Orlando Neighborhood Guide: College Park

Orlando is a city of eclectic neighborhoods, from the happening downtown scene, to artsy Winter Park and vibrant College Park. Just northwest of downtown, this family-friendly neighborhood features a leafy grid of streets that are lined with tidy bungalows and mid-century ranch homes. College Park’s commercial artery, Edgewater Drive, is bursting with restaurants, bars, and shops—both brand-new and old favorites. Although most of what you’ll want to see is within walking distance along the Drive (as it’s known), summer’s heat means you’ll be far more comfortable letting someone else do the driving. Take an Uber to these great Orlando locations:

Where to Eat

Edgewater Drive has positively boomed in the last few years with new restaurants, but there are a few not-to-miss old favorites too. Start your day on the south end of the Drive at local favorite Christo’s Café, a cozy diner with lots of patio seating, as well as booths and tables inside. Order the biscuits and gravy with a pancake (or two) on the side and you’ll walk away full and happy.

Head north on Edgewater for lunch to the newly opened PR’s Taco Palace, a dive-y joint just off Edgewater on Smith Street. The garage-style doors open to the picnic tables on the sidewalk, and by the worn-in look of the furniture and the colorful graffiti on the walls, you’ll swear this purveyor of tasty Mexican eats has been around forever. Start with the complimentary chips and salsa, and move on from there to any of the tasty entrees or combinations. Try the queso.

Finally, if you’ve saved any room for dinner, try RusTeak Restaurant and Wine Bar. This casual yet classy spot offers American cuisine with a Southern bent on a menu that changes monthly to reflect the seasons, focusing on local produce. The decadent PBLT features seared pork belly, white BBQ sauce, tomato, bibb lettuce, and maple-pepper bacon served on garlic brioche.

Where to Drink

Edgewater offers a few solid options for cocktails and conversation. Graffiti Junktion, just north of Princeton is the neighborhood’s loudest watering hole, with all of the many TVs in the joint tuned into whatever sports event happens to be on at the time. There are picnic tables outside when the weather cooperates and lots of indoor seating, as well as a tasty menu of burgers and bar snacks.

For something more low-key, head to Ollie’s Public House, which shares a driveway with Edgewater High School. There’s a large patio and a solid, if small, menu of cocktails like the classic Dark and Stormy, made with dark rum and ginger beer. Make sure to ask for the house-made pickles.

Where to Shop

Most of the area’s shops cluster around the intersection of Edgewater and Princeton Drive. Pop into Dechoes Resale for the latest in slightly used hipster-wear; Gallery on the Edge andAnnabelle Hart both offer eclectic gifts and tchotchkes for your house. Artichoke Red Vegan Market, a bit farther up the street, offers everything you need to put together a cruelty-free meal, and right next door is the charming Modern Grace boutique, with a great selection of dresses, jewelry, purses, and accessories.

For the Literature Fans

Tucked into quiet Clouser Avenue at No. 1418½ is a small bungalow where Jack Kerouac lived and worked when his classic On the Road was published, and where he typed the original manuscript for the sequel, Dharma Bums. While the house itself is usually reserved for writers-in-residence, there are frequent readings, and tours are available for $100 if you schedule in advance.

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