December is a blur every year. You make plans, attend parties, drink too much, eat too much, catch up with old friends, visit with family, celebrate Christmas, catch up with more friends and then all of a sudden, it’s the new year. (Happy 2018 by the way!)
I don’t know about you but this season felt especially crazy for me, being back in the land of all my friends and family after skipping last year. I forgot how many reunions and celebrations occurred that would fill up the much shorter break everyone gets from their adult jobs these days. Not to mention, my time at home was interrupted by a five-day trip up to St. Louis to spend some cold, cozy days with James’ family.
As opposed to the last Christmas I spent in Orlando, when everyone was discussing what they’d do after graduation, this time we talked about jobs, new cities, and all the things that made us sound so much more adult than we ever dreamed of being. Of course I’m still not totally there yet but being a part of the conversation itself made me feel a lot older…
Spending so much time in Orlando after a year of adventure has certainly had its downfalls, but I’ve also come to realize more and more that it’s not all the dreadful hometown I like to label it as in my head. Especially with loads of holiday gatherings happening, I’ve been able to find some really cool spots in this little home city of mine to keep me entertained for a while. Below are a few of my favorite I wanted to share.
Orlando Brewing is a special, local brewery on the outskirts of downtown Orlando. I discovered it one week after I returned to Orlando in September from a monthly event called Yoga Under the Stars. For those who like yoga (or beer), the event is awesome! You pay $12 for a yoga class at the brewery and get a free beer! The brewery itself has a cool, chill vibe with dark lighting inside and a friendly, community feel. I appreciate its simplicity yet its ability to get involved in the community with regular events like beer yoga at Yoga Under the Stars.
Being in its own unique niche of ‘craft beer bar,’ Redlight, Redlight makes itself stand out from the rest. I visited this bar when friends were in town for Thanksgiving and we loved how it was the perfect combination of chill and fun. There’s a great atmosphere with people hanging out at large picnic tables and at the bar, where they drink tall glasses of beer. It also has plenty of space to sit down for large parties, like ours was, and is quiet enough to hear each other talk. It has the hometown, local feel that is sometimes hard to come by in this tourist town and is definitely a place I would recommend to people looking for a fun but not-too-crazy night out. Not to mention, it was voted by Orlando Weekly one of Orlando’s best spots of 2017.
I have been hearing wonderful things for a while but just recently visited East End Market when I went to check out the Porch Therapy shop for a plant for my grandma’s Christmas present. I was so pleasantly surprised to see how many local food and artisan merchants there were. I got a black bean burger from Houndstooth Sauce Company that was delicious but there were very tempting options everywhere I looked. It is another locally-focused hot spot of Orlando that I definitely see myself visiting more often now that I know how awesome it is. Their moto is “Live Locally” and the best part… they have a garden in the front where they grow fresh ingredients!
There’s a new, trendy hot spot for grabbing some dang good coffee and getting some work done or meeting up with a friend – this place! Stepping into Foxtail you feel like you’ve stepped into a big city coffee shop where all the cool, creative kids are hanging out and getting shit done. It’s atmosphere is modern yet cozy with its own, unique aesthetic going for it. I haven’t taken the time I should yet to really enjoy this place but I look forward to some nice mornings or afternoons writing away in its cool setting with a high-quality cup of coffee in hand.