Lake Eola Park, Downtown Orlando
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Strolling along the path that circles Lake Eola Park, one is reminded of those scenes in romantic comedies when music takes over and the couple strolls along happily having just fallen in love. There is sunshine and idyllic surroundings. That is Lake Eola Park! Here, glorious trees- huge oaks hung with Spanish moss, cypress trees with roots dipped into the water, and weeping willows- line the shore of the lake. Swans make huge nests of pine needles and sit in the middle. Black swans, white swans, ibis birds, herons, anhingas- more than you'd see in the Everglades- pop their heads into the water looking for a meal. It's fun to watch the swans waddle along or glide effortlessly through the water. Sometimes their wings are open, making them look just like the swan boats that also move through the water, kick-paddled by tourists.
A grassy peninsula juts out into the lake, where lunchtime sun-worshippers lay out on the green. There are plenty of interesting sculptures, and a Korean pavilion, adding to the beauty.
Sit and take in the scene for hours at one of three restaurants. World Of Beer has a fantastic location on the southeast shore, with rock music playing out on the sunny patio beside the lake. The food is typical greasy fare. Spice Steakhouse is set back in the trees on the south end with a higher vantage point over the lake, and better food. Relax Grill is on the west side of the lake near Rosalind Ave, and has shaded outdoor seating near the path.
In the morning, it's perfect to sit outside at Panera Bread, on the northeast end of the park across N. Eola Dr. You can see glimpses of the park, and enjoy the wonderful trees above you. This is the life! If I lived in Orlando, I'd be there every morning I could!
From the west end of Lake Eola you can walk west on Washington St in downtown Orlando into the heart of the business and night club district on Orange Ave. You can also walk east from the east end of the lake on Washington St to the quaint Thornton Park neighborhood where you'll find restaurants, such as Benjamin French Bakery.
On attractive E. Central Blvd, beside the park, there are sidewalk cafes such as Metro Espresso Pizza, and there's Menchies Frozen Yogurt.
Across Rosalind Ave from Lake Eola Park is a Antiochian Orthodox Church called Church of St. George. It is open to the public during the day (like in Europe!) and you can pop into it, walk upstairs, and see the glorious pinks and blues of the church interior.
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Lake Eola Park is located at 512 E. Washington St, Orlando FL 32801. You can park for two hours along Rosalind Ave by using quarters or your credit card in the machines.
Swan boat rentals are $15 for 30 minutes. Open 10am-10pm Wed-Sat, and 10am-7pm Sun-Tues.
World of Beer, 431 E. Central Blvd, Orlando FL 32801, call (407) 270-5541. Opens at 11am.
Spice Steakhouse, 407 E. Central Blvd, Orlando FL 32801, call (407) 481-9533.
Relax Grill, 211 Eola Pkwy, Orlando FL 32801, call (407) 425-8440.
Panera Bread, 227 N. Eola Dr, Orlando FL 32801, call (407) 481-1060.
Church of St. George, 24 N. Rosalind Ave, Orlando FL 32801.
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Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.