Harry P. Leu Gardens is a beautiful 50-acre escape, miles away from the intensity of the theme parks. If you're looking for something relaxing yet entertaining to do while in Orlando, Leu Gardens is a great choice. You'll have to travel a little further from your hotel if you're staying in the center of Orlando, but these gardens are worth the drive. Here are three don't-miss spots to explore inside the gardens.
1) Rose Garden
Take a stroll through the different types of flora and fauna and you won't miss the Rose Garden. It is the biggest formal rose garden in Florida, boasting over 1,000 blooms a year. Have a seat on one of the iron benches and let your senses take over as you listen to the beautiful Italian fountain and breathe in the sweet scent of roses.
2) Butterfly Garden
As you continue to meander through the acres upon acres of plants and flowers, keep your eye out for the Butterfly Garden. Once there, take a moment to notice the nectar and larval plants where the butterflies perch as they rest their tired wings. You may even be lucky enough to have a butterfly land on you (they're gentle!). The Butterfly Garden is an attraction in and of itself. I recommended trying to count how many different species of butterfly you can find. You could see a Queen butterfly, a Skipper butterfly, and possibly an Easter Tiger Swallowtail butterfly.
3) Leu House Museum
On the hour and half hour you can take a guided tour of the Leu House Museum, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. A tour guide will educate you not only on the Leu family but on the families who lived in the home previously. You'll walk through the house, with its tin roof and pine floors, and hear about the different ways these families lived since 1888 when construction on the house began.
Leu Gardens is a beautiful and inexpensive tourist destination. You can find more info at www.leugardens.org. For easy access to Leu Gardens you could stay at the beautiful Universal Portifino Bay Hotel.
-Lee Allport of My Sentiment ExactLee
[Photo credit, above: mwhaling/Flickr; below: tilapia/Flickr]