Community Spotlight: Mills 50

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. If you haven’t explored one of these main street districts, you should most definitely take some time to check out each one. This week: Mills 50 District. (Check out our last community spotlight on Ivanhoe Village!)

The Mills 50 Orlando Mainstreet District is named aptly for its prominent intersection; Mills Avenue and State Road 50 (also known as East Colonial Drive). Its home to Colonialtown, Lake Eola Heights, and Park Lake Highland neighborhoods. Although this district might feel like it’s just a drive by area, there is so much culture and interesting sites to see as this district quickly changes from one block to the next—making it one of the most varied districts in town. Mills 50 is also one of Orlando’s quirkiest areas.

The corner of Mills and 50 features two murals by local artist Andrew Spear, one dedicated to the victims of the Pulse tragedy on June 12, 2016.

Mills 50 Art Projects, Murals, and more

A large mural by artist Mark Ghmeling on the side of Snap! Space in Mills 50

Most of the Mills 50 district is composed of buildings that are older, mid-century strip malls. Because these boring cinderblock buildings, while functional, don’t offer much aesthetic appeal, artists have been commissioned to use the sides of the buildings like blank canvases to make their mark. These murals has given the area new life and vibrancy, and it is easy to spend your weekend exploring the neighborhood to fill up your Instagram with these beautiful and fun pieces.

Not only will you find epic murals on the side of buildings, but you will also see smaller pieces on everything from drains to electrical boxes, fences, and even dumpsters receive this special artistic touch. Most of the art has a street art aesthetic to it, adding to the urban vibe of this fun neighborhood.

Great Cheap Eats and Dive Bars

Outside of Will’s Pub in Mills 50

The Mills 50 district is one of the best places to go for a fun night out followed by some good, cheap eats. It’s no wonder this district is a favorite of the 20-something crowd as it is easy on their wallet and their dollar can go just a bit further.

Fun bars to explore include Wally’s which is an Orlando cultural mainstay, indie music venue Will’s Pub, and Uncle Lou’s Entertainment Hall just to name a few.

For cheap eats you can check out King Bao, Tako Cheena, Lazy Moon, Pig Floyds, Pho88, Little Siagon, or one of the dozens of other Asian resturants that line the main strip. If you have $10 and an empty stomach you’ll be able to find something yummy to eat while avoiding fast food drive throughs.

Eclectic Businesses

Mills 50: An Orlando Mainstreet District

Mills 50 is the most eclectic of all the main street districts. While the busy intersection of Mills and State Road 50 define the center of the district, only a few hundred yards away you will find quiet brick roads lined with homes.

The businesses in this district are varied too! The District at Mills 50 is a new addition, which is a mini-market of sorts featuring 30 different local artisans and their creations. You can also find a violin store, a print shop, multiple salons, many ethnic markets to explore, small art, hobby, and photography studios, tattoo shops, smoke shops, pop-up events, a costume store, and so much more. The eclectic nature of this district means you never know what kind of business you might wander in upon.

Cultural Diversity

This “Red Bull” mural can be found at Mills and Lake Highland. Artwork by: Andrew Spear.

Cultural diversity permeates Mills 50 everywhere you look – and it’s wonderful! There are many  different cultures represented through business owners who come from China, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Italy, and England just to name a few.

There is also a prominent LGBTQ+ community that is quite visible. Both the Zebra Coalition and The Center (The GLBT Community Center of Central Florida) call Mills 50 home. Such diversity shows through in the many different businesses that live in the district.

You can purchase beautiful Japanese from Dong-A Imports, pick up some Earl Grey Tea from The British Shoppe, and go to Gracie Barra Brazilian Jiu-jitsu to get a workout and learn the practice.

 Health Focused

Central Florida businessmen Terry Smith, Tracy Dent, and Dana Flugel opened on Track Shack on North Mills in 1977. In the years since, Track Shack has hosted many events, training programs, and has become a leader in road race management.

If you are looking to add variety to your fitness routine, you should definitely check out the Mills 50 district for a fun new class or activity to try. Learn some new dance moves at Jazzercise Orlando, Florida Tribal Dance or Russian Ballet Orlando. Find a personal trainer at Florida Fitness Concepts. Pick up a new pair of running shoes at Track Shack and start training for a 5k. Or learn kickboxing and MMA style fighting at The Jungle.

Behind the Fresh Market, you can hop right on the Urban Trail and take a bike ride to either downtown Orlando or Winter Park. You won’t get bored working up a sweat in this district!