Orlando’s Mills 50 District
There are countless reasons to visit Orlando — and we’re not just talking about theme park rides and standalone attractions. For locals, the main draws can be found outside our tourism district, where eclectic neighborhoods and charming, smaller cities offer unique dining, nightlife, shopping and culture that are worth experiencing.
Learn more: Orlando Neighborhoods
One of the best examples, our Mills 50 District, is part of the Orlando Main Streets program and waiting for your next visit to The City Beautiful.
One of Orlando’s oldest neighborhoods, and located directly north of the adjacent downtown core, Mills 50 is a Main Street America-accredited program. The district’s name is derived from its primary, intersecting thoroughfares: Mills Avenue and State Road 50, aka Colonial Drive.
The Mills 50 District is known for its assortment of brightly colored, professionally illustrated murals that pay homage to various aspects of Orlando living. In fact, Mills 50 has more distinctive, large-scale murals than any other district in the city — not to mention public art boxes and even painted dumpsters and storm drains.
Learn more: Orlando Murals
Laying claim to a sizable Asian-American and Pacific Islander community, Mills 50 hosts a culturally diverse lineup of restaurants, nightspots (including live music venues), retailers and service providers. It also offers quick access to a one-of-a-kind city park that’s packed with museums, galleries and theaters. You can easily spend a day exploring this area.
You won’t lack for great places to eat when you visit Mills 50 — starting with many of Orlando’s 46 MICHELIN Guide restaurants. They include Bib Gourmand honorees The Strand Food & Drink and Z Asian, as well MICHELIN Guide Recommended eateries Black Rooster Taqueria, Shin Jung, Sticky Rice and Tori Tori, plus others.
Learn more: Orlando’s MICHELIN Guide Restaurants
You’ll discover numerous other Asian restaurants in the area. Covering a range of flavors and cultures, standouts include Chuan Lu Garden, Little Saigon, Mamak Asian Street Food, Ming’s Bistro, Nha Trang Subs, Poke Hana, Pop Thai, and Yamasan Sushi & Grill, among many others.
Mills 50 also has Black Bean Deli, which has been serving traditional Cuban dishes for nearly 20 years. And that’s on top of the MICHELIN Recommended Black Rooster Taqueria. Can’t decide between Asian and Hispanic/Latin menus? Mix and match at popular fusion restaurants such as Pig Floyd’s Urban Barbakoa and Tako Cheena.
Learn more: Hispanic and Latino History & Culture
You can dig into gourmet takes on traditional American dishes, too, starting with the aforementioned MICHELIN Bib Gourmand The Strand Food & Drink. Also of note is Bites & Bubbles, which is influenced by French cuisine. Other choices include pub fare and a massive beer selection at The Twisted Handle, and slices as big as your head at Lazy Moon Pizza.
Mills 50’s dining choices are perfectly complemented by its nightlife. One of the most popular venues is Will’s Pub, which is a great place to see live bands — as are its sister clubs, Lil Indies and Dirty Laundry. But the fact is, you can’t throw a stone without hitting a memorable place to grab a drink in this district. It even makes its own alcohol, thanks to Ten10 Brewing Co. and Quantum Leap Winery.
Learn more: Orlando Breweries
In addition to a wealth of murals and other forms of public art, cultural highlights in the Mills 50 District include The Center Orlando, which is one of the oldest LGBTQ+ service-providers in the nation. A short drive east of Mills Avenue will take you to Harry P. Leu Gardens in the Audubon Park Garden District, featuring 50 acres of gorgeously cultivated flora, including 40 diverse plant collections from around the world.
Learn more: LGBTQ+ in Orlando
Part of Ivanhoe Village Main Street but close to the north end of Mills 50, Loch Haven Cultural Park has some of the best reasons for arts aficionados to visit Orlando. They include Orlando Museum of Art, The Mennello Museum of American Art, Orlando Shakespeare Theater (aka Orlando Shakes), Orlando Family Stage, Orlando Fire Museum and the headquarters of Orlando Ballet, which performs at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Orlando.
Learn more: Orlando Arts & Culture Events
The collection also includes Orlando Science Center, which is one of Orlando’s many STEM-focused attractions geared toward kids and their families. And every May, the park hosts the annual Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, aka Orlando Fringe, which showcases a plethora of theatrical productions and is the longest-running event of its type in the United States.
Learn more: Orlando STEM Attractions
Orlando’s Mills 50 district features an engaging mix of shops and service providers, many of which predate the area’s renaissance as a dining and nightlife hub. A prime example is Colonial Photo & Hobby, which has been serving the community for more than 60 years. As its name implies, this store doesn’t just offer the latest photography equipment, but also merchandise to feed just about any hobby imaginable.
Learn more: Orlando Comic Book & Hobby Shops
Variety is at the heart of Mills 50’s other retailers. Stock up on exotic Asian groceries and merchandise at Dong A Imports, or nab cool threads while supporting a great cause at Out of the Closet Thrift Store, to name two of the area’s most unique shops. A recent edition is Lacastro Store, which offers boutique shopping just for men.
Learn more: Orlando Shopping
Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that Mills 50 and the adjacent Ivanhoe Village Main Street district offer a huge collection of spas and salons. Pop into any of these venues for a relaxing treatment that will leave you feeling rejuvenated and ready to explore more of this hip district the next time you’re in Orlando.