Orlando Attractions Guide: April 2021

A look at the latest fun happenings in our own backyard.
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Celebrate the weekend with brunch at The Hampton Social, where the Fried Chicken Stack is worth the indulgence. (COURTESY HAMPTON SOCIAL)

Head to the Hamptons

International Drive welcomes a fresh new face. 

Hampton Social, the nautical-themed restaurant and lounge, opened its doors in a big way last month, bringing modern, coastal cuisine to Pointe Orlando.

The playful concept brings the Hamptons to The City Beautiful in a 10,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor space that greets guests with a gorgeous water fountain, a crisp palette of bright white, navy blue and warm wood tones and an Instagrammable, neon-pink “Rosé All Day” sign that lets guests feel right at home.

With that welcome, how could you not?

The restaurant/lounge’s calling card, “Rosé All Day” perfectly encapsulates this lifestyle brand. Indeed, the invitation to relax with a chic drink is one of the many draws of the Hamptons. Choose from one of 15 rotating rosés, or chill with the signature Hampton Frosé, made with Tito’s Vodka, rosé wine and peach puree. Additional specialty drinks are just as tempting: Tropic Like Its Hot is a spin on the traditional pina colada, with a pepper pineapple fusion; Feeling Nauti is a blend of Fruit Loops-infused bourbon and chocolate bitters.

The perfect weekend brunch spot, you say? Absolutely! In addition to the aforementioned cocktails, there are DIY mimosa kits, special brunch cocktails—the Coffee in the Morning is an eye-opening take on an espresso martini—and sweet and savory treats such the Fried Chicken Stack and Wild Berry French Toast. And with seating that ranges from individual to communal, you’ll be set whether you’re getting together with your gal pals or your sweetheart.

Orlando is Hampton Social’s ninth location in the U.S., following venues in Chicago, Nashville and Naples, Florida. It’s a major component of Pointe Orlando’s $32 million overhaul, which began in Fall 2019. Like Hampton Social itself, the entertainment and dining destination aims to create a greater sense of place and improved connectivity for its guests. thehamptonsocial.com/orlando

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Grande Lakes, Take Me Away

Live in the lap of luxury, if only for a weekend, at the Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes, as you join chefs, wellness experts and winemakers for more than a dozen curated experiences, April 23-25. The collection of master classes, guided workshops and immersive demonstrations embody so much fun and relaxation that you’ll never want to leave; but rest assured, the resorts promise additional weekend-long experiences throughout the year. One ticket price gets you access to seven unique experiences, plus an additional four so you can curate what’s meaningful to you. What can you expect? Well, the inaugural event included a demo on preparing from-scratch Italian cuisine, a whiskey tasting, and a putting seminar with the PGA’s Larry Rinker, among other standout experiences. ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/florida/orlando/hotel-overview/calendar

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All Along the Promenade

Kissimmee’s Promenade at Sunset Walk is the perfect spot for a sun-kissed day or unforgettable night. The beautiful outdoor fun zone boasts some of the hottest dining and drinking concepts in town, plus some cool shopping, pampering and entertainment options. Follow us on a tour of don’t-miss spots:

At the north end of the promenade lies BurgerFi, a high-end burger bar with Angus beef sourced from the country’s leading ranches. Living the vegan lifestyle? Try the quinoa-based VegeFi burger. No matter which one you try, don’t leave without a decadent frozen-custard dessert.

For shoes that are as stylish as they are comfortable, Skechers is a no-brainer. Even better is a Skechers outlet store. You’ll find one in the promenade, also in the north end.

Making your way south, The Wharf is known for its glorious oyster bar, snow crab claws and surf & turf combos. Make a dinner reservation to enjoy live music that’s on tap Thursday-Sunday.

In the middle of it all is the Promenade Plaza Stage, where bands and solo musicians take the stage Friday and Saturday nights; it’s also the center point for the many special events that come to the promenade.

From Gloria and Emilio Estefan comes Estefan Kitchen, your go-to spot for authentic Cuban cuisine and half a dozen flavors of mojitos. It’s also part nightclub, with live music on the weekends. The VIP area is a great spot for a special event and seats 18 people.

You won’t dismiss souvenir shops once you’ve visited the U.S. Gift Factory. It carries limited-edition Disney, Harry Potter and Star Wars merchandise you’ve most likely never seen before, at great prices.

Need some “me” time? Stop in for a mani, pedi or both at Avalon Nails & Spa. Customers rave about the clean, well-stocked facility and friendly staff.

Find a re-envisioned 1920s service station at Ford’s Garage, where vintage Ford vehicles, gas pumps and a hand-hammered bar top create the perfect ambiance for an old-fashioned selfie. The gourmet burgers, homemade meatloaf and chili will keep you fueled all day long. Snag a seat outdoors for great views of the Show Car Saturday Nights.

At the very south end of the promenade, Yeoman’s Cask & Lion is a jewel for British pub-style favorites, five different versions of mac & cheese and craft beer. Evening events include Tuesday night trivia, live music on Thursday and Saturday and London Fog (3-4 p.m. Monday-Friday), when all drinks are half off. sunsetwalk.com/promenade

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Call of the Wild

Get up-close and personal to gorgeous creatures and stay as socially distanced from humankind as you want at Wild Florida’s Drive-Thru Safari Park. Here, more than 100 animals roam free across 85 acres of unspoiled landscape. As you drive along, you’re likely to see giraffes, zebras, eland antelope, mouflon sheep and American bison. The species come from as near as the deciduous forests of North America to as far as the African savanna.

When it’s time to stretch your legs, you can stop for photos on the elevated giraffe platform or make your way to the Gator Park to meet Crusher, a 1,000-pound American alligator. Don’t forget to visit Nala, the park’s Florida Panther ambassador, catch an animal show or interact with your favorites in an animal encounter—in one, you can dine onsite with Crusher just a few feet away!  But don’t worry, not all of these encounters are so intimidating. In the VIP Sloth Experience, you can hand-feed and hold one of the park’s two-toed sloths.

Wild Florida is known for its Everglades airboat tours; if you’re so inclined, they’re available in the early morning, afternoon, at sunset and at night. wildfloridairboats.com