The Best Sandwich in the Universe, Plus Gatorland, Orange World, & Other Orlando Tidbits

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!


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  1. Yellow Dog Eats is five minutes away from my in-laws. It’s the #1 reason I have no problem bringing the kids down there as often as we do.

    I can’t recommend that Mr. Smokey sandwich enough. The homemade barbeque sauce is terrific.

  2. Did they still have the guys wrestling the alligators at Gatorland?

  3. Oh wow! We have friends who live very close to Yellow Dog, and they took us there when we were down there this winter. What a cool place, huh? And De-Lish!

    I’m kicking myself that we somehow missed the big orange, but I’m always looking for an excuse to get back to FLA.

    If you are still in that neck of the woods you should see the Tupperware Headquarters, and Monument of the States – two of our fave Retro Roadmap stops the last time we were in Florida:

    Enjoy your trip!

    XO Mod Betty

  4. I believe Gatorland is a choice destination for bird photographers thanks to the many nesting egrets and herons. I’ve seen pretty spectacular images from the place.

  5. Your picture of the manatees reminds me of the South Park episode in which the school’s shipment of fetal pigs for dissection gets mixed up with a shipment of live manatees for the Denver Aquarium. Fortunately, the children manage to dissect the manatees and pass science class.

  6. and US-ians wonder why they’re all so fat….

    • We don’t wonder! But don’t worry, my second favorite sandwich in the universe is a thin plain baguette, with a single slice of ham, a whispy slice of provolone, and several emaciated tomato slices, no condiments, sold for 12 euros at most European sandwich shops. Now that’s eating!

  7. You certainly touched on most of the great spots in KW. But there are so many more. I owned a business there that still exists and it was one of the most surreal locations in the country. One could explore for days there and not find everything. It is truly the end of the road where the rich and famous sit at a bar with the homeless just shooting the breeze and chatting it up over a beer. It is truly America’s Caribbean Isle of Paradise. The conch fritters ain’t too bad either!

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