10 THINGS I LOVE ABOUT ORLANDO (UNRELATED TO THEME PARKS)

Inspired by @jessicah who wrote about Flagstaff, AZ. My husband moved to Orlando in 2006, and I moved there in 2010 when we got married. We lived there until last spring, and we really miss it. Orlando is far more than Disney and Harry Potter World. (In fact, you'll need to drive 30-45 min from Disney to hit most of these places.)
  1. 1.
    Rifle Paper Co.
    Rifle's headquarters are in Winter Park. I think Rifle is kind of the poster child for Orlando's local makers and entrepreneurs...and there are a lot of them! I'm always shocked when someone hasn't heard of Rifle yet. Their store is small but adorable and one of my favorite little places.
  2. 2.
    FOOD! You might assume Orlando (land of Disney) would be king of the chain restaurants, but not so!
    Gringos Locos for tacos, Cask & Larder for happy hour, Black Bean Deli for Cuban, Graffiti Junction for burgers, Lazy Moon for pizza, Blue Bird Bakeshop for cupcakes, 4Rivers for BBQ, Jeremiah's for Italian ice, Dexters for brunch, The Soda Fountain for ice cream...etc etc etc!
  3. 3.
    Kraft Azalea Park
    A really beautiful park with a lake view and lots of big, old trees. Great (and popular!) for a picnic, photo shoot, or proposal.
  4. 4.
    Thornton Park
    An awesome historic neighborhood close to downtown. I love the cobblestone streets and old, charming bungalows. Evan and I always say that this is the neighborhood we'd want to buy a house in (if we could afford it).
  5. 5.
    Brunch at Briar Patch
    The chocolate chip pancakes. That is all. (I know you think chocolate chip pancakes are chocolate chip pancakes...but you would be wrong.)
  6. 6.
    Braves spring training
    Ok, maybe this is slightly theme-park related because it's at Disney's Wide World of Sports? But the location is irrelevant. Braves spring training games are SO fun, and seats on the lawn are super affordable.
  7. 7.
    Winter Park
    Our hometown. A charming little town. Park Ave, Hannibal Square, Rollins College, the Scenic Boat Tour...lots to love and enjoy. (Albeit...there is lots of gentrification here, I'll admit.)
  8. 8.
    Leu Gardens
    Really beautiful botanical gardens. Our favorite Orlando date night was to pack & picnic and go to one of the movies in the park.
  9. 9.
    College Park
    Another awesome neighborhood with lots of unique restaurants and shops.
  10. 10.
    Downtown Credo
    A non-profit, donation-only coffee shop in College Park. Super delicious and an awesome, community-conscious business.
  11. 11.
    We don't live there anymore, but it seems like more and more cool places are popping up everyday.
  12. 12.
    Here are some more great suggestions: