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Orlando: It isn't all Disneyworld, neon crosses, pick-up trucks, and golf courses.

Orlando isn't all Disneyworld, neon crosses, pick-up trucks and golf courses.  Hiding behind the big Applebee's signs and the mega churches, you'll find a few local treasures.  A car is a must.  
Note:  Orlando as a whole is near the bottom of my list as far as vacation destination goes... but if you have to go there...

Dandelion Communitea Cafe

Exceptional vegan food that is full of flavor. The Buffalo 66 was a nostalgic reminders of what it was once like to eat wings -- thought made with tempeh. The restaurant has a community garden and plenty of outdoor seating. A nice liberal oasis in Central Florida....

Wekiwa Springs State Park

Lovely and well off the beaten tourist path. The springs make a nice place for a cool swim in summer. Canoes are also available for rent. An unexpected Orlando-area treasure.

Norman's at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando

The food and wine here are exceptional as-is the service. You'll have to venture out to tourist-land to indulge but Norman's is worth it. Excellent Latin-fusion food with a good wine list and pleasant atmosphere.

Dixie Crossroads

This little place has chain ambitions but the only outlet worth visiting is the original in Titusville. It has to be one of the best places on the planet to savor rock shrimp and these guys were serving it long before it hit upscale menus in the rest of the country. It doesn't matter what is on the menu. You...

TJ's Seafood Shack

This little place is damn good. Simple but exceptional seafood. The fish tacos are excellent and so are all of the soups. The owner of this place works hard to please and even gets customer advice when he is coming up with the recipes for new dishes. Very good. Very reasonable. Almost makes it worth the...

Wine Room

Exceptionally good wine bar serving more than 100 wines by the glass. Also has a nice selection of cheeses.

Orlando Premium Outlets

My favorite of the Orlando outlet malls. A great mix of highe end spots -- Barney's, Prada, Hugo Boss, etc. A bit hellish near Christmas but almost pleasant at off-peak times.

Le Coq Au Vin

One of few very truly special restaurants on Orlando. Excellent French country cuisine in a wonderful rustic setting. The location is terrible but well worth the visit. One of the best restaurants in Orlando.

Rolando's Cuban Restaurant

This excellent laid back spot is a local institution. The sandwiches are legendary but everything they do here is good.

Kelly Park

Lovely park and springs with nice hiking trails and swimming spots. Popular with locals but relatively distanced from the major tourist areas. Has camping spots.