Best known as a top vacation spot – and home to the world's largest concentration of theme parks – Orlando is actually quite a satisfying place to live. I realize that Disney and the tourism machine around it put this town on the map. But the community has evolved into a multi-dimensional, and dare I say multi-cultural, mid-sized metropolis. The city's youthful energy and variety of family entertainment options, along with its agreeable (if a bit sweaty) climate, make Orlando an invigorating home base.
Sure, we're defined by our famous attractions. But we've got beautiful community parks, lakes everywhere, a few respectable museums, a buzzing downtown where people actually live, tons of restaurants and great shopping, a handful of remaining orange groves in the suburbs – even the cottage where Jack Kerouac penned The Dharma Bums, which sits wistfully under a shady oak tree in the College Park neighborhood.
These appealing qualities do translate into too many people, too much traffic and other drawbacks associated with over-popularity. But count me as one of Orlando's boosters, a proponent of life in the sublime sunshine of swampy Central Florida. See this New York Times article for more on the "real" Orlando.