2015 Family Favorite Awards: Downtown Orlando, Thornton Park, SoDo

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Lake Eola

Family Favorite Outdoor Play: LAKE EOLA PARK
512 E. Washington St., Orlando
407-246-4484 http://cityoforlando.net/parks/lake-eola-park
Lake Eola Park is the heartbeat of the greater Orlando area. For families in Central Florida, it’s a treasured place for outdoor play. Swan boat rides, modern playground equipment, a weekly farmer’s market, seasonal family festivals, art sculptures, a Chinese pagoda and even a dog-friendly open air restaurant are situated on the path around Orlando’s iconic fountain. On any given day, you’ll find Lake Eola Park full of families enjoying Orlando’s most unique and cherished destination.

Family Favorite Farmer’s Market: ORLANDO FARMER’S MARKET AT LAKE EOLA PARK
Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Corner of E. Central Blvd. and N. Eola Dr.
www.orlandofarmersmarket.com
Sure, technically it’s a farmer’s market, but it’s really an event. Each Sunday, Lake Eola Park features an eclectic array of vendors selling everything from local honey and organic produce to handmade arts and crafts. Add in live entertainment, a beer and wine garden, and fun for the kids (and pets, too!), and you have the perfect Sunday afternoon.

Family Favorite Playground: DELANEY PARK
1055 Delaney Avenue, Orlando
407-246-2283 http://cityoforlando.net/parks/delaney-park
Situated on 7.25 shady acres right in the middle of one of Orlando’s oldest and loveliest neighborhoods, Delaney Park is home to ball fi elds, playgrounds and picnic facilities.

Family Favorite Kids Store and Consignment Store: ONCE UPON A CHILD
4900 E. Colonial Dr., Orlando
407-292-3500 www.onceuponachildorlandofl.com
If you haven’t heard of Once Upon a Child, you must be living under a giant pile of Gymboree dresses, because this is THE place to buy and sell new and gently used clothing, toys, and gear for your little ones. Sell the items your kids no longer wear, and walk out with an overflowing bag of new-to-you items in the next size up.

Family Favorite Storytime: TRINITY LUTHERAN SCHOOL CHILD DEVELOPMENT CENTER (CDC) READ-IN
123 E. Livingston St., Orlando
407-488-1919 http://school.trinitydowntown.com
A few times throughout the year, two teachers at Trinity Lutheran School CDC bring books to life for students ages 3 and up. Stacy Carrol and Colby Howard use costumes and interactive, dramatic storytelling techniques to engage their wide-eyed audience, often enlisting middle school students to help round out the cast.

Family Favorite Historical Site: ORANGE COUNTY REGIONAL HISTORY CENTER
65 E. Central Blvd., Orlando
407-836-8500 www.thehistorycenter.org
The History Center offers a diverse range of exhibitions spanning over 12,000 years of Florida history designed to engage visitors in smart, fun and challenging ways. The History Center offers an extensive menu of educational programs, including holiday camps, discovery days, scout programs and even overnight camp-ins for a real-life Night at the Museum!

Family Favorite Pediatrician: PEDIATRIC ASSOCIATES OF ORLANDO
414 N. Mills Ave., Orlando
407-841-7290 http://pa-orlando.com
“As first-time parents, we knew that choosing a pediatrician for our little one was one of the most important decisions we would make. After our initial meet and greet with Pediatric Associates of Orlando, we were sold! We’ve seen several doctors at the Downtown Orlando location, and all have shown genuine care for our son. Dr. Britton, in particular, has been amazing—he listens to all of our concerns, answers our MANY questions and spends as much time as we need. Great doctors at a great practice!” Jenn Thekan, mom to Weston (4 months)

Family Favorite Indoor Play: ORLANDO SCIENCE CENTER
777 E. Princeton St., Orlando
407-514-2000 www.osc.org
For over 60 years, the Orlando Science Center has designed and delivered educational and engaging exhibits to inspire interest in the world of science. You could go 100 times and still learn something new on each visit, making annual family memberships one of the best values around. In addition to its daily programming, the Orlando Science Center brings us community events such as Maker Faire Orlando and Otronicon. Check out the extensive menu of education programs, including camps, homeschool programs, afterschool programs, and even its very own preschool.

Family Favorite Preschool: WEEKDAY SCHOOL
106 E. Church St., Orlando
407-996-5864 www.weekdayschoolorlando.org
Weekday School offers a theme-based, interdenominational Christian curriculum that emphasizes an integrated approach to teaching and learning. Weekday School serves approximately 150 children ages 2 ½ to 5 years old.

Family Favorite Private School, After School Program and Summer Camp: THE CHRIST SCHOOL
106 E. Church St., Orlando
407-849-1665 www.thechristschool.org
This K–8 school located in the heart of downtown Orlando on the campus of First Presbyterian Church of Orlando offers over 250 families an academically rigorous interdenominational Christian curriculum. The Christ School REACH Program stands for Recreation, Enrichment, Academic support, Character development, and Health. The Christ School after school program offers opportunities for games and free-play; freedom to explore activities such as art, music and drama; support with academic assignments; opportunities to engage and build friendships; and time to nurture their own emotional, spiritual and physical health.

Family Favorite Performing Arts Program: ORLANDO REPERTORY THEATER
1001 E. Princeton St., Orlando
407-896-7365 www.orlandorep.com
The REP receives a resounding applause for its brilliant and engaging productions for young audiences. The REP also offers sensory-friendly performances of some productions, designed for children with sensitivities to bright lights, loud noises and intense action. The REP Youth Academy offers an array of classes, camps, workshops and performance opportunities for kids, even casting its students in their own full-scale productions.

Family Favorite Birthday Party Location: AIRHEADS
33 W. Pineloch Ave., Orlando
407-505-5867 www.airheadsusa.com
Turn your kid’s birthday party over to the party planners at AirHeads trampoline arena. Choose a package for 12–24 kids to bounce, jump and spring their way around this huge facility. All packages include pizza and unlimited soda. Custom birthday packages are available. Each package includes jumping for two parents (but keeping up with the kids is harder than you might think!).

Family Favorite Restaurant: VANBARRY’S PUBLIC HOUSE
4120 S. Orange Ave., Orlando
407-704-8881 www.orlandopublichouses.com
Vanbarry’s is what happened when the visionaries behind Finnhenry’s (Downtown) and Ollie’s (College Park) became parents. It’s a perfect evolution of their laid-back, simple yet still inventive vibe, which has translated into a welcoming family restaurant that features indoor and outdoor dining, a full bar, daily live music, and homemade pickles! As a nod to its downtown roots, Vanbarry’s lets kids climb all over one of the Lake Eola swan boats.

Family Favorite Sweet Treat: TWISTEE TREAT
4500 Curry Ford Rd., Orlando
407-394-1461 www.twisteetreat.com
Despite the trendy frozen yogurt shops and gourmet dessert options sprinkled through this neighborhood, it looks like families still choose the classic Twistee Treat. We’ll take classic vanilla with rainbow sprinkles, please!

Family Favorite Gymnastics: STICK IT!
6208 S. Orange Ave., Orlando
407-438-6878 www.stickitgymnasticsorlando.com
Kids can start out as tiny tumblers and work their way up to competitive-level athletes. In addition to full-service gymnastics and cheer training, Stick It! also offers summer camps and birthday parties. Plus, we really like the name!

Family Favorite Art Class: THE POTTERY STUDIO
363 N. Parramore Ave., Orlando
407-246-4488 http://cityoforlando.net/recreation/pottery-studio
A little-known secret is that the City of Orlando offers residents access to its very own pottery studio. This inviting and artistic space offers family nights to families with kids who have completed kindergarten, and the adorably named Mudslingers program to families with children ages 3 to 5.

Family Favorite Dojo: CHAMPIONSHIP MARTIAL ARTS
4511 Hoffner Ave., Orlando
407-641-1872 www.championshipmartialarts.com
Championship Martial Arts offers a Lil’ Dragons Program for kids ages 3 to 6, a Children’s Program for kids ages 6 to 12, and even a Kinder Kicks program for toddlers. Regardless of the program, the mission remains the same: To encourage and motivate students and to provide the skills needed to help them succeed in life, such as confidence, discipline, self-esteem, focus and physical well-being.

Family Favorite Support/Therapy: YOUR BRIGHT SIDE
1212 Mount Vernon St., Orlando
407-648-1000 www.yourbrightsideplc.com
At Your Bright Side, the focus is on the positive side of intervention. The practice aims to facilitate collaboration among family members and offers school support and strategy, social functioning support, and family relationship support. Parent Testimonial:“I love Your Bright Side therapy for my boys because it’s been a positive, uplifting place where the kids want to go to get their needs met! The therapists, the atmosphere, and especially the therapy dog are all so enthusiastic and inviting. The therapists truly want to help my boys! It’s not just a job for them; I drive 45 minutes just so my boys can get what they need!” ~ Mindy King

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