Despite Orlando being spread out, there are actually quite a few nice, walkable areas. Most of them are downtown or in the older neighborhoods surrounding downtown, but newer ones have been appearing as well. Below are some of my favorite areas.
View Orlando Neighborhoods in a larger map
- Central Business District
- South Eola / Thornton Park
- Lake Eola Heights
- North Orange / Ivanhoe Village
- South Orange / SoDo
- Mills/50: Little Vietnam
- Mills/50: ViMmi
- Loch Haven Park / Health Village
- College Park
- Baldwin Park
- Winter Park
- East Orlando: UCF / Alafaya / Waterford Lakes
Central Business District
Most tourists only get a sense of the International Drive side of Orlando, far outside of the city's actual center, located at the intersection of Interstate 4 and highway 408. Downtown's main street has always been Orange Ave. The former shopping street is now home to business and government skyscrapers busy during the day, as well as enough bars, clubs, and music venues to sustain a bustling nightlife.
The main strip of locales is along Orange Avenue. Off of it are Wall Street Plaza and Church Street, both pedestrian streets at night with many bars and restaurants. Church Street also takes you to the Amway Center, home of the Orlando Magic.back to top
North Orange / Ivanhoe Village
South Orange / SoDo
The area along South Orange Avenue is known as South Orange, or more recently SoDo (South of Downtown) after a large retail and apartment development. Although primarily home to industry and single family homes, the area around Orange Avenue is developing into a pedestrian-friendly area with shopping, restaurants, and bars. South Orange is home to the SoDo development, a collection of Orlando Health hospitals, and the Orlando Amtrak station.
Mills/50: Little Vietnam
At the intersection of Mills Avenue and Highway 50 (Colonial Drive), Mills50 for short, lies the heart of Little Vietnam, also known as Little Saigon or Vietnamtown. The area got its start when Vietnamese refugees came to Orlando after the fall of Saigon in the 1970s. Today, the enclave has grown to include a variety of Vietnamese and other Asian restaurants, shops, and even a Vietnamese Baptist church.
ViMi is often confused with Little Vietnam, but it's actually a another name for the Mills50 district, this time based around the intersection of Mills Avenue and Virginia Avenue. While it includes Little Vietnam (mentioned above), it encompasses a wide variety of independent businesses, restaurants, and cultural centers. ViMi is a diverse area that brings together Orlando's Asian, gay, eco-friendly, and creative communities. You can find anything from palm readers to yoga studios, from international restaurants to artistic venues. Many of Orlando's mainstays can be found here, including Colonial Photo and Hobby, the Cameo Theater, the Dandelion Communitea Cafe, and close by are Leu Gardens.
Loch Haven Park / Health Village
If you head north on Orange Avenue from downtown Orlando, you'll run into the city's cultural hub, Loch Haven Park. This scenic park is home to the Orlando Science Center, the Orlando Museum of Art, the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, the Orlando Repertory Theatre, the Orlando Fire Museum, the Mennello Museum of American Art, and the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra.
Right next to Loch Haven Park is the ever-expanding Florida Hospital. The hospital's goal is to redevelop the area around the various hospital buildings into a Health Village, a pedestrian-centered neighborhood with a focus on healthy living.
Maitland is a small town to the north or Orlando. It's home to the Enzian Theater and Eden Bar (the main site of the annual Florida Film Festival) and a collection of museums.