Orlando Florida. Living in the Theme Park Capital of the world has its ups and downs (that's a roller coaster joke). We have access to some of the coolest technology around when it comes to entertainment. Where else can you walk through Hogwarts or actually witness every President of the United States stand before you in the same room at the same time? But Orlando isn't just about tourism and never-ending traffic. If you know the right places to look, you'll find a diverse world of culture, arts, and entrepreneurs carving their names into Orlando's true Tree of Life.
Boy Kong mural, Pho Hoa, 649 E. Primrose Drive
Just outside of downtown Orlando, hiding between the landmarks of UCF, Winter Park and I-drive lies the Milk District. Getting its original name from the T.G. Lee factory that presides there, the Milk District has been slowly evolving through the years into a healthier, lactose-free version of itself. It is a cultural hub of artists, activists, and start-ups that make Orlando what it truly is at the heart.
Dharma Southern Kitchen's BBQ Jackfruit Tiki Takos
The entire area, from electrical boxes, dumpsters, and walls of the local businesses are covered in paint and giant murals by local artists. Hours can be spent at co-ops of business starters who came together to work on something they loved together, and probably best of all is the original food and authentic dishes that can be found at local self-run restaurants. Seriously, if you haven't checked out Market on South, do yourself a favor. Inside lies an amazing menu of (somehow) vegan treats. From Dixie Dharma's southern-inspired comfort food like their "BBQ jackfruit tacos" to Valhalla Bakery's unbelievably scrumptious desserts, this is a must-try place. Pair that with their fresh outdoor garden of herbs and flowers and the genuine hospitality that can only be given by people who actually love what they do for a living, and you've got yourself a winner all around. (If you really want a treat you'll never forget, make your way there in the morning for the fresh-baked doughnuts. You'll truly never be the same after biting into one of these dense and fluffy bad boys topped off with Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Be early though, the doughnuts are no secret and sell out incredibly fast).
Vallaha Bakery Doughnuts!!!
The amazing food doesn't stop there, with plenty of other amazing and unique choices like Se7en Bites Sweet and Savory Bake Shop which was recently featured on Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives." and the local Food Truck event every Tasty Tuesday, Orlando is cooking. So whether you've got a picky eater in the group or a diet-restricted brother or sister, the (Almond) Milk District's got you covered.
Seven Bites with Guy Fieri
The Orlando Milk District is slowly pumping life, love and the arts into the city around it, and with a community of people who have shown the world what it truly is to be united in the face of adversity and trauma, Orlando is a growing example of a truly great place to live.