People often associate living in Central Florida with its world-class (and world-famous) theme parks. After all, Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando are two reasons area residents never have to worry about convincing friends and family to visit!
There’s more to living in Central Florida than Mickey, though. Phenomenal cultural experiences in Orlando, white-sand beaches in St. Petersburg and surprising foodie experiences in charming Winter Garden are just a handful of additional reasons to consider this region for your next move. Keep reading for 16 more!
1. First Things First…The Theme Parks
No one can deny that the Orlando metro is the theme-park capital. The four magical parks of Walt Disney World make vacationers’ dreams come true daily, and the excitement of Universal offers nonstop fun with its two phenomenal parks, each of which host a section of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
On tap for 2017? Universal’s new Volcano Bay water park, along with Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Both attractions will ratchet up the excitement even further. And the expanded, updated Disney Springs shopping, dining and entertainment complex boasts more celebrity-chef restaurants than most people could manage to visit in a week.
2. Hello, Dali
The phenomenal Dali Museum in downtown St. Petersburg celebrates the life and work of the world-famous surrealist and includes more than 2,000 works from varying mediums. It’s been a showstopper on the city’s waterfront for ages, but its new building, which opened in 2011, added award-winning architecture to the list of reasons to visit.
Aside from the museum’s massive permanent collection — the largest outside of Dali’s native Spain — visiting exhibitions keeps the “wow” factor perpetual. Recent artists showcased include Frida Kahlo, M.C. Escher and the blockbuster, “Picasso/Dali, Dali/Picasso.” Its museum store offers hundreds of Dali-spun items, from posters and jewelry to clothing and home décor.
3. Homegrown and Home-Brewed
Located just a short drive from Orlando, picturesque and idyllic Winter Garden offers a change of pace with its charming cobbled streets, restored movie house and plethora of unique, independent restaurants and shops — all within walking distance of one another.
What’s more, the fabulous and expansive Plant St. Market showcases local flavor in the form of fresh-baked breads, specialty meats, artisan jewelry, hand-poured candles and much, much more. Enjoy lunch or dinner beneath century-old oaks dripping with Spanish moss, and sample some of Florida’s finest beer at the Crooked Can Brewing Company.
Oviedo, an Orlando-area city on the edge of the vibrant University of Central Florida campus, is, in many ways, the heart of suburbia — and consistently ranked as a top place to live in numerous polls. But it has more foodie flair than you’d expect. Its Mayberry-like downtown is populated with feral chickens (the townspeople love this distinction) and its phenomenal Townhouse Diner showcases this fact proudly, along with its downhome cooking — the Sunday wait is worth it.
Also on the menu for sampling in Oviedo? USA Today’s 10Best.com-ranked Sushi Pop (Japanese) and Taipei 101 (Taiwanese) for stellar Asian fare. DeVine Wine Bar & Grill offers oenophiles a phenomenal setting for tastings and small plates.
5. High Performance
Orlando’s Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is setting the stage for cultural venues across the nation with state-of-the-art acoustics and breathtaking architecture. Named by Travel + Leisure magazine as one of the “World’s Coolest New Tourist Attractions” in its inaugural 2015 season, the venue hosts everything from Tony-winning Broadway shows to world-renowned orchestras, jazz greats to rock stars, comedians, pundits, authors and more. Its smashing downtown location also makes it a central point for easy walks to area hotels, nightspots, parks and even the Amway Center.
6. Street Cred
Orlando’s art scene has art in spades. In recent years, whole swaths of the city have been adorned with color and flair by muralists hired for specific jobs, and even graffiti artists invited to tag buildings with creative endeavors. It’s one of the reasons living in Central Florida is so colorful! In fact, art box projects all over town have spiffed up a host of the city’s otherwise unappealing electrical boxes, turning necessary hardware into museum-worthy pieces.
7. It’s Crafty!
The craft cocktail craze is alive and well throughout Central Florida, whether speakeasy chic or upscale lounge. In St. Pete, check out Mandarin Hide, where each day brings with it another $5 cocktail special. Impress your friends with the password at the intimate and exclusive Hanson’s Shoe Repair — you’ll have to get it texted to your phone for entry. You can also check out the locally-lauded and award-winning Courtesy Bar.
8. The Seafood!
From pink Key West shrimp to wild Apalachicola oysters to flaky Florida grouper, one of the best things about living in Central Florida is undoubtedly its edible ocean (and Gulf!) bounty.
Restaurants abound throughout the region, but don’t neglect the festivals! In its 30th year, the Bradenton area’s DeSoto Seafood Festival is up in Palmetto, just a quick drive from idyllic Lakewood Ranch. People drive for miles to sample succulent seafood and enjoy live music, arts, crafts and more over the three-day event.
9. Free Falling!
Are the amusement park rides too tame for you? The town of Zephyrhills’ central location makes it a convenient jump-off — pun intended — for newcomers and experienced adventurers alike to the high-adrenaline thrills of skydiving. Tandem jumpers drive in from all over the state to experience the thrill of the freefall while safely strapped to an expert instructor. Jump from over 13,000 feet for an exhilarating freefall that lasts a whole minute.
10. No Money? No Problem!
In the Tampa Bay area, low-cost fun is as easy as finding free beach parking, and with the convenient lack of state taxes, folks living in Central Florida know the value of calling Tampa Bay home.
The rolling hills of Clermont provide the state with some of its best conditions for various outdoor activities. At Lakeridge Winery, you can enjoy tastings and free admission to its many annual festivals. If you’re seeking some more fresh air, you can head over to Little Big Econ State Forest on the edge of Oviedo, which makes for stellar hiking and biking, or Boyd Hill Nature Preserve in St. Pete — where you can enjoy six miles of trails and some serious Florida birding for an admission price that ranges from free to $3.
11. Beautiful Bungalows
Some of Central Florida’s most charming architecture comes in bungalow form. St. Petersburg’s Historic Kenwood district, just west of bustling downtown, is a brick-paved enclave where an active, arts-loving community works together to preserve the history of its homes. What’s more, deals can still be found. An easy way to get to know this area is a “Westward Ho” walking tour, which includes entry to one of the area homes ($10).
Both the Tampa and Orlando areas have bike share programs that allow riders to take full advantage of Central Florida’s best free amenity: the great weather!
Coast Bike Share operates all over Tampa and St. Pete, with more than 300 bicycles and 30+ stations around the metro. In Orlando, Juice Bike Share has increased mobility in the city’s urban center and helped more residents discover the city’s stellar urban trails — while staying healthy and saving on gas!
13. A Master Plan in Manatee County
Lakewood Ranch is situated just minutes from the gorgeous beaches of Central Florida’s Gulf Coast and its many other active pursuits, as well as five-star eateries and upscale shopping. And with homes from under $200K all the way up to seven figures, its clean, safe confines are accessible to nearly every buyer imaginable.
Golf, polo and even a gun club offer a rich tapestry of active and sporting memberships, and 150 miles of multipurpose trails amid 10,000 acres of lakes, parks and nature preserves make being outside convenient and fun.
14. Celebrity Eats
Disney Springs is the Walt Disney World complex’s newly upgraded and expanded oasis of shopping, entertainment and dining. With free parking and no admission, it’s an economical way for you to get a Disney fix without dropping a bundle on park admission. It’s also an enclave for five-star, celebrity-chef dining.
From Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s opulent Morimoto Asia to the Guy Fieri-driven reboot of the Planet Hollywood Observatory to Chef Rick Bayless’ Mexican offering, Frontera Cocina, and beyond, visitors can pop in for a small taste, a cocktail or a full-on food festival.
15. It’s Electric!
Central Florida has the bright, beautiful distinction of being the lightning capital of the United States, with storms that crackle and flash to the delight of almost everyone — save those out on the golf course enjoying a round.
In fact, the corridor from Tampa to Titusville is often called “Lightning Alley.” The photo opportunities abound for those looking to capture the current’s crackle and crawl across the sky, but it’s important to note that the region’s number of bright, sunny days per year hovers around 100, which is probably why the beaches in the Sunshine State are so popular.
16. Lovely Lake Nona
This airport-convenient Orlando neighborhood is ready for takeoff, with tens of thousands of acres primed for residential and commercial development. The U.S. Tennis Assocation’s national campus just opened there, and it’s also the home of the University of Florida’s College of Medicine.
Development in the form of housing, hospitals, schools, retail and more leaves experts projecting that Lake Nona‘s residents will soon number more than 25,000.
If you’re ready to settle down in this popular area of Florida, head to Owners.com to search for your dream home today.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Owners.com, Altisource or any other Altisource® business or entity. The foregoing content is not intended to constitute, and in fact does not constitute, financial, investment, tax or legal advice by the author, Owners.com, Altisource or any other business or entity.
People are also reading