Everyday I thank my lucky stars I am a Canadian/American duel citizen. I’ve had the opportunity to grow up in Ottawa, Canada and transition into the Florida life after graduating my Masters. As a child, my family and I would visit Orlando every year to spend time with family. I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Orlando and when I needed a change 3 years ago, I decided to make it my permanent home. There are endless reasons to love Orlando and I wanted to share some of my favorites with you!
#1 Easy Beach Access
When you think of Orlando, I’m sure one of the first things to pop into your mind are the beaches. Orlando is blessed to be surrounded by incredibly gorgeous beaches on the east and west coast! Beach day trips are super common living in Orlando as New Smyrna Beach, Cocoa Beach and Ormond Beach are all roughly an hour drive. There is nothing more cleansing then spending a day at the beach after a long week. Imagine visiting the beach every weekend! It is totally possible living in Orlando. Have you already booked a one-way flight or need I say more?
#2 Home To The Mothership AKA Millenia Mall
The shopping in Orlando is unbeatable. Not only do we have several outlet malls, we are spoiled with the mothership AKA Millenia Mall. Y’all, I’ve been to plenty of malls in my life and Millenia Mall takes the cake. This 1.2 million square foot centre offers 150 stores and it is pure magic. Not only is the architecture and interior decor downright gorgeous, but it has a perfect combination of high end and affordably priced stores. While I enjoy taking in the beauty of Louis Vuitton, Chanel and David Yurman – I enjoy doing some serious damage in Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Sephora, Victoria’s Secret and M.A.C Cosmetics. Millenia also offers a diverse selection of dining including Brio Tuscan Grille, The Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, The Capital Grill and California Pizza Kitchen. If you can’t get ahold of me – I’m most likely perusing Millenia Mall!
#3 The Southern Food
Chicken n’ waffles. Grits. Collared Greens. Biscuits n’ Gravy. Hush Puppies. Fried Okra. They don’t call it “comfort food” for nothing. It’s loaded with fat – and horrible for your diet. But it is SO good. Orlando offers an abundance of restaurants specializing in good ol’ southern food. For example, The Coop, located in Winter Park, offers classic comfort food made from scratch and served daily. You will love sampling all the Southern food Orlando has to offer!
#4 Mickey Mouse
I can’t get through a post about why I love Orlando without mentioning the obvious – Disney! Disney isn’t just for the kids. Aside from the main parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom – Disney also offers two awesome waterparks Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach! If you’re looking for a day of lazy rivers, pina coladas and water slides these two parks are the perfect staycation! If you’re a local, you’re more likely to visit Disney’s Boardwalk and Disney Springs – promenades offering dining, shopping and nightlife with the same Disney spirit and no entry fee! My family and I are particularly fond of Disney Springs. Disney Springs, (formerly “Downtown Disney”) is an outdoor shopping dining and entertainment destination located less than 30 minutes from Orlando. After a 3 year renovation, Disney Springs has something for everyone, from shopping to a movie theatre, outdoor entertainment, Cirque de Soleil, boating, a bowling alley, numerous dinning experiences and so much more. The best part?! No admission OR parking fees! Hallelujah!
#5 The Gorgeous Waterfront Parks
Orlando is sprinkled with tons of gorgeous lakes throughout the city. My favorite, Lake Eola, is located downtown Orlando and a sanctuary for swan sightings, yoga practising, dog walking, picnic-ing, swan-shaped paddle boating and so much more! Every Sunday, between 10AM-4PM, the Orlando Farmer’s Market offers fresh produce, artwork, handmade crafts, yummy eats and more! The park is dog friendly, so you’ll see tons of four legged friends running around! Plus, every Sunday morning hundreds of yogis gather for donation-based yoga for all levels. You pay what you can, and the instructors are super friendly. Awesome, yes?
#6 The Sunshine
The endless sunshine is one of my favorite things about living in Orlando. If you live in a non-sunshine state (I grew up in Canada where it is cloudy 4 months out of the year) you’ll be surprised at how your mood instantly elevates living in a state with sunny days 9/10 days. Even on rainy days, the sun always finds it’s way past the clouds and shines it’s beautiful smile down on us! Winters in Orlando are especially gorgeous, with temperatures often reaching the 70s and sunshine in full swing! Come get dat vitamin D!
#7 Park Avenue
Oh Park Avenue, why are you so perfect?! Park Avenue is the sweetest area filled with stunning boutiques, sidewalk cafes and museums. The vibe is upscale, yet laid back – and it is completely dog friendly! With over 140 boutiques, you’re sure to get your shopping fix from a variety of eclectic and modern shops! I often work in the cafes on Park Avenue (Barnie’s is my favorite!) and enjoy shopping with my girls (Sultre is my guilty pleasure!). Located only minute from Orlando, this area is the perfect place to hangout with girlfriends, family and pup!
#8 The Attractions
Orlando is famous for a plethora of attractions on International Drive. Most recently, the Orlando Eye, a 400ft tall ferris wheel was built a year ago. 3o air-conditioned capsules carry up to 15 people (FIFTEEN!) and it currently operates as one of the largest ferries wheels in the world. I mean, cool much?
#9 The People
Of course, you’ll get bad apples wherever you are – however Orlando has that sprinkle of southern charm. In my three years living here, I have been blessed to meet so many amazing individuals, whether it be through work or friends. The southern accents are adorably refreshing, and (for the most part) I’ve experience southern hospitality at it’s finest and met so many amazing women in Orlando. You can be surrounded by great weather, food and activities, however it is the people that truly make a city your home.
So, when are you joining me in Orlando so we can be besties?! If you’re a fan of beaches, Disney, countless activities, good food and great people you may want to consider Orlando as your new home!