Orlando's best-kept secrets

Kate Simon

So you think Orlando is just one big theme park? Think again. This city is full of little-known attractions that are just begging to be discovered.

Stride out far from the roller-coasters to appreciate the heydays of yesteryear through the beautiful architecture at Orlando's historic heart. And embrace some of the natural wonders of this city in its parks and gardens, forests and wetlands.

Experience alternative thrills to the white-knuckle rides in the open cockpit of a vintage aircraft or the basket of a hot-air balloon. And leave the waterslides behind for a quiet cabana by a cool pool.

Give the tourist throngs a swerve and mingle with the locals in neighbourhood stores, vintage boutiques, indie markets, and museum shops on the hunt for unusual souvenirs that will evoke special memories once you're back home. And indulge yourself in boutique spas where Florida's mud, fruit and herbs are gathered for soothing therapies.

Ditch the hot dogs and burgers and taste the fruits of the land and sea at gourmet restaurants, Southern-style eateries and funky bars. Sip local wines and craft beers on vineyard and microbrewery tours.

Whatever your taste, here are 10 of Orlando's best-kept secrets.