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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Embrace the Outdoors in Orlando

3. What to Do

Hop on a bike at East End Market and pedal to the plots of Fleet Farming.  

Walk around East End Market, the largest urban market in the Southeast, which opened in October 2014 with ten independently owned food purveyors. Start at Lineage Coffee Roasting, where owner Jarrett Johnson carefully sources and roasts coffees from Rwanda to Italy and also hosts classes in which you’ll learn how to taste them properly ($10, including tastings). The Local Roots farm store sells fresh produce, “clean” meats, and locally made soaps, but also offers Florida craft beer and wine flights ($10) served in a courtyard or on picnic tables next to the market’s vegetable gardens. Work off any snacking on a rental-bike visit to Fleet Farming, a bike-powered urban-farming program; a "Swarm Ride" leaves the market at 2 p.m. every Sunday to visit a nearby "farmlette" to prepare new plots, weed, harvest, and plant seeds, and to transport the produce to the market.

Make the short drive to Lake Meadow Naturals farm, where on Saturdays you can commune with baby goats and cows, check out busy beehives, and collect your own deep-yellow-yolk eggs from happy chickens. Bring home organic, grass-fed lamb, goat, bison, rabbit, and Wagyu beef (even alligator, if you’re game), all flash-frozen without preservatives. The farm just revamped its facilities, including 67 hydroponic towers growing herbs and veggies; check out its schedule for seasonal farm-to-table dinners.

Head to Harry P. Leu Gardens, a 50-acre botanical oasis just a few minutes' drive from downtown. The stunning gardens, with outdoor sculptures and a museum in a restored 19th-century home, are now open to the public, with guided tours every hour and half-hour from 10 a.m. (self-guided, $8 per person; group with guide, $12). The museum has permanent exhibits showcasing work by Mulford B. Foster, a naturalist who traveled through Mexico discovering 200 new bromeliads, cacti, and palms. Within the gardens, look for cacti, agave, flowering trees and palms, a citrus grove, and a butterfly garden.

Published on Mar 19, 2015 as a web exclusive.