Last week, I dumped my clients for three days and joined a media tour of Seminole County. I'd always thought of Seminole as a bedroom community just north of Orange County, home to Orlando and Walt Disney World. It is that, but it's also a multifaceted destination with natural attractions and art. Here's a round-up of my top finds. I usually traverse Seminole County by car, but this time my group was shuttled around by the Florida Fun Shuttle. It's a spic-and-span van that groups can rent for the day. The owners are often the drivers and/or tour guides. So, if you want a day in St. Augustine, they might suggest a stop at the beach en route. Or maybe you're looking to go gallery hopping in Sanford. They might suggest a kayaking jaunt also. The owners are clearly professional and eager to please, and they'll share pertinent info along the way. If I were visiting from out of town -- or from England or some other country with other-side-of-the-road driving -- I'd sign them on.
Here's what the shuttle looks like.
Our first stops were Danville and the Geneva Wilderness Area. I've linked to my blogs specifically about those. Next up was the city of Sanford, Florida, which has a whole urban-renewal thing going on in its historic downtown. We took a small tour on a big vehicle called the Limo Cycle. Essentially, Limo Cycle is a 15-passenger bus/bicycle/surrey that a group pedals around the area -- very slowly. You don't mind the effort because you're sipping beer, hearing great music pumped through the speakers, and playing mind puzzles led by the owner.
Here's a sign about it.
This is what it looks like without the passengers. You'll find better photos on its website.
This is a cup holder. Your beer won't spill.
We took a quick unplanned stop into The Imperial at Washburn Imports. Like its Orlando cousin, this place is a furniture store by day, a bar by night. Really fun jazzy music plays lightly in the background.
We were greeted next with a reception at Gallery on First. About a dozen artists sell their goods there, and some work in the space as well. Adjacent, visiting artists take up residence for a couple of months at a time in apartments that are filled with folk art. Sometimes you can get a quick private tour upon request.
I'd like to own the flower painting and the pink flower likeness, please.
We ended with dinner in Sanford's headliner restaurant, Hollerbach's Willow Tree Cafe. The food is old-fashioned German. I was especially impressed with the sausages, although the red cabbage, chicken schnitzel, and apple strudel with fresh whipped cream were all superb. Somehow I forgot to take pictures. I snagged this one off the restaurant's Facebook page.
I had that cucumber salad too. Unbelievable. Polished off a whole bowl along with two sausages, two kinds of schnitzel, and way, way more, all served family-style for us. I also, in a small way, helped drink "Da Boot." It's a boot-shaped mega-glass of beer. Your entire party stands up and passes it around, sipping; no one is allowed to sit until it's empty.
Be sure to stop into Magnolia Square Market. It's a sizable store stocked with German foods. I'd imagine it's a destination for people looking for German groceries. Here's a photo from the Facebook page.
Off to bed we went. We stayed at the Westin Lake Mary. It's gorgeous. Sleek, with an inviting lobby and great service.
Here's a staycation for you Orlando folks, and options beyond the theme parks for visitors. I'll write about further adventures in a related blog.