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Brunch & a Beep to Boxi

HOW TO MAXIMIZE A COVETED GIRLS DAY OUT IN LAKE NONA

Article by Laura Hartmann

Photography by Laura Hartmann, Canvas Restaurant and Tavistock Group

Once and a while, the stars align within a tight-knit girlfriend group where everyone's schedules seem to magically synch for the first time in weeks, sometimes months, and you land on THE date. Ladies, you know which date I mean, it's the coveted BRUNCH date. Somehow between your careers, traveling, family celebrations, holidays, extra-curricular activities, errands, casseroles, and laundry, you make it work after multiple group text attempts that have had the best intentions but never panned out.

Most likely the text thread has been radio silent for a while, as everyone is exhausted at checking their schedules until one random day one of you grows a wild hair and suggests a date once again only to find this time a bit more success. One by one, each participant is grabbing their planners, texting their husbands, pulling up their to-do lists, and then suddenly the typing "bubbles" transition into one YES after another.

You almost all can't believe it. Just getting the spouses to agree to all-day childcare so you can participate is a feat in its self, much less actually landing on a day where everyone can join.

Yes, I said ALL DAY childcare. When this much effort is put into the date selection process, it should be assumed the outing is going to be an all-day affair. It doesn't happen often, so it's got to be a goodie.

So as the days or sometimes weeks carry on, this date becomes the beacon of light at the end of the tunnel that you each depend on as that mental reminder on the tough days that, YES, there is that brunch coming up. YES, there is a fun day coming up.

"Suck it up, and stay focused," you tell yourself.

In fact, there is often so much excitement surrounding the idea of getting out of your house, (without kids), laughing amongst friends, and enjoying bottomless bubbles or the trendiest foodie finds, that you forget there is more work to be done to make this a reality. Now, most likely your outfit was styled and set aside in your closet the same day the date was picked...however...

Where you are going to GO? Not to mention, who's taking the lead, who's making reservations, and who just wants to be told when/where to show up?

My girlfriends and I find ourselves in this scenario, often, because we've learned that the above dynamic about the date selection process is REAL. So when we do get the chance to make it work, we want it to be that perfect day. We want it to be a day that offers options for us to transition or hop to nearby scenes, or allow for a change of pace throughout the course of the afternoon. We want it to be safe, approachable, and never overcomplicated.

So where DO you go? My last brunch experience was pretty close to perfect, met all of the above criteria, and could definitely be considered a great model to replicate for those in the Orlando area to follow. Especially if you are near the Lake Nona area of town, or want to spend time exploring this part of our city that is absolutely EXPLODING with growth and ingenuity. Side note, just taking a drive through Lake Nona these days is awe-inspiring and highly recommended.

Back to BRUNCH

Here is your playbook for your next outing:

Start with the actual brunch at Canvas Restaurant & Market. Be sure to call ahead and make reservations, especially on the weekends. This restaurant continues to grow in popularity due to the coffee market, bottomless bubbles, sangria, open-air lake views, hip industrial artsy decor, and a menu that is hyper-focused on seasonal, regionally sourced produce and fresh fish.

Their American cuisine menu offers a full range of approachable offerings with clever and unexpected flavor profiles that are nothing short of enticing. As someone who appreciates a Chef that is not afraid to take risks, I have to say this is one of the first restaurant menus I've seen in a while, that genuinely had me stumped on what to order. This is a great problem for a restaurant to have because now THIS customer is going to return over and over until she eats her way through every item that is calling her name.

Sweet Tea Crispy Chicken anyone? Or how about Brisket and Short Rib Meatballs? Strawberry Shortcake French Toast? Or wait for it, The Black Canvas Burger with enhancement options to add pork belly, fried egg, bacon, or truffle aioli.

Yes please to ALL! And those aren't even the seafood dishes that they specialize in.

Their cocktail game is pretty impressive on its own. I'm typically a pretty harsh critic of the beverage programs at restaurants and Canvas did not let me down. Again, so many intriguing handcrafted cocktails to select from like their Jalapeno Margarita, Rose' Spritzer, Strawberry Bourbon Lemonade, and their Dusk 2 Dawn incorporating cold brew coffee with Scotch and orange curacao. They have a lovely wine list as well, and I appreciated the whites and rose's having their own section, with more than 1 Provencal rose' to select from. Choices!

Regardless of what you select to eat and drink, I'm quite confident you won't be disappointed, and you'll find plenty of variety for a brunch group to be pleased with.

So once you've ravenously noshed, the liquid has been flowing, and you've all completed your personal life updates; it's typical to begin transitioning into a "where's the music?" mindset. Have no fear, the second half of your day is just a beep away. No literally, a BEEP. Found at the entrance of Canvas, your group can hop into one of these ingenious automated vehicles, that route all over the Lake Nona area. These driverless, electric mobility, and passenger shuttle solutions, are such a great option for letting you move around the area to experience another venue, without driving, especially when drinking is in play. Jump into the BEEP, take few fun group pics, put some music on and enjoy the ride...Boxi Park is where you are headed next.

When you arrive at your destination, it's time to play. Here you can enjoy an outdoor food festival setting with live music, and a variety of afternoon snack options, treats, and bar offerings served from outdoor counter-style restaurants. Throughout the park, you'll find various types of seating styles allowing you to determine the formality of the outing, as well as a recently expanded kids playground area. You'll want to make a mental note to bring them next time. In general, Boxi Park is the perfect hub to settle in to, call your home base, and allow you and your girlfriends the chance to enjoy the music, frolic around as you'd like, split up safely, enjoy the outdoors, and know that it's all accessible to clean restrooms. Overall, you'll enjoy having a general feeling of local culture in the air.

When you are ready to head home, you can safely Uber from there or jump back into a BEEP to start routing yourself home, dreaming of your next brunch day.

Remember, easy, breezy is key so there is more time spent laughing, catching up, hopefully dancing, and less time in "operation" mode. Next time you land on the coveted date, be the hero, take the lead, and suggest brunch and a BEEP to Boxi.

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