101 Things to love about Central Florida
Readers shared hundreds of people, places, experiences and institutions for the 2019 edition of our annual list.
It’s time again to give thanks for all the things that make Central Florida a special place to live. Readers offered hundreds of suggestions for this year’s list of “101 Things to Love about Orlando.”♦ Some are old favorites. Others are newer arrivals you might want to look up or check out. All make Orlando unique. Here’s this year’s list:
The M Bar on North Orange Avenue — a place with more than 60 rare and classic cars packed into a playful downtown bar that many people drive right past without knowing what’s inside.
The boat tours in Winter Park Boat and moonlight walking tours at Greenwood Cemetery.
Easy access to five cruise ports.
Great white egrets, great blue herons and great big blubbery manatees.
The Hourglass District, the Milk District and the fact the Orlando keeps adding so many cool, neighborhood districts.
Linda’s La Cantina in Orlando, Francesco’s in Maitland and Shannon’s Casual Café near Edgewood.
Mount Dora’s art festival, Kissimmee’s Lakefront Park and Sanford’s Riverwalk.
Teeny tiny Songbird Park in Audubon Park, where all the bird houses are replicas of the nearby small businesses.
The return of playoff basketball for the Magic. The insanely passionate fan base of Orlando City Soccer. And the women’s World Cup players who play for the Pride. (They capture the world’s attention
every four years. But you can catch them on Orlando’s home field on a regular old Saturday night.) The Orlando Solar Bears. The Blue Bamboo Center for the Arts in Winter Park and the Sharon L. Morse Performing Arts Center in The Villages.
Philanthropists like Alan Ginsburg, Jim and Alexis Pugh, and Harris and Trish Rosen.
Orlando Fringe, Pecha Kucha and Night of Fire at the Crealdé School of Art.
Mad Cow Theater and the Orlando Shakes.
So many trails, including the West Orange, Cross Seminole, Spring-to-Spring and Cady Way.
A world-class airport with nonstop flights just about anywhere you want to go. Foxtail Coffee. Coliseum of Comics. Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream. The murals of Mister Rogers, Bob Ross and Freddie Mercury on the sides of Floyd’s barbershops.
The ability to wear shorts in December.
Keep Orlando Beautiful’s annual Trash 2 Trends fashion show — where every eye-popping dress is made out of recycled materials, ranging from pop tops and bicycle tires to old Keurig cups and plastic bags.
The Enzian Theater and Orlando Shuffle.
Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.
That Orlando is diverse … and welcome to newcomers … and open to new ideas.
An abundance of good health care options and a compassionate network of hospice choices.
Park Avenue, Sand Lake’s restaurant row and Boxi Park in Lake Nona.
Staycations and Florida-resident discounts.
East End Market and Market on South.
Movies at Leu Gardens and music at the Yalaha Bakery.
Dog parks, yoga at Lake Eola and the entire museum-, art-, theater- and science-filled cultural complex at Loch Haven Park.
Knowles Memorial Chapel at Rollins College and the RESTORE Clinic at UCF.
The League of Women Voters, the Center Orlando and Orlando’s Touchdown Club.
So many other clubs that do so much good — including the Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions and Elks.
So many lakes. And farmers markets.
Holiday traditions, including the Festival of Trees, the Messiah Choral Society, Bach Festival Society and Moravian Love Feasts in Longwood and elsewhere.
The local library systems and the armies of volunteers and “friends” who support them.
Beaches less than 90 minutes in each direction.
The Victory Cup; Central Florida’s own “Shark Tank” for local nonprofits.
The view from the top of the Orange County courthouse.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. SeaWorld’s Kraken. And the queue for the Simpsons Ride at Universal (one of the few waiting areas in all of theme parks that’s actually entertaining). Gatorland.
The Diverse Word poetry and spoken word gathering at Dandelion Café.
The Old Spanish Sugar Mill’s griddle-your-own pancakes at De Leon Springs State Park.
Bluegrass festivals, including the ones at Fort Christmas in east Orange and Magnolia Park in Apopka.
The Running of the Chihuahuas in Winter Park.
The Osceola County Historical Society and the Enterprise Preservation Society.
Writer’s Block Bookstore. The Wine and Art Walk in Thornton Park and Sip & Stroll in Audubon Park. (It’s apparently difficult to walk anywhere in these neighborhoods without pinot noir.)
WMFE and WPRK. Mead Botanical Gardens and The University of Florida’s Exploration Gardens near the airport.
Shepherd’s Hope, the Dreamplex in Clermont and the Camaraderie Foundation.
Pig Floyd’s. The Orange County Regional History Center.
And the spectacularly unique ability to watch rocket launches from your own backyard.
Jim Romano and his labradoodle, Brooklyn, enjoy an afternoon stroll on the Sanford Riverwalk Trail, one of Central Florida’s favorite outdoor spots.
The annual Running of the Chihuahuas in Winter Park is a beloved event that ranks among the top 101 things that make this area special.
Central Floridians delight in having the unique opportunity to watch Space Coast rocket launches from their own backyards.