With summer on the horizon, there is no doubt that tourists and Florida locals are excited to travel and explore all that the sunshine state has to offer in 2021. Known as one of the first for re-opening (safely) and advancing towards a post-pandemic infrastructure; state officials, hoteliers, small business owners, and theme park executives seem confident that the state is ready for the comeback. With a rich culture rooted and fueled by its hotel and tourism industry, a safe reopening is seemingly critical in helping to move the needle on unemployment rates as well as allowing small businesses and the attractions to thrive again.
Whether a tourist or a local Floridian, you might still have apprehensions about how to safely get out and about, and unsure of where to go for reassurance. Without a user-friend tool serving up solutions on where/when/how to go, it can feel cumbersome to plan even the simplest day out.
This gap in resources is exactly what sparked the need for the inception of The Florida Comeback, a social media platform crafted to do just that. The creators, four Orlando hospitality and tourism professionals, combined efforts to build out an experience-driven tutorial in the form of an Instagram account. The account is hyperfocused on helping both tourists and locals confidently navigate ways to explore our diversified landscape and enticing infrastructure.
Aubrey Gregg, Nora Arezina, Ilia Melendez and Adilen Perez are the four Central Florida friends that dreamed up the forward-thinking Instagram page, as this scenario hit home for each of them after being furloughed from their hospitality careers in March 2020. As the industry appeared to be seemingly dismantled overnight, these seasoned event professionals all found themselves heartbroken watching everything close, and felt a calling to do something to help our community. It was during a meeting of the minds with a bottle or two of wine, that The Florida Comeback was born!
When you visit their Instagram page, you will find a library curated by the personal experiences of each of these dynamic ladies. The highlights on their page are conveniently sorted by cities, experiences, outdoor adventures and they even have a new highlight titled "Come Back to Work", where they post hospitality jobs. The guides’ page is organized by similar attractions or location categories. As you would expect, they have a theme park guide, restaurant guide, and things to do guide - each by city, and vetted with their feedback and guidance.
"We want to be known for our detailed and trustworthy content that leads to great experiences for our followers.”
Recently, they've joined forces with H&F Redefined, a community-based platform that promotes the new ventures of furloughed and laid-off professionals. The brands have partnered on and act as a referral source for one another’s initiatives. Together, they can help grow awareness about the importance of getting out into our communities safely, and shining light on the resilient personal stories of the people behind each small business.
The complimentary brands united with a creative "Design Your Day in South Orlando" concept, offering a simple guide of local hotspots to help take the guesswork out of planning your own experience in our local area.
Follow along with their recommendations for a designed day out in Lake Nona:
1.) Get Moving at Lake Laureate: Start your morning off right with a walk through the Laureate Park Trail. These beautiful trails are the perfect way to begin a day in Lake Nona and capture some fresh air.
2.) Grab Your AM Go-To at Vanessa’s Coffee Shop: This locally owned shop is the second location in Central Florida and they opened in Lake Nona on January 23rd, 2020. They are a cozy coffee shop with delectable pastries, delicious breakfast items, and decadent coffee. Try the Coconut Matcha Latte with Almond Milk. Or, if you are sharing with someone, order a large and ask for them to split into two cups. A must try: Birthday Pancakes, a kids pancake with fruit & chocolate cake. Check out their social media page for seasonal drinks!
3.) Socialize Over Brunch at Canvas: Canvas has become a favorite in Lake Nona, as they showcase new American Cuisine, and use local seasonal ingredients. Their influences are a mix of Florida’s Southern & Latin American. They also have a variety of Florida craft beers and Tavistock Wine Collection. They are always creative and feature new seasonal dishes. Canvas is recommended for any dining occasion, but the weekend brunch with friends or family is a can't miss. Try the Chilaquiles, Toasted Cubano, Blank Canvas Burger & of course make sure you enjoy their bottomless mimosas. To top it off, they have an amazing patio with beautiful views of the Lake.
4.) Stroll the Art Walk Lake Nona: You'll find vibrant color in the art that is featured throughout the local parks, restaurants, and buildings as you take a walk through the Lake Nona Town Center. Anchored by beautiful pieces and sculptures created by Florida-based artists, Jefre and Carissa Bloemeke.
5.) Pop-In For a PM Snack or Drink at Boxi Park: It's the best location to spend an afternoon with friends, family, or your significant other. They have entertainment for everyone and live music on the weekends. From a drink at La Caijta to some delicious tacos at Cañonita Street Taqueria. It is the perfect spot for some downtime in the middle of a busy day. They have different events throughout the year, so make sure you check their calendar for any upcoming events.
6.) Pause for Some Pampering at Beau Salon & Spa: This modern, chic salon and spa is the perfect place to get your nails done, or for relaxation to enjoy solo and/or with friends.
7.) Ready for the Evening? You've got options:
- Looking for a Casual Night Out? Park Pizza & Brewing Company in Lake Nona is the perfect location for delicious wood-fired pizza and house-brewed beers. We recommend you start with the Dough Poppers, Truffle Shuffle Pizza paired with a delicious Blonde Ale - Hoppy Blonde Beer. If you are unsure on which beers to try, order their beer flight. This place has something for everyone, a big variety of homebrew beers and you can also create your own pizza.
- Prefer to get Active? Drive Shack - This is the perfect place, especially with a group. Here you can have fun and enjoy a terrific cocktail and appetizer. We recommend the Elderflower Gin Smash cocktail with their shareable Charcuterie Tray. Cheers, sip, and tee off your evening all in one place.
- Craving a Stylish Date Night? You must try Chroma Modern Bar & Kitchen, located in the heart of the Lake Nona Town Center. Chroma is a fun place to enjoy small plates and their menu is colorful and inventive. A few favorites include; Flash-Fried Goat Cheese, Guava and Goat Cheese Flatbread, Wild Tuna Poke, Charred Shishito Peppers & the Chroma Burgers. Pair any of the amazing menu items with a glass of the Tavistock Reserve Wines. For that sweet finish, try Butterscotch Bread Pudding with Caramel Ice Cream or their mini desserts which are perfect if you want to try more than one.
The Florida Comeback recommends signing up for the Preferred Loyalty Card to be used at Canvas, Chroma, Park Pizza & Brewing Co.
So, are you ready to help be part of the comeback?