Getting to Know Orlando
June 7, 2010 1:52 PM   Subscribe

I need help avoiding the Mouse. I've just moved to Orlando and need fun, non-touristy things to do.

I've lived in Florida my entire life, mostly in the Tampa area, so I understand that tourism is important to our economy. That being said, it seems like it takes extra effort in Orlando to find the secret, local-approved things to do. I'm hoping you have some suggestions for me, so I can start making Orlando feel more like home.

Things I'm looking for: local restaurants (cheap, fancy, whatever, any kind of food, mostly just off the beaten bath), vintage stores and thrift stores, craft-related events or stores, ethnic markets, and any other secrets you wish to share!

I'd also appreciate any web resources that will keep me up on events, or general Orlando tips. I also have a small shih tzu, so pup-friendly ideas are very welcome.

My new digs will be in the College Park area, but I'm up for driving around if necessary.

I'm looking forward to your suggestions!
posted by cndelia to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Food & drink: Dexter's, 4 Rivers Smokehouse, the Ravenous Pig, Redlight Redlight.

Stores: I like the area around Park Avenue to shop and browse, I'm not too good at thrift or vintage shopping though.

For the other things you asked about (crafts, vintage etc), check out Design Sponge's Orlando guide. I went to school in Orlando, worked in Orlando, and didn't know about most of the list, so it's definitely off the beaten path.
posted by funfetti at 2:17 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

My sister lives in College Park, and every time I visit I especially love the Saturday morning Farmers' Market in nearby (as in, bikeable) Winter Park. Definitely puppy-friendly, I often take the mutt with me. There's even a fellow there who sells caterpillars - it's so cool to watch them become butterflies!

There are a lot of places on Edgewater in College Park that you might like; my favorite is Infusion Tea - delicious tea, vegetarian fare, and a cool little attached shop that reminds me of a bricks and mortar Etsy. And just last week I went to The Dandelion Cafe, which had tasty vegan/veggie stuff, too ...
posted by DingoMutt at 2:49 PM on June 7, 2010

Springs along the St. John's River. The one I am familiar with is
Blue Spring, south of DeLand, the largest of all. This site shows several others.
posted by yclipse at 3:21 PM on June 7, 2010

Definitely food and music at Taste in your neighborhood. Also Jax's is good. And you're pretty close to the White Wolf Cafe and Pom Pom's both cool places.
posted by white_devil at 4:38 PM on June 7, 2010

Oops. Forgot the Social Chameleon!
posted by white_devil at 4:41 PM on June 7, 2010

White Wolf Cafe is tasty; I'd second that. Another fun Winter Park thing I just remembered is their periodic "Popcorn Flicks" series - bring along a bottle of wine and watch a movie in the park for free; it's delightful!
posted by DingoMutt at 6:25 PM on June 7, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks so much for the awesome suggestions. You all guessed exactly what I was looking for! I'm going to be pretty busy in the upcoming weeks.

@Funfetti: A+ on directing me to the Design Sponge guide. That's what I get for neglecting that blog for a few months--they post exactly what I need!
posted by cndelia at 9:35 PM on June 7, 2010

Do the tourist stuff. You'll be glad you did if you move away, and you'll be able to give (expected!) advice when friends/relatives visit.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 3:14 PM on June 8, 2010

Stardust Video & Coffee is a nice hangout in Audubon Park that also has a little market on Mondays.

You'd probably also really like the "Little Vietnam" area along Colonial, basically between Bumby and Mills. There's a big Vietnamese market, and quite a few restaurants.

Orlando Weekly is usually a fun read for local news, arts, music, etc, and has a pretty good event calendar too.
posted by matteesee at 7:08 PM on June 8, 2010

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