Explore Your City - Ivanhoe Village
Ok, you got me. Ivanhoe Village isn't a city, but it's a great neighborhood in Orlando jam-packed with local businesses and restaurants nestled alongside beautiful Lake Ivanhoe. It's one of those areas that makes you almost forget about Orlando's notorious urban sprawl as you park your car and walk from shop to shop. It's more than just a strip rich with retail choices, but a great place to enjoy outdoor activities. You'll see locals paddle boarding and running the trail that hugs the lake, playing volleyball or enjoying an outdoor picnic.
Several locally owned businesses call this area home, and it's fast becoming a desirable area to lay down entrepreneurial roots. Here is a list of some of my favorite places you should definitely check out if you haven't had the chance.
Your standard chain music store may continue to fade into oblivion but Orlando surprisingly still has some independent music shops for those who still love to search for vinyl and CD's. Rock and Roll Heaven is a great place for musical treasure hunting and conversing with owners that are straight out of High Fidelity. Rows and rows of vinyl from different genres and eras fill up every space of this shop as well as stacks of CD's for those of us still holding on to our 2003 Toyota's and with it our large rectangular CD cases.
I can't help but get swept up in the nostalgia of finding music that I grew up on and paying five bucks for a CD that I remember selling for twenty when I worked at the Disc Jockey at the West Oaks Mall. Oh, how times have changed.
National Record Store Day is coming up on April 16th, and this is a great place to celebrate like a true music lover.
I've already raved about how much I love this shop and the sisters that own it, but they deserve all the praise they get. Owners Megan and Cedar have some serious gigs on their professional event planning resumes, but they decided to venture out and open this whimsical shop that features great gifts, stationary and party accouterments, along with their top notch full service event planning expertise for locals.
Their shop has become known as a social hub in the area as they host workshops with local makers and even give free advice during events like "Aisle Talk", where they chat with brides-to-be and guide them in the right direction for their big day.
I dare you to walk in this shop and leave empty handed.
I leave no vintage stone unturned when exploring, so while you stroll down Orange Avenue don't forget to walk into some of the hidden sidewalks that lead to great shops like Retromended.
With a mix of vintage and local designers, owner Brandy, who has her own adorable style makes great use of her charmingly decorated space and always has a nice collection at affordable prices for women and men.
Whether you are looking for a particular piece for a themed party, or like me you just love what I affectionately call "old lady clothes", rest assured this local business owner knows her vintage and will make sure to find you something that will make you feel great.
Some guys are content wearing the same gingham style shirts in various hues of green and blue that were all bought at T.J. Maxx. If that isn't you, this might be a place to check out.
From the clothes to the manly accessories, everything is made in the U.S.A. The owner also hosts events like movie nights, converting this catalog worthy space into a place for the community to gather.
I got to visit Lure Paper Goods a few months back when Yelp hosted an Orlando Maker night. Despite having driven past it hundreds of times I had never stopped in. It's right on the cusp of where Ivanhoe Village seems to end and Mills/50 begins, so I'm not sure what neighborhood claims them, but you shouldn't feel shy about visiting. Much like Rifle Paper, there is a merchandise area when you walk inside while the staff is busy working throughout the rest of the building.
Screen printing is their specialty, whether it's cards, notebooks, posters or t-shirts. If your vibe is more humor and less girlie they have an awesome selection of designs. While I have a slight notebook addiction that causes me to feverishly itch my neck upon entering the shop, I'm also in love with their large posters. Some are great quotes, others are designs from popular movies, but at $30 a print you can accomplish some pretty nifty home decor while supporting a small business.
For me, no city exploration is complete without finding an antique store. Even if you aren't in the market for any particular piece, this two-story space is filled to the brim with furniture and decorative items. A mix of vendors share the space, from old to modern.
For full antique overload walk through the doors that takes you out back and get lost in row after row of hutches, dressers, chairs, lamps, among other random finds. If you are OCD you might get anxiety, but breathe and stay calm. It's all about the hunt.
Most days of Florida exploration call for multiple drink breaks to quench the thirst that our brutal sun conjures up. In this neighborhood the options are quite staggering when you list them out.
The Matdor, Lucky Lure, Thirsty Topher, The Hideaway Bar, The Imperial, and The Caboose can all be found as you walk down Orange Avenue or Virginia Drive. It should be no surprise why Orlando Weekly hosts events called "Drink around the Hood".
So how do you choose the watering hole that is the best for you and your friends? Each bar definitely has it's own vibe, but I can safely say none are stuffy and all have a neighborhood feel to them. The Lucky Lure and The Hideaway both have outside spaces for the more temperate days, but once things get a little sticky outside you can hide in the cool darker spaces like The Matador and Thirsty Topher.
Newer spots like the Hammered Lamb are known for great cocktails (which I love) and their weekend brunch, while there are tried and true establishments like White Wolfe Cafe that opened back in 1991. I can rarely resist their flat bread pizzas.
One of the newest additions to the neighborhood is Nova, a scratch kitchen at the corner of Virginia and Orange. It's a beautiful space complete with a spacious patio to watch the gorgeous Ivanhoe sunsets. While the menu lends itself to appease seafood lovers, I did have a pretty delicious burger during my visit.
I've heard rumors that coming soon to the neighborhood is a second location for the Gnarly Barley which will be another awesome spot for food and drink.
One of the best parts about a stroll through Ivanhoe Village is Lake Ivanhoe itself. The sunsets can be pretty breathtaking.
Don't forget about the small yet might neighborhoods like Ivahoe Village. They have a lot to offer.