Planning a Turkey Day getaway to Orlando? You’ll be thankful you did. There’s a cornucopia of tasty delights, shopping deals, hotel specials and fun events to enjoy this #Thanksgiving. Your Turkey Dinner cravings will be satisfied this Thanksgiving in Orlando. Just come hungry!
Thanksgiving Dinner Options
Whether you’re looking for an intimate dinner for two or celebrating with the whole family, Orlando’s most scrumptious restaurants and luxurious hotels that are offering Thanksgiving dining options where there’s something for everyone! But make your reservations early – you’ll thank us later.
- Visit our list of Thanksgiving Brunches, Dinners and Activities in Orlando 2017
Are you looking for that special dinner out with the family, where the food, atmosphere and fun are the main attractions? In Orlando, there are many restaurants that are a feast on the eyes, as well as the taste buds – and serve up plenty of entertainment!
- Visit our list of Family-Friendly Restaurants in Orlando.
Shop ‘Till You Drop
Discover a shopper’s paradise, starting on Black Friday, like no other destination. Retail therapy and unbelievable values are never far from reach this holiday season among Orlando’s quaint boutiques and expansive shopping malls. And discover unique boutiques and holiday gifts along Park Avenue in Winter Park.
- Visit our list of Shopping in Orlando.
Dine, Shop & Stay
One of the biggest shopping days of the year is almost here and if you’re looking for the perfect gift for yourself or for that special someone, shopping in Orlando can be a joyous delight. But even if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, there’s no reason to get your tinsel in a tangle. Our Orlando shopping expert, Melanie Pace, has provided her top tips for a more enjoyable, less-stressful shopping experience.
- Visit our list of 5 Tips for Holiday Shopping in Orlando by Melanie Pace.
Thanksgiving Weekend Events
The holiday weekend in Orlando also has a full plate of family fun events.
Hundreds of vehicles will be showcased during the Central Florida International Auto Show during Thanksgiving weekend.
The Seniors First Turkey Trot 5k is a Thanksgiving tradition in downtown Orlando that is a must-see!
Holiday Harbor Nights at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
Kick off the holiday season at our popular food and wine event from 6:30 pm – 9 pm. Enjoy select wines and sparkling wines, expertly prepared gourmet foods and live music, plus the grand illumination of Portofino’s Christmas tree and more on the picturesque Harbor Piazza. General admission $50 ($55 at the door), VIP $85 (online only). Purchase tickets online at LoewsHotels.tix.com.
There are currently four locations in Florida, with locations in Orlando, Bonita Springs, Jacksonville Beach and Tampa, but the first Roy’s was opened in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1988 by namesake Roy Yamaguchi. Currently there are 20 Roy’s restaurants in the continental United States, six in Hawaii, one in Japan and one in Guam.
Culinary pioneer and Roy’s founder Roy Yamaguchi was born in Tokyo. It was while visiting his grandparents on Maui that he had his first taste of seafood bought fresh at seaside piers that would shape his future career.
At 19, he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in New York as a master chef and moved to Los Angeles where he served as executive chef at La Serene. After gaining invaluable experience in LA, Roy decided it was time to head closer to his roots. He moved to Hawaii and opened the first Roy’s in 1988, and eventually became a James Beard award winner.
Although, aside from six locations in Hawaii, and a location in Guam, Roy did sell the remainder of his locations and sold the brand. The rest of the restaurants that have been sold are doing a great job of upholding the style and techniques that Roy instilled in his original fusion cuisine at his original Roy’s in Honolulu in 1988.
The food here blends classic techniques with adventurous Pacific Rim flavors, and outstanding seafood selections with great cocktails and an even better wine selection. Everything from Sushi to fried spring rolls is on the starter menu and a wide variety of seafood selections to braised short ribs of beef can be had for your entree selections.
As they lifted the dirt with their shovels, the group of Wedgefield residents felt that a 10-year wait was finally at an end. Their neighborhood was getting a school.
“It’s not just talk anymore. It’s not just a dream. It’s really happening,” says school supporter and Wedgefield resident Joel Thaw. At least one of his two grandsons will likely attend the new K-8 school that has begun #construction in their neighborhood.
Established in 1962 as “Rocket City,” a planned development midway between Orlando and the Space Coast, Wedgefield took a while to boom. Plans for a school or two in the neighborhood started about a decade ago, but then the recession hit. There weren’t enough children in the neighborhood to fill two schools.
Reacting to parent concerns, the Orange County School Board decided to build a K-8 school on a 52-acre parcel on Bancroft Boulevard that was originally planned as a middle school.
Students have been taking bus rides of up to 45 minutes to get to Columbia Elementary or Corner Lake Middle, which face overcrowding issues.
When the new plans faced opposition from a small group of neighbors, supporters mobilized.
“My kids are super proud of me for working for something that is going to be part of our community,” says parent and Wedgefield resident Evelyn Perez. She was among the organizers, helping order and distribute hundreds of blue T-shirts that read “Wedgefield K-8 School 2016.”
At least 200 people attended community meetings and shared notes online in support of the school.
And on June 27, it was time to celebrate.
At least 80 parents, children and members of the community gathered on the construction site. The ground was marked by tire tracks from heavy equipment, and stakes were in the ground where the concrete slab of the school will go.
“In Wedgefield, we don’t really have anything that brings us together,” Perez says. A school will provide that focus, she says. “Our kids are going to be there together and get even closer.”
She credited Orange County Public Schools for “going above and beyond” to serve the community and address concerns.
School Board Member Joie Cadle and County Commissioner Ted Edwards spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony, and residents filled out commemorative postcards that students at the new school will read at a dedication ceremony. Commemorative coins marked the date.
The 138,730-square-foot school, which is set to be ready in time for school in August 2016, will have classroom space for about 1,030 students. It will include two multi-story classroom buildings, a light-filled media center, a gym, cafeteria, art and music labs and 21st-century digital technology throughout. The colors and textures inside the school will be inspired by the natural habitat.
The name, mascot and principal will be decided sometime next year.
By Lauren Roth, senior manager of facilities communications for Orange County Public Schools
Metro Orlando rents spiked by as much as 15 percent during a year-long period when rents nationally declined, making Central Florida less affordable than some California markets, including Sacramento, a new report shows.
The biggest jump in rental rates hit smaller units. An influx of new #luxury complexes filled with one-bedroom units pushed up the average rental on those apartments by 15 percent from a year ago and 5 percent from a month earlier, reaching an average $1,170, according to research released Tuesday by the analytics firm Zumper. Household income in Metro #Orlando rose 1.2 percent during that period, the federal government reported.
Rosalinda Hernandez, 60, works as a bill collector and lives with her mother in the east Orlando area. She said she keeps a close watch on the apartment market and finds no property managers offering discounts.
“If you don’t have someone to live with, you can’t make it,” she said.
For landlords, the region has been identified as a standout for its rising rents.
Brian Alford, market economist for the CoStar Group, said Orlando’s annual rent growth is one of the best in the nation. The four-county area had fourth highest year-over-year rent gains among the nation’s top 54 metro areas, he said.
“Orlando has seen rent growth across both luxury and workforce housing, which is not the norm,” he said.
The boost in prices repositions the Metro Orlando area from a region considered affordable to one where renters have to search harder to find deals. Apartments with two bedrooms rose at about half the rate of one-bedroom rentals and averaged $1,290 in October.
While rents in Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Lake counties rose by double-digit amounts from a year earlier, rents nationally declined by about 1 percent.
The Orlando area’s rent hikes come even as thousands of new units are rolling onto the market with 4,500 new apartments added in October, according to ALN Apartment Data.
Within the region, Clermont appeared to have one of the lower occupancy rates with less than 90 percent of units filled while the Eustis/Leesburg and DeLand areas appeared to have a shortage of rentals with virtually no units available in September, ALN reported. In the University of Central Florida area, east Orlando and Oviedo had an occupancy rate of 94 percent.
Tenants renting houses in the Orlando region did not escape the spike with those rents rising more than 4 percent in September, which was higher than the increases of 3.5 percent nationally, according to Morningstar. Higher rents don’t seem to be scaring away tenants with vacancy rates of 4.8 percent in September, which was down slightly from a year earlier. Nationally, vacancy rates for rental houses were 5.9 percent.
Looking ahead, conditions are unlikely to improve for renters with an influx of prospective renters following hurricanes, said Ryan Coon, an author who writes on landlord issues..
“We’re continuing the see rents climb in Orlando, especially as the housing market remains tight post-Irma,” Coon said. “This trend bodes well for landlords looking to invest in the area.”
Taste! Central Florida Orlando’s annual premier culinary event took place August 19th at the Orlando World Marriott Center. While this is the 27th year for the annual foodie event this is the first year the event went all local. The name changed and with the focus on local, the proceeds are all local this year as well. 100% of the funds will be used to fight hunger in Central Florida. I applaud the vendors, volunteers, and the guests who came out to support the cause.
The Orlando World Marriott Center donates the event space each year. This is a huge event! There are over forty restaurants and food vendors along with 20+ beverage sponsors! If you can’t make the event you can still bid on some great prizes!
While this is considered the “foodie” event to go to in Orlando, I love all the drink options as much!
The Taste is four hours long. That’s a lot of eating and drinking! I covered a lot of ground, but I still missed out on so much amazing food and drink. Here are some of the drinks I sampled and enjoyed that evening.
Orange Blossom Brewing Co. is always setting up their fun tasty tap car. I’ve been coming to the event for the last four years. This year I decided to take advantage of the great rate they were offering attendees. Hubs and I got there early enough to enjoy a drink at the pool beforehand. 🍹 This may have set precedent on how my evening would go.
Disney Springs is adding to its menu of Italian eateries.
Patina Restaurant Group, owners of Morimoto Asia, announced today that they will open Enzo’s Hideaway and Pizza Ponte, early next year. As we previously reported, the group is also opening the traditional Italian trattoria, Maria & Enzo’s in the same complex.
A statement released by the group describes Enzo’s Hideaway as a “Roman- aperitivo-inspired” speakeasy that pays homage to #Florida‘s rum running history.
The prohibition theme extends to Maria and Enzo’s, connecting to the restaurant through the building’s rum-running tunnels. Expect foods like Bucatini alla Carbonara, a hollow spaghetti with creamy egg dish with pancetta sauce and Tonnarelli Cacio e Pepe, square-cut spaghetti with pecorino and black pepper.
Pizza Ponte, on the other hand, is a “fast-casual concept” that will offer savory and sweet options from Sicilian-style pizza by the slice, Triangolo (stuffed pizza bread) and Bomboloni Italian doughnuts, to Sfoglia di Riso rice cream pastry and a classic Tiramisu.
The new #restaurants also come with the group’s development of The Edison, a “Industrial Gothic” style bar and restaurant expected to open by the end of 2017.
The company confirmed to Orlando Weekly that they will open Friday, Oct. 20. Topgolf won’t be taking reservations for large groups until Oct. 30.
For the unfamiliar, Topgolf is basically a three-floor modern driving range that allows guests to smack microchipped golf balls at targets, while relaxing in a full-service booth area. So, in a way, it’s the best parts of golf and the best parts of staying in the clubhouse.
Topgolf is located at 9295 Universal Blvd., next to Andretti Indoor Karting & Games.
October 2017 is an exciting month for Central Florida foodies, with special dinners and food festivals happening all month long. In addition to the extension of Visit #Orlando’s Magical Dining Month, many places are celebrating Oktoberfest and National Taco Day, as well. Here are some of the great food and drink events you might want to check out:
Epcot International Food and Wine Festival at Epcot, Walt Disney World This annual event offers a literal dine around the world experience with kiosks representing different countries offer up native food and beverage samples. Samples run from $3 to $8 on average, in addition to park admission. Read our Epcot Food & Wine preview for more information.
OCTOBER 16 Bubbly & Cabernet at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Winter Park oct 16 Cost: $45 per person for Members/ $55 per person for Non-Members Hosted by Women for Winesense Central #Florida, this tasting of exceptional wines will be paired paired with some of the group’s favorite hors d’oeuvres from Ruth’s Chris chefs.
OCTOBER 17 Food For Thought Tour at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Orlando Cost: Free During this one-hour information session you will learn more about who is hungry in our community and then take a walking tour of the food bank to see how they operate. A light lunch follows, prepared by the Second Harvest kitchen. It is free to attend, and good for the soul.
Port & Chocolate Tasting at Texas de Brazil, Orlando Cost: $45 Start off the evening with the Port of Manhattan Martini and signature Texas de Brazil appetizers followed by special pairings of the Taylor Fladgate family and chocolate. This special event will be led by port and chocolate representatives, so be ready for an evening of enjoyment and education. Texas de Brazil will be donating $40 for each ticket sold to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Relief Efforts.
OCTOBER 18 Chef’s Night Series feat. Primetime Kitchen at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Orlando Cost: $100 Chef Jim Colbert will cook the main dish, accompanied by notable local chefs, Tello Luna (Harrys Poolside Bar & Grill), Bruno Fonseca (Millenia 106) & Bryan Thoman (Canvas Restaurant & Market).
OCTOBER 19 Orlandough Flight Night at Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream, Orlando Cost: $17 per ice cream/doughnut flight. Flights will include four mini ice cream sandwiches of different flavor combos.
OCTOBER 20 Crafted & Bold City Brewery Beer Dinner at CRAFTED, Orlando Cost: $34.95 Featuring 4 courses & 5 different beer selections. Bold City representatives & Crafted Chef Adam Dierks will be on-hand to help educate & inform throughout the evening.
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Signature Dining at STK Orlando at Disney Springs Cost: $75 Join Master Sommelier George Miliotes of Wine Bar George for a wine party on STK’s rooftop featuring pairings, with varietals such as Saperavi from Georgia and Macvin du Jura from France. Visit disneyworld.com for more information and reservations. Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Signature Dining at Tiffins at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Cost: $199 Enjoy Asian cuisine while listening to the Dr. Jason Crane speak about the Siberian Crane Conservation project he supports in Asia.. Visit disneyworld.com for more information and reservations.
Harry’s Brewmaster Series feat Funky Buddha at Harry’s Poolside Bar & Grill at Rosen Centre Hotel, Orlando Cost: $55 Enjoy a 5-course seafood dinner plus Funky Buddha beer pairings. Complimentary valet and self-parking included. Visit the rosencentre.com for tickets and more info.
Jake’s Beer Festival at Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando Cost: $35 – $45 Jake’s Beer Festival happens only twice each year and features more than 50 local and regional specialty craft beers, delicious and tasty foods, live entertainment and more.
Pink Out. Dine Out. Rock Out at The Mall at Millenia, Orlando Cost: $20 donation With a donation of $20, sample food and signature drinks from your favorite Mall at Millenia restaurants. Proceeds benefit the Florida Hospital Breast Cancer Care Fund.
Wine, Cheese, and Chocolate: Perfectly Paired at East End Market, Orlando Cost: $45 Learn how to pair wine, cheese, and chocolate together at this popular class featuring cheese from La Femme du Fromage, wine from Quantam Leap, and chocolate from Peterbrooke Chocolatier. A percentage of the proceeds will go to Hurricane Irma Relief. It’s also La Femme’s Anniversary so she is hosting a pre-class pop up in the courtyard from 5- 6:30pm with Happy Hour pricing on wine, beer, sangria and small plates.
OCTOBER 20-22 3rd Annual Crooked Can Oktoberfest at Crooked Can Brewing Company, Winter Garden Cost: Free admission and parking Enjoy three days of authentic German food and drink for purchase, live German music, arts, and crafts, and more.
OCTOBER 21 Oktoberfest at PB&G at Four Seasons Resort Orlando Cost: $75; 21+ only Enjoy Crooked Can’s Oktoberfest Brew and other classic German brews, plus housemade pretzels, sauerbraten sliders, wiener schnitzel and other German food, along with live German music, and more.
Taste of Nona 2017 at Courtyard by Marriott Lake Nona, Orlando Cost: $40 This year’s Taste will feature more than two dozen fantastic local restaurants, dessert makers, and catering services.
Third Annual TAPtoberfest at The Brass Tap – Mills Park, Orlando Cost: Free admission. Featuring German and German-inspired beers on tap, get ready for stein hoisting, boot chugging, and more.
OCTOBER 22 Orlando Weekly Oktoberfest Collaboration Tapping Party at Broken Cauldron Taproom, Orlando Cost: Free admission Treehouse Truck will be on site serving a German inspired menu and the Orlando Weekly will have special prizes and giveaways! $4 Pints of OBF Oktoberfest all night long.
Pastry in the Park at The Osprey Tavern, Orlando Cost: $65 per person; $20 additional for beverage pairing Enjoy a 7-course dessert tasting by some of Orlando’s top pastry chefs: Chef Amanda McFall (Urbain 40), Chef Esther Rodriguez (The Ravenous Pig), Chef Gloriann Rivera (1921 by Norman Van Aken), Chef Michelle Hulbert (K Restaurant), Chef Amy Gilbert (Canvas Restaurant), Chef Brian Cernell (Luma On Park/Prato/Luke’s), and Chef Kristy Carlucci (The Osprey Tavern/Seito Sushi/Reyes Mezcaleria).
OCTOBER 26 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Signature Dining at Flying Fish at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort Cost: $199 Savor an Evening of Culinary Treasures and Jewels of the Vineyard With Chef Tim Majoras and Master Sommelier George Miliotes of Wine Bar George.
]Homestead Harvest at Whisper Creek Farm at The Ritz-Carlton at Grande Lakes, Orlando Cost: $135 per person; VIP $160 The Highball & Harvest team will be joined by Bravo’s Top Chef star Kenny Gilbert from Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen and Gilbert’s Social. Local talent including Kathleen Blake of The Rusty Spoon, James Petrakis of The Ravenous Pig, Kevin Fonzo previously of K Restaurant, Austin Boyd of The Osprey Tavern, and many more, will also be cooking up bites at the event. The one-night-only food and beverage event will benefit Fleet Farming.
OCTOBER 27 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Signature Dining at Chef’s Table at Disney’s Contemporary Resort Cost: $259 The evening begins with an innovative reception and champagne toast in the Catering Kitchen before progressing through a secret entrance to the Chef’s Table. Here, you’ll enjoy 6 courses, all presented and finished on-stage and accompanied by an outstanding wine selection.
OCTOBER 27– 28 8th Annual Food and Wine Classic at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Cost: $115; add beer garden access for $25; seminars additional This delicious annual festival offers up food from the resort’s culinary team and restaurants. Add on access to the beer garden for an additional cost. You can also enlighten your knowledge of food and beverage with seminars each day including wines, cocktails, beer, pasta-making, cheese pairing or the fine art of sushi and sake for an additional charge per seminar.
OCTOBER 28 Central Florida Veg Fest 2017 at Festival Park, Orlando Cost: Free admission The event will include healthy living and eco-friendly exhibitors, speakers, and presentations; non-profits; fun and games for kids; dog and cat adoptions; restaurant booths; food preparation demonstrations, and live music and entertainment.
OCTOBER 29 Sunday Bubbles Brunch with J Vineyards and Winery at Il Mulino New York Trattoria at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Cost: $88.50; three seatings This lavish brunch will feature traditional and not-so-traditional items prepared by our award-winning Chefs. One glass of champagne or specialty mimosa will be included in the menu price, along with the option to upgrade to bottomless champagne and mimosas at the time of seating. Visit swandolphinfoodandwineclassic.com
When children are put in the hospital there is an overwhelming list of concerns, one being if the child will have a chance to play like a child again. Nemours Children’s’ Hospital of Orlando is giving their young patients more opportunities to play like a kid with their partnership with local art museums.
Since the beginning of 2013, Nemours has partnered with Orlando Museum of Art, Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens and The Mennello Museum of American Art, to bring different programs to patients, according to Josh Wilson, senior manager of public and community relations at Nemours. Each Orlando museum offers something different to the patients.
The Orlando Museum of Art (OMA) is known as a home for local storytellers and performers. Nemours partnered with this museum to bring one of the oldest forms of art to the young patients four times a year.
Not only do the storytellers perform enchanting stories, they also bring supplies to help the kids create something based on the story. The hospital staff plans to display this unique in an illustrator’s gallery. OMA provides museum tickets for patients as well.
Morse Museum comes four times a year to provide art and educational events. They also let Nemours patients tour the museums with their families at no charge.
The Albin Polasek Museum donated “Elizabeth,” a gorgeous bronze statue of a six-year-old girl created by Albin Polasek after he had a stroke and was paralyzed on one side of his body. The statue serves to inspire someone of what they can accomplish even after dealing with difficult medical issues.
The Mennello Museum of American Art provides Nemours with a rotating gallery of folk art that hangs in the hospital.
Though these partnerships are relatively new, Jill Mondry, director of volunteer services at Nemours, started the art therapy program there five years ago. The program provides patients with an art therapist that comes to the hospital twice a week and works one-on-one with the patients.
“What research has found and what we see is that this is one way for children to express themselves,” said Mondry, who has been with the hospital for seven years. “Often children can’t express what is happening to them or what is going on in their world when they have a serious illness. But they can express things in art.“
Mondry has seen the children’s paintings reflect a variety of things such as how they were feeling that day, a place they wanted to go after they were done with chemotherapy or a happier time in their life that they are remembering.
These art programs all fall under the role of the Child Life Department, a vital department in any children’s hospital, according the Mondry.
“We know when children are hospitalized that they still need play, they still need to be a kid. Child Life is responsible for making sure that they can continue that experience even if they are hospitalized,” said Mondry.
This department sets up all the different events children can participate in, but they also play a key role in explaining to the child what is going on with their health.
“The parents, doctors and nurses may be talking about something that goes way over the child’s head, said Mondry. “The child life specialist is trained to talk to the child in a way that the child can understand.“
Mondry said that the art programs are beneficial for not only the children, but the parents and hospital staff as well.
“I think that it is very healing for the entire family. For some it’s a memory of the child,” said Mondry. I think its great for the staff for the children to see that they are doing something all kids like to do. They don’t seem sick when they are doing art.”
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