Lake Eola Park (Photo: Mary Kent / Alamy)
The capital of the family vacation can be a distracting place to get work done. But that doesn’t mean your time in the City Beautiful can’t be fun. Here are the best places to mix work and play in Orlando.
- Best business hotel: Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld. Not just a family-friendly theme park hotel, the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld — located just minutes from the Convention Center — is every bit a business power resort. A FedEx Ship Center allows meeting-goers to print flyers, signs and banners, copy documents and pack and ship parcels without leaving the property. With mobile check-in and out, free Wi-Fi and 72 meeting rooms, doing business is as easy as it should be. As a bonus, you can enjoy Orlando’s sunsets and the fireworks at the Disney parks by requesting a room on a high floor on the west-facing side of the building.
- Best working breakfast: Hash House a Go Go. Planning a day of roaming the mammoth Convention Center is like preparing for a marathon. Carb-load on heaping stacks of flapjacks, waffles and French toast at Hash House a Go Go, which is the kind of down-home place where you can also get meatloaf, fried chicken or corned beef mixed in with your breakfast foods. Calories don’t count when you’re away from home.
- Best business dinner: The Ravenous Pig. Calling The Ravenous Pig an American gastro pub is a fancy way of saying it does a fine job making casual seem elegant. Ditch the coat and tie, but prepare for a buttoned up presentation of seasonal Florida seafood, pork and beef sourced fresh from local producers. Craft beers compliment the seasonal offerings and taste better once clients are smiling.
- Best after-work happy hour: The Imperial at Washburn Imports. A beer and wine bar tucked into the back of a furniture import shop, The Imperial at Washington Imports is unlike any other bar in Orlando. Antique, hand-crafted teak benches, headboards, tables and doors sourced in Bali, Delhi, Singapore and farther afield are nicely arranged into cozy sitting areas where unwinding with colleagues or meeting local Orlandoans is easy.
- Best Place to work off stress: Orlando Watersports Complex. You’ve been strapped to an office chair all day. It’s time to strap on a board and recreate like a boss. The Orlando Watersports Complex’s cable park makes easy work of wakeboarding with a cable system offering endless pulls and a beginner success guarantee. If riding isn’t the same without the roar of an engine, a wake pumping Super Air Nautique G23 is at the ready for wakesurfing, wakeskating and wakeboarding until stress relief is achieved.
- Best place to spend an extra day in the city: Winter Park. Orlando’s theme parks are the giant mouse in the room: It’s easy to drop a day and a week’s worth of cash at one of them. But Orlando is more than roller coasters and character lunches. Quaint brick streets shaded by broad, moss-draped oaks wind around lakes throughout Winter Park, a neighborhood located just a few minutes northeast of downtown Orlando. The one-hour Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour will get you on the water with a guided pre-Disney history of the area and the sprawling houses set lakeside. After the tour, explore the area’s parks, independent restaurants and local bars.
- Best place for inspiration: Lake Eola Park. The centerpiece of downtown Orlando, Lake Eola is a mirage in the busy Central Business District. Late afternoon views of the city’s skyline reflect from its surface while swan-shaped paddleboats cruise across it. Modern art sculptures dot the park, and the iconic fountain found on the city’s crest spouts next to a jogging path hot with after-work exercisers.
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