Here's why Orlando truly is one of the best places to live in America

Orlando highlighted as city we know and love

By Larissa Hamblin - Digital Intern
Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. - Although Orlando is known for being the home to Disney and Universal, its other facets are what makes the city not just a tourist destination, but a home for thousands.

With delicious cuisine, strong city pride and celebrated sports teams, there is something for everyone in the City Beautiful. Bustling with artists, tech geniuses and hospitality dreamers, Orlando has become one of the best places to live in America.

Here's why:

Deliciously authentic food scene

Photo courtesy of Domu

From Asian to Puerto Rican, and Italian to Hispanic, Orlando has almost every type of food category you could think of. With food trucks and restaurants, everyone can find something they not only can eat but will enjoy, including meat lovers and those on plant-based diets.

Close proximity to theme parks

Jacqueline Nell/Disneyland Resort via Getty Images

When most people outside of Florida discuss Orlando, they usually think of Walt Disney World or Universal. Although there is more to the City Beautiful than Mickey Mouse and Harry Potter, being in close proximity to huge theme parks certainly has its perks. Orlando residents are certainly not shy to season passes or getting the most of their money during the parks' off-seasons when tourists aren't inhabiting every square inch of the parks.

Unique cocktail bars and breweries 

The Robinson Cocktail Room in Orlando

The cocktail and beer scene in Orlando is constantly growing in different directions. From Christmas-themed to country-focused bars, a night out can be casual or fancy. The amount of speakeasies also popping up allows guests to step back into the 1920s, even if just for an hour or two. For a more casual night out, guests can also visit one of many breweries in Orlando too for a cold one.

Access to sights and activities statewide

Photo courtesy of Cocoa Beach Pier Instagram

Being in the middle of the state, Orlando is accessible to pretty much everything. Just an hour from the beach and a few hours between major cities, it's the perfect base for statewide travel. A trip to Georgia is less than a day away, and a ride down to the tropical areas of Florida is easily doable, too.

Pride for local sports teams

Associated Press

FILE PHOTO: Orlando City's Giles Barnes, second from left, celebrates after scoring a goal with teammates, including Dom Dwyer, Scott Sutter and Cyle Larin, during the second half of the match against Columbus Crew, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.

On game days, a grand majority of Orlando is painted in purple through the use of banners, flags and people walking around in T-shirts. The enthusiasm residents have for local teams, including Orlando City, Orlando Pride and Orlando Magic, is strong and always growing. Now that the UCF Knights football team and basketball team have gained national attention, even more black and gold can be seen throughout town.

Rich wildlife and scenery

Gainesville-Hawthorne State Park Trail (Photo by Britte Lowther/courtesy Rails-to-Trails Conservancy)

Although Orlando is a major city with its fair share of highrises, it also has a great presence of greenery, too. With parks and trails, it's easy to spend the day outdoors in the notorious Florida sunshine. Orlando is also just an hour drive from Wekiwa Springs, Rock Springs and Blue Springs, if residents are looking for a dip in some cool water.

Individualized neighborhoods

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Similar to New York City boroughs, Orlando has distinct neighborhoods and districts that act like little cities of their own. For an artsy and trendy night out, residents might want to head to Mills 50 to catch a local concert or enjoy a cocktail. To grab some great food, some might head to Thornton Park to eat at one of the many restaurants housed in the area. While each area is unique, they come together to make Orlando eclectic.

Inclusive communities

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Orlando is known for being a melting pot of culture. With a strong LGBTQ community and rich Puerto Rican culture, it's easy for Orlando to feel like home to everyone. Although each community is special in its own ways, when facing tragedy, Orlando residents know how to come together, support one another and show how the city is strong.

Wide array of shopping options

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With Mall at Millennia, the Florida Mall, Orlando International Premium Outlets, Pointe Orlando and more, there's always something to do in the city whether the sun is shining or the rain is pouring. While some of the shopping centers feature classic favorites, others also offer high-end options, such as Anthropologie, 7 For All Mankind, Kate Spade and more.

The growing art scene

A mural at Pulse nightclub featuring all 49 victims on June 12, 2017.

Wherever you go in Orlando, you're bound to be in walking distance to at least one mural, sculpture or other form of art. The city is painted with examples of culture, pride and creativity. Residents are #OrlandoStrong and aren't afraid to show it through art. 

Being home to the University of Central Florida

©University of Central Florida

Although the University of Central Florida isn't new it Orlando, it has certainly gained popularity over the past couple of years with its budding sports teams and academic accomplishments. With the UCF Knights football team as self-proclaimed national champions and the UCF Knights men's basketball team playing in the NCAA, UCF pride has grown in more ways than one. 

What's your favorite thing about living in Orlando? Leave your answer in the comments below.

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