Nestled next to Florida’s Little Big Econ State Forest in eastern Seminole County and just a short drive away from downtown Orlando sits the beautiful city of Oviedo. Originally incorporated in 1925 around citrus and celery farms and named after a city in northern Spain, Oviedo maintains its relaxed and rustic charm while growing into a bustling modern community. With a rich history, there are countless highlights to love. Here are our top six things to love about Oviedo.
LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION!
With the 417 running along the western border of the city and easy access to the 408, all of Central Florida is in your backyard! Minutes away from the upscale shopping and dining of Park Avenue in Winter Park and the lively nightlife of downtown, you will never be without plans for the weekend. Heading south, get ready for all the family fun you can handle at Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort, both less than an hour away. And of course, this being Florida, you can’t forget about the beaches. About an hour to the east is the beautiful Cocoa Beach along with Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Surrounded by all the beautiful Florida foliage and wildlife, Oviedo and its natural surroundings are perfect for enjoying the great outdoors. Bordering Lake Jessup, the Little Big Econ State Forest, and the Black Hammock Wilderness Area, there are countless dirt trails for hiking, boardwalk trails through wooded areas for strolling, and waterways for kayaking and canoeing. “Oviedo is an excellent place to live if you like to hike,” says Sandra Friend of FloridaHikes.com. “So many choices of trails, including the Florida Trail running right through downtown.”
For a more structured look into the natural beauty of the area, the Butterfly Encounter at Lukas Nursery is a year-round butterfly and bird conservatory that offers a one-of-a-kind experience to get up close and personal with nature. You can even feed butterflies from your fingertips! For a little more excitement, Black Hammock Adventures offers airboat rides and pontoon boat tours of the natural Florida wetlands.
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There is no other way to say it: schools in Oviedo are as good as they come. Local homes are zoned for six different elementary schools, two middle schools, and two high schools, all of which have received A ratings by the Florida Department of Education.
SOUTHERN SMALL TOWN CHARM
Even with a population of over 38,000, Oviedo maintains a southern small town feel. Historic downtown Oviedo contains many buildings constructed between the end of the 19th and early 20th century. Celery and citrus farms may not be as large in the area as they once were, but fresh produce is always abundant at the Oviedo Farmer’s Market. Held on the first Sunday of each month, this popular event offers “over 35 vendors with everything from fresh produce to honey, bread, plants, soaps, spices, and much more,” according to Oviedo Historical Society President Lars White. A whole calendar of community events, from Food Truck Thursdays to the Easter Marshmallow Drop to the monthly Movie in the Park series, brings the entire community together to catch up and celebrate year round.
A GROWING COMMUNITY
While Oviedo is proud of its rich history, the town fully embraces its growth into the future. The recently dedicated Oviedo on the Park is a modern, mixed-use city center that offers something for everyone. Centered around the aptly named Center Lake Park, the area features a cozy restaurant and retail district, a mixed-use office and dwelling space, and over 400 townhomes and luxury apartments. Center Lake Park offers an expansive and beautiful space for community members of all ages to come together and enjoy the city. A dog park, veterans’ tribute, splash pad, coffee shop, paddle boat rental, amphitheater, and cultural center, are just a few of the many amenities recently brought to the community.
To complement its cultural growth, Oviedo is also home to the soon-to-be-opened Oviedo Medical Center. As an expansion to the existing 12-bed Oviedo ER, the campus will have a full-service hospital with primary care, cardiology, cath lab, general surgery, orthopedics, ICU, postpartum unit, and 10 new beds. “When the Oviedo Medical Center opens in 2017, it will have a significant impact on the quality of life in Seminole County,” says CEO KC Donahey. “The addition of the medical center will bring a full range of healthcare services to the Oviedo community, as well as the economic benefits of new jobs, tax revenue, and community support.”
THE FAMOUS OVIEDO CHICKENS
That’s right, Oviedo is famous for its chickens! The flock of about 30 chickens are rumored to be direct descendants of one hen that was first seen alone in 1994, and a few weeks later being followed by 13 baby chicks. The chickens are now a common sight in historic downtown Oviedo, most often seen wandering through shrubbery, enjoying the beautiful Florida weather, and occasionally stopping traffic as they cross roads. Proud residents have even featured the chickens on Oviedo t-shirts and coffee mugs. While there are no specific laws or statutes surrounding the chickens, there are city ordinances that actually designate the entire city as a bird sanctuary for their protection.