Close to Everything

May 14, 2024

By Stephanie Rizzo ’09

Rollins students walking back to campus from Park Avenue.
Winter Park’s famed Park Avenue is just steps from campus, giving students easy access to dining, shopping, and entertainment.Photo by Scott Cook.

Near adventures and opportunity galore, Rollins is more than a home base to live and learn—it’s a gateway to the best of Winter Park and Orlando.

Experience—both in and outside the classroom—is a hallmark of a Rollins education. And thanks to our prime location in Winter Park just minutes from Orlando’s city center, we’re perfectly positioned to access bustling tourism industry, thriving tech companies, aerospace industry giants, and plenty of recreational adventures.

Explore theme parks and green parks, take in a pro basketball game or a Broadway show, and network to your heart’s content in one of the fastest-growing job markets in the nation. In fact, WalletHub recently named Orlando as a top college city and the No. 1 best place to start a career, so get ready to start your life’s greatest journey—and you don’t even need a jacket. With an average temp of 72 degrees, getting to know your new hometown and all that it has to offer is always a sunny prospect.

Whether it’s on foot, by rail, or by car, discover how our proximity to fun and opportunity serves our students in work and at play.

Take a Walk

With its award-winning dining, chic boutiques, and unique charm, downtown Winter Park—particularly its main thoroughfare Park Avenue—is one of the most beloved spots in Central Florida. Lucky for us, it’s essentially an extension of campus, so you’re just a quick walk away from taking it all in.

Rollins professor and student work on the whiteboard together on research.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Community Connections

Rollins’ close ties with city organizations like the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce mean our students get the opportunity to partner on real-world projects. “I got to practice every skill I’ve cultivated at Rollins and apply them to real-life scenarios,” says business management major Nicole Kury ’24, who recently worked to provide data and critical insights to the Chamber as part of an independent study course.

Nutella waffle from The Briarpatch

Brunch Vibes

Local favorite The Briarpatch has been serving comfort-food classics like homemade waffles topped with Nutella and eggs benedict alongside scrumptious lunch fare like stacked burgers and sandwiches for over 40 years.

Pizza Paradise

There’s a lot of hype around Detroit-style pizzeria SoDough Square—which just moved in around the corner—and for good reason. Everything is made in-house, including their proprietary brick cheese blend and signature dough, which is quickly gaining major street cred.

Students paddleboarding on Lake Virginia
Photo by Scott Cook.

On the Water

You don’t even have to leave campus to leave land. Just walk over to the Rollins boathouse, where you can jump in a kayak, hop on a paddleboard, or don a pair of waterskis to explore beautiful Lake Virginia, your year-round playground.

Rollins students meet for a study session at The Alfond Inn cafe.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Hospitality With a Heart

Owned by Rollins, The Alfond Inn directs all net revenue to scholarships for our best and brightest students. A recent expansion of the boutique hotel has added amenities like a luxury spa and a new cafe, the perfect spot to meet friends for coffee or a group study sesh.

Students shopping for fresh produce at the local Winter Park Farmers Market.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Local Gems

Fresh goat cheese crumbled onto butter-softened bread. Butterflies hatching in jars. Just-picked cuts of wildflowers. These are just a few of the must-have finds that make the Winter Park Farmers Market one of the area’s most anticipated weekly events.

Essential Experience

Leading Winter Park companies like financial firm DePrince, Race & Zollo (DPZ) regularly offer internships to Rollins students as well as opportunities to come aboard full-time after graduation. “I learned so much about the industry in such a short span of time,” says international business major Efe Comu ’24, who recently interned at DPZ as a financial analyst. “It gave me an authentic look at this field and helped me build a network.”

A student showcases her work at Rollins Museum of Art.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Museum Crawl

The College’s very own art museum, the Rollins Museum of Art (RMA), regularly exhibits the work of art majors as they hone their craft and displays thought-provoking pieces from its Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at The Alfond Inn. You can also walk to the Morse Museum, home to the world’s most extensive collection of stained glass by Louis Comfort Tiffany, and the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens.

Cheeseburger, French fries, and a strawberry shake from Burger-Fi.
Photo by Zach Stovall.

Burger Breaks

Burger-Fi elevates the burger concept with chef-crafted creations like the CEO, a Wagyu patty topped with candied bacon-tomato jam, aged Swiss, and truffle aioli. They have vegetarian and vegan options too, and you can even use your Rollins dining dollars.

Hop a Train

From the SunRail station—just a five-minute walk from campus—you can traverse much of our surrounding area. The AdventHealth and Church Street stops are two of our favorites for exploring the thriving metropolis of downtown Orlando.

SAK Comedy Club in downtown Orlando

Lots of Laughs

You never know what’ll happen at one of SAK Comedy Lab’s live improv shows. Audience participation drives every show, and the results are often surprising and always hilarious. Not only does the 250-seat venue host local comedy troupes several days a week, but it’s also where big-name comedians stop on national tours (and sometimes drop in to try new material).

Orlando City Soccer game

Every Day Is Game Day

From the NBA’s Orlando Magic and soccer teams Orlando City and Orlando Pride to the Solar Bears hockey team, you’re never far from taking in a pro game. Sports Business Journal recently named Orlando the No. 1 sports business city in America for attracting and hosting events, drawing on data that spanned 1,500 sports events in everything from youth sports to professional leagues.

Madison Bailey in front of AdventHealth in Orlando
Photo by Scott Cook .

Hands-On Learning

AdventHealth is one of the largest hospital networks in the country and is so important to the city that it even has its own dedicated stop on the SunRail line. Our students regularly intern at the hospital in everything from administration and marketing to clinical practice. “As an intern at AdventHealth, I quickly adapted to new environments and learned the basics about marketing a large corporation,” says communication major Madison Bailey ’24.

Pigzza restaurant in Mills 50 neighborhood in Orlando
Photo by Sarah Hall.

Mills Marvels

The Mills 50 neighborhood is always buzzing with activity. Explore the area’s many antique shops, join a game of pickup beach volleyball at the lakeside court at Ivanhoe Village, and grab a bite at the area’s newest resident, Pigzaa, an “Italian-ish” joint that offers modern twists on classics like cacio e pepe fries and brisket ravioli.

A performance of Wicked at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

The Power of Performance

The state-of-the-art Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts hosts world-class touring shows like Hadestown and Wicked alongside internships for Rollins students in areas like marketing, communications, and operations. Even the building exudes star power—Architectural Digest named it one of the world’s most beautiful performance spaces.

Hannah Holman at Electronic Arts in Orlando
Photo by Scott Cook.

Plugged In

Orlando is home to many diverse industries, and our grads often stay here to work for tech titans like Electronic Arts, as well as real estate developers, financial firms, and consultancies looking to support the city’s rapid economic growth.

A concert at the Kia Center in downtown Orlando

Superstar Shows

Yes, the Kia Center arena is the home of our pro basketball team, but it also attracts major concert tours—everyone from Nicki Minaj to Paul McCartney. And it’s also the home base of Ryan DeVos ’13, vice president of shareholder engagement for the Orlando Magic and bonafide Rollins Career Champion who works with Rollins students to share his wealth of experience through one-on-one mentorship.

The Monroe Restaurant in Orlando’s Creative Village district

Inspired Spaces

With its prime location in Orlando’s new Creative Village district, the artfully curated Monroe restaurant and coffee is the perfect place to meet friends for brunch or brainstorm with your fellow classmates about your idea for a new social enterprise.

Immerse Orlando arts and performance festival

Living Art

Interactive arts and performance festival Immerse takes over the streets of downtown Orlando for a weekend each fall, inviting you to experience a world where artists break past the stage and invite you into their performances. Think flying acrobats and epic fireworks.

Go for a Drive

Grab some friends and get in the carpool lane. These adventures and opportunities might be a little farther afield, but they’re totally worth the drive and all within 45 minutes of campus.

Hayley Stoddard ’24 at Universal Studios

Theme Parks for Days

Everyone knows Orlando is the world’s theme park capital. And yeah, a day spent hanging with Mickey Mouse or playing wizard is a total blast. But the parks offer another kind of magic too. Just ask Hayley Stoddard ’24, who spent a summer interning at Universal Studios as a travel sales intern and is now working as a CRM analyst for Travel + Leisure Co.

Students tubing at Wekiva Springs
Photo by Scott Cook.

Natural Wonders

Orlando is home to loads of greenspace. Spend the afternoon tubing down a lazy river at Wekiva Springs. Learn about native plants at Leu Gardens. Pack a picnic and catch some rays at Kraft Azalea Park, a favorite among local photographers. Or head downtown to Lake Eola for a sunset outdoor concert. We could go on.

Students gather at The Enzian for the Florida Film Festival
Photo by Scott Cook.

Indie Pride

The Enzian Theatre is a local favorite—a cozy movie house that shows cult classics and indie films and serves up delicious fare right to your seat. It’s also the heart of the Florida Film Festival, an annual gathering of cinema buffs, filmmakers, and stars that will satisfy even the most discerning movie lovers.

Students and professor discuss a piece of coral at the beach
Photo by Scott Cook.

Beach Bliss

Rollins is less than 50 miles from the Atlantic Ocean and only 70 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, so you can easily surf killer waves in New Smyrna Beach one day and snorkel the balmy waters of the Gulf Stream the next. And because a Rollins education means the world is your classroom, you might even visit the beach for course credit. That’s precisely what students in environmental studies professor Lee Lines’ Sustainability Beyond the Classroom class did on a recent trip to the Canaveral National Seashore.

Students at East End Market
Photo by Scott Cook.

East Side Delights

Located in the hip Audubon Park neighborhood just a five-minute drive from campus, the East End Market dishes up some of the city’s most coveted treats: chocolate chip cookies from Gideon’s Bakehouse, homemade noodles at Domu, and chicken biscuits from Winter Park Biscuit Company that are so good you won’t even realize they’re vegan until you go back for seconds.

Lake Nona city center
Photo by Courtesy Lake Nona.

A Smart City With Soul

Billed as a community of and for the future, the fast-growing Lake Nona area—just 40 minutes from campus—is ripe for exploration—from an innovation hub that’s helping local innovators explore 5G-enabled solutions across industries to a town center complete with a slew of restaurants, boutiques, hotels, public art installations, and event venues.

Royal Caribbean cruise ship docked in Cape Canaveral

Set Sail

Orlando is just 45 minutes from Port Canaveral, the second busiest cruise port in the world. And while you’re enjoying everything life on the sea has to offer, why not consider making it a career? That’s exactly what business management major Julia Derkowski ’23 did. After interning for Royal Caribbean, she landed a permanent position as a human resources coordinator after graduation.

Makayle Kellison at NASA where she conducted acoustics research

Out of This World

At Kennedy Space Center, you can attend launches and learn more about the shuttle program’s history. But why just watch? Physics major Makayle Kellison ’24 recently studied the acoustic impact of the historic Artemis I rocket launch alongside professor Whitney Coyle. NASA scientists are using their published findings to inform future launches.

Rollins students walking to class.

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