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Winter Park Gems | This October marks 129 years since Winter Park was incorporated as a town. According to the City of Winter Park, the initial purpose of the city was to provide refuge for northerners wishing to escape cold winter temperatures. Full of parks, museums, brick roads and architecture, Winter Park has no shortage of art or beauty. Park Avenue is lined with numerous local stores and critically acclaimed restaurants. The 6 places below are what I consider some real Winter Park gems – some that have been open for less than a year and some that really only locals know about – adding their own flavor to Orlando’s expanding local food scene.

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National Coffee Day | Nowadays it seems there is a National “Something” Day for pretty much everything, but National Coffee Day is one I can definitely get with. As a coffee addict I am glad I live in Orlando where there is no shortage of local, quality coffee shops in every side of town. Since I’ve previously done coffee posts (here and here), I wanted to highlight some lesser known spots and some that don’t get the props they deserve. I know it’s easy to just hop in a drive-thru from a chain but Orlando has so much more to offer once you start exploring!

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College Park | The community we know as College Park got its name due to the different streets named after colleges, such as Princeton, Stetson, and Yale. College Park is just northwest of downtown Orlando, making it not only a convenient area to live, but a great place to open a business. The College Park Publix, complete with a very retro look and signage, and the David’s World Cycle store have been College Park staples for decades. You’ll find most of the dining and shopping along Edgewater, with everything from trendy hair salons to juice bars and resale boutiques.

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Audubon Park Garden District | Audubon Park Garden District was selected as one of only 3 Great American Main Streets for 2016, and if you’ve ever been, it’s easy to see why. President and CEO of the National Main Street Center had this to say about Audubon Park: “Audubon Park is to be commended for reinventing itself as the home of several destination-worthy small businesses and the epicenter of Orlando’s good food movement, while also pioneering green practices for businesses and commercial districts.” When thinking of neighborhoods where small local businesses are welcomed and provided the opportunity to bring a dream into fruition Audubon Park would be the first that I would name. Audubon Park is filled with local businesses and restaurants that believe in supporting each other, restaurants that purchase their ingredients from other local merchants and farms, a variety of vegan choices, and the Audubon Community Market was the first local-only farmer’s market in Orlando.

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You Need To Check Out : Sprinkles! | Finally, I visited Sprinkles and obtained my ATM cupcake, and just like that my cupcake obsession has come full circle. I’ve watched Food Network’s Cupcake Wars for years, and even now that it’s out of production I still catch reruns on the Cooking Channel. One of my favorite hobbies is baking, especially cupcakes, so visiting Sprinkles – the first official cupcake bakery – was always a dream!

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Hot Days, Cold Coffee | If you know anything about me, it’s probably that I am obsessed with two things: Mariah Carey and coffee. Up until about a year ago, I would’ve never ordered an iced coffee and would scoff at those who would. Why would you want to drink cold coffee? Gross. Well I obviously had no idea what I was talking about, and dealing with Orlando summer temperatures while drinking hot coffee is not where it’s at. Thank goodness I decided to give iced coffee a try, and while I’m not giving up my hot coffee for good, I have to say I almost always prefer iced coffee lately. Maybe when it cools down outside that will change, but then again it’s Florida so that may not be until about October. Central Florida has so many awesome local coffee shops sprinkled in all corners of the city so no matter what area you’re in you can get your coffee fix. Here are a few local businesses you should support; which is your favorite?

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New Thrills On Mills | The area where Mills Ave and Colonial Dr intersect, the surrounding streets and all the surrounding businesses is known as the Mills 50 District (one of the Orlando Main Street Districts). Mills 50 has become one of my favorite parts of Orlando, and is an area I frequent several times a week; whenever I’m in search of a new place to have lunch or a great spot to photograph. One of the reasons is the amount of art in this area, starting from art galleries and murals, and extending to storm drains, electrical (art) boxes, and (art) dumpsters. Wills Pub, Wally’s Liquors and Track Shack are staples in Orlando and have inhabited this neighborhood for years, and in the last 3 years there has been a boom of new, dope local businesses bringing their own uniqueness to Mills 50.

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La Vida Dulce Pt 2 | Orlando has so many wonderful local places to snag dessert that I had to do a continuation of my first post, La Vida Dulce. These establishments are all bringing something different and special to their neighborhoods, offering items that have been handmade, from scratch and usually with locally sourced ingredients.

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La Vida Dulce | The culmination of a phenomenal meal is dessert. I make certain to leave room for it; you know you do it too, don’t lie! We’re fortunate enough that Orlando has a vast selection of local establishments that can fulfill anyones cravings. Whether your vice is donuts, cupcakes, ice cream, or pastries, I have you covered!

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Coffee Addicts Unite | Orlando is a great place to live if you’re a coffee addict like myself. Below are some of my favorite spots to have a latte, cafe con leche, cortadito, or any other wonderful caffeine-filled concoction. The list is in no particular order, of course.

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