College Park is one of those Orlando neighborhoods that almost feels like Pleasantville – for being so close to downtown, it has a remarkably old-fashioned, old-Florida appeal. It’s mostly a residential cluster of cozy bungalows, but Edgewater Drive serves as the main drag, where the kind of small indie businesses that you only expect in small towns – a locksmith, a clock repair shop, a vacuum store – are interspersed with restaurants and boutiques. Since 1975, Orange Cycle (2204 Edgewater Drive, 407-422-5552, orangecycleorlando.com), a 10,000-square-foot bike shop known for knowledgeable, hands-off service, has anchored the community at the corner of Edgewater and Princeton Street. Ollie’s Public House (3400 Edgewater Drive, 407-999-8934, olliespublichouse.com), where you can drink beer on the patio in mildly alarming proximity to the gleaming new Edgewater High School, has replaced the long-lived Jax at one end of the strip; down at the other, Cavanaugh’s Fine Wines (1215 Edgewater Drive, 407-426-7510) has recently added a small wine-and-beer bar to their stock of hard-to-find bottles. In between, life-improving services abound: College Park Yoga (3029 Edgewater Drive, 407-999-7871, collegeparkyoga.com) twists limbs and deepens breathing seven days a week. Tamahra’s Secret (1520 Edgewater Drive, 407-999-5008, tsecret.com) soothes and smooths troubled complexions. And Alchemy Salon (2812 Edgewater Drive, 407-650-8022, alchemyorlando.com) cuts and colors the hippest hair in town – and hosts an awesome block party every summer. You can pay what you wish for the fair-trade coffee at the sunny, positive-vibes Downtown Credo (706 W. Smith St., 407-250-4888, downtowncredo.com). Artichoke Red (2808 Edgewater Drive, 407-898-3353, artichokered.com), open seven days a week, stocks the most complete inventory of vegan necessities we’ve seen in Orlando.
As for pure retail therapy, an outpost of the always-dependable Dechoes Resale (2110 Edgewater Drive, 407-648-7480, dechoesresale.com) meets your gently used denim and designer-handbag needs, while Gallery on the Edge (2300 Edgewater Drive, 407-999-5251, facebook.com/galleryontheedge) combines Artistree Co-op (Etsy-esque handmade goods) with Atomic Junkies (midcentury modern furniture). Hungry? There are more than a dozen restaurants packed into the neighborhood, but notables include K Restaurant (1710 Edgewater Drive, 407-872-2332, krestaurant.net), the domain of Kevin Fonzo, one of Orlando’s most creative chefs; and Paxia (2611 Edgewater Drive, 407-420-1155, paxiarestaurant.com), where Mexican food gets a modern twist. Paxia is also a great place to sip tequila on a weeknight or work off a hangover at weekend brunch; if Friday nights don’t hit you too hard, the College Park Farmers Market also serves brunch and has recently shifted to Sundays under the auspices of TheDailyCity.com. (It’s still hosted in the parking lot of Infusion Tea, 1600 Edgewater Drive.)