As I write this, I’m sitting at Canvas Market and Restaurant in Lake Nona. The restaurant sits right on the lake, and I have floor-to-ceiling views of many of Lake Nona’s landmarks. From this vantage point, residents can enjoy high quality food, view the beautiful homes in Laureate Park, and spot the impressive Town Center across the lake.
HISTORY & LOCATION
Reported by Fortune magazine as the “Future of Cities,” over a decade ago this land was barren. Lake Nona is a neo-urban, walkable cluster community, and is nicknamed “Medical City” for its various research facilities and state-of-the-art hospitals (five in total). The city was conceived by Tavistock Group founder Joe Lewis, who envisioned a dynamic community modeled after the La Jolla Research Institute cluster in San Diego.
Lake Nona is the fastest-growing suburb in Orlando. Located on the southeast side of Orlando along 417, and an easy 28-minute drive to Disney property, Lake Nona is much more than its easy commute to the theme parks — it is an innovative community complete with world-class amenities and forward-thinking design. Some would argue that Lake Nona is far from other parts of Orlando, and that may be true depending on where you frequent. If anything, the commute is on par with other communities in Orlando and is one of the more relaxing, thanks to the toll road 417 which runs directly through Lake Nona. Traffic is never on my mind when commuting from Lake Nona, but mileage to other parts of Orlando can be high. Lake Nona commute times are roughly 10 minutes to the airport, 28 minutes to Disney property, and 28 minutes to downtown Orlando.
THINGS TO DO
Lake Nona offers a lot. Lake Nona has the largest crystal lagoon in the United States, with 15 acres of crystal-clear water. (You can even kayak on it!) The community also houses the United States Tennis Association’s National Campus — the world’s largest, with over 100 tennis courts — as well as many boutique restaurants, shops, and retail options. The Orlando City Soccer’s training facility is also on site, and the city features Gigabit high speed internet — the first in Florida.
The vibe of Lake Nona is professional, educated, and residential — with an emphasis on sustainability, tech, and health. All commercial buildings in the Town Center are LEED certified. The Town Center is the most forward-thinking in my opinion. A lot of capital was invested in building the landmark epicenter for Lake Nona, and it doesn't disappoint. This is a city that was designed to meet all needs of the community: jobs, education (from pre-k to graduate’s degree), health services, beautiful homes, and a multitude of restaurants and shops.
Laureate Park is the most iconic neighborhood in Lake Nona. Although Laureate Park features homes at a lower price point than homes in Lake Nona Golf & Country Club, I believe Laureate Park captures the true feel of the city: It’s the closest neighborhood to Town Center, the medical center, and the main highway. Simply put, the neighborhood is connected and walkable. Neighborhood events include Yoga in the Park and weekly food trucks. Homes are traditionally designed with alleyways behind them; many homes have garage apartments.
Eagle’s Nest is another neighborhood worth mentioning and features a beautiful golf course on site. Homes in this neighborhood feel more Mediterranean, with Spanish tile roofs and beautiful stonework. This neighborhood is gated, and the homes range in size from right under 2,000 sq ft to almost 5,000 sq ft.
Village Walk is worth noting. Branded as a new style of neighborhood with homes built along canals and connected by bridges, the Village Walk center sits directly in the middle and hosts community events. Streets are separated by waterways in between, and almost every home here has a backyard pond view. Homes are large and feature solid barrel tile roofs.
The Lake Nona Golf & Country Club hosts some of the most spectacular homes in Orlando. The main feature of this community is the Tom Fazio-designed golf course. This is a prestigious community recognized as both a Platinum Club of the World and Platinum Club of America by Club Leaders Forum, one of the most respected sources for club industry leaders and professionals. Homes are equally prestigious and secluded, ranging from 4,000-10,000 square feet.
WHY LIVE HERE
I live in Lake Nona and love it. While no community is perfect, I think this place has a lot going for it, with community amenities you won't find anywhere else. Since it’s a newer community, there’s still more to come, too. The design and geographic location of Lake Nona make you very dependent on toll road 417 — something to consider.
I also like the care and detail invested in the city planning of Lake Nona. It differentiates itself by investing heavily in bringing well-paying jobs and industry to the area, so that it feels like a self-sustaining community rather than a suburb that you would commute to and from. Home prices are higher in Lake Nona than the Orlando average, but once you drive through, it's easy to understand why.
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