Orlando has ten Main Street Districts and each one has a distinct vibe which helps define Orlando. Over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to feature each neighborhood and the Top Five things to check out in each one. (Check out last week’s spotlight on Thornton Park!)
If you haven’t explored one of these Orlando Main Street Districts, you should most definitely take some time to check out each one. This week: Audubon Park!
The Garden District (Audubon Park) is the hidden jewel of Orlando’s Main Street districts. The Main Street area on Corrine Drive feels like you’ve wandered into Small Town America, and you might forget that just a mile away cars are speeding by on I-4. The vibe here is upscale bohemian. With quirky little coffee shops, second hand stores, and even one of Orlando’s last remaining record stores, there’s a lot to see in this beautiful little district.
1. Leu Gardens
Audubon Park is nicknamed The Garden District with good reason; At the north end of Corrine Drive lives Harry P. Leu Gardens. Take a stroll around the 50 acre gardens and make sure to stop to smell the roses when they’re in bloom. If roses aren’t your thing, Leu Gardens has the third largest collection of Camellias in the United States which bloom in January.
The Gardens were donated by Mr. Harry P. Leu and his wife Mary Jane, and was turned into public gardens back in the 1961. The Leus traveled the world and brought back exotic botanical findings to their garden estate. Years later, these exotic findings can still be enjoyed by the public along with many local varieties of Floridian plants too.
Monthly, the Gardens have a movie night where movie goers can snuggle up on the main lawn with a picnic dinner and some wine while enjoying a flick under the stars. Want to get in touch with your horticultural side? Find out what’s in bloom year round at Leu Gardens here. Go further and attend one of the many monthly society meetings at Leu Gardens! Orchids, and Ikebana, and Oranges – oh my! (We also hear dinosaurs are taking over very soon…)
Top 5 ProTip: Take advantage of Leu Gardens’ First Mondays, where admission is free! 2017 dates: January 2, May 1, June 5, July 3, August 7, September 4. FYI: The Leu House Museum (or as we affectionately call it, The Leuseum) will be closed in July for restoration.
2. East End Market
There might be replica markets in town where local small businesses gather together in a co-op space to sell their goods, but East End Market is the #LivingLocally and Good Food Movement OG here in Orlando. The first floor of the market is filled with some of the best food and drinks you can get in town.
East End’s focus is on local good food and community, and it shines through in everything they do from a garden right out front to community events focused on sustainability and urban living. Come hungry, so you can grab breakfast or lunch at one of the many vendors like La Femme Formage, Houndstooth Sauce Company, Lineage Coffee, Farm Hause, and new kid on the block, Gideon’s Bakehouse. If you love ramen, you’ll love Domu at East End Market which is open for dinner and weekend brunch.
East End Marketplace hours: Monday – Thursday, 8am to 7pm, Friday – Saturday, 8am to 9pm, and Sundays, 11am to 6pm.
3. Hipster Haven
With the 47 year old home of some, the trust of all Stardust Coffee on one side of Corrine Drive, and 32 year old indie land of music Park Ave CDs and a bright, young whipper snapper bar with rotating drafts called Redlight, Redlight making their homes on the other side, Audubon Park offers an eclectic old school vibe that makes you want to grab a book, throw on a hand-made knit hat (even in 80 degree temps), a quirky t-shirt, and spend a few hours reading a Hemmingway novel while drinking a craft brew or exploring the vinyl section of a record store for some rare indie find just like when you were a teenager.
On Monday nights, Stardust hosts a market where you can pick up some locally grown food or artisan wears. [Keep an eye on their Event Calendar here.] On weekends or during special events you can even catch a good food truck or two in the neighborhood to enjoy.
4. Cute Walkable Main Street
When this neighborhood says they have the best main street in America, they’re not exaggerating their claims. Audubon Park won the 2016 Great Main Street Award! What makes this Main Street so special is how much of a small town vibe Corrine Drive gives off with lots of little shops and merchants to explore.
Audubon Park is peppered with personal touches; second hand stores like The Lovely Boutique and The Owl’s Attic, locally crafted treats and sweet recipes from Kelly’s Ice Homemade Ice Cream, unique artisan bakeries like Blue Bird Bake Shop, P is for Pie, and Palmer’s Garden and Goods. This is the perfect Main Street District to park your car at one end and meander around from shop to shop on a lazy weekend afternoon. You will want to come back again and again to explore.
5. Bike Friendly
On Saturday and Sunday mornings, you’ll often see a gaggle of bikes sitting outside of Bikes, Beans and Bordeaux, owned by longtime locals Jen and Darrell Cunningham, while their owners enjoy a leisurely breakfast and conversation after a their weekend long ride.
Top 5 ProTip: Reserve a bike 24/7 with Juice Bike Rentals! With nearly 40 Juice stations located in and around Orlando, there are no shortage of bright orange Juice bikes to ride around. Visitors pay as little as $8/hour, while locals can also rent as they go or sign up for a monthly membership. More at orlando.socialbicycles.com.
Audubon Park is an extremely bike friendly area with the entrance to the Cady Way Trail just a quick bike ride away. Its main street is even home to two bicycle shops: Winter Park Cycles and Ace Metric Cycles. With the construction of Bumby Avenue almost done, which will include a bike lane, cyclists in Audubon Park will be able to enjoy even more connectivity to the surrounding neighborhoods.