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As someone once said: If you’re bored in Orlando, you’re not paying attention. It’s not just theme parks that keep people entertained. For every famous attraction – and there are more in Orlando than anywhere else in the world – there are scores of lesser-known yet equally compelling ways to stay engaged.
Tourism drives the economy, but strong showings in the technology, life science and media sectors contribute to high wage career opportunities, reasons visitors have been turning into residents for decades. The University of Central Florida, one of the largest campuses in the United States, also adds to the Sun Belt city’s cultural and intellectual life.
Before Mickey Mouse, there were cattle ranches and orange groves. In the 19thcentury, Orlando was a major citrus producer. A land boom in the 1920s saw its transformation from a rural character to a city of established neighborhoods. And then Walt Disney World opened in 1971 and changed everything. Economic growth skyrocketed and the population exploded.
Downtown Orlando has a mix of luxury apartments and historic homes, many within walking distance of its many picturesque lakes. Even in the high-end sector, Orlando real estate is considered competitively priced.
North of Orlando city limits is pretty Winter Park, a community known early on in its development as a favorite of snow-birding Northerners. Today its highly-rated schools draw more year-rounders. It is an enclave of swanky shops, parks, beautiful lakefront homes and a world-class institution, the Charles Hosmer Museum of American Art featuring a collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany stained glass works. West of Orlando, set in the suburb of Windermere, is Isleworth, a gated development with a healthy showing of second-home owners. CEOs, professional athletes and entertainers are among the residents of this prestigious community with the Isleworth Golf and Country Club, originally designed by Arnold Palmer, as its centerpiece.