Families from across the world alongside Disney enthusiasts of all ages make their way towards Orlando, Florida year after year in impressive numbers. Over 20 million visitors stepped through the entrance to Magic Kingdom alone in 2019—breaking previous years’ records with ease. While Orlando is known and loved for its exciting theme park stops, it’s also a destination rich in history. For those that have a heart for exploring more of the stories that make up the destination, there are plenty of historical Orlando attractions to add to your itinerary.
While Orlando is a place that welcomes visitors with open arms today, in the early 19th century, the story was very different. During the Seminole Wars, Fort Gatlin was constructed just south of the city to protect early settlers from potential attacks. The Jernigan family is credited with being the most prominent of establishing settlers in this area and by 1840, the city was named after them. By 1850, the settlement was growing northward and even included a post office. By 1856, the settlement of Jernigan included 85 residents and officially changed their name to Orlando. History provides a few potential reasons for this name change ranging from a local judge naming the city after an admired colleague to a potential naming based on a Shakespeare character, just to name a few.
The town of Orlando was officially incorporated in 1875 but its history stretches back centuries to a time when First Nation groups called the land home. Visitors to Orlando looking to learn more about this rich history will want to make a stop at the Orange County Regional History Center while they’re in town. Located at 65 E. Central Boulevard in the heart of downtown, this museum is built into the Orange County Courthouse which holds historical status in and of itself. Inside the museum, visitors can enjoy browsing a collection of displays and exhibits that stretch back nearly 12,000 years in time to highlight local and regional history. From tribal history and major battles through settlement and modern architecture, this museum is charged with preserving and presenting the area’s story in a seamless fashion. The museum is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sundays from 10:00 am until 7:00 pm. Admission cost is $8 for adults and $6 for children 5 and up.
Establishing a thriving city takes time, and one of the most important parts of the process is making sure there are emergency services firmly in place to protect citizens. Whether you’re a visitor that’s interested in the history of firefighting or are traveling with little ones with a passion for this dynamic profession, a stop at the Orlando Fire Museum promises to please. Situated at 814 E. Rollins Street, the Orlando Fire Museum is built into a restored firehouse dating back to 1926. Situated within the greater Loch Haven Cultural Park, the museum is open to the public Fridays and Saturdays between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and offers up tours that highlight the city fire department’s history. The firehouse was in service from 1926 to 1978 but opened up as a museum in 2002. Inside, guests will be able to browse displays that include everything from a 1926 fire engine to exhibits that highlight the evolution of firefighting gear and tell the tales of major city fires too.
Art is a fantastic medium for capturing the passage of time and commemorating major moments through painting, sculpture, and design. The best of it all can be enjoyed with a stop at The Mennello Museum of American Art when you’re in Orlando on a historical journey. Found at 900 E. Princeton Street, The Mennello Museum of American Art is a dual museum and sculpture garden where guests can enjoy admiring work of both traditional and contemporary artists. While the work of Earl Cunningham is continuously on display, guests can also find collections that feature the most innovative of sketches, photography, sculpture, and beyond. The Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday between 10:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.mm with opening hours adjusting on Sundays beginning at noon. Admission is $5 for adults and $1 for children 6 and up.
When you’re ready to make your way to Orlando and can’t wait to capture the fun and thrill of it all, having just the right accommodations in place can make all the difference. Reach out to Global Resort Homes today to learn more about our many rental property options in the area that keep you close to those places you want to learn about and explore while living in comfort and style. We can’t wait to welcome you to sunny Florida soon!