Whether you’re a UCF Knight or simply someone taking advantage of the affordable housing on the east side of town, the area close to campus offers some attractive amenities if you venture into and beyond the strip malls that line the streets. For one thing, Jay Blanchard Park (2451 N. Dean Road, 407-254-9030) provides tons of activities for the outdoorsy, including an incredible hike down the Little Econ Trail. But before you indulge in this escape, you must first delve in and discover some long-loved establishments.
Many pizza fans cried out when the plaza where Lazy Moon (11551 University Blvd., 407-658-2396, eatdrinkandbelazy.com) lived was demolished, but fret not; now your much-missed Box Car Willy special is back in a new location. Travel toward campus to treat yourself to Falafel Café (12140 Collegiate Way, 407-382-6600, falafelcafe.com), where the Lebanese food is homemade, and the service is unforgettably friendly. It’s in that same plaza that you’ll encounter Natura Coffee & Tea (12078 Collegiate Way, 407-482-5000, naturaorlando.com), a hookah lounge, bar and coffee shop meshed into one, where open mic nights are cherished.
Nowadays, the area’s best meeting place might just be World of Beer (3402 Technological Ave., 321-235-9741, wobusa.com) with live music, an impressive patio and a list of craft beers as long as your arm. And since you’re feeling boozy, check out the two-for-one margarita specials at Azteca d’Oro (11633 University Blvd., 407-737-8388, aztecamex.com), which also offers a slightly healthier take on Mexican food, plus endless chips and salsa to soak up all that tequila.