ideal-LIVING.com ideal-LIVING • fall 2015
ideal towns >>> orlando, fl
With Walt Disney World leading the way, Orlando has long been known as one of the world’s top tourist destinations. In fact, a record-breaking
62 million visitors discovered Orlando’s magic last year.
But make no mistake, Orlando is no longer a Mickey Mouse
town when it comes to putting down permanent roots. Last
year, Orlando checked in as the 16th-fastest growing metropolitan area in the country, according to the most recent Census
Bureau statistics, growing 2. 2 percent to 2. 3 million people.
There are several factors fueling Orlando’s promising
future, from the slower-paced quality of life to the attractive
real estate values and year-round sunshine. Throw in Orlando’s
maturation as a truly sophisticated city, and it’s understandable
why Orlando is being placed on the same pedestal as other
great places to live around the globe.
What’s remarkable about Orlando’s transformation into a
‘big-league’ city is that the region still has a certain friendli-
ness to it—something you don’t get in the hustle and bustle
of other major metropolitan markets. As one longtime resi-
dent put it, Orlando is a “small-town big city.”
One of the best places to still capture that small-town
beauty is south Lake County, namely the towns of Cler-
mont and Montverde. For longtime commercial builder John
Schmid, the perfect place is a low-density private golf club
and waterfront community called Bella Collina.
“Bella Collina is a beautiful area with the hills and lakes
that are really unmatched in central Florida,” Schmid says.
“I love living in this area because it’s a small, tight community,
but we’re still close enough to Orlando to jump in the car and
be to most places in less than 30 minutes.
“We get this peaceful country-like life with a metropolitan
proximity. So we get to enjoy everything that Orlando has to
offer and more. It’s the best of both worlds.”
Some might even call it magical.
Big City by Scott Kauffman
4 Rivers Smokehouse has some of the best barbecue
around, including melt-in-your-mouth brisket.
• Charley’s Steak House, family-owned and operated
since 1974, serves steaks, chicken, chops and fresh fish
that are all cooked over a 1,200-degree Florida citrus
and oak wood-burning pit.
• Dragonfly, located at the far end of Restaurant
Row, is a hip restaurant serving up some of the
best sushi around.
• Prato is located on Winter Park’s swanky
Park Avenue, and this popular restaurant features
handcrafted Italian cuisine, a vibrant bar scene
and year-round al fresco dining.
• Seasons 52, though now a chain, is a top-rated
contemporary restaurant that got its start in Orlando.
The restaurant features a continually changing menu
of seasonally-inspired fresh ingredients and flavors.
TOP THINGS TO DO
• Clermont Chain of Lakes
Recognized as the wakeboard capital of the world, Clermont
is where many of the best wakeboarders go to train and play.
Orlando is home to dozens of famous touring professionals,
so play the courses the pros play.
• Sugarloaf Mountain
This famous biker’s destination in Lake County is the second
highest point in Florida at 312 feet above sea level.
• Theme Parks
You know the usual suspects … Disney World, Universal Studios
and Sea World.
• Wekiwa Springs State Park
This refreshing getaway is a glimpse of what central Florida looked
like when the Timucuan Indians fished and hunted these lands.
• West Orange Trail
Connecting small communities and suburban neighborhoods,
this is one of Florida’s most popular old rail-trails.