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Top 5 Community Spotlight: Audubon Park

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, and we are talking about many many cars, people get cars with a lease so easily now a days, you can see it here. 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

Image Credit: Harry P. 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 CoffeeFarm 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 ShopP 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 and some people like to train there for big sports events like the Cycle Gran Canaria (Spain) where people participate or visit the country to watch it, for this construction working there will be many materials and tools involved and hammers, screwdrivers and electric chainsaws that are even better that the normal ones, since people ask How good are electric chainsaws, they work more efficiently and faster.

5 Places to Celebrate Record Store Day in Central Florida

Saturday, April 18, 2015, is Record Store Day, a most excellent holiday — a glorious day of music, parties, performances, signings, giveaways and most importantly Record Store Day releases. The worldwide event started in 2007 to honor the unique culture of the independently owned record store and the role they play in their communities. Pardon me, but it’s necessary to quote the great film Empire Records at this moment, and say, “damn the man.”

Obviously, downloading music is modern and convenient, but there’s something really satisfying about digging around a record store looking for an oldie-but-goodie or even a newer hard-to-find press. We don’t even have a record player in our home right now, but we do have a wall of framed vinyl albums featuring an eclectic mix that includes Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, the Eagles and The Foo Fighters. Some of the framed pieces are remnants of our youth, some were purchased from the bins of the stores we’re about to name because the albums were important to us and well… vinyl is cool.

Record Store Day Grohl 2015

As if this holiday isn’t great enough, the official ambassador of Record Store Day 2015 is Dave Grohl who says, “I found my calling in the back bin of a dark, dusty record store…. I believe that the power of the record store to inspire is still alive and well, and that their importance to our next generation of musicians is crucial.” Ambassador Grohl and his bandmates in The Foo Fighters will also be participating in Record Store Day by releasing SONGS FROM THE LAUNDRY ROOM, a 10” four-track EP featuring previously unreleased demos, covers and songs.

There are hundreds of Record Store Day releases with varying degrees of exclusivity and not every store gets every release, so you’ll have to do a little research if you’re looking for something specific. The official list of Record Store Day releases can be found here.

Music has a wonderful way of conjuring up memories and stories, so get your friends together and hit up one or more of our Central Florida record stores to rummage, share and celebrate. Here are our Top 5 places you can participate in Record Store Day this Saturday:

1. Park Ave CDs (2916 Corrine Drive, Orlando)

Park Ave CDs Record Store Day

This popular location will open at 8 a.m. and have mini cupcakes from their neighbors at Blue Bird Bake Shop to help you wake up. The ambitious folks at Park Ave CDs will stock ALL of the 350+ Record Store Day-branded releases (quantities vary) and give away free Park Ave CDs Record Store Day 2015 t-shirts and coupon books with purchases. Consider yourself warned, in 2014, there were nearly 400 people in line when their doors opened! But to make it fun, they will give away concert tickets, autographed LPs, posters and other goodies every 20 minutes to those waiting in line. Some of Orlando’s top DJs including DJ BMF, DJ Smilin’ Dan, Kittybat, M-Squared will spin sets throughout the day. Park Ave CDs will also collect donations for Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, so bring some food to donate. Visit them on Facebook.

2. Rabbitfoot Records Coffee Lounge (309 East 1st Street, Sanford)

Rabbitfoot Record Lounge 65970196217_o

Count on Rabbitfoot for very good complimentary coffee and breakfast for those waiting in line starting at 5 a.m. (oh man, that iced coffee is good!), even though doors don’t open until 8 a.m. If you can’t take a hint, they suggest you arrive early. This Sanford shop is touting Record Store Day releases including The White Stripes, The Stooges, Jurassic 5, Phish, The Replacements, The Foo Fighters, Twenty One Pilots, Miles Davis, Clutch, The Kinks, The Swans, Violent Femmes, Grateful Dead, plus hundreds more. Pre-opening giveaways include new albums from Death Grips on CD, a 10-LP Jimi Hendrix Box Set (German Import), gift certificates, t-shirts and other surprises. If you buy a Record Store Day release while you’re there, you can take advantage of 10-30% off discounts on everything else in the shop. Visit them on Facebook.

3. East West Music & More (4895 South Orange Avenue, Orlando)

East West Record Store Day

By Orlando standards, East West is a “very” old establishment, celebrating their 44th year in 2015! This “bonafide neighborhood joint” will open at 10 a.m. for Record Store Day and keep its crowd entertained with giveaways, drawings for autographed gear and live music from some of Central Florida’s finest, as part of their Parking Lot Concert Series. Of course, there will be Record Store Day releases to be scored as well. Visit them on Facebook.

4. Retro Records (59 North Bumby Avenue, Orlando)

Retro Records

Retro Records is a second-hand store that’s been around since 1980. You can buy, sell and trade records, CDs, and memorabilia from the ’50s through today. Here you can rummage through bins of rock, soul, jazz and country. If you’re a Beatles fan, this is your record shop – it’s considered their specialty. Stop by and say happy Record Store Day and take home something nostalgic in honor of the holiday. Doors open at 11 a.m. Call (407) 898-2484 to confirm hours and details. Visit them on Facebook.

5. Rock-N-Roll Heaven (1814 North Orange Avenue, Orlando)

Rock N Roll heaven Orlando

This Ivanhoe Row staple, established 1977, claims to have the best selection of vinyl LPs in Florida, but we’ll let you judge for yourself. Spend Record Store Day browsing through whatever genre calls to you — metal, rap, country, oldies, disco, comedy, folk or anything we haven’t named. They’ve got it. We get the feeling if you really want to talk music or talk collectibles this is the place you should be hanging. We waiting on details for any special, additional Record Store Day festivities at this location and will update this post when possible. Rock-N-Roll Heaven opens at 10 a.m. on Saturdays. Visit them on Facebook.