The Indian River Lagoon is the most bio-diverse lagoon in the Northern Hemisphere and an indispensable refuge to the nearly one million neighboring Central Florida residents. Today, we're going to explore the lagoon in a couple of kayaks.
If you don't have your own kayak, I recommend checking out Island Paddle in Grant, FL. They're a Florida nonprofit Citizen Support Organization dedicated to the preservation, restoration and enhancement of the Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserve spoil islands and education of the importance of the spoil islands as valuable educational, recreational and conservation resources.
Island Paddle is located in Grant Station, which is right across the street from the main boat ramp in town. You can rent kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards or try out one of their tours: Sunrise Paddle, Paddle Board Yoga, or Mullet Creek Paddle Tour.
Once you're out on the water, you can paddle at your own pace to reach one of the many sandbars and islands on the lagoon. Be careful when you're swimming too far out from shore because the lagoon contains brackish water. That means it's a mix of both salt and freshwater, so you may find some bigger fish and alligators. Always watch out for boaters when you're in the channel.
The island we explored had so much plant life! I encourage you to download a plant identification app on your phone and see how many different types you can find. You're sure to encounter animal life as well. Frequently, there will be porpoises that swim right up to your kayak but we weren't so lucky today.
Rule one of being out in nature: leave no trace! Explore as many islands as you wish, as long as you help preserve their natural beauty. I like to bring a trash bag with me to clean up any litter that I find.
Foxtail Coffee has locations in Winter Park, Downtown Orlando, and Altamonte with several more on the way. Recently they celebrated their grand opening of the Hourglass District location and the first week of classes marks the grand opening for their UCF Campus location.
Foxtail - Hourglass District
2401 Curry Ford Rd, Orlando, FL 32806
If you haven't heard of the Hourglass District, it's one of Orlando's up-and-coming neighborhoods focusing on being pedestrian friendly, safe for cyclists, and supportive to local businesses.
Hourglass Social House is the glue holding these businesses together and is in the process of expanding to the rest of the spaces in the plaza. Leguminati is a new vegan eatery featuring the OG Crunch, which seems to be a vegan imitation of a Taco Bell Crunchwrap Supreme. I don't know about you, but that's plenty of information to get me in the front door (not sure if I'll fit through on the way back out though).
Foxtail - UCF Bookstore
4000 Central Florida Blvd, Orlando, FL 32816
At the UCF Bookstore, Foxtail Coffee has begun branching out into licensing their product and brand. Though this is uncharted territory and the bookstore side of the venue is still under partial construction, it seems to be a popular dining choice among students, faculty, and staff at the university.
Foxtail is conveniently located at the heart of campus right next to the student union and new library expansion, so expect crowds this week. And they're certainly equipped to handle a UCF-sized crowd! With the open layout and plenty of seating and table space for study, you can set up with a textbook and laptop and work without the worry of taking someone else's spot.
Along with the classic grab-n-go snacks you'd expect from a bookstore, Foxtail features mouth-watering Valkyrie Doughnuts and their famous cold brew Growlers that you can take back to your dorm room or office on campus.
Say that five times fast and you've got a tongue twister. The Edible Education Experience has a mission of "connecting students with seed-to-table learning experiences to build a healthy future." And they do just that. I took a walk with Garden Coordinator, Brad Jones who helped explain the mission further. He really knows his stuff.
As Garden Coordinator of Edible Education Experience, Jones handles everything related to the 1,500 sq.ft. Culinary Garden, from planning the crops and coordinating edible lessons with teachers to providing hands-on experiences for garden visitors and harvesting the garden’s produce.
Edible Education Experience
Want to help out?
Edible Education Experience is always looking for a few good volunteers. If this mission appeals to you and you'd like to get involved, you can click here.
Committed volunteer gardeners to help cultivate the Culinary Garden.
Committed volunteer kitchen helpers.
Volunteer Chefs to be involved, leading a variety of sessions for a range of programs.
Educational liaisons to help build the foundation for field trips; to connect interested educators with our Edible Schoolyard Teacher Academy.
Craft & Common is a new coffee and retail combo in downtown Orlando filled with ferns, femininity, funky trinkets, and plenty of fabulous photo ops.
Craft & Common lives up to its name with a full craft coffee and espresso bar, including pastries and other baked goods. Pictured here is a very satisfying everything croissant that caught my eye. They also make a cheddar jalapeno croissant and store a selection of vegan breakfast sandwiches in the cooler.
Shelves upon shelves of brightly colored gifts and dainty knick-knacks line the walls of Craft & Common's spacious layout.
You can't have a storefront these days without a super cute backdrop to take fun photos with while you peruse the goods. Craft & Common does not disappoint with the Biggie Smalls reference, "It was all a dream."
Parking is in the back of the building and there's plenty of seating and table space for bigger groups for hanging out with friends or holding meetings.
Craft & Common
47 E Robinson Street, Ste 100
Orlando, FL 32801
Tina Fleming is a partner at Townie Tourist and an Orlando-based travel and lifestyle blogger at Tina In The Sun. She's a cat mom, self-proclaimed foodie, and moonlight singer in an a cappella group called Geekapella.