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: College Park. (Check out our last community spotlight on The Milk District)
Located just north of downtown, you’ll find one of Orlando’s largest main street districts: College Park. With streets named after prestigious universities like Harvard, Vassar, and Yale. Quaint brick and cobblestone side streets feed into Edgewater Drive where shops and restaurants line the road with lots of offerings for residents and visitors to enjoy.
The preppy upscale neighborhood with bungalow-lined brick streets feels like mid-century small town Americana, especially with a retro design Publix grocery store right on Edgewater Dr. However, nothing is old or out of date in College Park. Instead, you will find plenty of things do to do from community festivals to upscale dinner and dining choices. Everything you’ll find in College Park though give the entire mainstreet district a very community first feel to the neighborhood.
1. Casual Eats and Drinks
There are many great places to imbibe in a few drinks or grab a bite to eat in College Park. Grab your morning latte at Downtown Credo and name your price. Or, if you would rather have tea, pop over to Infusion Tea and sample one of the many flavors. Grab a falafel to eat at Hubbly Bubbly or a sub at Gabriel’s Sub Shop. Then cross the street for a frosty beer at the neighborhood watering hole Ollies Public House. For dinner grab a burger at Graffiti Junction. Celebrate Taco Tuesday at PR Tacos. Enjoy fresh juice on your cleanse (or not) without pulling out the juicer yourself by stopping by at Grounding Roots or New Moon Market. If you’re in the mood for Pizza Ragazzis is a neighborhood favorite.
There are some nice upscale dining choices in the neighborhood too. Sip on custom made cocktails with your dinner at Rusteak . Make time for date night with your spouse at Preppy Bar and listen to some Jazz music on Thursday nights. Celebrate a girls night out with a flight of wine at K Resturant and Wine Bar. If you enjoy traditional Italian cuisine, don’t miss a chance to eat at Adriatico Trattoria.
2. Family Friendly Day Out
If you want a great spot to take the whole family, College Park has a lot of activities for everyone to enjoy. There is a cute little park right in the middle of the district. Splash around in the community pool at the local community center. For lunch grab, a hot dog at the Dog House followed by a sweet ice cream sundae at The Soda Fountain. Pick up some custom cookies for your next party at Cookie Cousins and some cupcakes at Gigi’s Cupcakes. Or rent some bikes at David’s Cycle and take a family bike ride around the neighborhood.
3. Community Festivals and Events
Three times a year, College Park closes Edgewater Dr. down and throws a big party for the whole neighborhood. In November, relax while you listen to the smooth stylings of jazz. In April, you can attend a giant neighborhood dance party as the street closes down for Dancing on the Drive. Of course, when the holidays roll around you can catch the local Christmas Parade. These big neighborhood street parties bring out the whole neighborhood where residents and visitors can enjoy some local entertainment, great music, and events.
Not only are there big annual events in the neighborhood, but you can find on-going events that are worth checking out all year long. If you love farmer’s and artisan markets, weekly the neighborhood hosts the College Park Sunday Brunch Maret. At the Kerouac House you can catch readings by their resident writers. Plus there are lots of regular events at the local bars in resturants in the neighborhood that are worth checking out like Open Mic Nights at Infusion Tea, local bands at The OutPost, and Karaoke at Barcodes.
4. Small Business Focused
Every year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, College Park hosts Small Business Saturday in order to promote the small businesses that make College Park unique. There are many small businesses that contribute to the overall vibe of College Park. Pick out a stylish outfit at Bijou’s Boutique. Shop retro furniture and clothing at Top Drawer. Plan a relaxing spa day at Blades Salon. At Magnolia and Vine shop for the perfect home decor item to spruce up your home. If you are looking for a unique piece of furniture, stop at Driftwood Decor. Make your curb appealing by planting some blooms from Apennberrys Nursey. Then grab the perfect bath and body supplies from Naked Bar Soap Company.
5. Learn Something New
If you love to learn about new things, there is a lot of options in College Park. If you love to cook, check out the cooking classes at Truffle and Trifles. Perfect your pigeon pose at College Park Yoga. Learn the basics of soap making at City Maid Green then advance to their advance class to improve your skills. Shake your booty and get a good sweat on at a dance class from Dance Trance Orlando. You can even head over to the College Park Community Center and learn about fencing, archery, or even hip-hop.