Sunday 25 Sep 2016

Altamonte Springs
AJ Robinson

Altamonte Springs is an overlooked area of the Greater Orlando community. As it is north of Orlando, it is away from the theme parks, which probably has something to do with it. More is the pity, as the area has a lot to offer. There's shopping at the mall, which also has a large multiplex movie theatre; and it is always busy. Yet, it's also a rather nice, quiet place. It's one of the few theatres that I'd feel safe dropping my teenage daughter and her friends off at.

The area is also conveniently located. You just head east on I-4 and take the Altamonte exit, and the mall is right there, just off State Road 436. Then, the best places are on the other side of the interstate, where 436 runs west toward Apopka. That is where the "Congo River Golf and Exploration" is located. It's a cute little miniature golf course, much like I remember playing at with my Dad when I was a kid.

Spring in Florida is among the most comfortable of times; the heat and humidity are tolerable, and the summer crowds have yet to arrive. I decided to introduce my daughter to the joys of miniature golfing. At first, she thought it all rather silly; trying to smack a little ball into a hole using just a putter. As time rolled along, she started to get into it. Granted, the course wasn't as interesting as the one from my childhood, they didn't have a "pinball game" hole, but it was still a fun place.

One little extra that we particularly liked, was that the course features a scavenger hunt of sorts. On your scorecard, they give you a list of about half a dozen things to look for during the game. You write down the hole you find each item on, and then enter a drawing for a free game. They also have baby alligators on display in a pen, and you can buy food to toss to them.

Despite the ease of the course, we were there most of the afternoon. Afterwards, we considered going next door for a bite to each. That's another great thing about the area; they've more restaurants than you can shake a stick at, and then cover all tastes. Next to the miniature golf is a Chuck E. Cheese. Just down the road is Olive Garden, Perkins, T.G.I. Friday's, and even a Longhorn Steakhouse. If you just want a snack, the golf place as a snack bar.

Although it isn't the largest attraction, in the area, and definitely not the fanciest, we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. I like to think I gave my daughter the same sort of memories my dad gave me, all those years ago.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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