You mean there was life in Central Florida before the theme parks? Yes, Virginia. And there’s a Santa Claus, too. You may not find him at Fort Christmas Historical Park – but you can get your holiday cards stamped at the town of Christmas post office before visiting this fascinating replica of an 1830s fort, along with several homes (filled with actual artifacts and personal effects) that teach visitors exactly what live was like here in the days of the pioneers, when open windows in your “Cracker” house constituted central air. Fort Christmas’ location outside the city proper allows for woodland exploration, as well. Bring your hiking boots just in case. If urban museums are more your speed, check out downtown Orlando's Orange County Regional History Center. Housed in a beautiful, historic building, permanent installations teach much about life in Florida’s way-waaaaay back while rotating exhibits feature everything from history to pop culture to intriguing amalgams of both. In the vein of the traditional art museum, you may want to visit the Orlando Museum of Art or Winter Park’s beautiful Charles Hosmer Morse Museum, where the world’s largest collection of Tiffany works awaits your oohs and aaahs. Just a few steps from there you’ll find the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens and Rollins College’s lovely Cornell Fine Arts Museum, both exceptional venues for content as well as lovely locations. Weather permitting, either one is ideal for an outdoor amble.
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