During our last trip to Florida we stayed at a great old hotel in downtown Orlando. This is the older more historic part of the city -- some distance from all the large theme parks the city is famous for -- where you'll find older buildings, city hall and civic buildings, several museums, and a performing arts center. It's a great area to explore on foot, especially on a beautiful winter's day.
A focal point of Downtown Orlando is the park surrounding Lake Eola. In the late 19th century, the lake was formed when a sinkhole formed extending 24 feet deep; it was filled by an underlying natural aquifer, supplemented with rainwater.
The newly formed waterfront became known as Sandy Beach and locals enjoyed coming here to cool off. In 1883 the owner of the property, Mr. Summerlin, donated the land for public use; it was renamed Lake Eola after his deceased girlfriend. Five years later it became a public park.
Eola Lake covers about 23 acres and has a 0.9-mile (1.4 km) sidewalk surrounding the water. The place is a magnet for people of all types who enjoy a stroll around it the shore and the beauty of the lake and park. At its center is a water fountain (Linton E. Allen Memorial Fountain) which shots streams of water into the air and has a varying pattern of spray. It is lite up at night.
An important feature of Eola Lake Park is the Walt Disney Amphitheater, situated on its west shore. A "band shell,” has been in the park since 1886, but this one is recently rebuilt. A variety of concerts and live performances are held here, many free to the public.
(Walt Disney Amphitheater)
A large pagoda is on the shore, originally built in Shanghai but disassembled, shipped and reassembled at Lake Eola.
A variety of art is found in Eola Lake Park, a few examples including:
(A large piece of landscape art)
(Nice piece called "Take Flight")
There's also a Battle of the Bulge monument honoring World War II veterans dedicated on December 16, 1999.
Probably the main celebrities of the park are its many birds, including a variety of wading birds but especially its famous swans, introduced in 1922. There are several species living here and they are often feed and frequently photographed by visitors.
Lake Eola Park is surrounded by shopping, dining and drinking establishments, as well. A very nice way to spend a few hours in Downtown Orlando.