College Park / Packing District: 10 Great Places to Live in Orlando in 2023

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Photos by Roberto Gonzalez

College Park, like many areas in Central Florida, originated as citrus groves. In the late 1800s, the first person to establish a permanent residence in the region was a local grower named John Ericsson. He constructed a farmhouse on what is now Princeton Street. As the South Florida Railroad gained prominence, more settlers were attracted to the area, transforming the charming neighborhood centered around Edgewater Drive into a thriving community. Interestingly, even renowned Beat Generation novelist Jack Kerouac once resided in College Park, and his former house now serves as a nonprofit retreat for aspiring writers.

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A young resident cycles down the main street area.

The alluring appeal of this picturesque, Old Florida neighborhood is evident. College Park has successfully preserved its small-town allure, characterized by an abundance of green spaces, majestic oak trees, and scenic lake views. Ritsy Carpenter, a long-term resident of 57 years, emphasizes that the community spirit takes precedence over the physical geography.

“There’s a palpable sense of gratitude among everyone here. While Central Florida offers other wonderful places to live, those who choose College Park truly appreciate their decision and firmly believe it to be the best place.” — Ritsy Carpenter

The strong sense of unity that permeates the neighborhood draws people in and makes it difficult for them to leave. Linda Dalton expresses this sentiment as she reflects on her own experience: “Although I consider myself relatively new to the area, having been here for 40 years, in College Park, that still makes me a newcomer to the neighborhood.”

Adjacent to College Park, the Packing District represents a new community within the City of Orlando. The district’s master plan places emphasis on community well-being by envisioning the development of a new regional park and a network of pedestrian and bike trails. With the addition of a new YMCA Family Center, a Food Hall, and a mix of townhomes and multi-family homes, the Packing District is poised to become a vibrant neighborhood in its own right.

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Historic Dubsdread Golf Course provides a scenic place to play 18.

College Park’s origins as a citrus grove and the subsequent influx of settlers due to the South Florida Railroad have shaped it into the thriving community it is today. Its enduring charm, characterized by green spaces, majestic oak trees, and lake vistas, holds a strong appeal to residents. Moreover, the tight-knit community spirit fosters a sense of gratitude and contentment among those who choose to call College Park home. 

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