Patio season – that magical time of year the rest of the East Coast enjoys a crisp, chilly autumn, while central Florida settles in for a much milder second summer.
With lovebug season in the rearview and a breezy break from the crippling humidity rolling in, the outdoors of the not-always-sunny Sunshine State are finally tolerable. Luckily, if you don’t have your own screened-in porch or don’t have a gator/possum/armadillo-free screened-in porch, there are plenty of public options the greater Orlando area offers. Whether you’re looking for family-friendly, Tinder-friendly, brunch with the girls or cracking a cold one with the boys, here are some of my favorite versatile spots:
1. Crooked Can Brewing Company - Winter Garden, FL
Historic Downtown charm, proximity to one of the top regional Farmers Markets in Central Florida, and an integral part of the Plant Street Market collective, Crooked Can is a gem that both locals and tourists can enjoy. An indoor bar provides easy access to plenty of dining options (10/10 recommend Michael’s Ali Pizza), and outdoor seating is great if you’re bringing along any four-legged children. Crooked Can is a casual, all-kinds-of-friendly place, but feel free to dress it up and make it a night on the town. From signature to seasonal brews, there’s a flavor for every palette. Be sure to check if the Axum Coffee Chocolate Stout is on tap – A++ boozy brunch item, or feel free to finish off as a dessert.
2. Island Grove Wine Co. at Formosa Gardens - Kissimmee, FL
A newcomer to the Four-Corners area, Island Grove Wine Company at Formosa Gardens is an inviting venue to sip, savor, and get your sommelier on. This certified Florida farm winery features a wide variety of award-winning fruit wines, and partners with several other distributors to offer a world-wide selection. With two indoor bar and tasting areas, upper-level and lower-level patios, and a quaint front porch equipped with plenty of rocking chairs, it's dealer's choice when it comes to relaxing and wining. For those interested in dining, enjoy a farm-to-table inspired bistro experience, courtesy of a delicious partnership with Blue Grove Baking Company. You can also find unique gifts for every occasion, local honey, tapenades, and plenty of charcuterie accompaniments. Enjoy a tour of the developing winery grounds, or a stroll through the Majestic Heart Pavilion. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for the most up-to-date information on their agritourism events. Don't forget to grab a bottle of Sunshine State White Sangria before heading home!
3. Quantum Leap - Orlando, FL
After grabbing a slice at Lazy Moon, a tasting at Quantum Leap is just a hop and a skip down North Mills Avenue. Get a lesson in sustainability while savoring wines on tap at the bar, or see what local food trucks are stopping in for the day and soak in the urban winery vibes on the porch. Quantum Leap offers both domestic and international selections, and seasonal and experimental blends. Whether you’re looking for a bold red, sweet white, or any shade in between, the staff is always happy to help you find the perfect match. You won’t find any sprawling vineyard grounds here in the heart of Downtown Orlando, but ask to check out the barrel room if there aren’t any events going on. Bottles of Dog Watch, Pinot Grigio, Garda, and Panther’s Tale fit perfectly into their reusable wine bags, and keep good company with your pizza leftovers on your I-4 trek back home.
4. The Wine Room on Park Avenue - Winter Garden, FL
Grab your wine tasting card and get ready for the most overwhelming sipping spree experience of your life. Sample wines from around the world with state-of-the-art Enomatic wine dispensing machines, and find the perfect pairing for every gourmet grilled cheese on the menu. Small plates, hearty hot entrées, and the Fromage Cave offer something for every palette to take out to the curbside patio. If rain is in the forecast, cozy couches on the main level provide a casual, comfortable atmosphere. For a more upscale ambiance, be sure to venture downstairs to the bank vault turned velvet lounge. If you’ve got a sweet-craving palette, you can wash down the Chocolate Earthquake with samples of Honeyvine or Ca Montebello Sangue di Guida.