Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Florida Music Festival 2011

Celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Florida Music Festival from Thursday, April 7th to Saturday, April 9th.  This year includes over 50 local and international bands.  Also in the lineup are a variety of music industry conferences conferences and the 6th annual Indie Film Jam

Events are being held at various venues around downtown Orlando, including 57 West, Backbooth, Cafe Annie's, The Social, Orlando Tasting's, and Wall Street Plaza.  For a complete list of shows and where to find them, check out the schedule.

One-day wristbands for Thursday are $15 and $10 for Friday and Saturday.  Take advantage of buying your ticket online and get the three-day pass for only $25. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Florida Film Festival 2011 and Valencia Film Celebration 2011

April is a month full of great events around Central Florida.  For starters, we're less than two weeks from the 20th annual Florida Film Festival.  From Friday, April 8th to Sunday, April 17th, partake in over 100 movie and short film screenings, forums, eating, meeting, and many other events.  This year's theme is "Fresh Squeezed Indies," which celebrates everything and anything Floridian, from movies to food.  Movies are $10, or pick up one of the special passes.  See the complete schedule on their website.

Another film event not to be missed is the 16th Annual Valencia Film Celebration.  This event is being held at Valencia Community College's East Campus Performing Arts Center, April 1st and 2nd at 6:30pm, and tickets are $5 general, $3 student/senior, and free for VCC staff, students, and faculty.  Two feature films and a handful of shorts will be shown.  Trailers and schedule on their website.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Outing: Orlando Art Strolls

Art strolls (also known as any combination of art/studio/gallery + walk/stroll/hop) give local artists the chance to share their art with residents and visitors.  An art stroll is usually an exhibit of studio art spread throughout various studios, galleries, bars, and other venues within walking distance of one another.  Many events also include performing arts, such as live bands and dance troupes.  It's a great opportunity to ask the artists questions about their work while you explore different parts of town.  Since these events are always in the more interesting parts of town, you'll be sure to find plenty of good restaurants around.

Fun  Artists and art galleries have been vital in rehabilitating downtown environments throughout the United States, as is evidenced by the popularity of monthly art walks.  They're free, fun, interesting, and different every time you go.

Third Thursday Gallery Hop
Where: Starts at City Arts Factory, 29 South Orange Ave., Downtown Orlando
When: 6:00pm to 9:00pm
Next one is: Thursday, April 21st

First Fridays Sidewalk Art Stroll 
Where: Varies along North Orange Ave.
When: 6:00pm to 9:00pm
Next one is: Friday, April 1st starting at 1907 North Orange Ave.

Fourth Fridays, Celebrating the Arts
Where: Starts at Sanford Welcome Center, 230 East First St., Sanford
When: September - April, 6:00pm - 8:30pm
Next one is: Friday, April 22nd (season finale!)

Click to learn more about Mount Dora
Mount Dora Art Stroll
Where: Around Highland Street & Fifth Ave., Downtown Mount Dora
When: 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Next one is: Friday, April 8th

There used to be a monthly art stroll in Baldwin Park, but I wasn't able to find details on an upcoming one.  Any that I'm missing?

Food  Restaurants and bars generally support art walks, so the dining selection is huge.  You'll always be able to find something within walking distance.  For example, if you're in the downtown / Thornton Park area, you should try Graffiti Junktion, famous for its burgers (under $10, veggie burger $6).  If you attend the Ivanhoe art stroll, you could try Ethos Vegan Kitchen, a restaurant even a very non-vegan like me can enjoy.  Prices are very reasonable and they serve a variety of meals including sandwiches ($5.95 to $8.95), pizza ($10.95), and soup ($2.95).

Dessert  Most artists or gallery owners will provide snacks like cheese and grapes, as well as small glasses of wine and other drinks.  If you're lucky, you'll be able to pick up some free drinks during your visits. 

Total Cost for an art stroll, dinner, and hopefully some free drinks: about $10 per person.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Orlando Food Trucks

The Daily City recently announced the first ever Orlando Food Truck Bazaar.  Although mobile kitchens have been around Orlando for a while now, this is the first time they'll be all in one place.  This monthly event is coupled with the existing farmers market and will take place in the Discovery Church parking lot in South Orange (south of downtown Orlando).  The Daily City also posted a thorough list of Orlando's food trucks and a very detailed article from Orlando Weekly contains a map of where and when to find each truck on regular days. 

When  Tuesday, March 29th from 7 pm to 10 pm
Where  Discovery Church parking lot, 4400 S. Orange Ave.
How Much  Free admission, food is cash only

Blog Updates - Neighborhoods Tab

I've been spending some time recently updating the Neighborhoods tab.  Although it's still a work in progress, the idea of writing a brief description with pictures of each Orlando district is taking shape.  I also changed the static map image to an interactive Google map.  Click the Neighborhoods tab above to check it out!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Eating Right in Greater Orlando: Homegrown Co-op

Last week I wrote about wanting to eat healthier and to concentrate on local produce.  Farmers' markets are springing up all over the place and are a great way to do it.  But don't think that's the only place to find local, organic groceries.  Recently I tried Homegrown Co-op for the first time, and will definitely use them again.


I placed my order at their online marketplace.  Orders are filled every Thursday and you can pick them up between 2pm and 8pm OR have them delivered straight to your door.  I recommend their Season's Pick Box.  In the small box ($20) I got: one grapefruit, three oranges, a head of lettuce, two poblano peppers, four tomatoes, a bag of green beans, a bunch of collard greens, and a big sweet potato. 

For those who prefer to pick out their own groceries, be sure to stop by 2310 N Orange Ave Thursdays during pickup hours to browse that week's surplus of fruits, vegetables, meat, milk, eggs, and cheese.  Each week also features local farmers who are there to sell their goods and answer questions.  When I went, Bruce and Frances (above) from Kissimmee's Green Place provided a lot of information about their products.   

PS: It's Florida's strawberry season, so grab some now!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival 2011

This weekend is the 52nd Annual Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, from March 18th - 20th.  Enjoy live music all day, dozens of food and beverage stands, and of course thousands of pieces of art.

For more information, visit the official website.

Looking for more free art exhibits in Winter Park and the surrounding area?  The Morse Museum of American Art is free for all visitors until March 20 to celebrate its recent expansion.  The Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College is free for anyone with a student ID (from any institution) and has constantly rotating exhibits.  The Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts in Eatonville is always free as is the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida in Maitland.

For a complete list of Central Florida museums with free admission, click here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Orlando Ranked as the Fifth Non-Toxic City in the US

Forbes Magazine put together a list of America's most environmentally healthy cities this week.  It ranked Orlando fifth healthiest of the country's 80 largest metro areas.  The study rated air quality, Superfund sties (where toxic or hazardous materials are kept), and water quality. 


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Eating Right in Greater Orlando: Farmers' Markets

Sometimes it takes a lot of factors happening at once to make you change your behavior.  For me, it's been a mix of the new year's resolution to work out and eat better, lent, watching a disconcerting documentary about our modern diet, and an attempt to support local business that have made me reevaluate what I eat.

I've never considered myself a health nut, but even I got tired of the bleached eggs, waxed fruit, and withered vegetables you find at most grocery stores.  Of course all Publix markets now have a Greenwise section and Orlando now has two Whole Foods (technically one in Winter Park and one in Orlando), they don't compare to farmer's markets.  The prices are the same, if not more expensive.  And the food they sell isn't always local.

I've heard of a couple of farmers' markets in the area, and have been to a couple.  But after a little research, I realized there were many more options than I knew about:


The Winter Park Farmers' Market has been around for over 30 years and is one of my favorites.  The selection of local and/or organic produce is very good.  I also enjoy the plants, crafts, and lemonade, but the highlight for me is always the baked goods.
200 West New England Ave., Winter Park
7 am to 1 pm

New and still growing, the Waterford Lakes Farmers' Market is in the middle of the Waterford Lakes shopping area (by the movies) in East Orlando.  Although there aren't many produce vendors yet, it's worth stopping by to check out crafts by local artists or to grab breakfast.
413 North Alafaya Trail, Orlando
9 am to 2 pm


Another small, but growing market is the Orlando Farmers Market.  Enjoy the views of beautiful Lake Eola Park located in the heart of downtown while you browse the stands.  See vendors selling fresh fruit juices, produce, and baked goods, as well as crafts, soaps, and pet supplies.
413 North Alafaya Trail, Orlando
9 am to 2 pm


Visitors to the Audubon Park Community Market, held at the unique time of Monday nights, will also enjoy live music, crafts, and access to Stardust Coffee & Video's bar.  But don't be fooled by the extras: APCM's main feature remains the local-only produce.
1842 East Winter Park Road, Orlando
6 pm to 10 pm 


Like the APCM, the College Park Farmers' Market is part of a new breed of outdoor markets.  Not only is it during the week, but at night, giving more people the chance to attend.  This market is still up and coming, but everything you need, from produce to baked goods, is there.
1600 Edgewater Drive, Orlando
5 pm to 9 pm

There are even more farmers' markets at the outskirts of Orlando, including Dr. Phillips, Hunter's Creek, and Celebration.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Weekend and St. Patrick's Day Plans

If you don't have any plans yet for the weekend, you might be interested in one of these:

Baldwin Park Art & Jazz Festival
Multiple live musicians, local artists exhibiting their works, and outside dining options.  Dog friendly. 
Saturday, March 12th
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
New Broad St. and Jake St.
Price: Free

St. Patty's Pub Crawl
Celebrate St. Patrick's day a week early by participating in a huge pub crawl through eight of downtown Orlando's coolest bars and clubs.
Saturday, March 12th
8 p.m. to 1 a.m.
The Lodge, 49 N Orange Ave.
Price: $12 advanced / $15 at the door

Looking for something to do on the real St. Patrick's Day?  Click here for a list of ten of Central Florida's special events and block parties on March 17th, 2011.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Orlando Featured in The New York Times

Orlando was already featured in The New York Times' Travel feature "36 Hours" in 2007.  This week, the Times visited Orlando once again.  While last year's article guided potential tourists around downtown Orlando, this second edition explores College Park, ViMi, and Winter Park.