cam, or if you’re more inventive, create a scene in the stands big enough to get on the televised broadcast.

10. Build a robot made of random items you can buy at the looks-like-a-mad-scientist’s-laboratory-just-exploded electronics surplus shop, Skycraft Surplus (2245 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, skycraftsurplus.com).

11. While the Cuban sandwiches are among the best in town and their eponymous soups are off the chain, it’s the avocado salad dressing at Black Bean Deli (various locations, blackbeandeli.com) that’s really worth savoring.

12. See as many movies as you can at the Florida Film Festival, more than two decades old and still going strong. (April 4-13, 2014, Enzian Theater, 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, floridafilmfestival.com)

13. Visit Woodlands (6040 S. Orange Blossom Trail, woodlandsusa.com) for a vegetarian lunchtime buffet of delectable Indian dishes (only available Tuesday through Friday).

14. Anzac biscuits were originally baked to be sent off in care packages for Australian soldiers. But you can indulge in their extra-crispy deliciousness at Drunken Monkey (444 N. Bumby Ave., drunkenmonkeycoffee.com) in relative safety. We don’t want to start a war, but it might just be the greatest cookie in town.

15. Get downtown Orlando street magician Richard the Adequate to perform a magic trick for you before you stumble home from the bars.

16. Catch a Blue Man Group show (CityWalk at Universal Orlando, blueman.com/universal-orlando) and a Cirque du Soleil La Nouba (Walt Disney World Resort, cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/lanouba) performance. Some people travel to places like New York or Las Vegas (or Orlando) to catch these kinds of shows – we have them right in our own backyard, all year round.

17. Gawk at the show dogs strutting their stuff at the AKC Eukanuba National Championship at the Orange County Convention Center (Dec. 14-15, akc.org/nationalchampionship)

18. Ride an airboat at Black Hammock Adventures (2356 Black Hammock Fish Camp Road, Oviedo, theblackhammock.com). Riding airboats and gawking at gators is a quintessentially Central Floridian activity, and Black Hammock, located on gator-choked Lake Jesup, is the spot to do it.

19. Create a custom necklace at Dear Prudence Shop (2912 Corrine Drive, facebook.com/dearprudenceshoporlando), using beads you won’t find anywhere else. Pair it with a dress from their collection.

20. Bicycle down the West Orange Trail. You can even rent bikes at West Orange Trail Bikes and Blades at Mile Marker 0 on the trail. (17914 State Road 438, Winter Garden, orlandobikerental.com)

21. Cosplay at Megacon (like a boss). Are you nerd enough to slap on some armor and strut your stuff on the show floor? Thought so. Best part is, so is everybody else at the con – just watch out for magic missiles. (March 21-23, 2014, megaconvention.com)

22. Pet a tarantula at Jungle Adventures (26205 E. Colonial Drive, Christmas, jungleadventures.com) – and a scorpion, and a baby gator, and a big slithery snake. After the weirdly exhilarating hands-on experience, take a walk through the grounds of the erstwhile gator farm and coo and point at everything from a secretary bird to a ringtail lemur to a cage full of Florida panthers.

23. Have a pulled pork sandwich (smoked on the premises over natural wood and dressed with homemade BBQ sauce) out on the patio at Yellow Dog Eats (1236 Hempel Ave., Windermere, yellowdogeats.com).

24. Drink a beer you’ve never had before at Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour (2810 Corrine Drive, redlightredlightbeerparlour.com) – ask a bartender to recommend one or just close your eyes and point.

25. The air-conditioned outdoor booths at Flea World Orlando (4311 S. Orlando Drive, Sanford, fleaworld.com) offer wild entertainment – both the merchandise and the people-watching – especially if you pass the day crawling concession stands and sipping draft beers. It’s one of Orlando’s best day-drunk spots.

26. Drink around the world at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, and don’t miss the live chef demos. (disneyworld.disney.go.com)

27. Browse Renninger’s antique center (20651 U.S. Highway 441, Mount Dora, renningers.com). Start out in the sprawling lawn of squatters and then work your way up to the impressive collections housed in two separate markets.

28. Pay what you want for coffee at the donations-only cafe, Downtown Credo (706 W. Smith St., downtowncredo.com)

29. Consult a resident stylist or put together an entire outfit head-to-toe by yourself from vintage and handmade shop Etoile Boutique (2424 E. Robinson St., etoileboutique.com).

30. Bring your pup to Fleet Peeples Park (2000 S. Lakemont Ave., Winter Park, ffpp.org), a lakeside off-leash gathering spot for area dogs and their owners.

31. Buy a used book from the eclectic, gently used collection at Stardust Video and Coffee (1842 E. Winter Park Road, stardustie.com).

32. Celebrate Free Comic Book Day with the easygoing geeks at A Comic Shop (114 S. Semoran Blvd., Winter Park, acomicshop.com).

33. Take a train shot at Ivanhoe Village’s Hammered Lamb (1235 N. Orange Ave., thehammeredlamb.com) –they’re complimentary for bar patrons each time a train rolls past the back patio.

34. Enjoy a home-cooked meal and down-home sounds at Southern Fried Sunday (hosted by Will’s Pub, 1042 N. Mills Ave., facebook.com/southernfriedsunday).

35. Cruise the ever-changing selection of food trucks at Tasty Tuesdays in the Milk District (2424 E. Robinson St., facebook.com/tastytuesdaysorlando).

36. Walk through Park Avenue’s Central Park when the roses are in bloom.

37. Stick a dollar down the skivvies of a male go-go dancer at Savoy (1913 N. Orange Ave., savoyorlando.com).

38. Arrive early enough to grab a front-row couch seat while doing dinner and a movie at the Enzian (1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, enzian.org).

39. Catch a foul ball at an Atlanta Braves spring training baseball game at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. (700 S. Victory Way, Kissimmee, espnwwos.disney.go.com)

40. Take a date on a swan boat paddling tour of Lake Eola.

41. Devour oysters at Lee and Rick’s Oyster Bar (5621 Old Winter Garden Road) until someone discovers a pearl. The world may not be your oyster, but the pearl you have a claim to.

42. Descend the stairs downtown to the underground blues lair of Tanqueray’s (100 S. Orange Ave., facebook.com/tanqueraysbar).

43. Get the password to Hanson’s Shoe Repair (27 E. Pine St., facebook.com/hansonsshoerepair) – you’ll know what to do once you get inside.

44. Get hip to the Park Ave CDs (2916 Corrine Drive, parkavecds.com) in-store performances, where you can watch touring national bands play abbreviated sets without paying a dime at the door.

45. Order Mama Ling Ling’s Thanksgiving sandwich at Pom Pom’s Teahouse & Sandwicheria (67 N. Bumby Ave., pompomsteahouse.com) to experience an indulgent holiday meal any time, without a day’s worth of prep.

46. Go to a comedy show at SAK Comedy Lab, but don’t sit in the front unless you like public humiliation. (SAK Comedy Lab, 29 S. Orange Ave., sak.com)

47. Visit Leu Gardens (1920 Forest Ave., leugardens.org) during their annual plant sale.

48. See a marquee show at Amway Center (400 W. Church St., amwaycenter.com) and find out what arena rock really is.

49. Brave the live gators to putt a hole in one at Congo River Golf (various locations, congoriver.com).

50. Create a custom T-shirt at Mother Falcon (819 E. Washington St., motherfalconclothing.com); bonus points if it’s an Orlando joke that catches on with locals.

51. Pub crawl as a zombie during Audubon Park’s Zombietoberfest (apgardens.com), but drink beers, not brains.

52. Attend an Orlando Weekly Best of Orlando party and schmooze with the coolest people in town (orlandoweekly.com).

53. Order a flight of artisan beer at Hourglass Brewery (255 S. Ronald Reagan Blvd., Longwood, thehourglassbrewery.com).

54. Jump feet first into the refreshingly cool springs at Wekiwa Springs (1800 Wekiwa Circle, Apopka, floridastateparks.org/wekiwasprings).

55. Eat a bánh mì. This Vietnamese sandwich is king in the area where Colonial Drive meets Mills Avenue. We suggest you start with Boston Bakery & Café (1525 E. Colonial Drive, #5), Yum-mì Sandwiches (1227 N. Mills Ave., yummisandwiches.com) or Anh Hong (1124 E. Colonial Drive, anhhongorlando.com)

56. Watch the sunset over Lake Killarney from the back of Hillstone Restaurant (215 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, hillstone.com).

57. Sip a butterbeer at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Islands of Adventure, Universal Orlando, universalorlando.com/harrypotter).

58. Tailgate for a UCF Knights football game at Bright House Networks Stadium (University of Central Florida, East Plaza Drive, ucfknights.com/brighthouse/tailgating.html). Just be sure and read up on the game-day rules before heading to the stadium.

59. Order a gigantic 30-inch pizza and a growler of beer at Lazy Moon Pizza (11551 University Blvd., lazymoonpizza.com).

60. Narrowly avoid flying debris at Crash-A-Rama (Old Speed World Dragway, 19164 E. Colonial Drive, tourofdestruction.com), which happens every year on the Friday after Thanksgiving and makes your pulse race as wildly as the doomed vehicles on the course.

61. Make a fool of yourself while ice skating at the RDV Sportsplex Ice Den (8701 Maitland Summit Blvd., mvpsportsclubs.com).

62. Get down froggy-style at Jeremiah’s Italian Ice (various locations, jeremiahsice.com), a welcome treat when it’s Key West Tropical hot and even when it’s not – especially when they break out the seasonal pumpkin ice in fall and winter.

63. Get stoned at Walt Disney World.

64. Challenge a regular to a game of pool at the Hideaway Bar (516 Virginia Drive, thehideawaybar.net). Their billiards setup is a single table, but you’ll have to battle the best of them to get on it.

65. Explore the expansive collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art (445 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, morsemuseum.org).

66. Pet a panther, or any other wild animal ranging from backyard ’possums to fallow deer, taken in for rehabilitation at Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge (18515 E. Colonial Drive, btn-wildlife.org).

67. Dance your ass off at Grits and Gravy at Independent Bar (70 N. Orange Ave., facebook.com/independentbarorlando), one of downtown’s longest-running dance nights, dedicated to ’50s, ’60s and ’70s soul, funk and rock & roll.

68. Muster the courage to demonstrate your vocal prowess at Big Daddy’s (3001 Corrine Drive, bigdaddysorlando.com) daily karaoke night.

69. Sit in the big chair at Wall Street Plaza (Wall and Court streets, wallstplaza.net) during a block party. Make sure somebody snaps your picture.

70. Take a pickle shot at Ollie’s (3400 Edgewater Drive, olliespublichouse.com) or Finnhenry’s (39 N. Orange Ave., finnhenrys.com). Both bars offer a menu of “dirty” shots, all of which include a liquor (tequila, whiskey or vodka) with a side of pickle juice. Trust us, it goes down smoother than you’d think.

71. Horrify yourself at Legends: A Haunting at Old Town (5770 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee, legendsoldtown.com), the only year-round haunted house in town. It dishes up the scares like nobody’s business.

72. Attend Orlando’s epic and outrageously colorful Come Out With Pride parade. (Come Out With Pride, October 2014, comeoutwithpride.com)

73. See a Footlight Players drag show at the Footlight Theater and Cabaret Lounge at Parliament House. (410 N. Orange Blossom Trail, parliamenthouse.com/footlighttheatre) 74. Attend the Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival (May 15-28, 2014, Loch Haven Park, orlandofringe.org).

75. Freak out at a Varietease show at the Venue (511 Virginia Drive, thevenueorlando.com). It’s like a drag show burlesque disguised as performance art on the ledge of sanity.

76. All of the juices at Skyebird Juice Bar & Experimental Kitchen (inside the new East End Market, 3201 Corrine Drive, facebook.com/skyebirdorganic) are fresh-made and organic, but we swear the Thai Hot – spinach, celery, cilantro, apple, orange, lime, lemongrass and jalapeño – gives you a little buzz on top of all that clean energy.

77. Enjoy the naked lady wallpaper at Wally’s Mills Ave. Liquors (Wally’s Mills Ave. Liquors, 1001 N. Mills Ave., wallysonmills.com).

78. Don a superhero costume and help fight evil (in the form of nuisance graffiti, litter and other crud blemishing the face of the City Beautiful) on a monthly Super Joy Riders Do Gooders Bike Ride (facebook.com/SuperJoyRiders).

79. Try the vegan “ribs,” “eel” or “lamb” at Garden Café (810 W. Colonial Drive, 407-999-9799), which serves up startlingly specific replicas of traditional Asian dishes made of mushrooms, vital wheat gluten, mountain yam and other non-soy proteins. While they sometimes taste little like the animal they’re imitating, the sauces and seasonings make them worthy of exploration by all.

80. Wander the grounds of the eccentric, gorgeous Maitland Art Center (231 Packwood Ave., Maitland, artandhistory.org), founded as an art colony in 1937 and dotted with charming little studio/cottages and kooky Mayan Revival carvings.


81. Reserve the chef’s table at Luma on Park (290 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-599-4111, lumaonpark.com). From the moment you’re seated under the spotlight and served some off-menu tidbit or other, you’ll have a play-by-play view of all the haute kitchen action.

82. Get drunk with John Morgan.You may not be able to schedule your inebriation occasion with the celebrated “For the People” attorney from TV, but it does happen, and usually when you least expect it.

83. Experience the face-numbing Sichuan peppercorns at Chuan Lu Garden (1101 E. Colonial Drive, 407-896-8966, chuanlugarden.com). Order the traditional cumin lamb, loaded with the explosive little buzzers, but don’t say we didn’t warn you when your tongue starts tingling.

84. Wait … and wait … and wait for Trader Joe’s to open. A 12,500-square-foot store is planned for the corner of North Orlando Avenue and West Morse Road, with an announced opening date no more specific than “2014.”

85. The new See Art public art project at Lake Eola Park is not just a new mini-art walk, it’s an opportunity for iconic Orlando Instagramming. Gain a new Facebook profile pic as you sit in the giant hand of “Muse of Discovery” or dart between the sky-scraping legs of “Monument in Right Feet Major.”

86. Happy chickens lay the tastiest eggs, and there are few happier birds than the ones at Lake Meadow Naturals (10000 Mark Adam Road, Ocoee, lakemeadownaturals.com). Owner Dale Volkert sells his poultry products to upscale restaurants throughout Florida, but the farm store is open to the public 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

87. Devour the delicious biscuits and gravy at the Daybreak Diner (3335 Curry Ford Road, daybreakdiner.org).

88. Remember why Shakespeare is known as the greatest English-language writer in history by experiencing one of his plays, transformed and performed by the 25-year-old Orlando Shakespeare Theater company. (812 E. Rollins St., orlandoshakes.org)

89. Show up for half-off Tuesday at Johnny’s Fillin’ Station’s Other Side (2631 S. Ferncreek Ave., johnnysfillinstation.com). At half-off everything (including booze), it’s cheaper than eating at home.

90. Browse the collection of perfect, tiny things gathered at Ron’s Miniature Shop (751 W. Colonial Drive, ronsminiatures.com), the largest miniature shop and museum in Florida.

91. Kayak a bioluminescent lagoon. In the summer through early fall, the Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon near Titusville are full of bioluminscence after dark – every movement in the water produces an eerie, sparkly light.

92. “Yeah, yeah, it’s just hummus, big deal,” you might think – until you dip something in the Happy Hempy Hummus at Dandelion Communitea Café (618 N. Thornton Ave., dandelioncommunitea.com). We don’t know what they put in there to make it so special, and frankly we don’t care as long as they keep it coming.

93. Attend an Orlando City Soccer Club game, the best local sports ticket in town these days. Plus, the Orlando City Soccer Club was recently granted entry into the MLS. (Orlando City Soccer plays its 2014 season home games at ESPN Wide World of Sports, 700 S. Victory Way, Kissimmee, orlandocitysoccer.com)

94. Improvise a song-and-dance routine on the interactive music-and-light sculpture, Light Waves, on the Magnolia Street side of the Orlando Public Library (101 E. Central Blvd., ocls.info/orlandopubliclibrary).

95. Sit in the firepit/bar at Linda’s La Cantina (4721 E. Colonial Drive, lindaslacantinasteakhouse.com). A bit of old Florida opulence for the early-bird set, Linda’s fantastic steaks pair magically with the sunken feature that spits fire from its center.

96. Visit the Holy Land Experience (4655 Vineland Road, holylandexperience.com). If you miss the daily afternoon crucifixion of The Passion – and you shouldn’t, because it is so over-the-top bloody – make your way to Calvary’s Garden Tomb and pretend to roll away the rock that Jesus wasn’t behind.

97. Freeze yourself at ICE! at Gaylord Palms Resort (6000 W. Osceola Pkwy, Kissimmee, marriott.com/MCOGP), where two million pounds of ice sculpture transform the resort into a winter wonderland.

98. It doesn’t matter if you’re vegan or not – after you stagger out of a downtown bar, there’s no more welcome sight than the vegan hot dog cart.In the morning you’ll be glad you skipped that run for the border. (59 N. Orange Ave., facebook.com/theveganhotdogcart)

99. Toss a caber at the Central Florida Scottish Highland Games (Central Winds Park, 1000 E. State Road 434, Winter Springs, flascot.com).

100. Get drunk with a Disney princess. One magical thing about Orlando is that you’re always one happy thought away from running into a Disney princess. They can sometimes be found hanging out (out of costume, of course) at Independent Bar, Eye Spy or any other downtown establishment. And we all lived happily ever after.

What’s on your Orlando bucket list?
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