Artsy Orlando

Whether you finish a trip with a suitcase full of sketches or just feel at home gazing into brush strokes, Orlando’s art scene may surprise you. There are many great spots to catch some canvas, and a wide variety of styles to explore.

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Cafe Tu Tu Tango

8625 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819

Proclaimed as “Food for the Starving Artist,” Café Tu Tu Tango is fifty percent art gallery, fifty percent hors d’oeuvres, and one hundred percent fun. The building is modeled after Barcelona art lofts, featuring vibrant colours and shifting exhibitions from local artists. Many artists also come here to work, and you can watch them paint while you eat. The menu is a diverse sampling of appetizers, which makes it great for sharing with friends and tasting new dishes. Be sure to try their Dynamite Shrimp, which is crisped to perfection and glazed in a tangy, sweet chili sauce.

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Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando, Autograph Collection

325 S. Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801

Can I keep it? I felt like I was going to drag the Grand Bohemian home with me and promise to feed it and take care of it. This hotel towers above the skyline in a prime location in Downtown Orlando. It is filled with whimsical artwork and deep colours that few hotels would dare to use, or be able to execute without looking like the Addams Family. It is a gothic palace. There is a rooftop pool, and the grand pianos and dark red curtains just melt the space. The good kind of melting. Like hot fudge.

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Boom Art

1821 N Orange Ave Orlando, FL 32804

If I had to pick one place you must see in Orlando, Boom Art would rival Disney World. This wild little studio is a local tradition, and it’s a magical place – like you tornadoed in from Kansas or fell down the rabbit hole. The signature glossy pop art “booms on” with sparkling collage elements, on everything from furniture to jewelry to vintage suitcases. But the experience is as memorable as the pieces you take home. Mr. Glenn Rogers is not only the man behind the Boom; he’s the man behind the counter. You get speedy snippets of his unbelievable life story as he shops around with you and lovingly cuts prices in half, and half again. He and his wife were former clowns who entertained the president? He rode Men In Black with Bill Murray and Michael Jackson? You’d better believe it, and he’s got the photos to prove it.

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Pom Pom's Teahouse & Sandwicheria

67 N. Bumby, Orlando, FL 32803

How do you press and cut a sandwich so crisply that it doesn’t fall apart while you are eating it? There are many great mysteries like this at Pom Pom’s Teahouse & Sandwicheria. The quirky specialties are right at home with the décor, which shows off some very groovy artwork. The open kitchen and cozy atmosphere make it feel like you are visiting a fun Aunt, and the fresh ingredients make it love at first bite.

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Disney's Art of Animation Resort

1050 Century Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL

Visit Radiator Springs, race around shiny life-size Cars, and stay in your very own Cozy Cone. Even if you are not familiar with the Disney Pixar movies, this new resort is revolutionizing the concept of a hotel, with amazing scenery that is executed in ways only Disney can. The Art of Animation Resort is designed around the art that has fueled happily-ever-afters for decades, from the rough sketches in the lobby to the tangible scenery outside. In the spirit of Disney theming, the details are locked in right down to the lamps and light switches in the rooms, which adds to the fun and gives you plenty to explore.

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Jeanine Taylor Folk Art

211 East First Street, Sanford, FL 32771-1376

Skip the ordeal of visiting the big museums and come see some local hubs. Jeanine Taylor Folk Art is located in the heart of historic Sanford, which was recently rated the best downtown area in the state. I’m not sure what you expect when you hear folk art, but Ms. Taylor’s selections will probably surprise you. The place is packed with eye-popping pieces that each tell a unique story, and they cycle through so quickly you will probably never see the same displays twice. It is escapes the stuffy art gallery posturing by a long run, and feels more like a sneak peek into someone’s eccentric studio. The touchable pieces like recycled jewelry, bottle cap belts, and mini-canvas vending machines make it art you can really take home with you.

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Graffiti Junktion 2

2401 Edgewater Dr, Orlando, FL

If you’ve ever stopped to gaze at the tagged side of a train or a vandalised wall, Graffiti Junktion is just your cup of tea. The restaurant is scribbled and splattered in layer upon layer of edgy design. The deep-fried snacks are sinfully delicious, and you can sink into the urban motifs and just get lost for a while.

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Eo Inn

227 N. Eola Drive, Orlando, FL 32801

Located in too-cool-for-school Thornton Park, EO Inn & Spa is a little bed & breakfast in a building that dates back to the 1920s. The walls hold a rich history, having been home to a youth hostel, medical center, old folks’ home, and many other unique guests over the decades. Today it is a chic boutique filled with edgy photography and local artwork, which laces from the lobby all the way up into the rooms. EO offers a full-service spa and opens out into a Panera for some happy snacking. The spacious balconies overlook quaint brick roads and a tree-framed lakeside view.

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Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens

633 Osceola Avenue, Winter Park, FL, United States

Maybe I was just a classy kid, but even from a young age I loved visiting the Albin Polasek collection. This historic site is situated in the loveliest corner of Winter Park, overlooking Lake Osceola. If you think sculpture garden sounds a little dreary, come for a sunlit stroll and let Mr. Polasek change your mind. This world-renowned artist settled down on Lake Osceola in 1950 at the age of 70. Right here in Winter Park, he completed eighteen major works with only his right hand, after a stroke caused complete paralysis in the left side of his body. His life story is an inspiration, and his celebrated collection brings spirit to stone.

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Tibby's New Orleans Kitchen

2203 Aloma Ave, Winter Park, FL 32792

Tantalizing aromas and sundry colors welcome you in like an old friend, and warm smiles greet you from every corner. In Winter Park’s award-winning Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen, not only are you transported to an entirely different place – you feel like a “regular” there. As their website proudly proclaims, “it’s not the New Orleans you may have visited; it’s the New Orleans that locals call home.” Encompassed by beautifully weather-beaten artwork salvaged from Hurricane Katrina, as well as vibrant murals and photographs, every nook of the restaurant provides its own unique atmosphere. Expect amiable conversation from the waiters as you contemplate the wide variety of Cajun and Creole classics such as po-boys, gumbos, and jambalaya. Special Crawfish Boils and lively brass bands are all part of the adventure. Finish it off with their famous beignets –warm and gooey homemade doughnuts buried in powdered sugar – and you will already be craving your next visit to Tibby’s.

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Four Points by Sheraton Orlando Studio City Hotel

5905 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819

The Four Points is a sleek circular tower right in the heart of the city. It features unique rounded rooms where every view is panoramic and no two are alike. You can enjoy a brand new heated pool (rare for Florida properties) and an awesome poolside menu, with all food selections throughout the hotel under ten dollars. Their staff is dedicated to giving you a great stay, and the free shuttles to the parks make it an excellent vacation spot. It is also right next to Congo River Mini Golf, which would be fun to stroll over to on those lazy days when you find yourself with a few free hours. Overall, a chic and modern hotel that soars above the rest and shows off the city from way up in the clouds.

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Red Rhino Revamp

225 N. Magnolia Ave., Orlando, Florida

“Some stuff is just better the second time around.” Their slogan says it all. Red Rhino Revamp is a brand new shop in Downtown Orlando. It is a really cool little operation, as they hunt down, thrift, and funkify old furniture into eye-catching new pieces. The detailing is immaculate. The fresh paint does not drown out the vintage patterns, but actually emphasizes them vibrantly. Red Rhino is definitely worth a peek, and you could quickly fill up your house with the mellow colours and sleek designs.

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Dexter's in Winter Park

558 W. New England Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789-4240

The chips. You cannot talk about Dexter’s without talking about their homemade potato chips. Sweet potato or original, cut to melt-in-your-mouth thinness, crisped, salted, and served warm with sweet chili sauce. If you can take your eyes off them, you will find vibrant artwork and a lively local music venue, a gem in our treasured Winter Park area.

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Sam Flax South

1800 E Colonial Dr, Orlando, Florida

The building is painted in Piet Mondrian squares, you cannot miss it and you won’t want to. If you are a diehard artist with every hue of paint in existence, I guarantee you will find a new one here, and a new brush to match it. But Sam Flax offers a lot more than just art supplies. There are armfuls of eccentric gifts and trinkets – very personal little gems that make you think, “so-and-so would love that.” Come fill up your suitcase.

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Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek

14100 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane, Orlando, FL 32821

I have been to full waterparks that are not as cool as the pool at Hilton Bonnet Creek. It was absolutely utopian – waterslides, bridges, fountains, hot tubs, a movie screen, and a giant lazy river. And this is all in a hotel pool, ladies and gentlemen! The interior itself is just as stunning, with innovative décor and various art installations to catch the eye. There is an entire candy wall downstairs, which is exactly what it sounds like. The rooms all have incredible views, but the “Disney view” is especially memorable. It is as beautiful as a painting, and you can even see the rides and the famous hot air balloon rising above Downtown Disney. But honestly, they had me at “candy wall.”

Last updated at Dec 20, 2015