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I’ve always been guilty of creating long bucket lists but never getting around to completing them. After living in Orlando for nearly two years and not seeing much more than Disney Springs and the areas surrounding UCF’s campus, I’ve decided that it’s time to narrow down my to-do list and start crossing things off. Orlando and its surrounding towns have plenty of cool, unique neighborhoods and hot-spots that are perfect for day trips and photo-ops. Here are just a few of the places I plan on visiting before this year is up. 

The Wellborn

Orlando is full of hidden gems for eating out, and the Wellborn is one of our city’s most unique hot-spots in the heart of downtown. Not only does the menu look delicious, but the restaurant is located within a beautiful historical house, each room with its own unique character. The house even serves as a hotel, renting out their one-of-a-kind bedrooms to both tourists and Orlando natives, making it the perfect place for both a stay-cation and your next lunch stop!

Old Town

In a city like Orlando that’s filled with extravagant theme parks and tourist attractions, Old Town brings something entirely different to the table. It offers a small-town feel and carnival-like rides, which is hard to come by when surrounded by big-name places like Disney and Universal Studios. 

Bear Creek Nature Trail

With fall weather just around the corner, I’ve been looking for more outdoor activities in the Orlando area. I’ve gotten a few suggestions to check out Bear Creek Nature Trail for easy hiking, leading to great picnic spots and photo opportunities. Hiking trails have always been one of my favorite ways to feel like I’ve gotten some space from home without going far at all.

Rock Springs Clear Kayaking

I very recently discovered the concept of clear kayaking and immediately looked up the nearest place to try it out in Central Florida. Rock Springs is located just north of Orlando and is a great place to tour beautiful clear waters with the best nature views that Central Florida has to offer. This excursion is at the top of my list and is a perfect way to fill up an empty day.

Christmas in Mount Dora

Living in Florida, the picture-perfect “winter wonderland” is hard to come by. But less than an hour outside of Orlando is a cute town that goes all out for the holidays. I plan to live out my Hallmark movie fantasy this Christmas by visiting Mount Dora’s decorated streets and taking in the winter atmosphere.

Briarpatch Resturaunt

My roommates and I are big brunch fans and are always on the lookout for Orlando’s best brunch spots. The Briarpatch Restaurant is located in the adorable neighborhood of Winter Park and is one of the city’s most iconic dining options. And, let’s be honest, I love any excuse to get dressed up and go out on a Sunday morning.

Since coming to college, I’ve found myself sticking to a routine. I get focused on school or preparing for the future and forget that college is a time to experience new things. In the last few weeks, I’ve realized that I’m happy when I deviate from my normal routine and spend some time exploring the city, eating at new places, and making memories with my friends.​

Cara is a senior studying advertising-public relations with minors in mass culture and collective behavior and entrepreneurship at the University of Central Florida. She finds peace in yoga and Insomnia Cookies. Most days you can find her studying at a coffee shop or exploring Winter Park. When not in class, she spends her time traveling with her family, playing board games or curled up watching New Girl. Her prized possession (and best friend) is her cat. To follow her selfies and adventures, you can check her out on Instagram @carajacc!
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