You know the saying, when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade?
Well, for Casey Wohl, it was a matter of taking those sour lemons (a devastating double-whammy of a divorce and a lay-off) and make a sweet new career.
While planning fun weekend trips with her girlfriends to help bring her out of her deep depression, Wohl realized there were no city-specific travel guides for women.
Enter her guidebook series, The Girls Getaway Guide, where she urges ladies to “leave their baggage at home.” Her first two installments have already been published, highlighting where to eat, stay, spa and shop in Orlando and Key West, respectively.
More are on the way, including a Girls Getaway Guide to Nashville.
These days, Wohl spends the bulk of her time on the road. She’s often travelling all over North America, Mexico and the Caribbean, researching locales for upcoming guides, or doing travel correspondent spots for Daytime, a nationally syndicated TV show, and Heartbeat Radio for Women.
But when Wohl does have those rare moments in her hometown of Orlando, she makes a point to spend time at her favourite places.
Favourite Breakfast: The Briarpatch
“A Winter Park fave, I love breakfast at the Briarpatch! And even better than breakfast are the HUGE cakes you will see displayed as you are escorted to your seat inside. Save room as these desserts are worth every calorie! If it’s nice out, be sure and request an outdoor table so you can people-watch along Park Avenue.”
Favourite Lunch: Park Plaza Gardens
“Not only does it have some amazing dishes, the restaurant also provides some amazing dining options: alfresco along Park Avenue or in the European-esque garden courtyard. A popular place to wind down and get some great noshes during the day.”
Favourite Hotel: Grand Bohemian Hotel
“A super cool vibe with its famous Bosendorfer Lounge and amazing art gallery.”
Favourite Dinner: Café Tu Tu Tango
“My first time at Tu Tu’s was one I will never forget, as a guy dressed in a tutu ran around entertaining people. I love bringing Orlando visitors here as most people have never experienced anything like Tu Tu’s. Located along International Drive, Tu Tu’s funky decor is designed to feel like the interior of a Spanish artist’s loft with art, lively music and tapas-style food the central theme. Entertainment is often on hand and may include belly dancers or fire eaters. A must-stop during your trip to Orlando!”
Favourite Martini Spot: Blue Martini
“How can you NOT have fun at a place that serves more than 25 different martinis? Located at the Mall at Millenia, stop by Blue Martini for an after-shopping cocktail or for a fun night on the town. They play great music and a few celebs have been known to drop by. A great place for a great time in Orlando…even if you are just people-watching!”
Favourite Clothing Boutique: Zou Zou Boutique
“With its signature Thornton Park location and its new Sand Lake Road location, there is no excuse for not stopping by Zou Zou to see Wendy and the girls for the latest and greatest in trendy fashions. Here you will find everything from dresses, comfortable classics, jeans, shoes, purses and jewelry. I love the boutique atmosphere, and the staff is very friendly and helpful making sure you find exactly what you are looking for in fashion. I always stop by Zou Zou when I am in Orlando.”
Favourite Spot for Outdoor Shopping: Park Avenue in Winter Park
“As an alum of Rollins College, which is located at the end of Park Avenue, I have spent a lot of time in Winter Park’s Park Avenue. The outdoor boutique shopping, art galleries and park itself, along with the weekend Farmer’s Market, make Park Avenue the perfect place to stroll, shop and enjoy the day.”
Favourite Museum: Cornell Fine Arts Museum
“With its panoramic view of Lake Virginia, Cornell is considered one of the top college museums and Florida’s oldest and most distinguished collections. Original and travelling exhibitions change seasonally and feature incredible works of art for all types of art lovers. This makes for a great stop after a tough day of shopping along Park Avenue.”
Best Place for Live Music: House of Blues
“I love listening to the live music and looking up at the awesome decor at HOB…something about this setting just makes a concert even better. Decorated in quintessential New Orleans-style, the HOB is best known as a stellar live music venue with acts from all genres. It’s small, cozy space and awesome acoustics make this a great concert venue. If you aren’t a night owl, visit the HOB for their live Sunday gospel brunch with all-you-can-eat Southern buffet.”
Favourite Festival: Winter Park Art Festival
“During college, we always made it a point to visit the WP Art Festival. Held every March, this premiere outdoor art festival features the very best artists in the mediums of clay, painting, drawing, jewelry, glass, photography and more. With nice weather, great food and lots to see, this is a fabulous festival to attend.”
Favourite Daytrip: Antiquing in Mt. Dora
“I love small towns, and Mt. Dora was voted Florida’s friendliest small town and the top antique destination in the state. You can find some amazing treasures here! Mt. Dora’s canopy trees, rolling hills and gorgeous lakes make this a popular side trip from Orlando. Located just 25 miles north, the town is also host to several events and festivals throughout the year.”
Favourite Spa: The Spa of Thornton Park
“If you are looking for a prim and proper spa, don’t come to this one. Located in an old home in Thornton Park, I love the super-quaint Spa of Thornton Park because it is laid-back, yet still exudes the feeling of relaxation and rejuvenation. Be sure and ask for Rhonda and Dominick for your services. They are the best, and you will leave with a smile on your face!”
Orlando For Sports Lovers
Sports fans and athletes will rejoice with a visit to Orlando, where two new state-of-the-art sports venues have recently opened. Watch a soccer game at the Orlando City Stadium or play tennis at the USTA National Campus. Cheer on the Orlando Magic NBA team or head outside to go biking or canoeing.
Why to Visit Orlando in the Winter
Home to seven of the planet’s top theme parks (including Walt Disney World, LEGOLAND and Universal Orlando), and with perpetually sunny skies and warm temperatures, Orlando lures families in every season. But in January and February the city’s top draw—its theme parks—are much less crowded and, thus, most enjoyable, with reasonable wait times, especially if you plan your visit for Sunday through Thursday.