Best of Orlando 2018 - Kids & Pets

There are treasures to be found all over Central Florida—and here’s your exclusive map to some great finds. Our annual Best of ORL list is based entirely on reader picks in dozens of categories. Plus check out our snapshot profiles of selected winners.



The First Academy

Roberto Gonzalez

Food and Drink | Home & Shopping | People & Media | Fun & Leisure | Health & Beauty | Kids & Pets

Spirited Houses

The First Academy has found a way to make its school seem smaller, more intimate. Each student in the K-12 Christian school is assigned to one of five “houses.”  Principal Shayne Grove says the younger kids, ages 7-12, will create a strong association with their house, rooting for them in house-vs.-house competitions. In high school, students meet with the guidance counselor who leads their house as well as their housemates daily during last period, spending time studying, mentoring or worshiping. “Some students will connect through athletics, some will connect through student leadership, some will connect through academics. This is just another way for them to connect,” Grove says. There are regular house competitions in a myriad of physical, academic and creative fields where each house votes for a student to represent them. Afterward, Grove says, students meet on the field for hot dogs and hamburgers.  At year’s end, a school champion is chosen based on competition scores, grades and behavior throughout that year. Grove says this helps students sharpen their skills and talents, on and off the field. — M.S.

PRIVATE SCHOOL, 9-12

1 The First Academy
Orlando
thefirstacademy.org

Lake Highland Preparatory School
Orlando
lhps.org

Windermere Preparatory School
Windermere
windermereprep.com

PRIVATE SCHOOL, K-5

StarChild Academy
Multiple Orlando-area locations
starchildacademy.com

The First Academy
Orlando
thefirstacademy.org

Lake Highland Preparatory School
Orlando
lhps.org

PRIVATE SCHOOL, 6-8

Lake Highland Preparatory School
Orlando
lhps.org

2 The First Academy
Orlando
thefirstacademy.org

3 Windermere Preparatory School
Windermere
windermereprep.com

PRESCHOOL

StarChild Academy
Multiple Orlando-area locations
starchildacademy.com

Ladybird Academy
Multiple Orlando-area locations
ladybirdacademy.com

The First Academy
Orlando
thefirstacademy.org

SUMMER CAMP

StarChild Academy
Multiple Orlando-area locations
starchildacademy.com

2 Ladybird Academy
Multiple Orlando-area locations
ladybirdacademy.com

Windermere Preparatory School
Windermere
windermereprep.com

PLACE FOR BABY & CHILDREN'S CLOTHING

Once Upon a Child
Six Orlando-area locations
onceuponachild.com

Tugboat & the Bird
Downtown Winter Park
tugboatandthebird.com

The Children’s Place
Six Orlando-area locations
childrensplace.com

DOG PARK

Lake Baldwin Park
Lakemont Avenue, Winter Park
cityofwinterpark.org

Oviedo on the Park/Center Lake Park
Oviedo
cityofoviedo.net

3 Dr. P. Phillips Community Park
Dr. Phillips area
drphillips.org

ANIMAL HOSPITAL

Tuscawilla Oaks Animal Hospital
Oviedo
tuscawillaoaksah.com

Winter Park Veterinary Hospital
Winter Park
wpvet.com

Oviedo Animal Hospital
Oviedo
oviedoanimalhospital.com

PET-FRIENDLY RESTAURANT

1 Rock & Brews
Oviedo; Lee Vista Area
rockandbrews.com

2 Yellow Dog Eats
Gotha
yellowdogeats.com

3 Cocina 214
Downtown Winter Park
cocina214.com



​Ranger’s Pet Outpost and Retreat (ROBERTO GONZALEZ)

A Tail-Wagging Good Time

Michael Fried and partner Rick Merrifield approach Ranger’s Pet Outpost and Retreat in Winter Park like a “relationship business,” Fried says. The CFO and CEO have fostered relationships with clients since opening their first shop in 2001. “Kids who came in to visit with us [then] are now adult clients. We’ve watched these kids grow up, and now they bring their dogs to us,” says Fried. Now in a 40,000-square-foot location, the doggie daycare accepts new clients only once a year because of its popularity. Each weekday, 90 to 100 daycare pooches enjoy activities such as hurdle games, dog tag and dog tennis. Classes arranged by size, age and disposition rotate every 15 minutes. “We want to keep the dogs active so they’re not bored. Most of the clients say, ‘My dog gets in the car and is passed out in the back seat,’” laughs Fried. He also points out that the extra activity keeps pets out of trouble when they get home. “We save shoes.” — C.H.


PET SPA & GROOMING

1 Plush Paws
College Park
plushpawsinc.com

2 Ashley’s Pack
South Semoran Boulevard
facebook.com/ashleyspackllc

3 Ranger’s Pet Outpost and Retreat
Winter Park
rangerspetoutpost.com

SPECIALTY PET STORE

Woof Gang Bakery
Multiple Orlando-area locations
woofgangbakery.com

Pookie’s Pet Nutrition & Bow Wow Bakery
Winter Park
pookiesbowwowbakery.com

Woof! Orlando
College Park
wooforlando.com

DOGGIE DAY CARE

1 Ranger’s Pet Outpost and Retreat
Winter Park
rangerspetoutpost.com

A Little Pet Inn
Winter Park
alittlepetinn.com

Woof! Orlando
College Park
wooforlando.com

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