Baldwin Park is sort of a world between worlds. Nestled near Downtown Orlando, up the road from UCF and a bike ride from the Audubon Park Garden District, Milk District, Mills 50 and more, this big-little neighborhood is basically the cold cuts in a best-of-Orlando sandwich. But what’s actually within this suburban sanctuary? As it turns out, more than a golf course and well-landscaped lawns.
Our office calls Baldwin Park “home,” meaning my compatriots and I have gotten quite familiar with our work ‘hood. Admittedly, few of us ever frequented the area until we were forced to, but even as a relatively-hard-to-please, jaded millennial (*insert simultaneous heavy sigh, eye roll and arm cross), I was pleasantly surprised by a lot of what our nine-to-five locale offers up.
Hunger for More
Though some may find Baldwin Park a bit far-removed from the culinary scenes that surround it, there is gold to be found by simply taking a stroll down New Broad Street.
- Colibri Mexican Cuisine: A Findsome favorite, Colibri dishes out the Tex-Mex staples you know and love, plus more. Though I often stick to the quesadilla meal (the buttery, lightly crispy tortilla seals the deal), one of our developers swears by their sub sandwiches, called tortas. French fries are also available for those looking to give the rice a rest.
- Osprey Tavern: An unexpected diamond right in our office’s backyard, Osprey offers dishes and cocktails that exemplify one word: care. From the oak-fired hangar steak to the venison served with celery seed spätzle, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better spot to have a romantic date night, accentuated with a dish that’s sure to impress. Their list of original and classic cocktails and expertly picked craft beer and wine selections can go head-to-head with some of Orlando’s best.
- Seito Sushi & New Japanese: We’ve already sung the praises of this haven for sushi, ramen and a list of East Asian dishes that may just surprise you. Their tonkotsu ramen, salmon lunch meal and bao buns get especially high marks from our team.
- Provisions & Buzz Co.: OK, full disclosure here–we were the creative minds behind the rebranding of the-restaurant-formerly-known-as Jack’s Steakhouse. Even so, with an inventive, fresh menu and inspired cocktail, beer and wine list, this is an undeniably solid choice for dinner, after-work drinks or even brunch.
- Gator’s Dockside: So it’s not fine dining, but if you’re looking to watch a game, eat your weight in chicken wings and enjoy a tall glass of ice-cold something, accept no substitutes.
- La Bella Luna: Whether grabbing a couple of pies for the creative team or sitting down for a family-style dinner (complete with huge portions of the good stuff), this Italian restaurant has the classics you’re looking for at a quality that’s almost as good as Mama’s. Almost.
- Five Guys Burger and Fries: Offering (arguably) the best burger in town (though Shake Shack may have something to say about that), they also serve up equally fantastic fries–in a giant bag, no less–and delicious milk shakes. Definitely a go-to for the American classics.
Work it Out
Though food is always a good start, there’s more than just ample methods of face-stuffing goodness within Baldwin Park proper. After you’ve had your fill of bao buns, bacon cheeseburgers or…spätzel, you’re going to want to get in a bit of cardio to keep down the lbs (and, of course, have a guilt-free extra slice of pepperoni). Luckily, Baldwin has the best gym you’ll find: the great outdoors.
Dotted with scenic parks and ponds in equal measure, much of Baldwin Park looks like the Google image search results for “Suburban Paradise.” However, what truly makes Baldwin Park prime for fitness freaks, power walkers and leisurely strollers alike is the Lake Baldwin Trail.
Circling the entirety of Lake Baldwin and its surrounding parks, this paved path is 2.5 miles full of scenic views and the perfect length for beginners, while extremely close to the much longer Cady Way Trail that cyclists and long-distance runners enjoy.
Little Did You Know…
Baldwin Park has a few secrets up its sleeve that even residents may not know. Through a bit of sleuthing, web searches and in-person exploring, here are the goods:
- Echoes of the Past: Though the fact that Baldwin Park was once home to the Naval Training Center Orlando is no secret, many don’t realize that the entire area, including what’s now the Orlando Executive Airport, was also utilized by the U.S. Army and Air Force starting in 1940 and ending just a little under 20 years ago. Today, you’ll be hard-pressed to find remnants of this area’s military history in the town homes and manicured lawns–however, if you look closely, the footprints of our men and women in uniform are still present. Baldwin Park is home to memorials representing:
- Daughters of the American Revolution
- Vietnamese-American Memorial Committee
- Fleet Reserve Association
- Italian American War Veterans of the United States
- Central Florida Veterans Memorial Park Foundation
- Colonial Dames
- Purple Heart
- Pearl Harbor Survivors Association
- The United States Marine Corps
Most recently, the lone statue modeled after a second-class Navy petty officer boatswain’s mate was erected in Blue Jacket Park (just off of the Lake Baldwin Trail), so take a moment to say hello to “Boats” on your next morning jog.
- A Secret Sip: We’re going to let you in on a little secret. There are a few options for places to get adult beverages in Baldwin Park, but under hushed whispers, a few of us speak of a hidden gem known simply as Uptown Wine Bar. Featuring great atmosphere, hometown vibe and a local craft beer and wine list to boot, this is almost our speakeasy of sorts. Shh, keep it just between you and us.
- Something Sweet: Farris and Foster’s Famous Chocolate Factory is easy to miss but hard to forget once you step inside this chocoholic’s dream. Whether you’re scheduling a chocolate-making party or just popping in to pick up dessert, do not leave Baldwin Park without tasting one of these treats.
- Baldwin Bark: If you’re looking for a dog-friendly day out, Baldwin Park is definitely a good choice. With water bowls outside many of the businesses, the aforementioned scenic trail around Lake Baldwin and a dog park with lake access, this is the perfect place for some quality pup bonding time.
So that’s about the long and short of it. Baldwin Park may seem a bit sleepy, but there is certainly enough to warrant visiting for a day trip, romantic dinner date or cardio sesh. Plus, we hear there’s a certain digital marketing agency worth its salt in there too *cough*shameless plug*cough*.