Written By: Sam Tetrault
Hey guys, I’m Sam! An Orlando-based writer who blogs at Samanthability.com and TheWanderingFloridian.com! I’m partnering with ToYouSnacks to share some of my favorite places to PURSUIT ADVENTURE in Orlando!
I actually just moved to Orlando a few months ago, and I’ve made it my mission to seek out new and exciting areas of the city. Before moving, I lived in St. Augustine on the Northeast Coast of Florida. St. Augustine, the oldest city in the country, had a much different feel than Orlando.
St. Augustine is cobblestone streets and 400-year-old Spanish forts. Orlando is International Drive and theme parks. Despite my misconceptions, Orlando has quickly proved itself to be a hip, invigorating place to live, and I’m excited to share some of my favorite spots with you today!
Located just south of Orlando, Celebration, FL was planned by the Walt Disney Company in the early 1990s, but today stands alone as a small village. Though small, Celebration packs a big punch. At times, this quaint district feels a little too perfect. It’s Orlando’s very own Stars Hollow, and it's become one of my favorite exploring spots.
Downtown Celebration is only a few short blocks, but the parks, local businesses, and lake make it look like something out of a movie. Hidden in a retro cinema is the Columbia Restaurant, which serves unbeatable Cuban sandwiches and black bean soup (maybe I’m biased since I used to work at their St. Augustine location). The Sweet Escape bakery also has excellent coffee and doughnuts. Basically, you can’t go wrong with any of the stops around their central hub.
The athletic center is open only to residents, but anyone can enjoy the tree covered lake walking trail that loops around the water and to the other side of downtown. I like to cool down after in one of the umbrella-covered rocking chairs on the lakefront and recharge with a ToYouSnack bar.
2. MILLS 50
Mills 50 is an unusual melting pot of fluorescent street art, holistic living centers, and tattoo studios. In other words, it’s everything I need in life. Walking the main streets of Mills 50 is like visiting a modern art museum, with huge murals taking over almost every wall.
Mills 50 is an Instagram wonderland, with the art deco architecture and street art. With Orlando classics like the Black Bean Deli and Tako Cheena, there’s a lot to see and even more to eat in Mills 50. This unpolished main street has a surprisingly large Asian influence that adds another element of exploration. With acupuncture facilities and Vietnamese markets, Mills 50 is a constantly evolving surprise.
3. AUDUBON PARK
Audubon Park Garden District is essentially the opposite of what you’d expect Orlando to be. It’s dominated by local businesses, quaint shops, and farm to table eateries. It’s a far cry from the corporate theme park wonderland I expected when I moved to Orlando, that’s for sure.
Audubon Park is my favorite place to spend an afternoon window shopping. There’s Park Ave CD’s, a surprisingly prosperous CD and record store that’s called Audubon Park home for 30 years. Also you can find a variety of boutique-like shops including Dear Prudence and The Owl’s Attic.
Before I leave, I always grab a craft beer at Redlight, Redlight. With over 250+ beers to select from, this bar is much more than it appears on the outside. I didn’t expect much from Corrine Ave’s high traffic, grungy feel, but it’s my quite possibly my favorite neighborhood in Orlando.
4. DANDELION COMMUNITEA CAFE
I love tea. Like, a lot. There’s no better place to get my fix than the Dandelion Communitea Cafe. Though Dandelion Cafe is technically located in Mills 50, I felt it deserved it’s own place on my list. As a herbivore, I’m always looking for more vegetarian places to get food beyond the typical salad. Dandelion Cafe has an organic all-vegan menu that satisfies both meat-eaters and plant-eaters, which is pretty impressive!
Though I like a good vegan lunch as much as the best plant-eater, I’m mostly infatuated with the humongous tea selection. We aren’t talking tea bags either, this place is legit. I always opt for their tea of the day because it comes with free refills which you bet I take advantage of!
5. EAST END MARKET
The East End market describes itself as Orlando’s neighborhood food market, open only to local farmers and food vendors. The East End Market even has its own garden outside on property, and you can purchase ripe, ready to eat food from inside. There are bakeries, breweries, and excellent restaurants represented inside, and this spot offers more than the average farmers market.
The East-End Market has ample patio seating amidsts succulents and palm trees, the perfect place to read a book or chat with friends. I always make a point of visiting Lineage Coffee, and I’m excited to keep trying more as this local destination grows.
| Explore Orlando
Orlando was named the second fastest growing metropolitan area in the country by Forbes this year, and it’s clear why. With picture perfect main streets like downtown Celebration and up-and-coming neighborhoods like Audubon Park, there’s something for everyone here!
I still miss St. Augustine, but I’m surprised to find the small-town feel I appreciated so much is alive and well here. I’m still exploring this city every chance I get, and there’s so much more to see and do! What are your favorite spots in Orlando?
Share your Orlando Adventures with us using #PursuitAdventure and don't forget to bring your local On-The-Go snack bar with you! #ToYouSnacks