So you’ve been at school for three weeks now, and so far you’ve hit the student union, the food court, the library and the bar your roommate took you to right after you settled in. You know there’s more stuff out there to check out … but where is it? And how will you know when you’ve found the “it” spots for studying, eating, drinking, shopping and chilling, either on or off campus? Well, you can muddle your way through and try to figure it out on your own. Or you could check out the places we’ve highlighted in the following pages. Our crack team of interns scouted out the various campuses in Orlando and found the places they thought were the most student-friendly and interesting. When you finally get around to checking them out for yourself, check in on Facebook or Foursquare so your friends know you’ve found the perfect place to do whatever it is you’re up to.
Your school: Full Sail University
Your destinations are located: on the east side of Winter Park
11551 University Blvd.
Start your night off with a giant slice of pizza and a pitcher of PBR at Lazy Moon. Create your own or pick a signature – Jason’s Mom’s slice, with ranch dressing, chicken and carmamelized onions, is a popular choice – or make it interesting and try the El Fidel, a slice with a mustard base, mojo pork and dill pickles.
11448 University Blvd.
If you go to UCF, you’ll inevitably be drinking here. There’s a reason USA Today recently ranked it the No. 2 college bar in the United States.
Waterford Lakes Towne Center
413 N. Alafaya Trail
Waterford Lakes Towne Center offers just about everything your little shopaholic heart desires. It’s got megastores (Target), budget shopping (T.J. Maxx), boutiques (Stahli) and a wide variety of restaurants (Friendly Confines, Starbucks, TooJayx). The only downside: Driving in the parking lot can be a full-on nightmare, so watch where you’re going.
Lake Claire on the UCF campus
Lake Claire is a small man-made lake at the end of Greek Park Drive on UCF campus. Chill in one of the pavilions or use your UCF student ID card to rent paddleboards and kayaks for free.
Natura Coffee and Tea
12078 Collegiate Way
Tucked away between University Boulevard and Alafaya Trail lies Natura Coffee and Tea, a little oasis with wifi, a few comfy couches and intimate tables; it’s the perfect place to get amped on some caffeine while you’re studying for finals.
Your school: Valencia College -West Campus
Your destinations are located: MetroWest area of Orlando and along International Drive
Teak Neighborhood Grill
6400 Times Square Ave.
Located in MetroWest just off campus the Teak Neighborhood Grill is a fantastic alternative to the less-than-stellar food served in the campus cafeteria. With a decent-sized menu focusing on burgers and sandwiches, this pub is a great place to go for lunch or dinner after class. The rotating list of craft beers on tap sure helps digest that two-hour calculus lecture.
Universal Orlando CityWalk
6000 Universal Blvd.
After a full day of classes all you want to do is unwind, relax and maybe down a drink. Or two. Or three. Lucky for Valencia students, just a short drive down Kirkman Road from your campus, you’ll find one of the biggest nightlife destinations in Orlando. Universal’s CityWalk hosts five separate and unique bars. You can dance to electronica and hip-hop at the Groove, chill at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, listen to dueling pianos while sipping a hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s. Whatever your mood, you’ll find something to suit you here.
Orlando Premium Outlets
4951 International Drive
There’s no better way to blow off finals-induced stress than splurging at the outlets! Well, there probably is. But if you’ve got your shopping addiction under control, Orlando Premium Outlets is very conveniently located to campus, and it’s got all the stuff you love: DKNY, Polo, Vans, Saks Fifth Avenue, J.Crew, Gap and way too many to list here.
Achilles Art Café
2869 Wilshire Drive
Just a four-minute drive off campus, Achilles Art Cafe and Coffee Shop is the perfect place to relax during that long break you have between classes. They serve coffee and sandwiches and they’ve got free wifi – it’s an oasis of comfy couches and caffeine, two things every college student needs.
The campus labs have course-specific software, writing assistance programs, research guides and more that you’ll find very useful when you’re finishing that last-minute assignment and you just need to find that one last thing that’ll take it from being a B paper to an A. Check in here often.
Your school: Rollins College
Your destinations are located: in downtown Winter Park and Fairbanks Avenue
558 W. New England Ave., Winter Park
After your first few weeks on campus, you’re going to want a dining hall alternative. (“I’m so tired of this omelet bar!”) Fortunately for you, right down the street from campus is Dexter’s of Winter Park, and by the food’s simple elegance, you would never expect the vibe to be so down-to-earth and the prices to be so college-friendly. Sunday brunch is a local festivity, and most nights offer in-house live music. And with a 12-minute walk to and from campus, the trip is convenient and the taste is guilt-free.
Spatz Deli and Billiard Liquor
1025 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park
Just a stone’s throw from campus, this low-key joint has pool tables, darts, arcade games and cheap drinks. It’s popular with the Rollins crowd, and unlike a lot of the little bars and restaurants along Park Avenue, it’s open past midnight most nights.
Park Avenue/Lake Virginia with help from the Bicycle Library Program
Rollins is nestled at the south end of Park Avenue, right on the shores of Lake Virginia. The best of everything is there, from dining and shopping, to the outdoors and culture. What better way to explore the neighborhood on your day off than with a free bike rental from the Olin Library Circulation desk, provided by the school’s Sustainability program. Hop on your bike in front of the Alfond Sports Center and spend the day riding around campus and beyond.
Park Avenue, Winter Park
You go to the only school in the metro area that has a shopping destination across the street from campus, you lucky bastard. While the rest of us schlep it to the mall, you have a Gap, a Crate and Barrel, three coffee shops and a bunch of specialty stores at your fingertips.
929 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park
When they’re not hosting hip-hop night or open mic Mondays, the people over at Austin’s Coffee are working 24 hours a day, serving up some of the best fair-trade coffee, beer and edibles in town. There’s an endless supply of caffeine to ease you into an all-nighter, and litters of hipsters trickle in and out all day. Cozy,up in a couch or go to work in a booth. Spend study breaks conversing with fellow patrons, playing one of the many board games on the back wall or admiring the local art that adorns the walls.
Your school: Seminole State College
Your destinations are located: in Lake Mary and downtown Sanford
Colonial Town Park, Lake Mary
International Parkway and 46A, Lake Mary
You’ve got plenty of options to choose from here: There’s a Dexter’s, which is perfect for breakfast and lunch. There’s a Graffiti Junktion, which serves killer burgers. There’s a Liam FitzPatrick’s Irish pub. There’s a Crispers for sandwiches and subs. Basically, if you need to eat, you’ll find pretty much whatever you need in this compact plaza, which also houses a movie theater.
1200 S. French Ave., Sanford
This is not exactly a college bar – it’s more like a massive country-themed neighborhood bar. But it offers tons of daily drink specials, themed nights (Thursday is college night), line-dancing nights, an open-mic night and more. And it’s right up the road from campus.
Little Fish, Huge Pond
401 S. Sanford Ave., Sanford
We couldn’t settle on just one bar for this category, because to leave the quirkiest little pub in the region off the list would be a travesty. While not exactly a “college bar,” Little Fish, Huge Pond is a haven for the artsy set – oddball movie nights, bands, art shows and unique nights, like Harry’s Man Cave night, are the kinds of things that make this bar special. Do check in. You won’t regret it.
Downtown Sanford has a cool selection of gift shops, consignment stores and specialty shops, and it’s the perfect place to spend a day browsing and window shopping. But if you’re going for practicality, you’re probably just going to want to hit Seminole Towne Center, which is a traditional mall with all the requisite mall stores: Gap, H&M, Best Buy and the like.
Lake Monroe, downtown Sanford
This picturesque lake is the spot to de-stress and decompress. Sit in the park and watch the kids play in the cool kiddie sprinklers, or sit right on the shore of the lake, which is usually populated by a handful of people fishing, strolling or just taking in the beautiful view.
The campus library
This library is packed with resources, including access to online research databases, course-specific study guides and subscriptions to popular journals and magazines. But the coolest thing about this library is its Seeds for Thought seed library – check out some seeds, plant them and when your plants generate seeds of their own, harvest them and return to the library.