The University of Central Florida's distinguished reputation does not just stem from the fact that it's one of the most affordable colleges in the country or that it's the second-largest university in the nation. It's also, at least in part, due to the pride the students take in being part of their community. For instance, after taking a Snapchat in the area, swipe left and you'll get a custom "Knight Nation" filter to add to your photo – UCFers love their alma mater that much. Just off campus, sprawling strip malls and apartment plazas spread out in all directions to cater to the growing UCF student body.
GRAB A BITE
Lazy Moon Pizza
11551 University Blvd., 407-658-2396, lazymoonpizza.com
If you're in the UCF area and need to choose just one place to visit, make it Lazy Moon Pizza. The vibrant pizza shop is always booming from lunchtime to late into the night, with hordes of hungry people eager to indulge in giant slices and pitchers of PBR. One slice is all you need to get the job done – they're huge – and you can customize with pretty much any topping you can think of.
4498 N. Alafaya Trail, 407-826-1682, sushieatstation.com
Sushi rolls, wraps and rice bowls served inside a dojo by ninjas – that's what you get when you stop into this busy counter-service restaurant in University Commons. Don't be startled if you hear somebody screech "FIRE!" out of the blue – it just means a customer is getting cheese melted on top of a rice bowl.
Latin Roots Restaurant
11903 E. Colonial Drive, 407-730-9634
Located in the Alafaya Commons shopping plaza, this family-owned hole-in-the-wall, Puerto Rican-style establishment is as authentic as abuela's kitchen. The menu has a variety of signature dishes, but the mofongo relleno de camarones a la criolla (mofongo stuffed with shrimp) served in a pilon is a must-try when you visit.
HAVE A DRINK
11448 University Blvd., 407-704-7477, knightlibrary.com
UCF students spend a lot of their time hard at work in the campus library, but when it's time to put the books down, students still head to the library – the Knight Library. Nationally recognized as one of the top college bars in the country, it is rare to find this hotspot vacant. With a different event every night of the week soundtracked by live DJs, the Knight Library is a key player in most UCF students' lives.
3910 N. Alafaya Trail, 407-382-4171, knightspuborlando.com
Operated by UCF alumni – the same folks who run popular downtown clubs Tier and Ono – Knights Pub knows what students want from their college bar. That is to say, drink specials every night of the week and a good place to settle in on game days.
4100 N. Alafaya Trail, 407-428-2980, barlouieamerica.com
Lunch, dinner, late-night eats and awesome happy hour specials make this a popular hang in the college corridor. Unlike the dueling Knights Pub and Knight Library, though, Bar Louie is a little less undergrad-oriented, so even a visiting professor can kick back comfortably here.
World of Beer
3402 Technological Ave., 321-235-9741, wobusa.com
World of Beer is one of the UCF area's prominent drinking destinations. Head over to WOB any day of the week and you'll find beer lovers, young and old alike, indulging in a variety of brews from around the world.
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Jay Blanchard Park
2451 N. Dean Road, 407-254-9030
This 80-plus-acre park is the perfect place to walk, bike or just take in a gorgeous afternoon. An 8.1-mile paved path runs along the bank of the Little Econ River, and soccer fields, tennis courts and volleyball make it a popular outdoor destination for people from all over east Orlando.
University of Central Florida, 12777 Gemini Blvd. N., 407-823-3070, cfearena.com
The CFE Arena is home to UCF's sporting events, but it also serves as the neighborhood's primary entertainment source throughout the year, when it hosts concerts, comedy shows, family shows, live performances and the annual holiday event Light Up UCF.