By Jane Dunkelberger
I was recently given the chance to join a group of bloggers to test drive various Chevys for the day while touring historical Winter Park and Orlando. We visited some attractions that most tourists may not know about.
Our journey began with a relaxing hour-long boat tour with Scenic Boat Tours of Winter Park, Fla. Established in 1938, this 18-passenger pontoon boat guided tour takes you through the Venetian canal and chain of lakes around Winter Park. Our tour guide was well educated about all the history of the city. We traveled passed the home of famous author, Margaret Mitchell. That home is where she wrote the last pages of Gone with the Wind.
The Scenic Boat Tours are available at the affordable rate of $12 per adult and $6 per child (2-10), and it may be the longest attraction you’ll ride in Central Florida without waiting in line for an hour. Each tour starts on the hour, every hour, every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., except on Christmas day.
As we ended our boat tour, the next adventure began by getting into a Chevy Cruze Eco. It comes with a touch screen control panel above the radio for navigation, air control and music, just to name a few. It also has two phone chargers, which is very unique. This Chevy Cruze Eco was a four cylinder and rode very smooth. The U.S. News and World Report recently named the 2012 Chevy Cruze Eco “Best Car for the Money”. It also received the “2012 Top Safety Pick” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. With gas prices slowly creeping up this year, the Cruze Eco will make a lot of sense to many consumers – it averages 42 MPG on the highway. That’s great for a gas engine.
Continuing to our next journey, we had lunch at the new Italian-American cusine inspired al fresco dining at Prato, located at 124 North Park Ave in Winter Park. This rustic yet chic trendy restaurant was airy and bold with caramel-colored wood floors, and plants embedded into the wall. Our party of 18 was well received and quickly accommodated. My amazing caesar salad was bursting with sharp garlic and anchovy flavor, as a true caesar salad should. The croutons were unique in taste and very light. I also tried the pizza with asparagus. The flavors were well balanced with a little bit of a kick of spice.
I continued in the Cruze Eco to our next stop, Farris and Foster’s Famous Chocolate Factory in Baldwin Park. We were going to learn how to become Chocolatiers. Established in 2001, this chocolate shop also has a work area where one can learn how to make chocolates. They offer over 500 molds and also have fresh fruit and nuts for your chocolate. Farris and Fosters also have locations in Waterford Towers and in the Dr. Phillips area. They offer classes for kids every Saturday. Various events also include kids birthdays, date night, girls night out and team building.
After our chocolate lesson, it was time to switch Chevys and head towards Leu Gardens. I chose the Chevy Volt this time. I really appreciated this ride for the large readable numbers on the dash and the battery life of this electric car. Seats were roomy in the back as well.
Leu Gardens in one of my favorite gardens in Florida. Its 50 acres of lush tropical grounds give kids a chance to run freely with no worries. Leu Gardens also offers many classes, from horticultural to the arts. It is also the perfect setting to have a wedding. We actually saw a newly wedded couple pass by us during our tour.
Our final cruise of the day took us back to the tourist area we know, International Drive, where we dined at a new Southern Brazilian steakhouse named Fogo De Chao. It’s a dining experience like no other where a hearty appetite is surly welcomed. There are 15 different varieties of meat to choose from, along with a full salad bar.
I would like to thank GM Southeast for giving us this opportunity to Cruze the City Beautiful all day in these great Chevy cars. By far, the Chevy Cruze Eco was my favorite on comfort, gadgets and safety, while the Chevy Volt was a close second for economy and style.