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Small-town appeal with big-time hospitality

Eden Bat at Enzian Theater
  • Eden Bat at Enzian Theater

Some would consider Maitland the meager next-door neighbor to affluent Winter Park. But what this strip of U.S. Highway 17-92 lacks in glitz and glamour, it certainly makes up for in its friendly appeal.

Perhaps the biggest draw for visitors (film buffs and otherwise) to Maitland is independent alternative cinema Enzian Theater (1300 S. Orlando Ave., 407-629-1088, enzian.org), which hosts an eclectic selection of movies – both new releases and cult classics – screened in a comfy dinner theater. Enzian is also home to the annual Florida Film Festival.

Hollie Mahadeo, general manager of the Enzian, says Maitland offers “that small-town appeal where you actually get to know people and hospitality isn’t just the name of an industry – it’s a way that people are treated.”

That’s why in Maitland, it’s easy to find neighborly joints where even out-of-towners are welcomed like friends – it just comes down to what kind of friends you hang with.

Those looking to sip cocktails in an outdoor garden ambiance flock to Enzian’s Eden Bar (1300 S. Orlando Ave., 407-629-1088, enzian.org), while bar-goers up for a round of darts or trivia (and a selection of 140 beers) pull up a stool at Copper Rocket Pub (106 Lake Ave., 407-645-0069, copperrocketpub.com).

On-the-go diners looking to (literally) grab a bite can stop by Kappy’s (501 N. Orlando Ave., 407-647-9099) for rock-solid submarines, or chow down on roasted chicken and other Greek specialties at Athena (487 S. Orlando Ave., 407-539-0669, athenachicken.com). For a more romantic date night, couples dine at Antonio’s Ristorante (611 S. Orlando Ave., 407-645-5523, antoniosonline.com), an upscale Italian cuisine stalwart with both indoor and patio seating overlooking Lake Lily.

Maitland is also home to one of Central Florida’s cultural gems, the notable Art & History Museums – Maitland (231 W. Packwood Ave., 407-539-2181, artandhistory.org), where creative minds view art exhibits and attend monthly Culture & Cocktails parties. And for a more scenic side of Maitland, take a stroll on the paved walking trail around Lake Lily Park, which also plays host to a weekly outdoor farmers’ market, where purveyors sell fresh, locally grown produce.

Maitland is definitely more than just a stopping point between downtown Orlando and Sanford if you’re driving along the busy four-lane 17-92 highway.

“It’s still a bit of a local secret,” says Mahadeo. “You get the best of both worlds with hidden quiet historic neighborhoods and tons of fun things to do just minutes away in any direction.”