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  1. orlando is highlighted as the ‘my town’ piece {the last page of the mag} in this month’s issue of budget travel – looks like some wonderful insider tidbits…

  2. I agree with Megan. Winter Park is a must see and a true Central Florida treasure. Much prettier than Orlando, and the theme parks IMHO 😉
    Have fun on your trip!

  3. I grew up there–as you probably know, the Disney area is totally different from where most people live/work/shop. Winter Park is one of my favorite areas to walk, eat, window shop. It’s also across from a beautiful college campus (Rollins College) which is very old Florida.
    Food…While design/culture may be limited to a few gems, there’s actually a ton of good food in the area.
    Here’s a link to last year’s “Foodie” awards that the local paper do every year:,0,3642824.htmlpage
    I hope you have fun exploring!

  4. Try Season’s 52 ( in Altamonte Springs (only about a 10 minute drive from downtown Orlando on I-4). They have fresh dishes (all under 475 calories) and a good wine selection! I’m also going to second Thornton Park and Winter Park areas. I grew up in Orlando and those areas, BY FAR, are my favorite places!

  5. The Cornell Fine Arts museum at Rollins College in Winter Park usually has interesting exhibits, and has a great private collection. The Leu Botanical gardens in the Orlando / Winter Park area are a great respite, and a true southern garden – and this is the only time of year the weather is bearable! The Enzian theater in Maitland is always a good time (art-house movies with sofas and a full food and drink menu). Unfortunately, we find more cool stuff at the Saturday morning estate sales than in the stores here! There ARE great little pockets of retail here and there (Corrine Ave in Orlando / Winter Park, Edgewater in College Park, Park Ave in Winter Park). As far as food, The Ravenous Pig is wonderful, I second (and third) the Seasons 52 recommendation, and K Wine Bar in College Park is great as well. 310 Park on Park Avenue in Winter Park is great for weekend brunch, with sidewalk seating and people watching. Down in tourist-land (which is anything south of Conroy Rd / Millenia area) I’ve heard tell of an AMAZING Japanese restaurant called Hanamizuki that’s getting great reviews, but haven’t been able to try it yet. There’s plenty to do here that doesn’t involve theme parks!

  6. i wish i knew the name… there is this cuban restaurant in celebration that is heavenly and not expensive. i was there for work, totally skeptical and thought it would be touristy and terrible but it was the best food i’ve had in a long time!

  7. Definitely check out Winter Park – a great little area. It has been a couple of years since I have been there but great little shops and restaurants in this area (my grandparents used to live in this area).

  8. Love Season’s 52 as well, but would suggest the one on Sand Lake. Go for a late dinner, ask for a table on the back patio and if it’s clear out, you’ll see fireworks from the parks around 9 p.m. Would also suggest Infusion Tea and Taste in College Park. For coffee, Seven Sisters (on Mills) or Drunkey Monkey (on Bumby). Heard good things about Ceviche in Orlando. Stop in at Sam Flax if you need some art supplies.
    Columbia’s is the name of the Cuban/Spanish restaurant in Celebration. The town was planned by Cooper Robertson and Robert Stern and our town “logo” was designed by Michel Beirut of Pentagram, so falls into the designy category 😉 Hotel lobby hopping at Disney can be fun, my fav is Animal Kingdom Lodge.

  9. I was born and raised in Orlando – and one of THE BEST steak restaurants (BY FAR EVER) is Linda’s La Cantina on Colonial Drive. If you go early, they’ve got a much reduced early bird menu. Their steaks are to die for! I hope you have a great trip – it’s just an interesting city!

  10. I say get out of Orlando, if you can. Head for the beaches, just 45 minutes away. Hit New Smyrna and the Spanish River Grill on 44. Jb’s Fish Camp on Ponce Inlet, see the lighthouse. Drive to Orange City and watch manatee at Blue Springs. Head to DeLeon Springs and make your own pancakes at the mill.

  11. I just moved from there to Seattle. You MUST go to Stardust Video & Coffee, a bar, restaurant, coffeeshop, indie vid place. It’s the best and I miss it soooo much!

  12. Park Ave is great for shopping and people watching. I second The Ravenous Pig. Etoile Boutique on Robinson St. sells restructured vintage clothing and handmade items from several local artists. Also, if you enjoy beer and wine you should check out Redlight, Redlight. They have a large selection of specialty beers and a real laid back atmosphere. Hope you have fun while you are visiting.

  13. Definitely check out the farmers market in Winter Park & the other smaller areas/neighborhoods people have mentioned. Getting away from the theme park/airport area is a must. If you feel like watching a movie, Enzian is a nice experience. Indie flicks, with drinks and dinner while you watch. The vintage postcard almost looks like it’s from a state park, north of the city. I don’t remember the name, but there’s some springs there—I recall lots of people swimming. Some friends and I rented canoes there for a few hours to paddle through lazy streams where we saw gators and turtles and lots of birds.

  14. If I’m not mistaken, the Morse Museum near Orlando has magnificent Tiffany stained glass. and the Polasek Sculpture Garden and Museum is worth a visit for local inspiration as well.

  15. I’m jumping on the Winter Park band wagon. I used to live there and loved it. If you do go to Winter Park and you like Mexican food, you must go to PR’s. It isn’t fancy by any means, but it has lots of character, and the best fajitas and margaritas ever.

  16. Ravenous Pig is definitely the best newer restaurant in Orlando, and super unique. Season’s 52 is a chain but you’ll probably be close to Sand Lake Road where there are about a million restaurants. Antonio’s for Italian is a small Orlando chain which is super good. There’s one on Sand Lake and one in Maitland. If you venture up to Winter Park, don’t forget New England Ave, which intersects Park Ave, because there are some cute boutiques within walking distance. I live in Thornton Park downtown which has some great restaurants like Shari Sushi along Lake Eola. You could also ride the swan boats which is touristy but fun if the weather is nice!

  17. You should go to Disney’s town, Celebration. It’s so perfect it’s almost creepy. If you’re there after Thanksgiving, the town should be decorated for Christmas and the streets filled with carolers. Also, it “snows” every hour or so on the street where the Christmas tree is. It’s fun just to walk around and window shop.
    Oh, and the Ravenous Pig is probably the best food I have ever eaten!

  18. Ravenous Pig! Ravenous Pig! Ravenous Pig! Chef owned and delicious. On Orange Ave in Winter Park. Definitely worth the trip if you’re staying by the theme parks, especially if you’re going to check out Park Ave in Winter Park. Rollins College is also a beautiful campus and their Cornell Fine Arts Museum is small, but very well curated.

  19. Hello,
    I am also a lifestyle and design blogger living in Winter Park. Winter Park is a great little place for inspiration (it is old, and pretty) Park Avenue is the heart of town so to say, and while there are a few mainstreamed things, there are so many sweet little ins and outs. Some lesser mentioned stops in Winter Park are these 2 little home and design shops at the intersection of Park Avenue and Morse Avenue (sorry, I’m blanking on the names). There is an absolutely must see spice and tea shop at the end of Park Ave near Panera… any herb, spice, tea, etc you can think of, you will find there! The cheese shop next door is also awesome! For a light late afternoon snack and drink, stop by Eola, their bruschetta flight is fantastic, and their wine list quite extensive, also, enjoying the afternoon on the sidewalk is a classic for those in Winter Park. If you have pets, stop by The Doggie Door, lots of cute things! Also in Orlando/Winter Park area is the neighborhood of Baldwin Park, it is picture perfect community (think the movie the truman show) it is fun just to drive through and take a look. It also has a “heart” with cute little shops, and there is an absolutely delicious italian restaurant on the lake there called Lago. I hope this was helpful, enjoy your trip!

  20. Hi Joy,
    You should come to Lake Eola Farmers Market on Sundays from 10 to 4. There is live music, and all you can drink memosas and organic beer and wine in the park for only $10 starting at Noon. We have a little gourmet cheese stand and sell imported cheeses. The name of our business is Che Bella Cheese. There are lots of local farmers and crafts people, from home made jams and local honey to soaps and jewelry all right next to a great park. It’s in the Thorton Park area. There is also an awesome vintage shop in College Park that you HAVE to go to, I can’t go in without coming out with at least something that I’m in love with. And my rule is if you don’t love it don’t buy it. 🙂 It’s called Dechoes. They have a few locations but the one in college park is by far the best. You should also go to Wekiva springs national park it’s a natural spring and has crystal clear water, great for swimming or canoeing, you might even see a gator! Ok lastly the best sandwich place is Pom Poms on Washington and Bumby it’s open 24 hours and has amazing tea and the BEST sandwiches! I hope you come see us have fun in O town! xoxo


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