Health + Fitness

How to Find Your Zen in Orlando

(Photo: Zhukov Oleg/

Whether you’re seeking quiet reflection or a brief reprieve from the hectic nature of city life, Orlando has plenty of places to help you escape. If you’d rather spend your time in a 50-acre botanical garden or in an intimate speakeasy-like bar, here are four unlikely ways to find your zen in the City Beautiful.

Relax Your Senses

What could possibly be more zen than floating in a sensory deprivation tank? Total Zen Float, located in Casselberry about 25 minutes from downtown Orlando, gives you the chance to feel like you’re lying in a hammock — on the moon.

Its two flotation tanks contain more than 1,000 pounds of medical-grade Epsom salt. That’s five times more potent than the Dead Sea. All that magnesium sulfate encourages detoxification, purification and helps your body absorb more good-for-you nutrients. Customers say the lack of gravity leaves you feeling like jello after a floating session. If feeling weightless is your idea of enlightenment, Total Zen Float offers floating sessions that begin at $45 for one hour. You even can do an overnight float in the sensory deprivation tank for $149 (just make sure to leave the lid open).

Hang Out in a Hidden Hookah Bar

Some of us find our zen hidden behind a secret door above a smoke shop. Orlando locals love this downtown haunt, and tourists lucky enough to stumble upon it after visiting a nearby bar, embrace it too.

Here’s how it works: enter the smoke shop and tell the clerk you’d like to go upstairs to Kush Ultra Lounge & Hookah Bar. He’ll charge you a $10 cover and give you a code you can use to open the door. The atmosphere upstairs is cozy and sleek and the room transitions between pink, blue, green and purple tones every few minutes (and that’s not just because you’re smoking hookah). The best part? You don’t need to order a drink or dessert to indulge in flavors like apple martini, pink lemonade, bananas foster or da’ bomb blueberry.

Indulge in Nature

You’d never expect to find a 50-acre botanical garden in the middle of the city, but that’s exactly what makes Leu Gardens so great for a quiet stroll. The garden has azaleas, bromeliads, tropical philodendrons, roses camellias and so much more on the property. True to its Florida roots, Leu Gardens also has a grove with more than 50 different kinds of citrus trees. Pay the $10 adult admission fee (children four and younger get in free) and walk around the gardens, take photos, peruse the art exhibits in the welcome center or just sit under one of the huge elm trees and read a book.

Find Bliss and Beauty Outdoors

Many Central Florida brides and grooms have partied the night away in this courtyard after tying the knot.

But even if you’re not seeking marital bliss, the Mayan Courtyard at the Maitland Art Center is a great place to experience a slice of happiness. Lush greenery, a fountain and ornate tiles that resemble some of the ancient architecture you’d find in a place like Yucatan, Mexico, surround the outdoor garden. The admission fee for the art center is only $3, a small price to pay for a bit of serenity.