Orlando is a city of neighborhoods; each with their own distinct character and appeal. To truly enjoy Orlando, venture off International Drive and explore the diversity of Orlando through its neighborhoods.
College Park, where many bungalow-lined streets (Harvard, Yale, Vassar, etc.) are named for famed institutions of higher learning. Ground zero for shopping, dining and nightlife is the intersection of Princeton and Edgewater – CP’s de facto “Main Street.”
Truffles and Triffles—Take a cooking class. http://trufflesandtrifles.com/
Jack Kerouac House—are you a budding writer and need to spend some focused time working on your craft. Check out the Kerouac Project. http://www.kerouacproject.org/
Dechoes Resale Emporium– this enterprise is upscale and filled with high-end merchandise. Filled with cardigans, funky knickknacks, vintage tees, granny dresses, shoes, hats, jewelry, and belts, this store is a treasure trove of style. You can also sell them your own things for cash, but note that their standards are very high.
Infusion Tea– Bright cafe & shop provides light vegetarian fare & a tea selection highlighting organic blends. http://www.infusionorlando.com/
Les Petit Pleasures—authentic French bakery, crepes, croissants, and café au lait.
The Soda Fountain– an old-fashioned soda fountain experience. They serve ice cream, shakes and malts. http://www.thesodafountain.com/
Ollie’s Public House— tattooed hipsters of varying generations happily share space with jersey-clad sports fans and young suburban parents with wee ones in tow, any of whom might be enjoying one of the televised games. Ollie’s is a clean, comfortable space, serving up a decidedly local’s-joint kind of vibe that’s offset by a simple but surprisingly creative roster of food and drink. http://www.olliespublichouse.com/
Old Orlando lakefront is a walkable and bicycle-friendly district home to eclectic dining, funky shops and swanky nightlife.
Factur– Take a class at this “fabrication laboratory” and get the run of their MakerBot Replicator v5, Weller Digital Soldering Station and Shopbot CNC Router. Factur holds an open house most Thursday evenings from 4 to 7 p.m. The second Thursday of each month is special, hosting The Market at Factur, a place where you can see demos and purchase goods that our members are making. They schedule free and paid classes on a regular basis, on topics from 3D printing to electronics, crafts, wood and metal working. Individualized training can also be arranged. www.factur.org
Orlando Shakespeare– This full-season professional theater includes the works of William Shakespeare and other classics, holiday comedies and a series of plays for young audiences. Summer offerings have not yet been posted to the website, check for more information. http://www.orlandoshakes.org/
Orlando Science Center– For sixty years, the Orlando Science Center has been a place that inspires curiosity and exploration. Truly one of the great activities for Orlando families, the Science Center encourages learning in a fun way. Orlando Science Center is a must for your “things to do in Orlando” list. With four floors of exciting exhibits, amazing giant screen movies and engaging live programming, the Science Center is the perfect family destination. I rainy day activity – fun for your entire family and completely indoors! Check website of shows and science live presentations, posted monthly. http://www.osc.org/
Mennello Museum of American Art– This beautiful lakefront facility is home to sculpture gardens and a permanent collection of paintings by American Primitive artist Earl Cunningham, along with other traditional and contemporary artists. http://www.mennellomuseum.com/
Orlando Museum of Art– With permanent collections of American art, African art and works of the ancient Americas, the museum also hosts prominent traveling exhibitions. The museum will be holding its Prize in Contemporary Art Exhibition throughout the month of June. www.omart.org
White Wolf Café — It’s a lovely little restaurant in the “Antique District” on Orlando Avenue, just north of Downtown Orlando. It was featured on Rachel Ray’s $40 a day show when she came to Orlando for the Food Network. They are quite popular for their weekend brunch as well as for their dinner right before the different theatre shows go on in the evening time. http://www.whitewolfcafe.com/
Santiago’s Bodega —offers all-you-can-eat-and-drink at its weekend brunch, and combines the steam-table options with carving stations and made-to-order omelets, waffles and other comestibles.
You can have your fill — perhaps a bit more — of prime rib, crab legs, biscuits and gravy, pasta and, of course, desserts. And you can swill it all down with bottomless mimosas or sangria. It should be noted that the regular lunch menu is also available for those who don’t feel the need to eat and drink themselves into midday oblivion. http://www.santiagosbodega.com/
Imperial Wine Bar @ Washburn Imports– Neighborhood bar housed in a furniture store offers microbrews & boutique wines, plus patio seating. http://www.imperialwinebar.com/
Hammered Lamb– Located across North Orange Avenue from beautiful Lake Ivanhoe, The Hammered Lamb is your friendly neighborhood pub nestled in the up and coming Ivanhoe Village Main Street District of Orlando. Full liquor bar with all of your favorite cocktails and shots, 20 draft beers, over 75 bottled and canned beers and over 20 wines by the glass and bottle. Down a train shot when the SunRail goes by! http://thehammeredlamb.com/
Vandy Pacetti-Donelson is a Library Media Specialist. She is a Florida Native, library advocate and Board Director for the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME). Find her online at www.eliterateandlevelingup.com or follow her on Twitter @VandyPD.