The Orlando metro area includes the four counties of Orange, Seminole, Lake, and Osceola. It covers a large swatch of Florida and each county has a variety of interesting towns and communities. While the area is best-known for its impressive theme parks, there's more going on in the neighborhoods and suburbs of Orlando.
The hub of the Central Florida area, Downtown Orlando contains the central business district. If you're looking for theatrical venues, sports arenas, or a variety of dining and entertainment options, Downtown Orlando is the place to visit.
A trip downtown can take you to the Loch Haven Park neighborhood where you'll find the Orlando Museum of Art and the Orlando Science Center. The Leu Gardens are another nearby attraction worth noting. You’ll also find the famous Florida Citrus Bowl just west of downtown and beyond football, it has many great concerts to enjoy.
Some of the neighborhoods you’ll come across in the downtown area include the stylish Thornton Park, home of Lake Eola Park, and the bohemian neighborhood of the Milk District. There, you will find unique bars, hip boutiques, and a great variety of restaurants that are filled with character.
Home to many impressive and historical buildings, Winter Park has long been considered one of the most beautiful cities in the Central Florida area. Located in Orange County and just northeast of Orlando, it is an easy commute for residents that work in the Downtown Orlando area.
Winter Park is home to Rollins College, which has great examples of Spanish-Mediterranean architecture. While there, visit the Abin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens or take in the Morse Museum of American Art and enjoy their collection of work by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
Central Florida's largest county by area, Osceola County embraces its past while forging into the future. Well known in the 1880s for its cattle ranches, citrus orchards, and abundant land, the area now boasts one of the highest concentrations of guest rooms in the country. Most of that is due to the theme parks it includes and is nearby.
This area includes the town of Celebration. It is a fun and vibrant place that was conceived by the Walt Disney Company and it has all the charm and amenities you'd expect from pre-40's America.
One of the highlights of Osceola County is Osceola Heritage Park and the Silver Spurs Rodeo. Located in Kissimmee, the park hosts many events throughout the year, including the county fair and, of course, the "largest rodeo east of the Mississippi."
The smallest in size of the counties that make up Central Florida, Seminole County is often referred to as Orlando's bedroom community. Known for its high-ranking public schools, Seminole County attracts both mid-scale and upper-end housing.
Communities you'll find in Seminole County include Altamonte Springs, Casselberry, Heathrow, Longwood, Oviedo, Sabal Point, and Winter Springs. Sanford is home to the Central Florida Zoological Park & Botanical Gardens, a nice attraction that's quieter than the theme parks.
The city of Apopka includes two state parks that offer relaxing outdoor experiences and is known as the "indoor foliage capital of the world." Likewise, Lake Mary grew up on the citrus industry and is a nice community for casual living that offers great access to all the Orlando area offers.
Aptly named for its abundance of lakes, Lake County lies predominately to the west of Orange County. Laid-back charm, rolling hills, and natural settings make this an outdoor lover's paradise. With its close proximity to the attractions, natural lakes, and golf courses, Lake County is a hot spot for many relocating to the Orlando area.
While there are many great things throughout the county, Mount Dora offers a historical perspective on the area. Not only can you take tours by trolley or train, but some collectors say it is one of the best places in Florida to hunt down antiques.
Outer Orlando Neighborhoods
Many unique and beautiful neighborhoods are located just outside of the downtown area. These areas are where you'll find a mix of homes and business as well shopping, dining, and entertainment.
Turkey Lake Park is the largest park in the area and it's a favorite for locals and visitors alike. It's the feature attraction in the MetroWest neighborhood and the MetroWest Golf Course is very close in case you want to play a round or two.
Encompassing 907 square miles, Orange County has the largest population of the four counties. Throughout Orange County, you will find a variety of distinct areas, each with unique identities, from older communities to newer upscale, gated areas that are known for their golf courses, lakes, and amenities.
For example, Maitland has its share of high-rises, but its downtown has a great charm. Just 10 minutes north of Orlando, this suburb hosts two popular art shows, one in the spring and the other in autumn.
Winter Garden is one of the more notable suburbs of Orange County. It has an active and historic downtown, museums, the Garden Theatre and plenty of places to stay, shop, and dine. Yet, it's probably best known for the Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge.