Before I get to our other Orlando stops, I need to make a quick mention of one of the all time best sandwiches I have ever eaten in my life.
After I asked for Florida advice, a Twitter user (of course I can’t find the tweet now) told us we had to visit a place called Yellow Dog Eats, on the edge of Orlando. We went for lunch yesterday. Intending to order their BLT, I made a mistake and accidentally asked for something called the Mr. Smokey. Great – what was I going to get?
Turns out, the best sandwich on the planet. Delicious pulled pork, crispy yet succulent bacon strips, perfectly fried onion strings, two smoked pineapple slices (I was way skeptical of this; it’s half the reason the sandwich is so good), and an incredible homemade tangy barbecue sauce. The perfect blend of sweet, salty, and sour to leave your taste buds completely defenseless (I didn’t have my camera on me, so these pictures are from the Yellow Dog Eats Facebook page).
Yellow Dog Eats is well known to locals, but for those who only visit Orlando on vacations, DEFINITELY make a point of stopping in. Well worth the detour. Special thanks to the Twitter person whose name I can’t find for the recommendation.
A few other notes: we got to swing by one one of my favorite old-school roadside attractions, Gatorland!
…where you go and feed hot dogs to alligators:
It’s actually a ton of fun, there are a bunch of crazy animal exhibits to see, and it’s nice break from the oversaturation of Disney. In fact, Gatorland has actually been in business since 1949 and is a true roadside landmark (note the cars in the 1965 postcard above).
There was a pretty bad fire in 2006, which destroyed the gift shop. Thankfully, the classic concrete alligator jaws survived the fire (you can see the damage below from an old picture) and has since been incorporated into a new headquarters building.
Another classic Orlando roadside photo-op: Orange World, the store located inside the world’s largest orange!
I was really hoping to go inside here and find bins and bins of fresh fruit. What I found instead were racks and racks of ugly tourist t-shirts. Oh well.
We also made a stop at Blue Springs State Park, about an hour from Orlando
Blue Spring is famous for the manatees that frequent its constant 72-degree waters in the colder months. In fact, it was acquired by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection in 1972 to start its Manatee Protection Program.
One of the best parts of Blue Spring is that it has a fairly strong current. Nothing to be afraid of, but if you walk all the way down the trail to the start of the river, you can lay on your back and take a pleasant trip floating down to the other end while staring up at trees draped in Spanish moss. I know this is normal stuff for you south-easterners, but it’s pretty special for those of us in the north!
Finally, it depresses me to no end that the incredible masks from Beetlejuice…
…the axe from The Shining…
…and the guitar from Wayne’s World, among thousands of other movie props…
…are confined to the hell that is Planet Hollywood. Luckily, no one seemed to care at the Orlando restaurant that we were walking around without eating, so it could have been worse.
See you in Miami!