Can You Swim In The Lakes In Florida

While Orlando is famous for its theme parks, there are plenty of other things to do in The City Beautiful and many other reasons locals love living there. The weather is beautiful, the ocean is right next door and manatees swim in the local rivers. Plus, it has every kind of restaurant in the world and an international airport that can take you anywhere. What's not to love?

That said, there are many secrets about O-Town that tourists and visitors just don't know. Only locals know these things.

Here are 33 secrets about Orlando known only by real locals

1. Most residents weren't born here. Orlando is a city of transplants like so many others in America. But the real old-timers remember when Disney World was a swamp. Yes, it was an actual swamp before Walt got a hold of it!

2. No one knows how Orlando got its name. There are a lot of stories, but no one knows the truth.

3. Locals don't go to the theme parks as much as you'd think. Sure, they're right there, but you can only go so often. You've got other things to do, too. When they do go, you can bet they know how to get the best deals and where the best rides are!

Lake Eola Park, Orlando

4. The lake in Lake Eola Park is really a huge sinkhole. It's 80 feet deep at the deepest point. The park is home to the Walt Disney Amphitheater, which has free movies, concerts and plays. You can rent paddle boats or jog around the paved trail. Some of the best views of the city can also be found there.

5. Bumper stickers that say UCF aren't about the University of Central Florida, located here in Orlando. No, they're an inside joke among locals. The bumper stickers mean “Under Construction Forever" because the city seems like a never-ending construction zone.

6. Just west of Orlando is the Presidents' Hall of Fame, a gem of a museum that doesn't attract many tourists because it's outside the main district. It's both fun and educational. There's a miniature replica of both the White House and Mount Rushmore, too.

7. The best deals on merch aren't found either in the theme parks or the souvenir shops. Everyone wants to bring home something special from their Orlando vacation, or just add some more Disney memorabilia to their collection. The parks are pricey and so are the souvenir shops that line International Drive. The best places to get merch are at Orlando's many thrift stores and discount shops. Sometimes, they're jam-packed with brand new, licensed merchandise!

8. Orlando was the citrus capital of Florida. Farmers moved south after the city drained the Everglades to reduce the risk of frost. Locals never forgot this, and hence, the names of the Citrus Bowl, Orange County and other important events and locations.

9. There's water everywhere. Canals, lakes, pools and more, but you can't swim anywhere except the pools. Why? Because they're full of gators. They love Orlando as much as locals do. Oh, and double-check the pool in your backyard before you get in. Because you just never know if one of them has slipped in overnight.

10. Jack Kerouac wrote "Dharma Bums" here in Orlando. The house has been converted into a writer's retreat in recent years. Applications are open every quarter.

11. Like many cities, Orlando has neighborhoods with many different vibes. One of the best parts of looking for apartments in Orlando is deciding which neighborhood is the perfect one.

12. There are two art galleries located inside Orlando City Hall. Both are free and open to the public. The collections are impressive for free galleries.

13. Hollywood filmed multiple blockbusters in Orlando. Among them are "Jaws 3," "My Girl" and "The Waterboy." "Lethal Weapon 3" filmed the demolition of one of the old city halls (yes, Orlando has had several) for use in the movie.

Bok Tower Gardens, Orlando

14. The Bok Tower Gardens are a little slice of paradise a half-hour south of the urban bustle of Orlando. The bird sanctuary and botanical gardens occupy 250 acres in the heart of Central Florida. The gardens are amazing by themselves, but the best part might be the Singing Tower at the center of the estate.

15. Orlando is home to the first highway in Florida. Colonial Drive was originally paved with bricks.

16. Player 1 Video Game Bar is a bar with an arcade. Or, is it a classic '80s to '90s era arcade with a bar inside? The $5 cover charge gets patrons unlimited access to the classic arcade games. It's like the arcades that were in every mall with beer and cosplayers.

17. The best food isn't on International Drive, that's the tourist district. And while the food there is good, it's pricey. There are spots around the city with better food at more affordable prices. Locals avoid I-Drive restaurants except on special occasions.

18. Speaking of I-Drive, residents avoid it whenever they can unless they work there. It's always jam-packed with tourists, and you can't get anywhere in a hurry going that way. Locals drive all the way around the city rather than cut through International Drive.

19. The Wells' Built Museum of African American history and culture is another of the city's lesser-known gems. It was a hotel whose patrons included such prominent African Americans as Thurgood Marshall, Ray Charles and Jackie Robinson.

Wekiwa Springs State Park, Orlando

20. Wekiwa Springs State Park, within a day trip of Orlando, is a better spot for swimming than any of the city's water parks. It's a perfect, lush, tropical oasis with crystal clear waters perfect for swimming, snorkeling, canoeing and kayaking. It also has hiking and horseback riding trails.

21. Orlando International Airport is the busiest airport in the state and the 10th busiest in the United States. Over 50 million passengers went through the airport in 2019.

22. There are over 100 lakes in Orlando. It would take you years to visit all of them.

23. The world's first aerotow hang gliding park opened outside Orlando in 1991. Wallaby Ranch is open year-round and draws pilots and visitors from around the globe. Tandem flights are available for public purchase.

24. Gatorland has more than gators. It's an animal sanctuary that's home to many kinds of rescued animals. Locals all went there in were in school though, so they mostly avoid it now.

25. Most people don't think about art when they think about Orlando, but the Orlando Museum of Art is one of the best in the country. It houses one of the largest collections of pre-Columbian art from the Americas in the entire world. It also has a good collection of African and Contemporary works and hosts many delightful traveling exhibits, as well.

Kennedy Space Center, Orlando

26. Kennedy Space Center is half an hour from the center of Orlando. It's a working launch complex for manned and unmanned missions, as well as a museum, and if you're lucky, you'll get to see a launch when you visit. Nowhere but Orlando can you ride Star Wars rides one day and meet real astronauts the next!

27. Hanson's Shoe Repair is the only speakeasy left in Orlando. It even looks like an old speakeasy. You have to know the password to get in. But don't worry, it's an open secret, considering that they post it on Twitter!

28. A wildlife sanctuary and rehabilitation center isn't something you'd expect to find in the middle of a major city, but Back to Nature Wildlife Rescue and Education Center is just that. It's open to the public daily except for Mondays and major holidays and a visit is a great way to escape the bustle of the city and support a good cause.

Leu Gardens, Orlando

29. Leu Gardens is Orlando's own botanical garden oasis and is just a few minutes from downtown. The gardens consist of 50 acres of magnificent plants, plus a museum and an art gallery. The gardens also host many special events, such as a movie night every month, and hold regular classes on horticultural topics, as well.

30. The East End Market is a great place to shop for food and visit artisan shops. The freshest produce in Central Florida is found here. There are many cafes and restaurants located inside, as well as a bookstore and a coffee shop.

31. Kayaking inside a city might seem strange, but Shingle Creek winds through Orlando and the surrounding areas and is a popular spot for local water sports enthusiasts. There are plenty of outfitters on the creek that offer kayak, canoe and paddleboard rentals for folks who don't have their own. Some even offer guided tours. Watch out for the gators though, they love Shingle Creek as much as humans!

32. The Mills 50 District is the funky side of Orlando. This is the area that's home to vegan tearooms, local breweries and both legal and illicit street art. It's also home to an eclectic mix of restaurants and food carts that serve everything from Asian street food to New York-style deli sandwiches.

33. Milk District is both a historic district and the hippest area of Orlando. It's home to hip boutiques, funky bars and trendy restaurants. Each week, they host Tasty Tuesday, when some of the cities many food trucks set up shop on the backside near the milk factory and hawk their wares to crowds of hungry hipsters and other locals.

Did we miss any Orlando secrets?

The best thing about living in Orlando is being in sunny Florida, but it's far from the only thing. Are you packing for a move to O-Town? Here's where you can find apartments for rent in Orlando.

Did we cover all of the Orlando secrets locals know? Did we get anything wrong? Be sure to let us know if we forgot anything in the comments!

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