Categories: Travel

Top 5 Central Florida Cities to Visit Outside of Orlando

Central Florida cities are full of charm, culture, and hidden gems. They house incredible attractions outside the theme parks. Below I listed 5 Central Florida cities that would delight guests outside of Orlando.

1. Clermont

Storytime. I was driving up Highway 27 West of Orlando. I was used to seeing flat swamps, beaches, and palm trees. And all of the sudden, I ran to tall hills. A feature I did not expect in the Sunshine State’s geography. Last time I saw hills like these was in Ohio. With that in mind, I definitely didn’t feel like I was in Florida. 

Clermont is located half an hour West of Orlando. The drive between these cities will include a huge change in scenery. At first, you would pass the Orlando skyscrapers stacking up to the sky. And once you get closer to the other Central Florida city, the hills stack up to the sky. What’s even more insane is that there are houses that stand on top of those hills. This means that you gain a great view of the Floridian forests and small buildings. I even heard that you can see Universal Studios and the Orlando eye from some vantage points!

Beyond the hills, Clermont houses a super cute Town Center where you can shop and dine. And just a small walk away from the Town Center, a big lake named Minneola stands strong. You can jet ski, fish, and swim in this big lake! 

2. Winter Garden

Winter Garden to me is one of the most charming cities I visited in Florida. It has so much to offer as a stand-alone city. I remember visiting this place. Feeling like I was in an enchanted village from a fantasy story. You’d also feel this way when you visit.

First of all, the city houses neighborhoods next to Lake Apopka. A lake that’s even bigger than Lake Minneola! I remember taking a stroll down a lakeside neighborhood and seeing the lake for the first time. I mistook it for the ocean because of how wide the body of water was. And on top of the killer lake views, the communities have so much charm to them. My favorite one is named Oakland Park. A place that is inspired by coastal New England. The Northeastern theme is reflected in the gorgeous build of the houses. Communities that look like this are rare in the Sunshine State.

Winter Garden’s downtown district is also a very iconic one. It is a strip of multiple shops and restaurants. My favorite part of the Town Center is the Plant Street Market. It is a big warehouse that houses multiple food establishments like a food court (but way more formal).  There is a Pizza Parlor, Swiss Raclette Stand, Gourmet Chocolate Kiosk, local Brewery, and Sushi Place, all inside one building. I was blown away by what this market offered!

3. Celebration

Celebration, to me, has one of the most interesting backstories. It was developed and built by the Walt Disney Company in 1994. That’s right! Disney made this city! And the reason behind this was the company wanted to make a town that was as charming as the parks. They also chose a plot of land that is located right to Disney property. So that the residents of the town have easy access to the parks. Later on, Celebration because its own city and is no longer owned by Disney. 

Disney left behind a gorgeous city! Like Winter Garden’s Oakland Community, the entire city takes on a New England theme. But on a whole new level! Many different types of houses, apartments, and townhomes do not mess around with the theme. For example, some townhomes reminded me of the London  Townhouses! I felt like I was in a Harry Potter movie! Even the foliage is incredible! There are many imported maple trees and other foreign shrubbery gracing the scene. You’d definitely feel like you are not in Florida once you pay a visit to this charming place. 

Even the Hospital is gorgeous. I will never forget doing a check-up at this place and thinking about how it looks like a five-star resort. Trust me. If you take a look at the hospital, you would not think it’s a hospital. 

4. Winter Park

Just a few minutes northeast of Downtown Orlando, this super charming city offers so much. I believe that this city adds a lot to Orlando’s attractions list cus there is a lot to do in this place. This is one of the Central Florida Cities where city life marries suburban life. Given the fact of how close it is to the theme parks, the downtown district, and accredited Central Florida colleges. 

See Also

I heard that Winter Park is popular with college students. And it makes sense because Winter Park is home to Rollins College and Full Sail University. Two well-known universities. I will never forget watching TV ads for Full Sail as a kid. They were so much fun to watch and made me think they were filmed in Hollywood. Winter Park is also located a few minutes away from the University of Central Florida. The largest University in the U.S. Averaging in 66 thousand students enrolled (per year). I know plenty of people who commute between Winter Park and UCF. 

Winter Park is also home to Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. The museum houses a gorgeous mosaic exhibition that will melt your eyes away. There is also the Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum that is popular with weddings. If you look up the Instagram page for Casa Feliz, you would find gorgeous wedding photos. The images gave me Hallmark movie vibes!

5. Windermere

Known as the city among lakes, Windermere will put a spell on you with its charm. The town is small. It only has an area of 1.6 miles and has a population of 3400. This is what makes this town like no other. When I was driving around the area, I was perplexed by how small everything was: the town center, communities, and my overall commute across the border. 

The town is like an Isthmus. It is a narrow strip of land sandwiched between two big lakes. It is fascinating to see on a map. And it’s also fascinating to see in person. As it’s surrounded by lakes, residents and visitors have multiple options (when it comes to water activities).

Although Windermere doesn’t offer as much as the cities listed above, I still think you should add it to your must-do list. The unique position of the area and the gorgeous lake views are like no other. It is also a nice and quiet escape from all the Central Florida action. 

Have you added any of these Central Florida Cities to your Must-Visit list? If so, let us know your favorites in the comments!

Featured Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/CJyjhPPHj5F/
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Mark Grinker

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