Urban Backpacker Travels: Orlando

I spent two weeks in Orlando over the past month so this post will summarize the highlights of both trips.  Keep in mind that both trips were for work, which didn't leave time for too much exploring, but I there are a few things I have to share!

Lodging:

 Both weeks I stayed at the Hilton Lake Buena Vista,  which is just a short walk from Downtown Disney.  While the hotel itself is not the nicest or fanciest, the staff were amazing.  Since this was a work trip, all of our breakfasts and lunches were served buffet style, which is always difficult to navigate as someone with specific dietary needs.  The servers both weeks were especially attentive and worked with the chef to have special meals ready for me.  There was a bit of a mishap the second week - a mango went missing from my room (still unclear what happened).  Word of this traveled to the hotel management and the next time I returned to my room there were 8 beautiful mangoes waiting for me.  Needless to say I was a happy camper.

Eats:

Like I mentioned, most meals were provided so I don't have much to report on the food front.  I did spend 2 weeks in Orlando last year, so instead I will share some of the spots I found then.

-Sweet Tomatoes - Huge salad bar + baked sweet potatoes + fresh bread + dessert.  Really what more could you ask for?  Great choice if you want something quick and fresh that will please everyone.

Salad bar forever

Sweet Tomatoes - Pretty much my dream dinner.

 - Babycakes Bakery- Vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and refined sugar free baked goods.  Seriously so good.  I was really disappointed to hear that they closed their storefront in Downtown Disney this summer (although their products can be found at some Disney locations).  Good thing they are based in NYC which means I can still get my fill of their uber yummy baked goods.

-Ethos Vegan Kitchen - Located in Winter Park, this is a vegan restaurant that all can enjoy.  I went for brunch and got the tofu scramble, which was really tasty.  I would love to go back to try their regular fare.

Parks:

We only went to the parks one evening very briefly, so I can't provide much insight as to eating vegan while visiting Disney.  That being said, I have read that Disney is much better than Universal in catering to food allergies and specific dietary needs.  From my limited experience, this held true - the folks at Harry Potter World (Universal) wouldn't serve me butterbeer without the dairy topping even when I said I had an allergy.  Sad, but I still enjoyed the rides and a normal beer!

Special guest at Harry Potter World

Look out for the Muggles!

Butterbeer on draft + scary boar head

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My key to staying vegan while traveling?  Be prepared, but also be flexible.  Pack snacks - I always travel with trail mix and fresh fruit.  Do your research and find a grocery store, natural foods store, or some local veg-friendly options, but don't get all upset if plans take you elsewhere.  While it's nice to try local fare, sometimes it more important to see the sights, or spend time with family or friends (who may not be too keen on trying the tiny raw foods joint 15 miles away).

See this post for more tips on keeping up your healthy lifestyle while on the go.

I hope you all are enjoying these travel recaps.  I'm back in NYC for a few weeks, so I will get back to posting recipes and adventures from the Big Apple!

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