Moving to Orlando– what you need to know
So you’re moving to Orlando? Well, get excited because there is no shortage of amazing things to see, do and eat there! Regardless of what your interests are, you’re in for a fun-filled next chapter of your life.
Where to live in Orlando, FL
First things first, where to live? Orlando may be known more for its tourist attractions, but it is quite the city for those looking to stay permanently. U.S. News & World Report named Orlando one of the top cities to live, based on affordability, jobs and quality of life.
While some millennials are drawn to cities like New York and Los Angeles, others are drawn to Orlando thanks to the booming job market, affordable housing and good public transportation.
Orlando’s housing market attracts both homeowners and renters alike, and popular neighborhoods and areas for millennials include the following:
- Downtown Orlando
- Thornton Park
- Baldwin Park
- South Eola
- Park Lake/Highland
- Lake Eola Heights
- Lake Nona
Few cities have more to offer young families than Orlando. Orlando made BizJournals’ list of best places to raise a family and ranked #5 on family fun. The question is, which area is best for you and your family?
Popular areas around Orlando for young families include the following:
- Thornton Park
- Baldwin Park
- College Park
- Winter Park
- Winter Garden
- Avalon Park
- Lake Nona
- Park Lake/Highland
Orlando’s year-round warm weather and booming tourism industry make it a city where empty nesters can find a variety of activities to suit any interest, no matter the time of year, along with a number of housing options.
Empty nesters may want to consider homes in these communities:
- VillageWalk at Lake Nona
- Del Webb Orlando
- The Villages
What to do in Orlando, FL
The question in Orlando isn’t what to do. It’s what to do first.
Orlando Museum of Art
The Orlando Museum of Art features permanent collections of American, African and ancient American art as well as rotating exhibits. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday and offers programs for youth, families and adults. To learn more about the museum’s current collection, visit https://omart.org.
Located in Winter Park, the Morse Museum features the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, best known for his impressive stained glass works, many of which are on display in the museum. The museum also features late-19th century and early-20th century paintings and decorative art. For more information, visit http://www.morsemuseum.org/.
Mennello Museum of American Art
The Mennello Museum of American Art features a permanent collection of paintings from artist Earl Cunningham, a renowned 20th-century American folk artist. The museum showcases American art from all genres and time periods and is a Smithsonian-affiliate museum. Visitors and the public also can enjoy the sculpture garden which contains walking paths that merge with the Orlando Urban Trail. For more information, visit https://www.mennellomuseum.org.
Orlando Science Center
For more than 50 years, the Orlando Science Center has been an exceptional educational activity for families in the Orlando area. The museum features four floors of exhibits and interactive activities designed to bring the world of science to life. The museum was among 30 finalists for the 2019 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, an award presented by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. For more information, visit https://www.osc.org/.
Kennedy Space Center
Spend a full day exploring what life is like as an astronaut at the Kennedy Space Center. Visitors can see the space shuttle Atlantis, tour a NASA spaceflight facility and even meet an astronaut! For more information, visit https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/.
Harry P. Leu Gardens
Enjoy 50 acres of temperate and tropical plants at the Leu Gardens near downtown Orlando. The gardens include plant collections such as its butterfly garden, banana collection and citrus grove. Open year-round, with the exception of Christmas Day, a visit to the Leu Gardens is the perfect activity for all ages. For more information, visit http://www.leugardens.org.
Fort Christmas Historical Park
Fort Christmas Historical Park contains a full-size replica of Fort Christmas, which was originally constructed during the Second Seminole Indian War. The park also houses educational exhibits and showcases pioneer life from the 1870s to 1930s. Admission is free. For more information, visit http://www.nbbd.com/godo/FortChristmas/.
Theaters and Music Venues
Winter Park Playhouse
The Winter Park Playhouse is Central Florida’s only professional musical theatre, providing performances ranging from musicals for the family to cabarets. This theatre is a nonprofit organization dedicated to “enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors” through its performances and outreach programs that target everyone from underserved children to adults and even homebound seniors. For more information about upcoming performances, visit http://www.winterparkplayhouse.org/.
Orlando Shakespeare Theatre
For nearly 30 years, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre or “Orlando Shakes” has been producing classic, contemporary and children’s plays for the Orlando community and travelers. Orlando Shakes is dedicated to engaging the community in professional theatre and offers educational experiences to Central Florida schools. Depending on the play, patrons can expect to laugh, cry or sing along with the performance. For more information, visit http://orlandoshakes.org.
For film, food and fun, visit Central Florida’s only alternative and independent single-screen cinema café, Enzian Theatre. Enzian offers mostly independent and foreign films seven nights a week. You can join as a member to reserve a table and dine during a showing. Anyone can drop in day-of to purchase tickets and grab a drink during happy hour at the theatre’s Eden Bar. For more information, visit http://enzian.org/.
Amway Center sets the stage for some of the biggest names in music today like pop artists Katy Perry and Bruno Mars and classical performers like André Rieu. For upcoming shows, visit http://www.amwaycenter.com.
Dr. Phillips Center of Performing Arts
Dr. Phillips Center of Performing Arts is the hub for live entertainment and events. The performing arts center offers “arts for every life,” including Broadway, ballet, rock, orchestra, comedy, jazz, outdoor concerts, festivals, family shows, arts educational programs and much more in each of its three theatres. For information on upcoming shows, visit https://www.drphillipscenter.org.
Bob Carr Theater
The Bob Carr Theater, part of the Dr. Phillips Center of Performing Arts, serves as a fully functional theatre hall, seating more than 25,000. The theatre is a municipal auditorium filled with history where Elvis Presley and Andy Griffith once walked the stage. Today the venue is used for concerts, Broadway presentations, ballets and operas. For more information, visit https://www.drphillipscenter.org/explore/theaters-spaces/bob-carr-theater/.
Hard Rock Café Universal
For nightlife, live music and great food, Hard Rock Café Universal is the place for you. The aesthetics will excite from start to finish with Taj Mahal-themed architecture, a giant guitar fountain and walls filled with music history like famous guitars and clothes worn by music’s most famous artists. For more information, visit http://www.hardrock.com/cafes/hollywood-at-universal-citywalk/.
Orlando is a vacation destination filled with an array of fine dining options. For the best high-end steak, make a reservation at Don Shula’s Steak House, Orlando Sentinel Critics’ Choice Award for Orlando’s Best Overall Restaurant. Seafood lovers, check out Eddie V’s, a restaurant devoted to lobster and martinis. Enjoy a raw bar, seafood tower and some of the best seafood in the city with a prime view of Little Sand Lake. Become a true local and dine in this “hard-to-find” spot just steps from Restaurant Row at Chatham’s Place. Here you can indulge in continental cuisine and enjoy unforgettable flavors. For a magical meal, Victoria & Albert’s in Disney World offers a classic Victorian ambiance with AAA Five Diamond Award American cuisine.
Orlando’s casual restaurants don’t compromise on taste. For a true taste of Mexico, stop by Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar any time of the day; they’re open for brunch, lunch, dinner and late night. Tortillas are made in-house and by hand, and Rocco’s sweet and sour margaritas are a favorite among locals. Yellow Dog Eats is a historic staple that serves up tasty, original food like sandwiches, barbeque and daily specials. Looking for something more European like schnitzel and other German fare? Visit Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café, “where Germutlichkeit (friendliness) happens.” Enjoy a boot of beer, a German deli and polka music and entertainment for the whole family.
Orlando is home to Central Florida’s original organic microbrewery, Orlando Brewing, and more than a dozen breweries with taprooms, many of which host a variety of events. Get your yoga on before enjoying a cold brew at Orlando Brewing or enjoy live music at Dead Lizard in downtown Orlando. Visit http://www.orlandobeerguide.com for a complete list of brew houses.
Not a beer drinker? No worries! Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards is just 30 minutes west of Orlando. Lakeridge is Florida’s premium winery and sits on top of 127 acres of rolling countryside with beautiful rural backdrops. Take a tour and enjoy a tasting or stop by during one of its annual events with live music, arts and crafts and much more. For more information, visit https://www.lakeridgewinery.com/.
Park Avenue, Winter Park
Park Avenue, Winter Park showcases the best of Orlando’s local shopping and entertainment scene. The shopping district features more than 140 boutiques and sidewalk cafes. Once you’ve shopped ‘til you dropped, you can take a relaxing stroll through the beautiful, tree-covered Central Park that borders the shopping district. For more information, visit https://winterpark.org/park-avenue.
The Mall at Millenia
The Mall at Millenia rivals virtually any mall in the United States with more than 1.2 million square feet of the finest and most sought-after brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Gucci. That said, you can still find more “everyday” apparel and products at stores like Apple, Anthropologie and Pottery Barn. Popular dining options at the mall include Brio Tuscan Grill, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro and The Capital Grill. For more information, visit http://www.mallatmillenia.com.
Disney is a lot more than princesses, fairy tales and castles. Disney Springs offers a unique range of stores from national brands like Kate Spade and Lacoste to both local and Disney-themed stores you can’t find anywhere else. Unlike the other sections of Disney World, Disney Springs is free to the public and open year round. Disney Springs also offers dining options catering to virtually every taste bud and a 24-screen dine-in movie theater! For more information, visit https://www.disneysprings.com.
Arguably the most famous theme park on the planet, Disney World offers days of excitement with four different theme parks – The Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom – along with two water parks – Typhoon Lagoon Water Park and Blizzard Beach Water Park. Florida residents also are eligible for discounted passes with a valid Florida ID! For more information, visit https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/florida-residents/.
Universal Studios Florida
More into Harry Potter than Snow White? Universal Studios Florida is a must for any movie fan, with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and rides and attractions for other favorite movies and TV shows such as Transformers, The Simpsons, the Marvel Universe and King Kong. Similar to Disney World, Florida residents are eligible for discounted tickets. For more information, visit https://www.universalorlando.com/web/en/us/tickets-packages/park-tickets/fl-resident-prices/index.html.
SeaWorld Orlando brings the aquatic world to life with a variety of one-of-a-kind experiences and attractions. However, SeaWorld isn’t all marine life exhibits. The park also includes 13 rides, five of which are roller coasters including the fastest and tallest roller coaster in all of Florida. Like Disney and Universal, SeaWorld also frequently offers special rates for Florida residents. For more information, visit https://seaworld.com/orlando/.
Thanks to the region’s year-round warm weather, there is always something to do outside near the water. Even though it’s about an hour from the closest beach, Orlando is surrounded by dozens of springs and waterways. USAToday.com’s 10 Best feature does a remarkable job capturing some of the best outdoor attractions like Kelly Park, a free-flowing natural spring where visitors can enjoy tubing and swimming. Wekiwa Springs State Park, just 20 minutes north of the city, offers visitors the chance to explore Central Florida’s natural beauty with hiking trails, campsites and even horseback riding. You can check out all the top 10 outdoor destinations USAToday.com recommends, visit www.10best.com/destinations/florida/orlando/attractions/outdoor-activities.
Epcot International Food and Wine Festival
A food and wine lover’s dream come true. Enjoy international foods from all around the world, see culinary demonstrations, attend cheese and beverage seminars, hear from famous special guests and much more. The event actually runs every day, seven days a week from August through November! For more information, visit https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/epcot-international-food-and-wine-festival/.
Mount Dora Art Show
Mount Dora Art Show is an art festival for all art lovers, casual festival-goers and families. See breathtaking views of Lake Dora along with New England-style architecture while browsing showcases of fine art, paintings, clay and more. For more information, visit https://www.mountdoraartsfestival.org.
NASCAR fans gear up because Daytona International Speedway is nearby. The Daytona 500 is one of the biggest days of the year for NASCAR where drivers race a 500-mile-long stretch. For more information on “The Great American Race,” visit https://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.
Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival
Each March, America’s best in fine art showcase their work at the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most prestigious outdoor art festivals. Categories range from clay, sculpture and digital art to glass, photography, mixed media and so much more. Displays are judged, and more than $72,000 in prizes are given out. For more information, visit https://www.wpsaf.org/.
Are you excited yet? You should be! Whenever you’re ready to start planning your move to Orlando, we’re here to help! Visit Hilldrup.com to schedule a free in-home or virtual move estimate.