Orlando City Guide: Neighborhoods & Things to Do
Orlando is world-renowned for its Disney and Universal theme parks and resorts but there’s much more to the city than that. For one thing, visitors come to the area (and people move here) because of the weather. Sunshine almost all year round! The beaches are a definite plus, too. Orlando is also home to over 100 lakes, one of which – Lake Eola – is actually a giant sinkhole that measures 80-feet in depth in some places. Residents of the area say they’ve seen tremendous growth in the city over the past few years. New residential communities – many of which are ideal for renters – have popped up all over the city. And the food truck industry has exploded, which is great news if you’re a foodie. If you’re considering making the move to Orlando, be sure to check our Orlando city guide to find a great rental.
Orlando city highlights
Orlando is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. As a resident of the city, you’ll be able to visit your favorite attractions more often. In fact, if you’re like other residents of Orlando, you may have even moved here to be closer to them. It’s no wonder – Orlando has some of the best attractions of any city in the world. Here are just a few must-see events and attractions in the city.
- Madame Tussauds: Madame Tussauds is one of the most famous wax museums in the country. In addition to historic figures, you’ll also see replicas of well-known people in our modern era as the museum is constantly updated. Nearly everyone in the family will recognize someone in the museum, so it’s a fun experience for the whole family.
- Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art: The museum hails back to the early 1940s. In the late-1950s, the founder of the museum purchased items from Laurelton Hall, which was ruined and left destroyed after the owner and designer Louis Comfort Tiffany passed away. The museum is hugely popular for its huge collection and is a fun experience for history buffs.
- Old Town: Located in Kissimmee, Old Town is a delight for all the senses. There’s an amusement park, as well as numerous shopping opportunities. Covering over 18-acres, Old Town has tons of old-fashioned charm with brick and old-growth trees. You’ll think you were transported back in time. Don’t forget to visit the huge Ferris wheel, play some games in the video arcade or conjure the gumption to explore the haunted house.
- Bok Tower Gardens: Located in downtown Lakeland, the majestic Bok Tower rises above acres of citrus hills. The Singing Tower is an imposing gothic structure that is beautiful and mysterious. Surrounding the towers are manicured gardens with winding paths to explore. During your exploration, you’ll be serenaded by carillon concert music.
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios: We did say there’s way more to do in Orlando than anything Disney-related but let’s face it, Disney is one reason people move to Orlando, let alone visit. Can you really call yourself a resident of Orlando if you never visit a Disney site? This particular site is one of the top tourist attractions in Orlando, the theme of which is the Golden Age of Hollywood. It’s a magical place to visit, especially if you love old Hollywood films.
Orlando city guide to the best neighborhoods for renters
Once you make the decision to move to Orlando, your next question should be: Which neighborhood is going to fit my needs best? Following are some of the most popular neighborhoods in Orlando.
The Baldwin Park neighborhood is known for being safe, family-friendly, and full of a great sense of community. There are plenty of parks in this neighborhood, great for taking your dog for a walk or having a family fun day on the weekends. Rental costs are higher than the national average but with the economy and job rate of the area, many young families and professionals are happy to invest in a home in this neighborhood.
Nearly 37,800 call Metro West home. It’s one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Orlando and is a hotspot for young professionals. However, if you do have children, you’ll be happy to know that schools in the area receive excellent marks from parents. Urban amenities in the area are centrally located, so you can easily run all your errands in a single trip. If you’re a foodie, you won’t want to miss the monthly Battle of the Food Trucks.
A little over 11,000 people live in Lake Nona, a trendy planned community with gated communities, sleek, modern homes and classy yet casual bungalows. The Nona Adventure Park is a must-visit for families with wakeboarding and a floating obstacle course. If you’re into tennis (or want to be), the USTA National Campus hosts tennis events throughout the year and also offers lessons. In the southern part of the neighborhood, you’ll find live music venues, green spaces, volleyball courts and numerous eateries, many of which are delectable and innovative food truck chefs.
Most people move to Downtown Orlando for business opportunities (since it’s also known as the Central Business District) and the urban amenities. As a resident of this neighborhood, you’ll be surrounded by a mix of 19th-century buildings and sleek, modern business towers. Besides work opportunities, the Downtown area is also a cultural hub. For example, Dr. Phillips Center hosts operas and musical shows. If you’re into concerts and sports, you’ll probably be a regular fixture at the Amway Center which hosts Orlando Magic basketball games and big-name concerts. If you love being in the center of everything and like the hustle of city living, check out our Orlando city guide for apartments or condos to rent in Orlando.
Approximately 24,000 people live in this Orlando neighborhood. Residents here feel the area provides an urban-suburban mix. The community is made up of a diverse mix of young professionals and families. Schools in the area have received higher-than-average ratings from parents in the neighborhood. Shopping and dining experiences are abundant in this area. You’ll also find several great cafés to enjoy your morning mocha.
One of the top reasons people love living in this Orlando neighborhood is because it’s great for pet owners. The area has well-maintained sidewalks and lots of pet stations for doggy bags and disposal. The neighborhood is also close to I-4, which makes commuting to Downtown Orlando incredibly easy. Millenia is clean, safe and has plenty of parking. Residents also say that apartments in the area are nice, comfortable, clean and in good condition. If this sounds like your type of neighborhood, be sure to check our Orlando city guide to find an apartment within your budget.
With fewer than 3000 people living in the area, Lake Underhill has an urban-suburban feel to it with lots of restaurants, coffee shops, stores and green spaces. It’s one of the top neighborhoods in Orlando for young professionals. Residents say the schools are great, as are the amenities. They like that everything is close by, so you can easily run errands without having to drive to Downtown Orlando.
One of the main reasons people like living in this neighborhood is because of the amenities. You’ll find an abundance of restaurants, cafés and shops. Another reason they like it is that it’s so close to numerous green spaces and natural features, such as Turkey Lake and Shadow Bay Park. Most residents say you need a car (or access to one) for most commutes. However, the neighborhood is close to public transit, which is helpful to many. If you need to do some grocery shopping, though, the neighborhood and its shopping district are easily walkable.
Park Central is a pet-friendly community. A little over 6000 people live in the area, which has a dense urban feel to it. The commute to Downtown Orlando is less than 15 minutes (6.2 miles), though that time frame is dependent on traffic. The majority of residents are renters and the area is popular with young professionals.
If you’re looking for a charming residential neighborhood, look no further than Thornton Park. You’ll find classic Florida bungalow homes throughout the area, with a few contemporary apartment and condo complexes as well. The neighborhood is shaded by old-growth oak trees draped in Spanish moss. You’ll find stylish restaurants, cafés with outdoor seating, organic juice bars, wine bars and clothing boutiques that sell beautiful boho-chic styles. Washington Street is the heart of Thornton Park. The decorative fountain there gives the neighborhood a refined European elegance.
College Park is an affluent part of Orlando and is well-known for its beautiful (and abundant!) green spaces, lakes and 20th-century cottages. If you love spending time in the great outdoors, you’ll love spending some of your recreation time at the Dubsdread Golf Course (developed in the 1920s) and Lake Ivanhoe, where you can go wakeboarding and waterskiing.
Approximately 21,250 people call Kirkman North home sweet home. The neighborhood has a dense urban feel to it and most residents rent their homes. The community is largely made of young families, with schools in the area earning excellent ratings. It’s also one of the more affordable neighborhoods in Orlando.
Nearly 2500 people live in the Lake Eola Heights community which is home to the Walt Disney Amphitheater where you can go to enjoy concerts and plays. The focal point of the neighborhood is Lake Eola Park, which has incredible walking, jogging and biking paths. If you want to enjoy a romantic moment with your significant other, make sure to take a ride on the lake’s iconic swan-shaped paddle boats. Are you a fan of historical architecture? Then, you will love the historic district with brick-paved streets and neoclassical churches, as well as cottages and farmhouses dating back to the 1800s.
Over 17,300 people live in this Orlando neighborhood, which is a little over seven miles southeast of Downtown Orlando. This is another community with an urban-suburban feel to it. A little over half the residents’ rent, the cost of which is slightly higher than the national average. Residents also appreciate that the area is more affordable than the rest of Orlando, as well as the U.S. average cost of living. It’s approximately 15% cheaper to live in Ventura than in other parts of the country.
Breweries in Orlando (and Apartments near them!)
No matter which part of Orlando you live in, there’s likely at least one brewery within walking distance, or a 5-minute drive tops! There are also community events all around the metro that bring residents together over their love of all things hoppy and malty. Here are a few breweries you might want to check out while apartment hunting. Any one of them could become your new, favorite local hang, inspiring you to rent nearby.