Explore Orlando's lesser-known (and often less crowded or expensive) attractions 

Be a tourist in your own town

Page 5 of 5

click to enlarge Royal Palm's vintage diesel-driven passenger train
  • Royal Palm's vintage diesel-driven passenger train

Royal Palm Railway Experience

Crawling through the endless – why, they seem positively "Ultimate" – construction zones along I-4 is enough to make any commuter long for a return to an era before interstate highways. For the next best thing, make your way to Tavares and board the Royal Palm Railway Experience. Vintage diesel-driven 1950s passenger trains, outfitted with air conditioning and domed observation windows, make regular departures from the recently renovated Wooton Park terminal along the "Golden Triangle" to shopping and entertainment districts in Mount Dora and Eustis. Round-trip tickets for a standard ride cost under $15 per adult ($10 for kids), while special family-friendly holiday seasonal experiences with entertainment themed around The Polar Express will run you $38-$64. Adults will be more interested in weekly dining events like Saturday's BBQ Limited ($28) or monthly alcohol events such as Rails & Ales ($40) and the Royal Wine Limited ($50). Spend your 70-minute journey into the past sipping or supping, while you soak in the Old Florida scenery and shake your fist at what Eisenhower's infrastructure investments hath spawned.

click to enlarge Dinosaur World, Plant City
  • Dinosaur World, Plant City

Dinosaur World

Since long before Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom arrived in cinemas, we've strongly suspected that dinosaurs didn't really go extinct but rather are merely hiding in the Orlampa swamps, biding their time until humanity's demise, when they'll reclaim their domain. For proof, pay a visit to Plant City's Dinosaur World, a self-guided outdoor museum with more than 200 life-sized dinosaur sculptures secluded among the cypress trees. Stroll along the boardwalk that cuts through the marshland and discover all the dino-ramas, then retreat from the humidity to recover inside the air-conditioned paleontology exhibits and gift shop. At only $17 for adults ($12 for kids), Dinosaur World is one of the least expensive day-trip attractions in the area, although digging for fossils or gems costs extra. The facility is even dog-friendly, but beware: Some of the black flies may be bigger than your bichon frise.

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May 5, 2021

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