Best Of 2008

Painting by Morgan Steele

Best glasses

SEE Eyewear
342 S. Park Ave., Winter Park

Getting glasses shouldn’t mean getting geeky (unless that’s the look you’re going for); nor should it cost a packet. This “optical boutique” on Park Avenue looks expensive, but don’t pass it by in scrimp-and-save mode; SEE takes the trauma out of wearing an appliance on your face by offering truly cool eyewear (complete: frames and lenses) for less than you’d pay at LensCrafters.

Best addition to a local farmers market

Lake Eola Art Farm at the Lake Eola Farmers Market
Lake Eola Park

Artists and crafters have always tended to pop up here and there as vendors at Orlando’s weekly food-and-flower–centric farmers markets, but art hasn’t had much of a spotlight at any of them. So the CityArts Factory got busy, and now every third Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., dozens of artists converge on the bridge adjacent to the Lake Eola market to sell their works. Which means art is one-fourth as important as food and flowers. Not bad for Orlando.

Best presents for someone else’s kid

Colonial Photo & Hobby
634 N. Mills Ave.

It’s a Saturday afternoon, you’re on your way to a birthday party for your sister’s kid and you need to pick up a gift fast. You could stop at CVS and get some crappy knockoff action figures. Or you could just as easily pop in to Colonial Photo & Hobby, where you could get the kid something nice and dangerous. Like a model car (don’t forget the glue), a Dremel or some X-Acto knives; or maybe a chemistry set or a model rocket with extra engines. Just like that, you’re promoted from “drunk uncle” to “cool uncle.” Just make sure your sister has insurance.

Best place to squander a tax rebate

IKEA Orlando
4092 Eastgate Drive

There’s no arguing against the biggest new player in Orlando’s retail universe: The Swedes showed up and we lost our shit. What is it about the big blue beacon beckoning us toward a flat-pack future that we find so irresistible? The unpretentiously overwhelming aesthetic? The ridiculously reasonable prices? The outrageously ümlauted nomenclature? Whatever it is, we can’t seem to escape without dropping a Benjamin on shelving solutions and smoked salmon. So we’re sending our stimulus check to IKEA HQ in the Netherlands, instead of the Chinese banks from whence it came.

Best beast-keepers

Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge
18515 E. Colonial Drive

Remember those cold nights last winter when just keeping your ass from feeling like an icicle was a chore? Then give big props to the volunteer crew at the Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge who’ve sheltered countless critters from freezing their tails off. Check the wish list online and pack up something useful to donate before you make the trek way out east. Once there, take the tour and revel in the humanity.

Best remedy for a skin emergency

Kiehl’s curbside service
Pointe Orlando
9101 International Drive

Omigod! Your skin looks cadaverous and there’s no way anyone can see you like this. Who you gonna call? Kiehl’s, the wrinkle-busters who’ve been selling top-shelf skin products “since 1851.” Jump in the car, call the store and ask for the cure, then pay by credit card and head for the special drop-off spot in the Pointe Orlando garage, where a Kiehl’s pro hands off the goods, like a one-ounce tube of Brightening Botanical Spot Treatment for $50. Crisis solved.

Best superdeals

Thriftko’s 20 percent off Sundays
1442 State Road 436, Casselberry

That nagging conscience won’t bother you when the cash register rings up purchases made on Sundays at Thriftko. That’s when, in addition to the usual reasonable prices for the catchall items in the warehouse – clothing, household supplies, furniture – an extra 20 percent comes off the total. When a brand-new dress costs $2 and you walk away with it for $1.60, it feels pretty damn good.

Best place to buy a Van Halen cocaine mirror

Music for a Song
Premium Outlets
8200 Vineland Ave.

All record stores were once a bit like this: point-of-purchase merchandising of rock stars on whatever format could hold a sticker of Nikki Sixx. But with record stores going away, this little sorta-musical slice of heaven boasts a museum-like charm. If you can get past the current crop of My Chemical Romances and Daughtrys, you can still find that coveted reflective surface required for your “Panama” party and lock eyes with Eddie Van Halen while you breathe your life away.

Best men’s evening gowns

813 E. Washington St.

Is there a more delightfully entertaining Saturday activity than visiting Regalia, which sells sparkly evening gowns to stubbly beefcake boys with a penchant for extravagant-and-strappy? Not likely. Watching a roomful of excited queens is almost its own sport. They sell pageant gowns for “real girls” too.

Best diet Disney

Downtown Disney Marketplace
1780 Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista

Is the little bugger climbing the wall? Head to Downtown Disney marketplace to sap your kid’s energy for almost no money, and all you have to do is make sure they don’t steal anything. From the old-timey toy store to the LEGO center, the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique to the mini–train track, they’ll feel like they did Disney when really they just did some elaborate window-shopping. Kids are dumb that way.

Best free service you don’t use

Orange County Public Library’s MAYL program

You go online, select a book, CD or DVD and a few days later it pops up on your doorstep in a padded mailing envelope. Netflix? Better. It’s MAYL. And it’s free, kinda. MAYL ­– Materials Access from Your Library ­– is the clunky acronym for the Orange County Library’s home delivery program. It’s been around since 1974 when gas was, like, free. Now that gas is so, like, not free, MAYL is a godsend. They’re your tax dollars, so put ’em to use.

Best place to pick your own fruit

Showcase of Citrus
5010 U.S. Highway 27, Clermont

As an old-timey Florida roadside attraction, Showcase of Citrus is worlds away from Disney, just 10 minutes down the road. Scamper up a tree and pick any of the 50 varieties of fruit grown there – all of it claimed to be pesticide-free – ride in a swamp buggy, taste free samples or browse through the store/fruit stand. Best of all, just look around you at all the open, rolling hills. That’s what Florida used to look like, son.

Best way to staff your social-networking startup

Florida Creatives, BarCamp Orlando,

Orlando has been cultivating its reputation as a technology center, and there’s evidence that it’s working. There’s a growing community of people who straddle the line between artist and techie, and you can find a good number of them hanging out with the Florida Creatives group. They host a happy hour once a month for socializing and schmoozing, and they’ve hosted two “un-conference” BarCamp events, where anyone can give a presentation about something that they find interesting. It’s a somewhat nerdy crew, but there’s no better place in town to meet that user-interface expert or the Drupal developer that you’ve been dreaming of.


Best Liquor Store

1st: Total Wine & More, 2712 E. Colonial Drive; 407-894-6553; (
2nd: ABC Liquors, multiple locations; (
3rd: Wally’s Mills Avenue Liquors, 1001 N. Mills Ave.; 407-896-6975

Best Wine Shop

1st: Total Wine & More, 2712 E. Colonial Drive; 407-894-6553; (
2nd: Eola Wine Company, 500 E. Central Blvd., 407-481-9100; also 136 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-647-9103; (
3rd: Tim’s Wine Market, 1223 N. Orange Ave.; 407-895-9463; (

Best Adult Entertainment Store

1st: Fairvilla Mega Store, 1740 N. Orange Blossom Trail; 407-425-6005; (
2nd: Premier Adult Factory Outlet, 5009 S. Orange Blossom Trail; 407-857-2050

Best Tattoo/Piercing Parlor

1st: Ascension Custom Dermagraphics, 2510 N. Orange Ave.; 407-898-2013; (
2nd: Black Chapel Tattoo Studio, 2180 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park; 407-644-4467
3rd: Built for Speed Tattoo, 25 Magnolia Ave., 407-872-6855; also 646 Hillside Ave., 407-427-1462; (

Best Bookstore

1st: Barnes & Noble, multiple locations; (
2nd: Urban Think Bookstore, 625 E. Central Blvd.; 407-650-8004; (
3rd: Borders Books & Music, multiple locations; (

Best Comic Book Store

1st: A Comic Shop, 114 S. Semoran Blvd., Winter Park; 407-332-9636; (
2nd: Bad Apple Comics, 8110 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-859-3422; also 12225 University Blvd., 407-658-9722; (
3rd: Überbot, 480 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park; 407-788-8237; (

Best Vinyl Record Store

1st: Park Ave CDs, 2916 Corrine Drive, 407-447-7275; also UCF Student Union, 407-282-1616; (
2nd: Rock & Roll Heaven,1814 N. Orange Ave.; 407-896-1952; (
3rd: Drop Shop, 2422 E. Robinson St.; 407-839-6050; (

Best CD Store

1st: Park Ave CDs, 2916 Corrine Drive, 407-447-7275; also UCF Student Union, 407-282-1616; (
2nd: Virgin Megastore, 1494 E. Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista; 407-828-0222; (
3rd: CD Warehouse, multiple locations; (

Best Antique Shop

1st: Déjà Vu Vintage Clothing, 1825 N. Orange Ave.; 407-898-3609
2nd: Renninger’s Antique Center, 20651 U.S. Highway 441, Mt. Dora; 352-383-8393; (
3rd: Flo’s Attic, 310 E. New Hampshire St.; 407-644-1060; (

Best Farmers Market

1st: Winter Park Farmers Market, Saturdays at 200 W. New England Ave., Winter Park; 407-599-3358; (
2nd: Orlando Farmer’s Market, Sundays at Lake Eola Park; 321-202-5855; (
3rd, tie: Maitland Farmer’s Market, Sundays at Quinn Strong Park, Maitland; 407-539-6251; (
3rd, tie: Sanford Farmer’s Market, Saturdays at Magnolia Square, Sanford; 407-328-1521; (

Best Health Food Store

1st: Whole Foods Market, 1989 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-673-8788; also 8003 Turkey Lake Road,407-355-7100; (
2nd: Chamberlin’s Market & Café, multiple locations; (
3rd: Evolve, 604 N. Thornton Ave.; 407-595-3731; (

Best Vintage Clothing Store

1st: Dechoes, multiple locations; (
2nd: Etoile Boutique, 2436 E. Robinson St.; 407-895-6363; (
3rd: Orlando Vintage Clothing Co., 2117 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park; 407-599-7225; (

Best Thrift Store

1st: Goodwill, multiple locations; (
2nd: Thriftko, 1442 State Road 436 #1028, Casselberry; 407-657-0082
3rd: Dechoes, multiple locations; (

Best Hair Salon

1st: Alchemy Hair Salon, 2812 Edgewater Drive; 407-650-8022; (
2nd: Twist Hair Studio, 3708 Edgewater Drive; 407-293-3950; (
3rd: Blush Salon, 2908 E. Colonial Drive; 407-897-7131; (

Best Nail Salon

1st: Magic Nails & Spa, multiple locations; (
2nd: Queen’s Nails, multiple locations
3rd: The Spa, 1903 N. Orange Ave.; 407-898-7737; (

Best Women’s Fashion

1st: Etoile Boutique, 2436 E. Robinson St.; 407-895-6363; (
2nd: Merrigan’s Boutique, 4832 New Broad St.; 407-898-6864; (
3rd: Tuni’s, 301 S. Park Ave., Winter Park; 407-628-1609

Best Men’s Fashion

1st: Merrigan’s Boutique, 4832 New Broad St.; 407-898-6864; (
2nd: Urban Body, 12 N. Summerlin Ave.; 407-481-7979; (
3rd: Etoile Boutique, 2436 E. Robinson St.; 407-895-6363; (

Best Skate Shop

1st: Covert Skate Shop, 2428 E. Robinson St.; 407-228-0804; (
2nd: Galactic G Skate Shop, 334 E. Harvard St.; 407-895-0410; (
3rd: Vans Store, multiple locations; (

Best Bicycle Shop

1st: Orange Cycle, 2204 Edgewater Drive; 407-422-5552; (
2nd: Kyle’s Bike Shop, 203 N. Primrose Drive; 407-228-7088
3rd: Retro City Cycles, 1806 N. Orange Ave.; 407-895-2700; (

Best Car Customizer

1st: Eye Candy, 3145 N. John Young Parkway; 407-290-0777; (
2nd: Ultimate Audio, 3699 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-849-1100; also 4978 W. Colonial 3rd: Drive, 407-298-3040; (

Best Smoke Shop

1st: Kathmandu Inc., 23 S. Court Ave., 407-316-0026; also 352 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-647-7071; (
2nd: Corona Cigar Co., 7792 W. Sand Lake Road; 407-248-1212; (
3rd: Pipe Dreams II, 6325 N. Orange Blossom Trail; 407-445-3939; (

Best DVD/Video Store

1st: Stardust Video & Coffee, 1842 E. Winter Park Road; 407-623-3393
2nd, tie: Blockbuster Video, multiple locations; (
2nd, tie: College Park Video (closed)
3rd: Best Buy, multiple locations; (

Best Video Game Store

1st: Gamestop, multiple locations; (
2nd, tie: EB Games, multiple locations; (
2nd, tie: Best Buy, multiple locations; (
3rd: S & F Video Games, 2211 E Colonial Drive; 407-894-1044

Best Musical Instruments Store

1st: Sam Ash Music, 912 Lee Road, 407-599-1222; also 4644 E. Colonial Drive, 407-896-5508; (
2nd: Guitar Center, multiple locations; (
3rd: Guitar Den, 5515 S. Orange Ave.; 407-855-1333; (

Best Furniture Store

1st: IKEA, 4092 Eastgate Drive; 407-355-3155; (
2nd: Rooms To Go, multiple locations; (
3rd: West Elm, 4010 Conroy Road; 407-354-1518; (

Best Sunglasses Store

1st: Sunglass Hut, multiple locations; (
2nd: Solstice, multiple locations; (
3rd: See Eyewear, 342 S. Park Ave., Winter Park; 407-599-5455;(

Best Spa

1st: Ritz Carlton, 4012 Central Florida Parkway; 407-393-4200; (
2nd: Euro Day Spa, 800 Formosa Ave., Winter Park; 407-740-0444; (
3rd: Spa of Thornton Park, 23 N. Summerlin Ave.; 407-649-8889; (

Best Tanning Salon

1st: South Beach Tanning Company, multiple locations; (
2nd, tie: Hollywood Tans, multiple locations; (
2nd, tie: Manhattan Tanning Company, 653 Maguire Blvd.; 407-898-5775; (
3rd: Planet Beach Tanning Spa, multiple locations; (

Best Shoe Store

1st: BETA Shoe Boutique and Art Gallery, 2432 E. Robinson St.; 407-228-1995
2nd: Shou’ture, 339 S. Park Ave., Winter Park; 407-647-9372; (
3rd: DSW, multiple locations; (

Best Surf Shop

1st: Ron Jon Surf Shop, 5160 International Drive; 407-481-2555; (
2nd: University Surf and Skate, 12299 University Blvd., 407-380-7427; also 1700 Oviedo Marketplace Blvd., Oviedo, 407-977-4480; (
3rd: Adrenalina, 8001 S. Orange Blossom Trail; 407-858-2159; (

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