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Sports and Recreation

Best of Orlando 2010:Sports & Recreation


Sports & Rec. City Park - Dog Park - Local Sports Team - Miniature Golf Course - Place to Bowl - Place to Camp - Place to Work Out - Pool Hall - Public Golf Course - River to Canoe/Kayak - Shooting Range - Skateboard Park - Theme Park Ride - Theme Park - Water Park - Yoga Studio

Sports & Rec

Best City Park
1st: Lake Eola Park

2nd: Central Park

3rd: Blue Jacket Park

Best Dog Park
1st: Fleet Peoples Park

2nd: Dr. Phillips Park

3rd: Paw Park

Best Public Golf Course
1st: Dubsdread Golf Course
549 W. Par St.

2nd:  Winter Pines Golf Club
950 S. Ranger Blvd., Winter Park

3rd: MetroWest Golf Club
2100 S. Hiawassee Road

Best Yoga Studio
1st: College Park Yoga
706 W. Smith St.

2nd: Orlando Power Yoga
2415 E. South St.

3rd: Shine On Yoga
619 N. Thornton Ave.

Best River to Canoe/Kayak
1st: Wekiwa Springs State Park
1800 Wekiwa Circle, Apopka

2nd: Econlockhatchee River

3rd: (tie): Rock Springs Run State Reserve
State Road 46, Sorrento

3rd:  (tie): Blue Springs State Park
2100 W. French Ave., Orange City

Best Local Sports Team
1st: Orlando Magic

2nd: Orlando Predators

3rd: Orlando Titans

Best Shooting Range:
1st: East Orange Shooting Sports
7210 Gardner St., Winter Park

2nd: Shoot Straight
4700 S. US Highway 17-92, Casselberry
1349 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Apopka

3rd: Oak Ridge Gun Range [12]
6160 S. Orange Ave.

Best Miniature Golf Course
1st: Congo River Golf
Multiple Locations

2nd: Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf
8501 International Drive
12545 State Road 535

3rd: Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf
1205 N. Epcot Resort Blvd., Lake Buena Vista

Best Skateboard Park
1st: Vans Skatepark
5220 International Drive

2nd: Orlando Skate Park
400 Festival Way

3rd: Rippin’ Riverside Skatepark
1608 Lockwood Blvd., Oviedo

Best Place to Bowl
1st: Boardwalk Bowl
10749 E. Colonial Drive

2nd:  Firkin & Kegler
12850 Waterford Lakes Parkway

3rd: Colonial Lanes
400 N. Primrose Drive

Best Theme Park Ride
1st: The Incredible Hulk Coaster
Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando

2nd: Manta
SeaWorld Orlando

3rd: The Amazing Adventures of Spider-man
Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando

Best Place to Camp
1st: Wekiwa Springs State Park
1800 Wekiwa Circle, Apopka

2nd: Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
4510 N. Fort Wilderness Trail, Lake Buena Vista

3rd: Ocala National Forest

Best Theme Park
1st: Universal’s Islands of Adventure

2nd: Disney’s Magic Kingdom

3rd: SeaWorld Orlando

Best Place to Work Out
1st: YMCA
Multiple Locations

2nd: LA Fitness
Multiple Locations

3rd: Planet Fitness
Multiple Locations

Best Water Park
1st: Wet ‘n Wild

2nd: Disney’s Blizzard Beach

3rd: Aquatica

Best Pool Hall
1st: Sportstown Billiards
2414 E. Robinson St.

2nd: Trick Shots Billiards
Multiple Locations

3rd: Clicks Billiards
2524 S. Semoran Blvd.
1455 N. Semoran Blvd., Casselberry

Writer's Picks

Best garters and gridiron

Orlando Fantasy,
Lingerie Football League

The city of Orlando didn’t warm to the professional, if sedate, Orlando Miracle WNBA team years ago, so that team left town in 2003 and renamed themselves the Connecticut Sun. Perhaps the spice and spectacle  of the much-hyped Orlando Fantasy, a new team that’s part of the Lingerie Football League, will meet with better success. The Fantasy held tryouts in May, and they’ll play their first game on Sept. 24 at the UCF Arena, battling the Tampa Breeze. It’s an all-women’s tackle league — and the players are equipped with helmets, shoulder and knee pads, and yes, bras, panties and garters. 

Best theme-park hideaway

The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
4510 N. Fort Wilderness Trail, 
Lake Buena Vista

If you stay at the faux-Northwestern log cabin Fort Wilderness resort, in order to get to the actual Disney theme park you’ve got to hop on a ferry that travels around the back, way past a mysterious wooded island filled with active, athletic outdoorsmen and women doing things other than gorging on room service and buying up souvenirs. Who are these heathens, you ask? They’re campers at the real “fort” of the Wilderness resort, a 750-acre getaway with horses, beach volleyball, water sports, fishing and exercise trails. Starting at just $59, which gets you a full hook-up campsite for one RV, two tents, electricity, water/sewer, a grill and a picnic table, you can enjoy the Magic Kingdom without the sedentary guilt. 

Best way to die with the wind in your hair

Black Hammock Adventures
2356 Black Hammock Fish Camp Road, Oviedo

Keep your hands and feet inside the airboat, for under the black waters of Lake Jesup lurks the largest concentration of gators in the country – it’s estimated that more than 10,000 of them cruise the lake’s depths. You’re bound to catch sight of a few as Black Hammock’s tour guides take you on a death roll through the swamp ($23.95 for a 30-minute ride), weaving and j-turning the airboats through the gator-laden waters. If you’re lucky, you’ll also catch sight of wild boar, turtles and bald eagles along the way. 

Best way to get a new football field

The Citrus Bowl sod fiasco 

January’s pigskin follies didn’t come without a price tag. The city spent $36,000 on Bermuda grass to try to make the old Citrus Bowl presentable for national consumption. The only problem was that it didn’t get around to putting down the sod until just days before the 2010 Champs and Capital One games. TV audiences nationwide got to watch as the cleats of the college-football players ripped up the sod in flying chunks. Immediately after the debacle, the city went into crisis-management mode, promising a thicker $69,000 sod makeover. By April, though, still stinging from that embarrassment, the city went ahead with an agreement that included the installation of $1 million worth of artificial turf. 

Best family-friendly tribute to an alleged child molester

Captain EO’s return to Epcot at Walt Disney World

In 1986, Epcot featured a then-novel attempt at pop-culture relevance by debuting Captain EO, an extravagant 3-D movie that merged George Lucas, Anjelica Huston, Francis Ford Coppola and Michael Jackson in a silly science-fiction sing-off. Now that M.J.’s (alleged) sins have been washed away by untimely death, Disney returned EO to Epcot for a summer “tribute” run. Try not to flinch when the King of Pop protrudes from the screen.

Best date spot to play with your balls

Bocce ball court at Portofino Bay Hotel
5601 Universal Blvd.

Park in the Universal Orlando garage ($3 after 6 p.m.) and take a water taxi from CityWalk to the Portofino Bay Hotel. Time the visit at sunset, and you’ll arrive to a live opera performance in the plaza. Follow signs to the spa, then turn right to the pool. Tucked among the Roman baths are a couple of freely usable bocce ball courts nestled into the pseudo-Italian Riviera scenery. We promise that there’s nothing more romantic than a friendly game of lawn bowling.

Best resurrected fronton

Orlando Jai Alai 6405 U.S. Highway 17-92, Fern Park 407-339-6221

Did you know that Florida is the only place where jai alai, that puzzling sport of kings (or at least of council elders) in which competitors hurl a “pelota” from a “cesta” at 150 mph while people bet on … um, we’re not sure … is still played? In the whole country!  Back in December, Orlando Jai Alai in Fern Park was forced to close its doors after 47 years, thus moving the sport from endangered to nearly extinct. That is, until an unnamed buyer swooped in and saved the place. Huzzah! The gambling joint, which employs more than 100 people, is now back in business and looks to be able to continue throwing its balls around for a long time to come. 

Best way to be both gay and a jock

Gay Orlando Sports

Not all of Orlando’s gays are down in the Glee basement with Kurt practicing the choreography to “Single Ladies”; some are secretly crushing on footballing fumbler Finn. Fortunately for them, offers a number of outdoor-activity options that shed gay stereotypes (or keep them). Softball, bowling, biking, tennis, running and, gulp, Gays and Lesbians on Water Skis (GLOWS!) are among the sports available, and they’re not all totally gay. The fact that the various groups are listed on the site is “not an indication of the sexuality of any particular player, manager, coach or owner,”’s website clarifies. That’s up to you to find out. 

Best gator cheese

14501 S. Orange Blossom Trail

You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced the distinct brand of gator cheesiness served at Gatorland. The family-run, 1949-founded attraction has always provided its signature gator wrestling and chicken-chomping “Gator Jumparoo Show” with a sizable side of kitsch. Last Halloween, however, the creative forces really layered on the redneck cheddar with a white trash versus UFOs haunted trail. For vintage Velveeta on a budget, there’s no better reptile resort or Halloween horror.

Best almost-champions

Orlando Titans

So, what about that Orlando sports team that plays at Amway Arena and made it all the way to the semifinals and then got beaten at home before making it to the big game? Wait. Did that happen? Yes, it did, to the Orlando Titans, our fair city’s professional indoor lacrosse team. Team captain Casey Powell was awarded the National Lacrosse League’s MVP honor and was also named to the NLL’s All-Pro team along with the team’s goaltender Matt Vinc. All-star and MVP players and a semifinalist team – all in the team’s first season in Orlando.

Best civic water sport

The Lake Eola fountain scandal 

For nine months, the City Beautiful’s symbol of errant irrigation was dormant, just sitting there in its own green-tinged rust like a melted down Statue of Liberty. Why? An August 2009 lightning storm took the life out of the Lake Eola fountain and what followed was a comedy of aquatic errors that included private philanthropic efforts – a failed Phantom of the Opera benefit, some musings from local band/gurgling pool of awful Biteboy. Although the city’s insurance company is only promising $285,000 toward the projected $1.5 million overhaul of the stately nuisance, the city plans to go ahead with its water-feature redo. For now, though, a couple of motors have been restarted and everything is apparently back to normal. Apparently.
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