Tiny Tourist: Kids Fringe at Orlando Fringe 2018


Do you Fringe?  You’re either shouting yes, I love it! Or you’re not quite sure what I’m talking about.  Or maybe you’ve wanted to go but it seemed overwhelming.  The Orlando Fringe Theatre Festival spans two weeks, May 15-28, 2018 and is completely un-juried and uncensored.  It takes over Loch Haven Park for all kinds of arts experiences and is truly one of a kind. If you want to learn more about How to Fringe, go here.  

But this is Tiny Tourist, so I want to talk to you about Kids Fringe.  Because unlike general Fringe, Kids Fringe is simple. Walk up to festival, say hello to other people, and have fun.  Easy peasy.

Kids Fringe occurs on the weekend dates of the festival, May 18-19th & May 26-27th.  This year, it will be hosted at the Orlando Garden Club (710 E Rollins St, Orlando, FL 32803) and will have indoor and outdoor space.  There’s a main stage with musical and dance acts, puppet shows, sing-a-longs, and demonstrations.  Online you’ll find a full listing of each day’s events. My kids love Fringe and running from station to station, stage to stage, to see what’s happening.  We can’t wait for this year’s Fringe and will be doing our best rain dance for good weather. We’ll see you there!

Know before you go:

  • Kids Fringe is completely FREE.

  • Parking:  In the Florida Hospital Garage, the brick lot between Orlando Shakes & Orlando Museum of Art, or street parking on Mills Ave.

  • It can be very hot and sunny out.  Wear breathable clothes and sunscreen.

  • Oh it’s not sunny, it’s raining?  Pack your rain gear.

  • The lawns in Loch Haven Park tend to have a lot of ants.  Have your littles wear sneakers.

  • There are interactive exhibits with arts and crafts including paint.  Make sure your kids aren’t wearing their Sunday best.

  • Snacks and drinks are welcome.  The main lawn will have food trucks and vendors starting at 11am.  Bring a blanket and have a picnic in the park or use the picnic tables in the Orlando Shake courtyard or tables behind the Fire Museum.  

  • Kids Fringe is FREE but the Orlando Fringe is a non-profit organization that puts together this amazing festival.  If you would like to support their efforts, give here.

Orlando Fringe is the longest running Fringe Festival in the United States.  It is a unique and wonderful part of the arts scene in Central Florida. Support local arts and artists by going to Fringe and seeing wonderful art of all kinds!


Tiny Tourist: What To Do When It's Hot or Rainy in Orlando


Motherhood is filled with dichotomies that make life so hard and simultaneously so wonderful.  I count down to the weekends that aren’t booked with plans. When they finally arrive I try not to freak out while we move from room to room making messes at home trying to fill the day.  I’ve realized that with my littles I have to have a plan. We need activities to get us going in the morning so there are fewer meltdowns. Mainly from me. The kids enjoy the little things.  And remind us to do so as well.

Since having kids life has been a walk in the park.  Literally, every weekend we find ourselves walking at the park.  It’s the perfect morning activity. We schedule a playground and walking visit between naps and let the kids burn off their energy.  Add in meals, maybe a special trip for ice cream, and a visit with friends or family and bam your day is complete. So when the summer heats up, things get difficult.  

We have to get creative here in Central Florida how we spend our very long hot days.  Our morning trips to the park still happen though much earlier and a bit shorter. But wait you say, I’m forgetting one very important factor...the rain?  Yes, there’s that too. Dichotomies, they’re everywhere. So we spend long summer days alternating between unrelenting heat and downpouring rain. Creativity reigns in keeping our little ones happy and us parents sane. We have a few go-to’s that always make for a great day.

One of our favorite local indoor activities is the Orlando Science Center.  New expansions in Kids Town mean there’s even more to do and even our very little guy can enjoy it.  For us, there’s no better place to beat the heat. We also take refuge watching children’s theater offerings at Orlando Shakes and the Orlando Rep.  All three of these places are located in beautiful Loch Haven Park. If you can stand it, and if it’s not raining, it’s a great place for a walk and a picnic before you head inside.  Afterward, we always take advantage of our proximity to Audubon Park and head over to Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream or Gideon’s Bakehouse (inside East End Market) for a treat.

On the days the rain has started long before we wake we make the most of our time inside.  I cover the dining room table in kraft paper, bust out paints and stamps and let my daughter unleash her creative genius.  I’m amazed that she can sit there for an hour before boredom sets in. Paints are quickly replaced with playdough, then necklace making, and when she’s done with every craft I can think of I tag-in her dad who suggests they make a gigantic fort in the playroom.

My daughter monitors the rain all throughout the day.  She’s hoping for it to stop only after gigantic puddles have formed in the street.  She knows once it stops she can throw on her boots and jump in muddy puddles. To her, it’s the perfect ending to any summer day.

Our summer days are long, the messes are huge, but the years will be short.  As my kids grow they’ll look less to us for their entertainment and turn to their tech devices (or so I’m told).  For now, I soak up all the dichotomies, the sun and the rain, the homemade pictures painted just for me, and the mud-soaked ice cream stained clothes piling up in the laundry after a well spent day.  


Tiny Tourist: Bok Tower Gardens

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The minute the sweltering summer heat started to let up, I began planning outdoor adventures for our family.  The fact is, Bok Tower Gardens has been on my list for years.  It always seemed too far and I wasn’t quite sure what was out there.  Rest assured, it’s worth the drive.  

A little history on the Gardens, Edward Bok came to the States from the Netherlands as a child.  His family spent their winters in Florida, in Lake Wales.  As he grew up he became a mega successful publisher, Pulitzer-Prize winning author, and humanitarian.  In 1929 he purchased the land that is now Bok Tower Gardens and made a beautiful sanctuary.   The Gardens, oh the gardens with lush tropical beauty and winding paths that felt like they stretched forever.  But it was really a quick walk from place to place, super important with the kiddos!  There’s also the Singing Tower Carillon, a huge bell tower that plays gorgeous music that echoes through all the gardens.  And you can buy a ticket to Pinewood Estate, a historic home on property with scheduled tours running throughout the day.

Aside from all this, there’s a special area just for the kids.  Hammock Hollow Children’s Garden was a little nature wonderland.  Nature wasn’t just the backdrop but the forefront for the kids to explore their curiosity and creativity.  There was a sandbox, giant spider web climbing structure, wooden instruments, arts and crafts tables, an outdoor dress-up theater, and a rustic pioneer kitchen play space.  I know what you’re thinking, I have all this stuff at home and at the park by my house.  And to that I say, yes you do.  But do you have it in a gorgeous nature sanctuary that you will swear transports you to Colorado or some other fabulous non-Florida feeling place?  No, no you don’t.   The kids spent hours exploring and running around.  They would’ve spent hours more but the adults were getting hungry.  Conveniently, there’s a restaurant on site, the Blue Palmetto Cafe that was quite delicious.

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We spent four hours at the Gardens and I know we only scratched the surface of what Bok Tower has to offer.  With kids or without this is an awesome place for a day trip.  

Note:  Bok Tower Gardens is part of the Reciprocal Member Program with Leu Gardens, Orange County Regional History Center, Polasek Sculpture Gardens, Central Florida Zoo, and Art & History Center Maitland so check and see what discount or free admission this provides you!  Be smart, don’t wait to learn this after the fact when you’re writing a blog post.

Tiny Tourist: Quick Trip to DeLand


Parenting can lead you to some interesting paradoxes.  I’m terrified of taking my kids on long trips but I also cannot under any circumstance stay trapped in the house with my kids all day.  It leads to meltdowns.  Obviously theirs, but also mine.  So into the car we go.  But where?  We’ve always loved to go on road trips and explore Florida but just need the trips to be a little quicker.  And so we call them quick trips - anywhere we can travel in a day and back in time for the kids to sleep in their own beds.

Recently we took a trip to Volusia County to explore DeLand and just a little bit beyond.  You might not realize it but Volusia has awesome adventures waiting for you. Beautiful springs and a slice of Old Florida living. DeLand is an official main street district and just past DeLand you'll find beloved state parks and a few other curious attractions.  For Orlando locals this is the perfect staycation idea, grab your stuff and go!


Don’t miss:

Barberville Pioneer Settlement  1776 Lightfoot Ln, Barberville, FL 32105

Take a trip back in time to this historic village.  Tucked away in western Volusia County, the settlement boasts restored buildings and historic artifacts of all kinds.  On site you'll find a traditional log cabin, post office, church, school house, railroad depot, country store, and much more!  

Blue Springs  2100 W. French Avenue, Orange City, FL 32763

This beautiful state park is one of the reminders of what makes Florida truly special.  The park has a large natural spring which keeps the water at 73 degrees during swimming season and is a manatee refuge.  You can see hundreds of manatees in the spring during manatee season (mid-November to mid-March).  If you plan to make this part of your trip, please plan accordingly.  This is a favorite destination for many and the park often reaches capacity.  Make this your first stop and get there early.

DeLand Wings  Pill Alley DeLand, FL 32720

A must-stop spot for photos and social media updates.  The wings, by artist Erica Group, are located behind the Dressed Boutique (108 S Woodland Blvd. DeLand, Florida 32720)

To read more about Tiny Tourist's Quick Trip to DeLand and to download your own Quick Trip Guide, click here



Dana Nichols is an exhausted mommy of two, but she’s enjoying every moment. Dana is the founder of Momlando which inspires and unites moms (And dads!) in Central Florida. Dana knows parenting is fun, extraordinary, hard, and exhausting all at once. Momlando captures ways to make it manageable and memorable.


Leu Gardens: LEGO Bricks and Botanicals in Audubon Park

"Just as LEGO pieces interconnect, everything in nature is interconnected in a delicate balance. Insects and plants have important relationships; different species of animals have connections with their families just like we do."

Leu Gardens has a very special event happening called Nature Connects and it involves over 450,000 LEGO Bricks. Artist Sean Kenney is a self-proclaimed professional kid and he uses LEGO Bricks to create contemporary sculpture. This traveling exhibition has been touring the world since 2012 and truly is an incredible sight to see. 

It's available here in Orlando until April 22, 2018 so be sure to visit before it moves on. Brendan and I took a walk through the garden and saw every single one of Kenney's creatures. Did you know:

  • Over 464,770 LEGO Bricks were used for the exhibit.

  • There are 16 sculptures, so grab a map to find them all.

  • It took Kenney over 4,500 hours to build all the sculptures.


Be sure to look up!