FLORA AND FAUNA: See ducks at the Peabody Orlando. photography courtesy of the Peabody Orlando

Orlando

Make the most of your next convention trip to Florida. We tell you how to amuse yourself without the amusement parks.

WHERE TO STAY:
Why fly first-class only to stay in second-rate digs? Upgrade to the sophisticated Westin Grand Bohemian (325 S. Orange Ave., 866-663-0024, www.grandbohemianhotel.com).  All-work-and-no-play types will appreciate the dual-line telephones and high-speed Internet access in each room before crashing in the trademarked Heavenly Bed. Super stressed? Book a suite featuring a full-size Jacuzzi. The Southern hospitality-style service at the Peabody Orlando (9801 International Dr., 407-352-4000, www.peabodyorlando.com) is as reliable as the twice-daily duck marches that have made it famous. Catch the traditional procession of the five Peabody Ducks to and from the lobby fountain at 11 AM and 5 PM before retreating to your swanky 1,340-square-foot VIP suite. Best of all, the Peabody is located directly across the street from the convention center.
WHERE TO EAT:
Impress your newfound client at Norman’s, the award-winning eatery serving a blend of Latin American, Caribbean, and Asian cuisine (4012 Central Florida Pkwy., 407-393-4333, www.normans.com). If you want to eat lean, it’s easy at Seasons 52, where every item on the menu—which is updated weekly as various foods reach their seasonal peak—is guaranteed to have less than 475 calories (7700 Sand Lake Rd., 407-354-5212, www.seasons52.com). The daily-changing menu and long wine list are big draws at Kres Chophouse and Lounge—the perfect destination for power lunching or a little late-night noshing for those who do their best thinking after dark (17 W. Church St., 407-447-7950, www.kresrestaurant.com). Or if you’re on a tight schedule, sneak in a quick lunch at TooJay’s Original Gourmet Deli for a traditional turkey sandwich or a meatloaf melt (7600 Dr. Phillips Blvd., 407-355-0340, www.toojays.com).

El Campeon at the Mission Inn will test the handicap of even the best golfers. photography courtesy of Mission Inn Resort
DAY TRIP:
If you’re willing to drive 45 minutes to Howey-In-The-Hills, grab your sticks and head to El Campeon at the Mission Inn. This 80-year-old scenic course is deceptively challenging and well worth the trek. Duffers beware: holes three through seven—a stretch of long, difficult par-4s—will test the handicap of even the best players (10400 County Rd. 48, 800-874-9053, www.missioninnresort.com).

NIGHTLIFE:
When it comes to sports, closer is better. So why squint from the luxury suites when VIP second-row tickets are available for Orlando Magic home games at $500 a pair? The Mavs they’re not, but at least you won’t have to worry about Mark Cuban yelling in your ear (T.D. Waterhouse Arena, 600 W. Amelia St., 214-373-8000, www.ticketmaster.com). Want to grab a drink after the game? It’s not the easiest place to find, but that’s part of the allure behind Ybor’s Martini Bar. While the address says Church Street—out-of-towners’ territory—the bar’s alley entrance makes it anything but touristy. It’s named for the region of Tampa famous for its cigars, so expect a fine selection of stogies in addition to the extensive menu of martinis, Scotch, Cognac, brandy, and bourbon (41 W. Church St., 407-316-8006).

Orange County Convention Center
9800 International Dr.

800-345-9845

www.occc.net.

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