Expect the Unexpected in Orlando Neighborhoods
Think you know Orlando? If you’ve only experienced our tourism districts, think again! Beyond the theme parks and attractions, Orlando’s neighborhoods and nearby cities offer endless adventures with dining, nightlife, arts & culture, outdoor recreation, shopping, and other surprises that locals love — and that you deserve to experience during your next visit. And now, you can get a sneak peek before you even arrive via Tripadvisor's Visit Orlando Experience on Alexa. Just say, “Alexa, launch Visit Orlando.”
What’s more, the Main Street America-accredited Orlando Main Streets program makes it a snap to track down eclectic neighborhoods that are worth your attention, with a focus on distinct areas that stretch from Orlando International Airport (MCO) to downtown Orlando and beyond. While intriguing neighboring cities aren’t included in Orlando Main Streets, they’re also easy to find, with most being no more than 30 minutes from downtown Orlando.
So, secure a rental car, taxi or ride-share service, or hop on a tour bus or the SunRail commuter train service — it’s time to explore the unexpected side of Orlando.
ORLANDO MAIN STREET DISTRICTS
The following Orlando Main Street districts include downtown Orlando and its adjacent neighborhoods. If you’re only visiting the destination for a limited time and want a taste of local living, these are the areas that best deserve your attention.
Our central Orlando Main Street district encompasses the dynamic heart of downtown Orlando and provides immediate access to many other neighborhoods you’ll want to visit. This is where “authentic Orlando” begins.
Learn more: Downtown Orlando
If you seek culture, make a date with City District’s state-of-the-art Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, which hosts Broadway productions, the Orlando Ballet, concerts, comedians and more. It’s also home to the acoustically remarkable Steinmetz Hall. Or, enjoy live music at The Beacham and several intimate venues, as well as improv at SAK Comedy Lab.
Learn more: Orlando Arts & Entertainment
Alternately, the Orange County Regional History Center and Heritage Square Park spotlights 12,000 years of Central Florida history. You can also view varied, rotating exhibitions from local and international artists at CityArts, a funky collective of independent art galleries, plus more at Snap! Orlando.
Learn more: Downtown Orlando Virtual Tour
City District boasts an enticing variety of dining and nightlife, too. Acclaimed downtown restaurants include Artisan’s Table, The Boheme at Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando and DoveCote Restaurant. Headed by Chef Wendy Lopez, Reyes Mezcaleria is another fantastic option in the North Quarter district adjacent to City District.
Learn more: Orlando Restaurants
Try the motor-centric Ace Cafe Orlando for a mix of pub fare and nightlife, including live music on select nights, or grab a brew at Motorworks Brewing. You can also chase the night at Wall St. Plaza, which features seven different themed bars, or the Sky Lounge at Amway Center, among other options.
Learn more: Orlando Breweries
Last but not least, be sure to visit Lake Eola Park, the crown jewel of downtown Orlando. Take a ride on one of the park’s rentable, swan-shaped paddleboats for a trip around the namesake lake, and you’ll see why we’re called The City Beautiful.
Learn more: Orlando Public Parks
Although downtown Orlando’s Parramore District is one of the newest members of the Orlando Main Street program, it’s also one of the most historic. It preserves and celebrates the more than 140-year-old Parramore neighborhood while bringing awareness to the rich, deeply rooted culture of Orlando’s African American community.
Learn more: Orlando History
One of the best ways to explore the district’s robust history is by visiting the Wells’Built Museum of African American History and Culture, constructed in 1921 by Dr. William M. Wells. Originally serving as a hotel for Black travelers in the then-segregated South, including many famous musicians, the Wells’Built now houses memorabilia of Orlando’s African American community, displays of the Civil Rights movement, and African art and artifacts.
Learn more: African American History and Culture in Orlando
Parramore also host a majority of the city’s professional and collegiate sporting events. These include the NBA’s Orlando Magic, NAL’s Orlando Predators and ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears at the Amway Center, plus the MLS’ Orlando City Soccer Club and NWSL’s Orlando Pride at Exploria Stadium.
Learn more: Orlando Sports
Plenty of great businesses await in the Parramore area, too. The city’s only commercial National Register Historic District is home to restaurants such as The Monroe (in honor of Wells’Built founder Dr. Wells’ middle name), Foodies Cafe and Nikki’s Place Southern Cuisine, plus retailers that include Neu Blooms, Popcorn Junkie, Chloe Lane Embroidery and Palmer Feed Store, among others.
Beer-lovers will want to visit the Parramore District for its bespoke breweries. These include Big Storm Brewing Company and Broken Strings Brewery.
Adjacent to downtown Orlando, Ivanhoe Village Main Street has something for just about everyone, including historic homes, acclaimed dining, cultural venues, specialty shopping and funky street art. Until its revival as a nightlife hub, the district’s namesake thoroughfare, Ivanhoe Boulevard, was colloquially known as Antique Row. While you can still get in some quality antiquing when you visit, the district has added many forward-looking retailers, too.
Learn more: Ivanhoe Village
But make no mistake: dining and indie flair are the main draws here. For upscale-casual fare with an unbeatable view, reserve a table at Russell’s on Lake Ivanhoe, overlooking its beautiful namesake. Other delicious Ivanhoe Park eateries include Santiago’s Bodega, The Greek Corner, Ta-Ke Sushi Bar, Gnarly Barley, White Wolf Cafe, and The Hall on the Yard, a new food hall featuring numerous dining options.
The homegrown beers at Ivanhoe Park Brewing Company serve as an excellent complement to the district’s dining options. Other bars and lounges include The Lucky Lure, The Imperial at Washburn Imports, Hideaway Bar, Nora’s Sugar Shack and The Matador, as well as LGBTQ+ venues such as The Hammered Lamb and Savoy Orlando.
Learn more: LGBTQ+ in Orlando
Even nature-lovers will enjoy Ivanhoe Village, which connects to the Orlando Urban Trail. The 3-mile path runs from Lake Highland in Orlando to Mead Botanical Garden in Winter Park, passing six gorgeous lakes along the way.
Although it’s not a neighborhood, the unique, 45-acre Loch Haven Cultural Park is part of Ivanhoe Village Main Street district, adjacent to Audubon Park Garden District and Mills 50, and minutes from downtown and other Orlando districts. More importantly, it’s home to museums and galleries that are must-visits for patrons of the arts.
Learn more: Orlando Museums & Galleries
Venues include Orlando Museum of Art, The Mennello Museum of American Art, Orlando Shakespeare Theater (aka Orlando Shakes), Orlando Repertory Theatre (aka Orlando Rep), Orlando Fire Museum and the headquarters of Orlando Ballet, which performs at downtown’s Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
In May, Loch Haven Park hosts the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, aka Orlando Fringe, which is the longest-running event of its type in the U.S. The park also has Orlando Science Center, one of our best STEM attractions.
Learn more: Orlando STEM Attractions
Just east of downtown Orlando, The Milk District is named after its centrally located T.G. Lee dairy plant, which features an eye-catching, rooftop cow statue and bovine murals. This area serves as a progressive lifestyle, music and cultural hub, and it also has plenty for gourmets — starting with Kabooki Sushi, a MICHELIN Guide Recommended restaurant that serves the creations of two-time James Beard Award-nominated Chef Henry Moso. (A second Kabooki location is part of Restaurant Row closer to the theme parks.)
Learn more: Orlando MICHELIN Guide Restaurants
Other dining options include one of Orlando’s oldest: Beefy King, which has been serving an award-winning selection of hot sandwiches and crispy tater tots for more than 50 years. The district also lays claim to Stasio’s Italian Deli & Market, MX Taco, and the MICHELIN Guide Recommended Se7en Bites.
Food Network fans might recognize the latter’s award-winning Chef Trina Gregory-Propst, who’s been featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and Guy’s Grocery Games. For late-night eats, stop by Pom Pom’s Teahouse & Sandwicheria — home of the popular Mama Ling Ling’s Thanksgiving Sandwich.
Another major draw for foodies is Tasty Takeover, a weekly food truck event that takes place on Tuesday nights. And at A La Cart Orlando, long-term and mobile vendors serve some of Orlando’s best street fare and locally produced beers all week long. Another multifaceted option is The Milkhouse, a comfortable creative space with some of Central Florida’s most notable food and beverage brands.
The Milk District has numerous places to catch live music, too, starting with The Plaza Live, which hosts the Orlando Philharmonic and a wide range of shows. You can also see bands at The Nook on Robinson and Whiskey Lou’s Lounge. Other places to get a drink in The Milk District include Sideward Brewing Co., Sportstown, and LGBTQ+ spots like Southern Nights, District Dive and Southern Craft.
Learn more: Orlando Nightlife & Entertainment
For shopping in The Milk District, stop by retail locations along Robinson Street and Bumby Avenue, including Etoile Boutique. Nearby, Colonial Plaza is a walkable, open-air center with a mix of national and local retailers, plus some tasty restaurants.
Learn more: Orlando Neighborhood Shopping
Featuring colorful, large-scale street murals created by professional artists, and heavily influenced by Asian and Pacific Islander culture, Mills 50 is named after its main, intersecting streets: Mills Avenue and State Road 50 (aka Colonial Drive). One of Orlando’s oldest neighborhoods, the district has transformed into a nightlife hotspot in recent years, up to and including making its own alcohol at Quantum Leap Winery and Ten10 Brewing Co.
Learn more: Orlando Murals
Mills 50 doesn’t lack for bars and lounges, either. Will’s Pub and its sister venue, Lil Indies, are some of the best places to see live music, particularly if your tastes run to the eclectic side. Even without entertainment, Will’s is a memorable place to get a drink. Grumpy’s Underground and Wally’s Mills Avenue Liquors offer unique ambiance of their own.
Learn more: Orlando Events
You certainly won’t go hungry while visiting Mills 50, not with one of the largest concentrations of MICHELIN Guide restaurants in the Orlando area. They include Bib Gourmand honorees The Strand Food & Drink and Z Asian, as well as Black Rooster Taqueria, Hawkers Asian Street Fare, Shin Jung, Sticky Rice and Tori Tori, all of which are MICHELIN Guide Recommended.
Learn more: Mills 50
Another top choice, Bites & Bubbles, pairs French and American sensibilities, but Eastern cuisine is king here. Additional options include Chuan Lu Garden, Nha Trang Subs, Little Saigon, Mamak Asian Street Food, Poke Hana, Pop Thai, and Yamasan Sushi & Grill.
If you prefer Hispanic and Latin flavors, stop by Black Bean Deli. And for sublime fusions, try Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa or Tako Cheena.
Learn more: Hispanic and Latino History & Culture
This neighborhood’s unique character extends to its retailers. One of the oldest is Colonial Photo & Hobby, where you can get the latest camera gear or feed your favorite pastimes. Other notable stores include Dong A Imports, Lacastro Store, and Out of the Closet Thrift Store. And for pure pampering, it’s tough to beat Mills 50’s collection of full-service spas and salons.
On the east side of Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando, Thornton Park District is a stylish dining and nightlife area known for brick-lined, canopied streets with a distinctly European feel.
Thornton Park is home to several delicious eateries, including local favorites such as Soco Restaurant, The Stubborn Mule, RusTeak Thornton Park, Anthony’s Thornton Park, 310 Lakeside, Jinya Ramen Bar, The 808, Island Time, Cavos Bar & Kitchen, and Mason Jar Provisions.
This district has many unique ways to light up the night, too — literally in the case of Stardust Lounge, an underground club that features retro-chic Vegas stylings and shares a building with Aku Aku Tiki Bar, which is upstairs. Thornton Park’s entertainment options also include The Abbey, a unique venue that hosts themed music nights and live theater.
Although technically in Orlando’s Colonialtown neighborhood, Maxine’s on Shine is a MICHELIN Guide Recommended restaurant that’s just east of the Thornton Park District. A local favorite for dining, it’s a must-visit when you’re in this area.
As its name implies, this increasingly lively district is south of downtown Orlando. It is also home to the Pulse Interim Memorial. Located on the site of the former Pulse nightclub, this temporary memorial is dedicated to a hopeful future where all people will be free to live their own truths. Free to visit, it’s open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., with extended hours during Pulse Memorial Week and select holidays.
Delicious fare can be had at Brick & Fire Pizza, Numero Uno Cuban Cuisine, Clean Eatz, SoDo Sushi Bar & Grill, Johnny’s Fillin’ Station, The Aardvark, Shaka Donuts and Sugar Divas Cakery. For nightlife, try Delaney’s Tavern, Rockpit Brewing and Swirlery Wine Bar. You can get your shop on in SoDo, too, with options like Freshfields Farm, Fleet Feet and Foreign Accents.
At the very south end approaching the city of Edgewood, you’ll find one of Orlando’s most acclaimed, longest running restaurants, Le Coq au Vin, which is a must-visit for connoisseurs of French cuisine.
Audubon Park Garden District is a Great American Main Street Award-winning community, located 15 minutes from downtown Orlando and adjacent to Winter Park. It is the hub of Orlando’s organic movement, thanks to an organic community garden and urban “farmlettes” created in part by Fleet Farming, which teaches homeowners how to grow their own food.
Learn more: Audubon Park
The area’s west side also has Harry P. Leu Botanical Gardens, offering 50 acres of beautifully cultivated flowers and plants. In 2019, the National Wildlife Federation designated the Audubon Park Garden District as the region’s only Community Wildlife Habitat, making it the first in Central Florida and the 18th in the State of Florida to receive this honor.
Learn more: Orlando Gardens & Zoos
The charming district is anchored by East End Market, where you can purchase farm-to-table cuisine and artisanal merchandise. Two of the best reasons to visit this venue are Domu, a MICHELIN Guide Recommended eatery, and Gideon’s Bakehouse, which specializes in small-batch, handcrafted cookies and cakes. In fact, Gideon’s is so popular that they had to open a second location at Disney Springs®.
East End Market also houses La Femme du Fromage, Winter Park Biscuit Co., Old Hearth Bread Company, La Boutique, and Dochi Donuts. The district’s main strip, Corrine Drive, has more can’t-miss sweetshops, including P Is for Pie Bakery, The Salty Donut and Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream.
Learn more: Ice-Cold Treats in Orlando
Beyond East End Market, gourmets will want to try Kadence — one of four MICHELIN Star restaurants in the Orlando area. Other options include Sushi Lola, Bem Bom, 1803 Pizza Kitchen, Junior’s Diner & Mexican Grill, and Bikes, Beans & Bordeaux Cafe.
When you’re ready for a good brew or spirits, head to Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour or Stardust Video and Coffee, the latter of which boasts an impressive Scotch collection. Finish off your evening and show off your vocal skills at Big Daddy’s with nightly karaoke beginning at 9 p.m.
Orlando is one of several U.S. cities with a College Park area. But whereas most are designated as such because they’re close to a college, ours derives from the fact that many of its streets are named after famous colleges. While you’re there, see if you can find your own alma mater.
Learn more: College Park Main Street
The college-named streets are not the only quirky aspect about this traditional, walkable, neighborhood commercial district, which pairs a hometown, close-knit community feel with superb dining, shopping and cultural opportunities, just 10 minutes from downtown Orlando. Famed author Jack Kerouac liked the area so much that he started writing The Dharma Bums while living in College Park from 1957 to 1958, which is the same period during which On the Road was published. Today, the historic home gives burgeoning writers a place to live and hone their craft as part of The Kerouac Project.
College Park has much for shoppers, too, including one-of-a-kind finds at Driftwood Market, Bijou’s Boutique and Ritzy Rags. You’ll also find everything you need for bicycling at Orange Cycle, hip music and clothing at Foundation, handcrafted bath and body products at Naked Bar Soap Co., and even cosplay gear at Embellish FX.
This district’s culinary options range from counter-service to fine dining. Highlights include The Taproom at Dubsdread, The Soda Fountain, Southern Home Bakery, Armando’s, Jade Sushi & New Asian, Thai Farm Kitchen, Tin & Taco, College Park Cafe, Christo’s Cafe, and Trevi Pasta.
Minutes west of downtown Orlando is the West Lakes Market Street District, home to Camping World Stadium and local legacy businesses like Goff’s Ice Cream, a family-owned ice cream shop since 1948. Another local favorite, Art’s Sandwich Shop has been serving the West Lakes neighborhood since 1972.
Among these legacy businesses, though, are new restaurants and retail spaces like Deadwords Brewing, Re-Runz Record Store, Chico’s Sub Shop, SMILE Ice Cream Company and the Caribbean Sunshine Bakery. Don’t forget to stop by Phantom Fireworks for holiday sparklers and celebratory needs.
Afterward, put on your best country-western hat and boots and dance the night away at Cowboys Orlando, which opened in 1969. It features Orlando’s largest dance floor and is the destination’s No. 1 place for country music. And if you’re into dance music, book tickets now for the next Electric Daisy Carnival, which takes place in at historic Tinker Field adjacent to Camping World Stadium every November.
Curry Ford West is one of our Market Streets, a sub-designation of the Orlando Main Streets program. It is set apart from other districts with its distinct, mid-century modern-inspired design and architecture, and commitment to being a truly family-friendly neighborhood focused on embracing the deep community roots. In fact, many families have lived in the neighborhood for multiple generations. Running along Curry Ford Road, the district is about 15 minutes from the city’s core and a short walk or bike ride from beautiful Lake Underhill Park.
You’ll find a vast collection of beer in Curry Ford West — both locally brewed and from around the world — at venues like Roque Pub, The Commission Beer Chamber, Claddagh Cottage Irish Pub and Hourglass Brewing. Meanwhile, this district’s restaurants bring international flare to the table, starting with the MICHELIN Guide Bib Gourmand honoree Papa Llama. You can also enjoy some of the best pizza in Orlando courtesy of the MICHELIN Guide Recommended Pizza Bruno.
Other local favorites include La Fiesta Mexican Grill, JJ’s Fresh From Scratch, Daybreak Diner, Cilantro’s Taqueria, Theo’s Kitchen, and more. While you’re there, make sure to stop and snag a cookie from Charlie’s Bakery & Creamery, one of Orlando’s oldest bakeries, having served the community now for more than 50 years.
Designated as an official Orlando Market Street, Gateway District stretches northward on Semoran Boulevard from Orlando International Airport to State Road 408, making it the primary route for visitors who have just touched down in Orlando. It’s known as the world’s gateway to Orlando and Orlando’s gateway to the world.
Gateway District is an international area and a melting pot of cultures and cuisines, including deep roots in Hispanic and Latino culture. The area has numerous restaurants, nightspots and retailers, including notables such as Rock & Brews, El Cafetal Bakery & Restaurant, Bonchon Orlando, High Tide Harry’s, Oh Que Bueno, El Cilantrillo, Thai Island, and Napoli Italian Pizzeria.
Whether you’re looking to shop small or visit large-scale retailers, the Gateway District is the place to be. Visit the new mural in the Gateway District at Sedano’s Supermarket for a photo-op, too.
The perfect date night could be a trip to the Gateway District’s own Marlow’s Tavern for a delicious dinner, followed by a feature film at Epic Theatres in the Lee Vista Promenade. In the Gateway District, there’s something for everyone.
MORE ORLANDO NEIGHBORHOODS & NEARBY CITIES
The following cities, towns and neighborhoods are destinations in their own right. Better still, all are about 30 minutes or less from downtown Orlando.
Luxury-minded visitors won’t want to miss the charms and wonders of Winter Park, located 20 minutes northeast of downtown Orlando. Along its tree-lined, cobblestoned streets, you’ll encounter some of Central Florida’s finest dining, acclaimed museums and galleries, exquisite shopping opportunities, and natural splendor. We’d call it a hidden gem, but the charming city’s reputation precedes itself.
Learn more: Winter Park
Winter Park’s epicenter is Park Avenue, a gorgeous, walkable thoroughfare that runs along Central Park with restaurants, museums and exceptional shopping. It terminates at Rollins College, which boasts the Rollins Museum of Art. Offering free admission, the facility houses more than 5,600 pieces of art ranging from the ancient to modern periods.
Learn more: Free Things to Do in Orlando
A portion of the museum’s offerings is displayed as the Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at The Alfond Inn, a stately hotel that’s also owned by Rollins and is home to a farm-to-table eatery, Hamilton’s Kitchen. Other museums in Winter Park include The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, featuring a massive selection of work by Louis Comfort Tiffany, and the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens, dedicated to its namesake artist.
Learn more: Winter Park Virtual Tour
These offerings are complemented by the annual, nationally recognized Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival in March, as well as October’s Winter Park Autumn Art Festival, which exclusively features Florida artists. If you prefer live entertainment, get tickets to The Winter Park Playhouse, or enjoy live music and a tour of historic Casa Feliz.
When you’re ready to eat, you can’t go wrong with The Ravenous Pig, a seasonal gastropub headed by James Beard-nominated Chefs James and Julie Petrakis, who also run The Polite Pig at Disney Springs. The Ravenous Pig is one of two MICHELIN Guide Bib Gourmand eateries in Winter Park, with the other being Swine & Sons.
Another James Beard nominee, Brandon McGlamery, is the driving force behind Park Avenue’s Prato, a MICHELIN Guide Recommend restaurant, as well as Luke’s Kitchen in nearby Maitland. Other can’t-miss Winter Park eateries in the immediate Park Avenue area include the MICHELIN Guide Recommended Kai Asian Street Fare and Orlando Meats, as well as AVA MediterrAegean, blu on the avenue, Bosphorous, Chez Vincent, 310 Park South and Umi Sushi. More great restaurants are just a short drive away, including The Glass Knife, Bulla Gastrobar, Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster, Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen, and Rocco’s Italian Grille & Bar.
Learn more: Orlando’s Top Chefs
Meanwhile, Park Avenue’s collection of boutiques challenge you to shop till you drop with fashion, jewelry, books, gifts and much more, including options that range from high-end local specialty stores like The Ancient Olive Gourmet to nationally recognized retailers. Just a short drive from Winter Park’s core, Winter Park Village has even more shopping and dining.
Learn more: Winter Park Shopping
Finally, don’t skip on Winter Park’s many opportunities for outdoor activities and relaxation, starting with the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour. It will give you a taste of Winter Park’s Chain of Lakes, which encompass 2,781 acres of pristine waterways over 12 major bodies of water. The city also has 11 amenity-laden public parks as well as the Winter Park Golf Course, which has nine holes and is on the U.S. National Registry of Historic Places.
Less than 10 minutes from Orlando International Airport and 20 minutes from downtown Orlando — but still inside Orlando city limits — Lake Nona is a globally recognized, 17-square-mile community that’s home to superb dining, one-of-kind entertainment experiences, world-class sports venues, hundreds of annual events, one of Central Florida’s most robust public art programs, and some of the region’s most gorgeous scenery.
Learn more: Lake Nona
In 2021, the community added state-of-the-art boutique accommodations courtesy of the Lake Nona Wave Hotel, which has some exceptional dining choices. They include BACÁN, which is MICHELIN Guide Recommended, and HAVEN. The hotel is also adjacent to the Lake Nona Sculpture Garden, which is free to visit, and guests receive access to the Lake Nona Performance Club and its Chopra Mind-Body Zone and Spa.
Many of the top reasons to visit this area can be found at Lake Nona Town Center. Here, you’ll find chef-driven restaurants like Chroma Modern Bar + Kitchen exceptional Turkish fare at Bosphorous, and wood-fired pizza and house-brewed beer at Park Pizza & Brewing Company. At the nearby Laureate Park Village Center, reserve a table at the waterfront and Canvas Restaurant & Market. More great food, plus beach volleyball, nightly live entertainment, a kids' playground, a dog park and more, can be enjoyed at Boxi Park, a deconstructed food hall built from repurposed shipping containers.
Learn more: Lake Nona Virtual Tour
Just a short drive away, you can cool off at Nona Adventure Park. Test your skills on a floating aqua park, a cable park for wakeboarding and waterskiing, a climbing tower, and a ropes course, plus a pro shop and bistro. Play like the pros on the tennis, padel or pickle ball courts of the U.S. Tennis Association National Campus, the largest tennis campus in the world. And when you’re ready to practice your swing, head over to Drive Shack Orlando, which turns golf into fun games like Monster Hunt and the blackjack-influenced ShackJack.
Historic Eatonville, located about 15 minutes north of downtown Orlando, has much for art and history aficionados. Part of the Florida Main Street program, it’s one of the oldest African American municipalities in the United States, having been incorporated in 1887. No less important is that the town was the childhood home to celebrated author Zora Neale Hurston (Their Eyes Were Watching God), whose legacy continues to be felt to this day.
Hurston is honored at the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum, aka the Hurston, which serves as a memorial to its namesake and provides gallery space to artists of African descent. While donations are encouraged, admission is always free.
Eatonville also pays homage to the author with the annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities, aka ZORA!® Festival. Held at locations in Eatonville and around the Orlando area, the week-long celebration focuses on the arts and education, including several events that are free to attend. The festival traditionally takes place in late January and early February.
Some of the Orlando area’s best Black-owned restaurants can be enjoyed in Eatonville, too. Top options include Brick & Spoon, Mad Crab Seafood & Wings, and Soul Food Fantasy.
Not to be confused with Winter Park, the city of Winter Garden is one of Central Florida’s most beloved communities. You could easily spend a day or more exploring its dining, nightlife, entertainment and outdoor adventures, all just 30 minutes west of downtown Orlando and 20 minutes north of Walt Disney World® Resort.
Learn more: Winter Garden
Running through the middle of the city’s bustling downtown district, Plant Street boasts historic architecture and superb dining and entertainment. It’s anchored by Plant Street Market, home to Crooked Can Brewing Company and numerous eateries and lounges. Plant Street Market itself is a gourmet’s dream, with a range of cuisines that pair perfectly with the brewery’s house-made beer selection. RusTeak Restaurant & Wine Bar, Urban on Plant and The Hangry Bison are other top choice for foodies in Winter Garden.
Plant Street also has the Garden Theatre, which dates to 1935 and hosts a robust schedule of live theater and concerts, plus classic films. Also in this area, the Winter Garden Heritage Foundation operates the Winter Garden Heritage Museum and the Central Florida Railroad Museum, while American Ghost Adventures offers walking tours of the city’s spooky side.
But for those who love the great outdoors, Winter Garden has no bigger draw than the West Orange Trail, a paved, bucolic pathway that stretches 20.8 miles to Apopka in the north. With gorgeous scenery and ample amenities, including playground equipment for kids, the trail is perfect for hiking and biking. Didn’t bring a bicycle with you? Check out Winter Garden’s West Orange Trail Bikes & Blades Co., which offers bike rentals for adults and children, and even trailers for kids who are too young to pedal.
Learn more: Orlando Ecotourism