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.

Thornton Park

With its brick streets, moss-covered oaks, European-style shops and charming bungalows, Thornton Park on the banks of Lake Eola is a feast for the eyes!  After spending whole morning at the conference and an afternoon at the pool, spend the evening walking around Thornton Park and grab a dinner. Thornton Park was great for that purpose.  It is an 18-minute cab ride from International Drive.


SoCo– Southern contemporary cuisine with the menu designed by executive chef Greg Richie, acclaimed chef of Magnolias in Charleston and the Abbey in Atlanta.  Wholesome food presented in an environment of true southern hospitality, Soco offers guests the tradition of time-honored classics, combined with the excitement of the contemporary. Pork Belly Biscuits, need I say more.  http://www.socothorntonpark.com/

Dexter’s– A local’s established casual hangout that takes food and wine very seriously. Full bar, excellent service, and award winning Sunday brunch.  Build your own sandwich or enjoy a carefully prepared entree, everything is made fresh when you order it. The menu inserts and wine lists change every other month, so there is always something new and different to enjoy! Fusion cuisine, sidewalk cafe and menus for organics and local farm raised fruit, vegetables and meats.  http://thorntonpark.dexwine.com/dexters-winter-park/


The Falcon Bar and Gallery An independent and cutting edge experience in the arts & music in a bar setting. Enjoy the finest craft beers in Thornton Park District.


Audubon Park

Orlando-eco district with beautiful gardens and wild peacocks and farm to table restaurants.


Park Ave CD’s –touring bands in store where new & used CDs, DVDs and LPs, plus t-shirts, books, posters, magazines and other cool gifts fill the shelves. http://parkavecds.com/


Harry P. Leu Gardens — Explore an amazing 50-acre botanical oasis.  Each garden is designed specifically to further our mission: inspire visitors to appreciate and understand plants. The Leu House Museum located in the heart of the gardens reveals turn-of-the century living for the families who once called this home. http://www.leugardens.org/

Community Market every Monday evening –The Audubon Park Community Market is a weekly gathering of growers, ranchers, fishermen, chefs, artists, handicrafters, musicians and neighbors.  Since 2009, the Market has been Central Florida’s source for the best selection of local food; from freshly picked produce to fully prepared meals. This pet and family-friendly celebration of food, friends, art and live music takes place in the Stardust parking lot every Monday (rain or shine) from 6-10 pm.  http://audubonmarket.com/


East End Market—East End Market is a neighborhood market and food hub. The Market showcases some of Central Florida’s top food entrepreneurs, tradespeople, artists, and chefs. The two-story structure is home to a dozen merchants, a large event space, a demonstration kitchen, an incubator kitchen, offices, retail shops, a full-time, award-winning caterer and a world-class restaurant. The property is landscaped with Florida-friendly varietals, as well as home to a working market garden. East End Market is not only a hub for local food and culture, but also a community space fostering creativity and collaboration. https://www.eastendmkt.com/


Fatto in Casa– Founder Elisa Scarpa would like to invite you to the world of authentic Italian cuisine. An exciting and flavorful new culinary adventure awaits you. From appetizer to dessert : a wide array of mouthwatering , wholesome and freshly made food.  www.fattoincasa.us

The Smiling Bison– Handcrafted creative, high quality, delicious tasting foods while utilizing the local food supply chain whenever possible. The beverage menu contains a strong selection of craft beers coupled with an assortment of the best tasting wines available. The décor is a collage of local artists and photographers.  http://smilingbison.com/

Sushi Lola’s– Nestled tightly in a strip mall in the Audubon Park Garden District, Sushi Lola’s is bursting with cheerful character, and deceptively huge flavor. Sushi Lola’s features both sushi and Korean fare.  http://www.sushilolas.com/

P is for Pie– P is for Pie Bake Shop is a boutique artisan bakery. They specialize in small batch mini pies and sweets, offering a modern twist on classic American desserts. Everything is made from scratch by hand incorporating natural, seasonal and local ingredients to every extent possible. Patrons can enjoy hand pies, pies in mason jars, sandwich cookies, cobbler, pies on sticks, mini pies, cutie pies and even special order whole pies. Daily selections vary, but can include pecan pies, French silk, peach custard, blueberry crumb, oatmeal cream and many more. In addition to sweet pies, P is for Pie also makes savory pies from scratch, including chicken pot pie, cracked pepper veggie pie and more. http://crazyforpies.com/

Blue Bird Bake Shop – Hatched in 2008, Blue Bird Bake Shop began with a small group of good friends and a common love of home baked treats. Baked from scratch and in small batches, our cupcakes are made fresh daily. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, creamy butter, real fruit and Dutch-processed cocoa are just a few of the quality ingredients we use. Our passion for baking doesn’t stop there. Brownies, cookies, scones, muffins and other bakery fare are also on the menu. New recipes are always coming together in our kitchen, so you never know what unexpected treat you may be taking home.  http://bluebirdbakeshop.com/


Stardust Coffee & Video—founded 1970.  “Quasi-healthy food, beer, wine, spirits, mysticism, 10,000+/- internationally minded works of cinema (in two formats), a chapel, doors as tables, bathroom yoga, a photo booth, art shows, poetry from the modern talkies, fliers from around town, loose leaf teas, free wifi, parking lot bingo, a state of the art community bike rack, page of the day- weekly, liquid sugar, ice coffee, live music, live noise, unemployed apples, arguments, vespas & mopeds, baristas of mercy, we need a comedy night, waffles, quarterly grand-ma bazaars & dancing goats.” https://stardustvideoandcoffee.wordpress.com/

Redlight, Redlight Beer Parlour— This independent micro-brew haven is worth the trek.  A selection of worldly beers has earned a loyal following. http://redlightredlightbeerparlour.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.


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