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When many people think of Orlando, they often think of its many tourist destinations – Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, and other vacation hotspots – and truly, Orlando is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Beyond its appeal to tourists, however, Orlando is also a wonderful place to call home. It is a diverse community, rich in culture and full of unique neighborhoods where everyone can find their place.
Orlando – A Quick Look at the History
Orlando’s history dates back to the Second Seminole War in the late 1830s, when the U.S. Army built Fort Gatlin just south of present-day Orlando to protect settlers from the Native Americans. A segment of the population remained in the area and grew after the end of the war until Orlando was officially incorporated in 1875. Orlando continued to grow steadily since that time, particularly after Disney World and other theme parks were started there, now making it the third biggest city in Florida, and one of the world’s premiere vacation destinations.
A Few Fun Facts About Orlando
Read more fun facts about Orlando here.
The LGBTQ Community in Orlando
The Center, founded in 1978, is one of the oldest in the country established to support and empower LGBTQ individuals. The mission of The Center is, “To promote and empower the LGBT Community and its allies through information, education, advocacy and support.”
Within only days of the Pulse tragedy, local LGBTQ organizations and leaders across Orlando saw a need to join together, and an alliance of nearly 20 organizations, which is steadily growing to this day. The mission of One Orlando is, “[S]erving existing and emerging LGBTQ+ organizations, while providing an inclusive platform for diverse perspectives and voices from all who make up our community.”
Orlando has a humid subtropical climate, and has two primary seasons, one which is hot and rainy (from mid-May through mid-September), and the other which is warm and dry (usually from October through April). With an average high-temperature of 71.2°F and an average low-temperature of 49.3°F, January is the coldest month in Orlando, Florida, and the warmest month in Orlando is July, with an average high-temperature of 91.8°F and an average low-temperature of 73.6°F.
Come Out With Pride, typically in October, is Orlando’s LGBTQ weeklong-pride event brings LGBTQ individuals, friends, family, and allies together to celebrate. The mission of Come Out With Pride Orlando is to produce an annual pride event that fosters a sense of community, encourages LGBTQ+ citizens to live openly and with pride, and educates the general public of our shared cultural heritage.
Where to Live in Orlando
Colonialtown is just northeast of downtown Orlando, close to Orlando Executive Airport and bisected by East Colonial Drive, with the Harry P Leu Gardens to the north. Colonialtown is characterized by historic homes, treelined brick streets and lots of charm. Colonialtown is popular with the gay community due to its proximity to downtown, its nightlife, and the excellent restaurants in the area. The median home value in Colonialtown is approximately $319,600.
The Thornton Park and Lake Eola Heights neighborhoods are very popular with the LGBTQ community. Within walking distance to Downtown Orlando, this area offers a wonderful and eclectic mix of restaurants and bars, and a thriving and diverse community. The neighborhood is characterized by beautiful bungalows and craftsman-style homes on quaint cobblestone streets. The median home value in the Thornton Park and Lake Eola Heights neighborhood is about $344,700.
The neighborhood with the most LGBTQ couples of Orlando is East Downtown. East Downtown has many different LGBTQ-owned businesses, and the city council seat that represents this district is often held by a member of the LGBTQ community. Those interested in purchasing a residence downtown can choose between condos or single-family homes, at a variety of price ranges.
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Arts and Entertainment
The Dr. Phillips Center in Downtown Orlando produces more than 300 shows every year. From Broadway productions, performances by the Orlando Ballet, musicians, comedians, family entertainment, and more, there is sure to be something that everyone will enjoy!
The Enzian Theater is a nonprofit arthouse movie theater in Maitland, Florida, a suburb of Orlando. Each year, the theater hosts the Florida Film Festival and several other local film festivals as well. There is definitely something for any film fan to enjoy.
Parks and Recreation
Lake Eola sits in the center of Downtown Orlando. Visitors can enjoy a picnic on the lakeshore, rent a paddleboard for a ride, enjoy outdoor performances, or just relax. Surrounded by a sidewalk of approximately .9 miles in length, it is easy for visitors to keep track of walking and running distances too.
One can’t really think of Orlando without thinking of its amazing selection of theme parks. Whether its Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, or another, there’s no shortage of fun to be found in Orlando!
Parliament House is a unique piece of Orlando history. An LGBTQ landmark in Orlando since 1975, Parliament House has 7 uniquely different bars, as well as a hotel, swimming pool, inside and outside stages, a café, and Orlando’s largest LGBTQ dance floor.
Savoy is a lively, multi-room club with dancers, music, TV’s, billiards, and an outdoor patio. A good time is always guaranteed!
Known for its lively drag shows and theme nights, Southern Nights is a popular, lively LGBTQ bar and dance club with spacious indoor and outdoor areas.