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.

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So, you have decided to attend the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando!  Now, you have some arrangements to make.

  1. January is the time to register.  If you have not registered, don’t delay.  Visit the ALA website.  The lowest registration rate is available until March 16.
  2. During registration, you will have an opportunity to book your hotel.  International Drive (I-Drive) is the nearest to the convention center.  Stay as close as you can.  (Trust me, you will thank me later.)  While the majority of sessions and events will be in the convention center, it is enormous and you are going to walk your feet off.  A closer hotel allows you to catch some rest if you need to.
  3. Next is Airfare.  February and March are ideal times to book your flight.  Don’t wait too late.  Orlando is host to numerous conferences in June.  There will be others vying for those seats.
  4. April and May will be the time to start planning what events you will attend.  You may also want to think about vacation activities, if you are able to build some free time into your schedule.  Some activities require reservations.  See the YALSA Conference WIKI to start planning your conference experience!

Next time I’ll write about,  What to Bring to Florida, What to Leave at Home.

Vandy Pacetti-Donelson is a Library Media Specialist. She is a 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.