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Going local in Orlando
Though its immense theme parks can make the rest of Orlando seem Lilliputian in comparison, it would be a mistake to miss out on the world beyond the roller coasters. Once guests leave the embrace of Disney, they’ll discover an eclectic city, with characterful communities, an ascendant arts scene, and nationally acclaimed restaurants. From the skyscrapers and fizzing energy of Downtown Orlando to the quaint charms of Winter Garden, these are the districts that deserve your attention.
It’s no wonder that Ivanhoe Village is considered one of Orlando’s hippest hoods – the district has it all, from nature and culture to gourmet goodies and serious style. Whether you choose to explore via the Orlando Urban Trail, settle in for a performance at the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, or tuck into an exceptional meal at one of Ivanhoe Village’s innumerable restaurants, there’s enough here to keep visitors busy for days.
The Milk District and Audubon Park
For those travellers with bohemian sensibilities, Orlando’s Milk District and Audubon Park – two neighbouring districts in the city’s northeast – are sure to appeal. Ground zero for Orlando’s locavore scene, artisan food movement, and local music circuit, both hoods offer up hipster cafes alongside community markets, and craft beer parlours juxtaposed with premiere concert venues. What’s not to like?
At the centre of dynamic Downtown Orlando lies Lake Eola Park – one of the city’s prettiest green spaces. It’s an oasis of calm in Orlando’s bright and kinetic heart, where visitors otherwise come to see games and gigs at the Amway Center, browse the galleries of the Downtown Arts District, or hit up swanky cocktail lounges after dark.
Previously dubbed “Little Vietnam,” and still home to one of the oldest Vietnamese communities in the country, the Mills 50 District is a popular destination for Asian eateries and cultural stops. There’s nowhere better in town to order a steaming bowl of pho or pick up an iced bubble tea, and its annual Lunar New Year Festival draws crowds in ever-increasing numbers. In its newer incarnation, the diverse neighbourhood also hosts destination diners, live music landmarks and other artsy addresses.