Your Health in Action: 5 Wellness Books Worth Reading

As a writer, I constantly try to prioritize reading as a part of my daily life. (Some years, I’m more successful than others!) From fiction and poetry to nonfiction and memoirs, I try to vary my genres as much as possible to broaden my perspective and inspire my own creativity. Of course, because wellness is a huge focus for me and my blog, I often gravitate toward personal development books and podcasts.

For tonight’s edition of Your Health in ActionI wanted to share a few favorite wellness and personal development books worth exploring! As always, please feel free to share your suggestions in the comments below. I’m constantly looking for my next great read. 🙂

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation.

Your Health in Action: 5 Wellness Books Worth Reading | WellnessAndWanderlust.net

1. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Okay, let’s be real: unless this is the first time you’ve stumbled upon my blog, you had to suspect this book was going to be on the list! For those who are unfamiliar with The Happiness Project, author Gretchen Rubin incorporates scientific research on happiness to undergo a year-long experiment to live a happier life. Each month takes on a different theme, such as boosting energy, focusing on her marriage, learning something new, etc. The book provides practical, easy-to-implement tips for readers, as Gretchen shares what worked for her. Inspired by her work, I ended up creating my own happiness project for 2019. (You can read about my progress for the month of January here.) Be sure to check out Gretchen’s podcast as well!

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2. Food Freedom Forever by Melissa Hartwig
As a fan of The Whole30, I was especially excited when co-creator Melissa Hartwig released Food Freedom Forever. This book focuses on what to do after you’ve tackled the intense elimination diet. How do you let go of your bad habits and baggage around food? Melissa provides a lot of well-researched tips for habit change and creating a healthier relationship with food and body-image. My copy has about a million Post-It notes inside, and is back at the top of my list for required reading in 2019.

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3. The Universe Has Your Back by Gabrielle Bernstein
If you believe in the law of attraction, The Universe Has Your Back is for you. Gabby Bernstein’s book on transforming fear to faith is worth exploring if you’re experiencing any major obstacles in your life right now. The book also provides several meditative practices to help you listen to your intuition and learn to trust yourself, while quieting those negative voices.

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4. The Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda by Sahara Rose
Ayurveda is an ancient system of Eastern medicine and the sister science to yoga. Thanks to Sahara Rose’s book The Idiot’s Guide to Ayurvedanon-practitioners like me can learn all about Ayurveda and how we can incorporate it into our daily lives. You’ll be able to identify your mind-body type (or “dosha”) and learn the best foods, routines, and other practices to achieve mind-body balance.

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5. Rising Strong by Brené Brown
Brené Brown is a renowned social worker known for her research on shame and vulnerability (check out her TED Talk!), and as someone who struggles with opening up about her feelings, I was excited to finally pick up one of her books. Rising Strong focuses on resiliency, coming back from a perceived failure, and changing the narratives we tell ourselves. If you’re struggling to reset after a fall, I highly recommend this book!

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What personal development books do you recommend for 2019? Share your favorites in the comments below!

Rainy Day Adventures: The Imagine Museum in St. Petersburg, FL

A few weeks ago, I took a trip back out to the Tampa/St. Petersburg area to see Yayoi Kusama’s LOVE IS CALLING exhibit (check out the recap here!) and enjoy some much needed rest and relaxation. During this visit, I planned to visit the Sunken Gardens in St. Pete, but the unpredictable Florida weather had other plans for me.

Because of this, I decided to shift my itinerary and visit one of the area’s hidden gems: the Imagine Museum, located just outside of downtown St. Pete. Home to more than 500 pieces of American Studio Glass, the Imagine Museum is well worth the visit for any art enthusiasts who are visiting the area.

The Imagine Museum in St. Petersburg, FL

Those of you who have been reading the blog for a while know that I’m a huge fan of glass art, and that Chihuly Gardens & Glass was one of my favorite parts of my trip to Seattle last year. (And yes, I did visit Chihuly’s exhibit in St. Pete during my visit in September!) The Imagine Museum contains works by Chihuly as well, but also features a number of other artists and styles that are sure to inspire those who visit.

The Imagine Museum in St. Petersburg, FL

The Imagine Museum has exhibits on two floors, with the first floor consisting of the permanent collection. Adorned with quotes by Deepak Chopra, Nelson Mandela, and other great thought leaders and pioneers, the Imagine Museum seeks to inspire creativity and kindness in those who visit. In fact, there are handouts available throughout the museum that list the Ten Commandments of Human Relations, which visitors can bring home with them.

The Imagine Museum in St. Petersburg, FL

The Imagine Museum in St. Petersburg, FL

The Imagine Museum in St. Petersburg, FL

The pieces throughout the Imagine Museum’s collection vary by color, technique, and cultural context. From the ikebana at the front entrance to the 1,000 Buddhas to the glass-made Vitruvian Man, no two pieces are exactly alike, and each room is sure to awe.

On the second floor, visit Floating World, an exhibition by Karen LaMonte. Her kimono sculptures take on a life of their own, and you can learn more about her techniques through the documentaries playing throughout the exhibition.

The Imagine Museum in St. Petersburg, FL

The Imagine Museum is new to St. Pete, but one that I definitely plan to revisit in the future. For more tips on how to spend your trip to the Tampa/St. Pete area, click here.

 

5 Fun Ways to Celebrate Galentine’s Day in Orlando

My Instagram feed is starting to fill up with pink and red, which can only mean one thing: Valentine’s Day is almost hereAs someone who is currently single, I don’t have any major plans for next Thursday, aside from sneaking a chocolate or two. (Having said that: if anyone is platonically shopping for me, the heart-shaped Crunch candies are my favorite guilty pleasure this time of year!) However, as a fan of Parks & Recreation, I have always loved the idea of Galentine’s Day as a day to celebrate your friendships.

Here in Central Florida, there are a lot of fun ways to celebrate happy occasions with your friends, whether you’re hosting a Galentine’s Day, bridal shower, birthday, or simply a Tuesday. Check out my five suggestions for a fun Galentine’s Day or other group celebration in and around Orlando!

Note: Despite the title of my post, these activities can be shared with friends of all genders!

5 Ways to Celebrate Galentine's Day in Central Florida | Wellness & Wanderlust

1. Host a tea party at AntiquiTEAs.
Nestled in Winter Garden’s Plant Street Market, AntiquiTEAs is a local loose tea shop with more than 60 custom blends. With a little planning ahead of time, you can host your own tea party there! The owners set up tables out on the patio and can serve food and tea depending on your party’s needs. For my 27th birthday, I hosted a three-course tea party at AntiquiTEAs, complete with salads, hummus-based cucumber rounds, and delicious baked goods. We had vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free ladies in the group, but the fine folks from AntiquiTEAs did an excellent job of ensuring that foods were available for all dietary restrictions. Plus, the teas are amazing!

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2. Take a limo cycle tour in Sanford.
Bike around Downtown Sanford for a couple of hours with a group of 8-15 of your closest friends, and stop at the local bars along the way! My MBA class did a Limo Cycle Tour one weekend, and it was the perfect way to explore Sanford’s brewery scene while spending time with friends. (Disclaimer: Do not host a study group afterward.) Afterward, grab a bite to eat at Hollerbach’s Willow Tree for some German comfort food — and, if you’re brave enough, Das Boot. For 10% off your Limo Cycle private tour, use promo code WELLNESSANDWANDERLUST when booking the tour online.

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5 Ways to Celebrate Galentine's Day in Central Florida | Wellness & Wanderlust3. Make a pound of chocolate at Farris & Foster’s.
Much like the rest of my family, my greatest weakness is chocolate. That’s why I was so excited to spend my department’s holiday team-building at Farris & Foster’s! Located in Baldwin Park, this chocolate factory offers parties perfect for families or groups of friends. You’ll learn about the various chocolate-making techniques, while sampling pre-made chocolates available for your group, and you get to come home with some delicious treats of your own making. If you’re worried about the calories, you can always walk a few laps around Lake Baldwin when you’re done. 😉

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4. Go to a wine tasting at the Island Grove Winery at Formosa Gardens.
This winery, located in Kissimmee, offers a garden bistro and an array of fruit wines to choose from. Visit the winery for a tasting! For more info, you can read all about it on Courtney’s guest post here.

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5. Take a goat yoga class at Goat Yoga DeLand.
Based at Patty’s Parrot Palace, Goat Yoga DeLand regularly offers goat yoga classes on their farm. If you haven’t taken a goat yoga class, I highly recommend it! For animal lovers, this is a therapeutic experience that really brings in the “aww” factor, and not only do they offer Sunday classes (check their event schedule here), but they also can offer private events that you can book ahead.

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How are you celebrating Galentine’s Day this year? Sound off in the comments!

 

Love is Calling: Your Guide to the Tampa Museum of Art

“Dots are symbols of the world, the cosmos. The Earth is a dot, the moon, the sun, the stars are all made up of dots. You and me, we are dots.” – Yayoi Kusama

Love is Calling: Your Guide to the Tampa Museum of Art

If you live in Central Florida and spend any time on social media, chances are you’ve seen the glowing neon tentacle-like sculptures that form the LOVE IS CALLING exhibition at the Tampa Museum of Art. As someone who spends her fair share of time in art museums, I was especially drawn to this colorful mirrored exhibit, and knew that I had to make the trip across the state to see it in person.

LOVE IS CALLING, an infinity room by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, was well worth the visit. The exhibition, which first came to Tampa in September, will be leaving the museum on February 14, so if Kusama’s works strike your fancy, be sure to plan your trip ASAP.

Here’s what you should know before you go:

  • Buy a timed ticket ahead of time. The ticket you purchase online will guarantee you access to LOVE IS CALLING at a set time, and will also grant admission to the museum as a whole. Entry to LOVE IS CALLING does not require the timed ticket, but because of the exhibition’s popularity, you may not be able to get in otherwise.
  • Go early, especially if you’re going on the weekend. I visited on Sunday and set my entry time for 10:30 a.m. to avoid the crowds.
  • Space in Kusama’s infinity room is limited, and visitors only get two minutes to enjoy the exhibition. However, you’ll have unlimited time to enjoy the other exhibits.
  • You’ll hear a recording of Kusama reading her poem Residing in a Castle of Shed Tears in Japanese. When you exit the room, you can read the poem in English. The poem has different meanings if you read it from top to bottom vs. bottom to top.
  • If you’re uncomfortable with dark enclosed spaces, this exhibit may not be for you.

Love is Calling: Your Guide to the Tampa Museum of Art

I would be remiss not to share my experience with another exhibition at the museum, Robert Indiana: A Sculpture Retrospective. Known for his LOVE series, Robert Indiana was an artist who created sculptures, mixed media, pop art, and other works over the course of more than 50 years. His exhibition is on display though March 17, and I enjoyed it as much as (if not more than!) LOVE IS CALLING.

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Be sure to spend some time exploring the galleries to learn about other artists and even enjoy the classical antiquities. Afterward, pop over to Anise Global Gastrobar across the street for a delicious lunch, or take a stroll along the water through Curtis Waterfront Park and take in the beautiful views of the University of Tampa (which houses the Henry B. Plant Museum from my previous St. Pete/Tampa post).

What’s next on your art-themed bucket list? Share your favorites in the comments!

January 2019: Happiness Project Recap

That’s it, folks — the first month of 2019 has officially reached its end. Can you believe it? My January has certainly been a rollercoaster, but thanks to my happiness project, I will leave this month feeling better than when I started it.

At the end of 2018, I was completely exhausted. Between autoimmune issues, a busier than usual workload, and some difficult situations outside of my control, I needed a break — and an attitude adjustment. As part of my happiness project, my theme for the month of January was to boost physical wellnessTo do that, I incorporated the following five daily goals:

  • Embark on a Whole30 to create more intentionality in my food choices and identify any new food sensitivities.
  • Go to sleep earlier.
  • Take a 10-minute walk each day.
  • Act more energetic.
  • Tackle the “nagging tasks” on my list.

Inspired by The Happiness Project author Gretchen Rubin, I created a resolution chart, giving myself a gold star each day for the goals I accomplished.

Happiness Project Resolution Chart

So how did I do? Well, as can be expected, I fared better in some categories than others. Through my Whole30, I consistently ate nourishing, real foods, while detoxing myself from some of the junk food that my body doesn’t agree with. I managed to lose 10 pounds, clear up my skin, stop getting daily headaches, and decrease overall inflammation.

Acting more energetic allowed me to fake it till I made it on the days when I just didn’t think I had it in me, and I really started to feel more energetic after doing that. The other thing that massively boosted my energy levels was tackling the nagging tasks. 

Happiness Project Resolution Chart

By “nagging tasks,” I’m referring to those pesky but necessary to-do’s in the back of your mind that you don’t particularly want to do but will benefit you in the long run. I always feel like I have a lot of little things that I need to do but don’t have time for, so at the beginning of the year, I made a list of all of those items in an Evernote. Then, each week, I picked a few of those items that absolutely needed to get done, and wrote them down on my dry-erase board on the fridge. Tackling those nagging tasks made a huge difference in my anxiety levels and overall happiness, and I’m excited to bring this goal back into the month of February.

Of course, nobody is perfect, and I did struggle to get those daily walks in (it’s been so chilly out!) and get to bed at a decent hour. These are both areas I need to prioritize in the days to come.

Tomorrow begins the month of February, and this month’s theme is Creating Outer OrderI’m excited to create a life that sparks joy (thanks, Marie Kondo!) and will be implementing the following goals:

  • Follow the one-minute rule. (If it can be done in less than one minute, do it right away.)
  • Spend 10 minutes tidying up before bed.
  • Beware of freebies.
  • Spend time each day de-cluttering problem areas of the house.
  • Tackle the nagging tasks. (It was so effective that I decided to bring it back!)

What goals are you working toward? Are you doing a happiness project? Sound off in the comments below!

 

Your Health in Action: 5 Podcasts to Make Your Life Happier and Healthier, Part 2

Back in 2017, I wrote about my (then) newfound love for podcasts, and shared my five favorites in the health and wellness space. Since that time, the podcast medium has really blown up, and it seems as though nearly everyone I know has become a podcast junkie. From lightening up a long drive or workday commute to giving us something fun to listen to when tidying up around the house, listening to podcasts can be a great way to let off steam — and learn something along the way. 🙂

Over time, as I began to subscribing to the shows mentioned in my previous post, I began to discover other wellness personalities and business owners whose stories inspired me. Because of that, I’m excited to share PART TWO of my favorite podcasts that will make your life happier and healthier! (Don’t worry, at some point I’ll share my favorite Bachelor recaps and other guilty pleasure podcasts on a future blog post.)

5 Podcasts to Make Your Life Happier & Healthier | WellnessAndWanderlust.net

1. By The Book
Ever hear about a trendy new self-help book and wonder if you should try it out? On By The Book, hosts Kristen Meinzer and Jolenta Greenberg do the hard work for you! In each episode, Kristen and Jolenta choose a self-help book, live by the book for two weeks, and share their verdicts. These ladies poke fun at the self-help genre while exploring the privilege inherent in many of these books, and their husbands often make cameos in the episodes as they go along with the hosts’ temporary new lifestyles. By The Book introduced me to the concept of hygge (we’ll talk about that more in Month 4 of my 2019 Happiness Project), helped me identify my love language, and made me never want to read French Women Don’t Get Fat.

A few favorite episodes: Men Are From Mars, Women are From Venus. The Little Book of Hygge. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. French Women Don’t Get Fat. Year of Yes.

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2. The Goop Podcast
You probably associate Goop with Gwyneth Paltrow and extremely expensive lifestyle products, but her company’s new podcast does not disappoint. Gwyneth and Goop’s Chief Content Officer, Elise Loehnen, take turns interviewing doctors, researchers, authors, and celebrities on a variety of wellness-related topics. Although Gwyneth is obviously the more famous of the two, Elise’s interviews are especially engaging — she is a talented interviewer whose episodes dive deep. From functional medicine to hormone imbalance to the power of the unconscious mind, the show focuses on a variety of subjects that are relevant to listeners.

A few favorite episodes: Why We Use Food to Shame Ourselves. The Anxious Mind. How to Defeat Your Inner Critic. Herbs, Spices, and Proteins to Live By. The Autoimmune Spectrum.

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3. The Living Experiment
Hosted by Dallas Hartwig (co-founder of The Whole30) and Pilar Gerasimo, The Living Experiment explores ways to live happily and more consciously by implementing real-life “experiments” to shift your lifestyle. Their living experiments are practical and relatively simple to incorporate, and the research cited in these episodes will really make you think. The show is currently on a break, so it’s the perfect time to catch up on the existing 100 episodes as Dallas and Pilar both work on their respective book deals!

A few favorite episodes: Imposter Syndrome. Introvert Extrovert. Declutter. Coping. Healthy vs. Hot.

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4. Light and Life Live with Danika Brysha
I’ve been a longtime fan of Danika Brysha, the body positive model and self-care activist who runs Model Meals, so I was especially excited when she began hosting a podcast. Light and Life Live is a weekly one-hour live Instagram series, which is also available through podcast apps. Danika features various thought leaders, entrepreneurs, bloggers, and other wellness personalities about their self-care routines, passions, life paths, and how they bring light into the world. Although there are occasionally some sound/technical issues, Danika’s interviews are well worth the listen.

A few favorite episodes: Shut The Kale Up. Celebrity Nutritionist Kelly Leveque. Almost 30’s Lindsey Simcik and Krista Williams. Whole30’s Melissa Hartwig. PooPourri Creator Suzy Batiz.

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5. Highest Self Podcast with Sahara Rose
Sahara Rose is a leading voice in Ayurveda, an ancient Indian holistic healing science, and the author of The Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda. In her Highest Self Podcast, Sahara makes Ayurvedic concepts easy to understand and incorporate into your daily life, and I absolutely love to learn from her podcast. Her podcast focuses mainly on modern Ayurveda and how knowing your dosha (mind-body type) can make all the difference in various aspects of your life. If you’ve ever been curious about eastern medicine, I highly recommend her podcast!

A few favorite episodes: How to Heal From Adrenal Fatigue the Holistic Way. Creating More By Doing Less. Food Emotionality with Amanda Skelley. New Year’s Resolutions for Kaphas. How to Be More Confident.

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What are some of your favorite wellness podcasts? Sound off in the comments below!

Link Love January: Rom Com Dialogue & Millennial Burnout

Now that we’re halfway through January, how are everyone’s New Year’s Resolutions holding up? Normally by now, I’d be back to my usual deviant habits, but so far my 2019 Happiness Project is going strong! My focus for the month has been to boost my physical health, and I’ve been doing that in a few different ways: embarking on a round of Whole30 (it’s getting easier!), tackling those nagging tasks to clear up “brain clutter” (we’ll talk about that in a future post), and even by simply acting more energetic when I may not feel that way. I’ve been more successful in some areas than others, but I’m happy to share that I am starting to feel a lot healthier than I have in a long time.

Of course, in the midst of all of these changes, I’ve been doing a lot of reading! Check out my latest link love below and be sure to drop your own favorites (along with a resolution you’re working toward!) in the comments section below.

Photo Credit: NatureCoaster.com

Whole30 Fried Rice

For those of us on the January Whole30, can you believe it’s finally Day 14? Now that I’m no longer having sugar withdrawals, I’m starting to see the light and feel some of the positive effects of the program. My energy levels are always fairly low for the first couple weeks of the Whole30, so it’s important for me to have meals that are easy to prep and throw on the pan on those days when I just want to #KillAllTheThings.

That’s why this paleo stir-fry has always been a go-to of mine! I keep things really simple buy purchasing frozen cauliflower rice ahead of time (Birds Eye Steamfresh is a great option I can find in most grocery stores), but feel free to make your own by popping some cauliflower in the food processor. This recipe is vegetarian, gluten-free, Whole30-friendly, and paleo-friendly!

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small compensation.

Whole30 Cauliflower Fried Rice | WellnessAndWanderlust.net

Serves 3(ish)

Ingredients:

  • 3 bell peppers, chopped (any color – I like to mix them up, but you can do all one color)
  • 1 cup carrots, shredded or chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 package Birds Eye Steamfresh Riced Cauliflower (or equivalent of other brand / homemade)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp coconut aminos (or more, to taste)
  • Optional: Salt and garlic to taste

Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add in chopped peppers and carrots. Let cook while microwaving frozen cauliflower rice.
  3. Pour in cauliflower rice, add ginger, and cook on medium for 10 minutes.
  4. Create space in the center of the pan, and crack both eggs. Scramble gently, break up the eggs, then mix back in with the rest of the veggies and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Pour in coconut aminos and stir. Let cook for another minute or two.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Guest Post: Island Grove Wine Company at Formosa Gardens

In last week’s Hidden Gems blog post, local fashionista Courtney of @_myownmelody_ shared a snippet of her experience with the Island Grove Wine Company at Formosa Gardens in Kissimmee. Read below for more from Courtney about the winery and why it should be on your bucket list for 2019.

Your Guide to Island Grove Wine Company at Formosa Gardens | WellnessAndWanderlust.net

By Courtney Dias, @_myownmelody_

You don’t need to travel around the world to be adventurous. Sometimes the best traveling you can do is right in your hometown. A short drive from home, I found a place I would love to share with you. Island Grove Wine Company has such a classic countryside feel with Parisian accent. Once inside, everything seemed so effortlessly placed to intrigue their guests, whether drinking around the bar located in the center or just wandering around finding the cutest trinkets, merchandise, and endless amounts of wine. You also could feel the warmth of the staff, which made them feel more like friends than strangers.

Your Guide to Island Grove Wine Company at Formosa Gardens | WellnessAndWanderlust.net

I was greeted by Chris, who served me a delicious sweet chilled white sangria. It was so smooth that to this day, I’m itching to have it once again for one of my day date adventures. I was taken around the venue by Haley, who is so charismatic I could definitely see why she is a wedding planner for the winery.

Your Guide to Island Grove Wine Company at Formosa Gardens | WellnessAndWanderlust.net

We started outside where you could watch the sun touch the earth during any special occasion. We made our way to the bright and spacious bridal suite accompanied with vintage pieces, followed by the rustic groom suite which Haley and I both agreed is a great space to work in as well. The reception hall can be fitted for any occasion of any size, which I love because the space is so versatile! What better way to end the tour, than by having a delicious pastry to complement my amazing French vanilla latte?

Your Guide to Island Grove Wine Company at Formosa Gardens | WellnessAndWanderlust.net

If you’re ever in Florida and want to explore something new or simply want to enjoy great hospitality, stop by Island Grove Winery Formosa Garden winery for a date night. You can do anything from dinner (side note: the food is so good), wine tasting with the girls, or a paint and sip event. Trust me when I say, this truly is a hidden gem that makes being away from home a bit more sweeter.


For more hidden gems in the Central Florida area, be sure to check out our recap!

10 Hidden Gems in Central Florida To Visit in the New Year

What’s on your travel bucket list for 2019? Each year, I love to explore new places, both near and far. (There’s a reason my blog has the word “wanderlust” in its name!) Living in Central Florida for nearly 10 years, I find myself constantly falling in love with different neighborhoods, botanical gardens, museums, and restaurants, and just as I start to think I’ve seen it all, the adventure begins again and I wind up someplace new.

There’s something magical about playing tourist in your own home, and here in Central Florida, we’re fortunate to have so many unique places to discover. We are surrounded by theme parks and other attractions that visitors travel thousands of miles to see. But we also have our share of hidden gemsboth in Orlando and in its surrounding areas.

I’ve teamed up with some amazing local bloggers and influencers to bring you 10 hidden gems worth exploring in 2019. From restaurants and events to historic homes and gardens, this list really has it all. These spots are all within about two hours (or less) of Orlando, perfect for a weekend afternoon outing! Check out their features below, and be sure to pop over to their sites for more great content. (Photos are credited to the bloggers below!)

10 Hidden Gems in Central Florida to Visit in the New Year

10 Hidden Gems in Central Florida | Wellness & Wanderlust

Photo Credit: TheOrlandoDuo.com

1. Revolution Off Road (Clermont, FL) — The Orlando Duo
One of our favorite aspects of living in Central Florida is being able to experience the outdoors year round. For us, Revolution Off Road is the perfect way to see Florida’s natural beauty in a fun and unique way. There is something inherently cool about driving a ATV and taking it around to see lakes, trees and wildlife. Plus, you go through mud puddles so you will get dirty too! If ATVs aren’t your speed, Revolution Off Road also features fishing, clay shooting and other activities. We break down our experience and give you some tips and tricks on our blog!
{ Blog: The Orlando Duo; Instagram: @theorlandoduo; Facebook: @theorlandoduoTwitter: @theorlandoduoPinterest: @theorlandoduo }

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2. Wat Thai Temple (Brandon, FL) — Pursuing Happiness // Kiva Williams
If you are ever in the Tampa area on a Sunday, it’s a must that you check out this hidden local gem in the Palm River area of town. Wat Mongkolratanaram, or Wat Thai Temple as it is also commonly known, is a foodie’s dream! This beautiful outdoor market is sure to get your tastebuds tap dancing around. Be sure to bring your appetite and cash only! Check out my vlog’s recap about all of the yummy goodness.
Blog: Pursuing HappinessInstagram: @pursuit_of_true_happinessFacebook: @pursuinghappiness4ever }

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10 Hidden Gems in Central Florida to Visit in the New Year | Wellness & Wanderlust

Photo Credit: ChristopherCupcakes.com

3. Leu Gardens (Orlando, FL) — Christopher Cupcakes
We recently decided to tour the beautiful Leu Gardens here in Orlando, Florida. The Harry P. Leu Gardens are a semi-tropical and tropical garden here in Orlando. Well, isn’t any garden in Florida tropical? The gardens are divided into different themes across the 50 acres and Leu Gardens is bordered on one side by a lake. The grounds are shaded by 200 year old oaks dripping in Spanish Moss giving off that Old Southern charm we all know and love when living here in the South. Leu Gardens holds special events and classes throughout the year so check out their site to see what is going on. If you are ever in the area, make sure to go tour these beautiful gardens.
For more from Christopher about Leu Gardens, check out his full article at Christopher Cupcakes by clicking here.
Blog: Christopher CupcakesInstagram: @christopher.cupcakes; Facebook: Christopher Cupcakes; Twitter: @chris_cupcakes1 }

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4. General Public House (Winter Springs, FL) — Tel Wallace
We are all creatures of habit, and when we get used to doing the same thing in the same area, it can be difficult to try something new. I’m extremely guilty of this. My husband and I lived downtown for 3 years and anything outside of a five mile radius seemed too far to travel. So wouldn’t you know it, we ended up closing on a home TWENTY miles outside of downtown (shocker)! And as you can guess, we had to change our “only hang out downtown” mentality. It was honestly a blessing in disguise. With this newfound freedom to venture the outskirts of Orlando, I was thrilled to try a new restaurant in Winter Springs. My friend Dana, had been raving about General Public House, and it was about time I try it. First, can I just tell you how absolutely cute this place is, it’s like a farmhouse meets modern dream! I not only loved the aesthetics but the service was phenomenal too, and we even got a free appetizer! The kitchen demos food daily and the manager, CJ, sweetly decided Dana and I deserved it that day. I’ve only been there for lunch (the Hand Held Salmon BLT was amazing) but they offer a killer brunch that I fully intend to come back for. If you’re looking for a cute and tasty place to check out, this hidden gem is the place to go!
Instagram: @tel_wallace }

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10 Hidden Gems in Central Florida to Visit in the New Year | Wellness & Wanderlust

Photo Credit: JIsForJourney.com

5. Downtown Winter Garden — J Is For Journey // Jessica Ortega
Central Floridians have a lot of options when choosing between cute historic downtowns: there’s idyllic Mount Dora, or up-and-coming Sanford, and then there is the mainstay Winter Park. However, there is one downtown scene that I absolutely love that is not on this list: Winter Garden. My dad is a train aficionado so I’m totally a sucker for a cute train depot, and Winter Garden can check that off your list with the Central Florida Railroad Museum. They also have an incredibly lively Heritage Museum filled with historic items, memorabilia, and interesting local lore. During you can wander in and out of cute boutique shops, a brewery (a requirement for day tripping), cozy coffee shops, and swinging benches down a flower-lined median. Yep, this place has it all! And if you are still downtown in the evening, the Garden Theatre often has vintage movies or live theater shows.
Blog: J Is For Journey; Instagram: @jisforjourney }

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6. Orange Tree Antiques Mall (Winter Park, FL) — So Damn Local // Sarah Bolandi
A few years ago, I became a voracious record collector. Part of the fun, or I’d say most of it, has been not just the hunt for records but for shops. There’s something about the smell of old, dusty record sleeves and the faint sound of a slightly obscure but familiar song at vinyl shops that sends me into record nirvana. This summer, I was shown quite possibly the most dive-y of all record spots I’ve been to (excluding flea markets). The Orange Tree Antiques Mall in Winter Park has a bit of a hidden gem in the back. Past the retro pez dispensers and random knick knacks is small space filled with hundreds of completely disorganized records. During the rainy season, a soothing drip came from somewhere in the ceiling as I got lost in hours of vinyl hunting. While alphabetical order is typically helpful, the disarray adds to the charm. Of all the Central Florida spots, this on is my go-to shop for the old and extra smelly, super cheap records, quietly tucked inside an antique store.
Instagram: @sodamnlocalFacebook: @sodamnlocal }

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10 Hidden Gems in Central Florida to Visit in the New Year | Wellness & Wanderlust

Photo Credit: @_myownmelody_

7. Island Grove Wine Company at Formosa Gardens (Kissimmee, FL) — My Own Melody // Courtney Dias
You don’t need to travel around the world to be adventurous. Sometimes the best traveling you can do is right in your hometown. A short drive from home, I found a place I would love to share with you. Island Grove Wine Company has such a classic countryside feel with Parisian accent. Once inside, everything seemed so effortlessly placed to intrigue their guests, whether drinking around the bar located in the center or just wandering around finding the cutest trinkets, merchandise, and endless amounts of wine. You also could feel the warmth of the staff, which makes them feel more like friends rather than strangers. If you’re ever in Florida and want to explore something new or simply want to enjoy great hospitality, definitely stop by Island Grove Wine Company at Formosa Gardens for a date night. You can do anything from dinner (side note: the food is so good), wine tasting with the girls, or a paint and sip event. Trust me when I say, this truly is a hidden gem that makes being away from home a bit more sweeter.
Want to read more from Courtney’s experience? Stay tuned for her upcoming guest blog here at Wellness & Wanderlust!
Instagram: @_myownmelody_ }

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10 Hidden Gems in Central Florida | Wellness & Wanderlust

Photo Credit: NatureCoaster.com


8. Chinsegut Hill Manor Museum and Retreat Center (Brooksville, FL) — NatureCoaster // Diane Bedard
High atop a hill in Brooksville Florida, about an hour north of Tampa and two hours west of Orlando is an historically significant home that offers tours, nature trails, comfortable retreat cabins, and a spirit where lost things are regained; Chinsegut Manor Museum. Originally homesteaded in in the 1800s, this three story gem has two wrap-around porches – on the first and second stories – and views to make North Carolina proud. Chinsegut Hill’s last private owners were dedicated to human rights and moved in powerful political circles, with Raymond Robins being an advisor to 7 U.S. Presidents. Their clothing, artwork, furniture and spirits are still on “the Hill,” which they named “Chinsegut,” an Alaskan Inuit word meaning “the spirit of things lost and regained.” Visitors such as Helen Keller, J.C. Penney, Thomas Edison came to Chinsegut to visit Raymond Robins, Margaret Drier Robins and Elizabeth Robins.

Visitors can tour the grounds, opt for a self-guided tour or a guided tour, rent the cabins overnight, discover the WPA-built outbuildings, visit the tiny cemetery where some of the previous residents are resting or plan an event. The museum features a second story room where visitors can read letters of the day and explore the people that made history here.
You can read more about this beautiful manor and the families who have lived there on NatureCoaster!
Blog: NatureCoaster; Instagram: @nature.coasterFacebook: @naturecoaster }

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Photo Credit: CityWhit.com

9. Historic St. Augustine — CityWhit // Whitney Gonzalez
Hike just over an hour from Orlando to explore the oldest city in the U.S.–St. Augustine. The walkable historical destination is packed with interesting things to do, including climbing 219 steps to the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse and exploring Castillo San Marcos for an artillery demonstration. The city also has a reputation for being one of the most haunted cities. Catch a ghost tour while you’re in town and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Blog: CityWhitInstagram: @city.whit; Facebook: @city.whit }

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10 Hidden Gems in Central Florida | Wellness & Wanderlust

Photo Credit: KimKonnection.com

10. Taste Events — Kim Konnection // Kimberly Thevenin
Although it is known for sunshine, Disney World, and its hometown team (go Knights), Central Florida is also home to something usually reserved for the likes of NYC – delicious eats. From local chains to small, family-owned restaurants, Central Florida is home to a variety of tasty places to grab a bite. It can be hard to test out all the foods Central Florida has to offer but luckily a few cities are making that task a little easier with their Taste events, which allow people to try food and drink samples from nearby restaurants. For pricing, these events either charge a ticket for entry and allow you to eat anything available, or have free entry and you only pay for the food you try. Taste of Winter Park (April), Taste of Oviedo (March) and Taste Central Florida (September) are a few of my favorite local taste events and I highly recommend them if you’re looking for something
unique to do while you’re in town.
Blog: Kim Konnection; Instagram: @kimkonnectionTwitter: @kimkonnection }

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Thank you to all of our local bloggers who contributed! I can’t wait to check out your hidden gem locations in 2019. 

Readers, what parts of Central Florida are you most excited to explore this year? Sound off in the comments!