Long before Walt Disney World opened here in 1971, Orlando was already a tourism haven and was a popular resort in the 1920s. This has led to the creation of several neighborhoods in the area where the city’s distinct bungalow homes were first constructed in large numbers.
However, it was the selection of the city as the site of the groundbreaking Walt Disney World that catapulted Orlando into the world tourism stage. The theme park opened a slew of economic opportunities, growing the city into a major metropolitan area that now includes the Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Lake Counties.
Today, the Orlando metropolitan area is the 24th largest in the United States, and the city of Orlando is at the heart of it all. With an estimated population of about 271,000 (as of 2015), the city is composed of 115 neighborhoods and many other unincorporated communities.
You will find great diversity in lifestyles and housing options in Orlando, from some of the most luxurious properties in Florida to affordable homes catering to a wide range of residents.
Downtown Orlando has several neighborhoods that are as diverse as the city itself. The Central Business District is home to impressive skyscrapers and high-rises, including condominium buildings offering units in a wide range of sizes and prices. Historic neighborhoods around the Central Business District feature sprawling estates and beautiful single-family homes on expansive, manicured lots, as well as condos and townhomes.
Only a few minutes away from downtown are residential neighborhoods that exude a homey, family-friendly appeal. One such neighborhood is College Park. Located just northwest of Downtown Orlando, College Park feels separated from its bustling next door neighbor, with its welcoming, brick-lined streets filled with early 1900s bungalows and contemporary single-family homes. The neighborhood also features newer condos and townhomes, as well as some of Orlando’s grandest estates.
College Park’s downtown area has a village-like atmosphere, with one-of-a-kind shops, boutiques, and restaurants lining well-tended streets. Each year, the close-knit community gathers in regular neighborhood events, such as December’s Holiday on the Drive and spring’s Dancing on the Drive.
Southeast Orlando welcomes you to yet another facet of this fascinating city. Encompassing the University of Central Florida and Orlando International Airport, this area is home to master-planned communities that feature charming single-family and multi-family homes along landscaped streets.
The southeast area also features rustic meadows and pine forests, and is home to the Econlockhatchee River and the wetlands that surround it. This part of Orlando is perfect for people who love the active, outdoorsy lifestyle.
Lifestyle, culture and recreation
- There’s no doubt that Orlando’s theme parks largely define the city and its lifestyle. In addition to Walt Disney World and the many theme parks within it, Orlando is also home to Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and LEGOLAND Florida
- There’s more to see and do in Orlando than these mega-theme parks. The city is rife with cultural and historic attractions, such as:
- Galleries and museums, including the Mennello Museum of American Art, the Orange County Regional History Center and the Orlando Museum of Art
- Street and community art featured by the city’s See Art Orlando and City Hall Public Arts programs
- Historic districts and attractions like Greenwood Cemetery, Church Street District and Lake Cherokee Historic District
- Orlando is a dining, shopping and nightlife destination, with numerous restaurants, shopping centers and entertainment venues found within the theme parks and on the city’s lively streets. Not to be missed are:
- Wolfgang Puck Grand Café, Mango’s Tropical Café Orlando and 4 Rivers Smokehouse
- ICEBAR Orlando – the world’s largest permanent ice bar
- Major shopping centers like The Mall at Millenia and The Florida Mall, as well as shopping, dining and entertainment complexes like I-Drive 360 and Pointe Orlando
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