🎒Pack your bags, Orlando — we're roadtrippin'
Plus, tell me what you really think about the proposed sidewalk moratorium for downtown.
By Katie Johnston
It’s Friday folks, and today, we're breaking down what's going on downtown with the proposed sidewalk moratorium that would close sidewalk cafes (aka no boozing or eating on the street) at 10 p.m., talking about the new Pulse exhibit at the history center, and the tax holiday that starts today. But first, did you know that it's National Road Trip Day? The holiday always falls on the Friday before Memorial Day, typically when the kids are out of school and families are looking to travel because it's a three-day weekend.
Yesterday, we shared a few ideas for short road trips from Orlando (pictured below) and then we asked for your own recommendations. Here’s what you had to say. (And by the way, here’s theCDC's info on travel.)
Mary O.: Well, since you've already included St Pete why not Tampa too? There are so many cool things to do including my favorite, Two Shepherds Taproom — a fun excursion for you and your pup. They can play in the large, outside, open area or air-conditioned inside play area while you enjoy beer or wine from one of their many taps featuring local breweries. Can't forget the rotating food trucks as well! To find other dog-friendly things to do in Tampa, check out Fetch Social. Just a short drive from Orlando, Tampa could be a fun-filled day not only for you but your pup too!
Heather J.: My awesome road trip suggestion is Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, and you must visit Spook Hill on your way in or out.
Kelly L.: My favorite places to road trip from Orlando are Key West (especially when everything turns into one road 😄) for its absolutely stunning sunsets, friendly folks, AMAZING food (I highly recommend Blue Heaven, and Moondog Cafe); Miami for Wynwood Walls, South Beach, art festivals; and Ft. Lauderdale for the Jungle Queen dinner cruise and sightseeing.
If these ideas don't pique your interest, please write in and tell me what does, wouldya? I wanna know all of your must-see road trip recs just in case I can get away this summer. 😉
Whether you're driving for one hour (Kennedy Space Center) or almost two (St. Pete, St. Augustine, Crystal River), Orlando is only a hop, skip, and a jump away from history, manatees, outer space, and the beach. There aren't many cities that can claim that. 📸: Pulptown illustration | Wanna see your photo here? Tag either #pulptown or @pulptown on Instagram to be featured as our IG of the Day!
What Orlando is talking about
The city of Orlando wants to crack down on downtown Orlando’s “street party” atmosphere and has a number of potential recommendations on how to do that, starting with cutting out outdoor dining between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m.
There’s been an uptick in gun-related incidents compared to this time last year — a 23% increase to be exact from January to May. With that said, it was March of 2020 when the city started its first pandemic-related lockdown. Florida’s been pretty wide open for months now.
The city council voted in favor of several policies last week including pulling permits for sidewalk cafes, an initiative started mid-2020 in hopes of reviving the economy and encouraging people to dine outdoors while keeping a safe distance. In addition to reducing outdoor dining options, the city is allocating an extra $800,000 for “crime prevention strategies” such as more cameras and more bike patrol.
There’s a collective group of hospitality stakeholders who want the city to consider other measures before instating the proposed “sidewalk moratorium”. And my question to you is, what would you do if you were in charge? What ideas do you have that would help cut down on crime while also supporting our local nightlife?
I’m all ears. And if you’re willing, I’d love to share your thoughts with said stakeholders and with the city. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line: Here’s what I would do.
In other news…
🌈 “Community: Five Years After the Pulse Tragedy” debuts tomorrow at the history center. The exhibit marks five years since the Pulse nightclub shooting that happened June 12, 2016, and examines how communities of all kinds were touched both locally and across the globe. The exhibit will be on display through Aug. 15 and admission is free June 5-13. There’s also a lunch-and-learn set for June 4. (Orange County Regional History Center)
😷 The state just had its fifth straight day of less than 3,000 new reported COVID-19 cases. Florida added 2,338 coronavirus cases on Thursday and recorded 86 more fatalities from the coronavirus. Meanwhile, 2,065 Floridians are currently hospitalized. (Orlando Sentinel)
💓 A local teenager is making headlines yet again for his kindness and generosity. Last month, Evan Mathura, a senior and president of the chess club at Windermere High School, donated 100 chess sets to local nonprofit Embrace Families. He’s since donated 550 chess sets to kids across Central Florida and has no plans of stopping. He wants to give chess sets to kids across the country. Donate to his GoFundMe here. (Fox 35)
CeCe Teneal wants us to reconnect
Local community activist CeCe Teneal is at it again. The superbly talented singer and performer is hosting this weekend’s “Reconnect: A Community Soul Festival” at the Dr. Phillips Center’s Frontyard Festival. It’s happening tonight at 8 p.m., and you’re invited.
CeCe is a Central Florida native and international award-winning recording artist who fiercely loves the City Beautiful. You might recognize her from her Aretha Franklin Tribute Show that debuted at the center back in 2016. After the tough year, we’ve all been through, CeCe said that she wanted to bring the community back together and she intends to do so through the universal language of music.
“After COVID, I felt like people needed a night out to remind them of a semblance of normalcy. I also wanted to provide a platform where artists/musicians/dancers could reconnect with their art since we were marginalized during the pandemic. We all need an outlet. This is it.”
Like jazz? R&B? Soul? Me too. Tickets start at $20 and you can secure a box for you and three to four of your friends.
Grab your ticket here and if you’re looking for additional information about the event, head to ReconnectOrlando.com.
Oh, and stay tuned: CeCe has a new single “Never Too Much” with her band Soul Kamotion coming out soon, June 11 to be exact, and she plans to continue touring with her Aretha Franklin Tribute Show.