Hop in the car, crank the tunes and take a trip back to your dating years when getaways were simpler and required much less “baggage.” Road trips are the perfect escape from the everyday (and who are we kidding … the kids). Orlando is surrounded by many quaint and quirky towns just waiting to be explored. So book Grandma, tank up and hit the highway.
Written by Kristen Manieri of Great Dates Orlando
Eccentric Excursion: Cassadaga . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ETA: 40 minutes
Did you know we live in very close proximity to the “Psychic Center of the World?” Cassadaga’s old-world streets are where you’ll find more than 40 mediums, psychics and healers. With roads named Séance Circle and Metaphysical Street, this is a very interesting corner of the world to get lost in.
MUST DO Desperate times call for desperate measures. If you’ve been wondering what the future might hold (or what your stock portfolio might do), perhaps it’s time to consult the experts at the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp. Check out their website ahead of time to pre-book a session with one of their world-renowned spiritual healers and psychic mediums.
MUST SEE Legend has it that spirits can reveal themselves to us as glowing balls of light called “orbs.” Experience this phenomenon during the 90-minute Orb Photography Tour, each Saturday beginning at 8 p.m. $25/person. RSVP by calling 386-228-2880.
MUST EAT If your psychic experiences put you in the mood for some food and liquid enlightenment, head over to the Lost in Time Cafe (located in the Cassadaga Hotel) for some “Spirit” burgers and real-life characters sure to entertain you.
MAKE IT SPECIAL Arrange a couple’s astrology consultation through the Cassadaga Hotel and Psychic Center. In this one-hour session, local astrologists will consult the stars to chart out your fate. Uh oh… is that another bambino on the horizon?
Rural Ride: Clermont . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ETA: 35 minutes
In the heart of Lake County amidst (yup, you guessed it) more than 1,000 lakes, Clermont might seem like an unlikely destination for us city slickers. But we think you’ll be surprised to find a ton of delightful day trip diversions on and off the water.
MUST DO Ever dream about hitting the open road on a Harley? Stormy Hill Harley in Clermont runs a weekend motorcycle course in this ideal locale, thanks to its hilly terrain and lack of traffic. Once certified, easy riders can rent gear and bikes onsite. Class is $250/person.
MUST SEE If you do one thing this summer, take a trip to Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards on the weekend of August 22 and 23, when you can squash grapes between your toes at the annual August Stomp. Also enjoy complimentary tours and wine tastings at this 77-acre vineyard.
MUST EAT Shop the huge gift boutique at Lakeridge Winery for your gourmet picnic provisions, then sip your freshly purchased Pink Cresendo sparkling wine at a picnic table or shady spot amidst the vines. www.lakeridgewinery.com
MAKE IT SPECIAL If wine isn’t your thing, you can enjoy some peace and quiet on one of the area’s namesake lakes on your very own pontoon boat. Half-day rentals are $129 and a full day will cost you $199, including fuel. www.clermontwatersports.com
Old World Outing: St. Augustine . . . . . . . . . ETA: 90 minutes
Discover America’s oldest city during one of the many popular tours offered in this historic community. The cute cafés, artisan shops and character of St. Augustine’s Colonial Spanish neighborhoods have been luring romantics for centuries.
MUST DO Don’t miss the hilarious (and informative) St. Augustine Haunted Pub Tour departing every day at 8:30 p.m. Although you’re not likely to see any actual ghosts, bartenders will be serving up plenty of spirits.
MUST SEE Take a self-guided wander through Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustine’s most notable historic landmark. Ancient dungeons with cavernous corners provide ideal secret make-out spots.
MUST EAT Catch your breath at one of St. Augustine’s famous bakeries such as the Bunnery Bakery & Café on St. George Street, where notorious sticky buns are finger lickin’ good. 904-829-6166
MAKE IT SPECIAL Schedule your trip to take part in the First Friday Art Walk. Evening tours begin at Rembrantz on King Street, and you can stroll hand-in-hand enjoying art exhibits, music, entertainment and great food. www.artgalleriesofstaugustine.com
Small Town Spin: Mount Dora . . . . . . . . . . . . ETA: 45 minutes
Cafés, antiquing and nature walks are all great reasons to visit Mount Dora, a small town dripping with charm. Thousands of people visit each year during its many famed festivals, like the Old Fashioned Fourth of July Celebration. www.mountdora.com
MUST DO Sail Lake Dora’s pristine waters with Captain Doolittle’s Eco Tours offering day and sunset cruises (352-434-8040), or explore Mount Dora’s picturesque downtown streets, historic B&Bs and scenic nature trails during a 60-minute Segway tour. www.segwayofcentralflorida.com
MUST SEE Anyone with the slightest interest in antiquing needs to check out Renningers Antiques & Farmers Market, open Saturdays and Sundays. Make a game of it by deciding on one particular item to seek out at more than 180 shops.
MUST EAT Lake views and live music make Pisces Rising a popular dining option. Do not – we repeat – do not leave Mount Dora without devouring a frozen key lime pie-on-a-stick, found at Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shoppe. Yes, it’s as good as it sounds.
MAKE IT SPECIAL Snuggle up with your honey in the back of a horse-drawn carriage ride through Mount Dora’s scenic streets. Departing from the corner of 4th and Alexander, private rides are available. Don’t forget your bottle of bubbly. www.ahitchntime.com