The OCN team compiled a list of well-known and reader-submitted people, places and things in Greater Oviedo and Winter Springs that make this community a unique place to live. The list is not comprehensive. If you don’t see one of your favorites on the list, submit it to email@example.com.
Aligning with our nonprofit newsroom’s mission to help connect the community through information, we hope readers learn a new thing or two about their community or are reminded of a community gem that they should take time to enjoy. This list is OCN’s gift to its readers this holiday season.
Editor’s note: Some readers made their submissions anonymously, which is why you’ll see that some submissions are attributed to a person’s name and others are not. If folks told us why they submitted something to the list, we included that as well.
Here’s what readers said they love about their community:
HOPE Helps, working to prevent homelessness, with a resource center and food pantry right in Oviedo. (Reader submitted)
“I’ve been in Oviedo for six years and I love seeing the chickens that run around. It’s unique to the city,” Jason Widger said.
Oviedo’s free-roaming chickens, frequenting different Oviedo spots, including the Post Office, the East Branch Library and the Town House Restaurant. (Submitted by Jason Widger).
That Winter Springs has a kid-started nonprofit that appreciates first responders and raises funds to help those who’ve fallen in the line of duty. Zechariah Cartledge started Running 4 Heroes in 2019 and the Running 4 Heroes Tribute Hall opened in 2022 at 273 Winding Hollow Blvd. in Winter Springs.
Oviedo’s five landmarks that are part of the National Register of Historical Places, such as The Wheeler-Evans House on South Lake Jessup (reader submitted). The colonial-style home was built in the 1920s by Benjamin Franklin Wheeler, Sr. “B.F.” Wheeler moved to Oviedo with his family in 1889 and, at age 20, bought a celery farm that had been abandoned. The Wheeler family farm grew to span four counties, totaling 1,500 acres, and the family company, which included a packing house, employed nearly a third of the city’s workforce.
Rotary member Rich Sloane submitted the Rotary Club of Oviedo to the list “for its commitment of service to the community, the fellowship it provides, and the fostering of economic development.
Greater Oviedo and Winter Springs has many service organizations, including: Oviedo-Winter Springs Kiwanis, the Oviedo-Winter Springs Optimist Club, The Rotary Club of Winter Springs, and the Rotary Club of Oviedo.
The Oviedo Mall food court, which houses reader-submitted favorites such as Teriyaki Japan and Cup Pasta.
The Winter Springs Performing Arts Center may be small, but it packs its schedule with classes and performances, including Seussical Jr., The Music Man Jr. and Into the Woods coming spring of 2023. (Reader submitted)
During the winter season, strawberry picking at Pappy’s Patch is a tradition for many households. Though land development has threatened to claim the patch, it soldiers on just two miles from Oviedo’s old downtown. (Reader submitted)
The Lawton House, built in 1890, is filled with artifacts from early Oviedo life, and can be toured from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. every first and third Saturday of the month during the Oviedo Historical Society’s farmers market. (Reader submitted)
The hometown feel of The Town House Restaurant, a community staple slinging diner favorites since the 1950s. (Reader submitted)
The Black Hammock Wilderness Area boasts a 4.5-mile boardwalk trail that gives folks a taste of old Florida along the shores of Lake Jesup. (Reader submitted)
Some explain it as phosphorus in the water, others say it’s a bright, racing light that chases people in the night. The Oviedo Lights can be seen at night on the Snow Hill Road bridge over the Econlockhatchee River. (Submitted by Lisa McCoy). The late Benjamin Franklin Wheeler III, a lifelong Oviedoan and local historian, was interviewed by Underthought Podcast about the Oviedo Lights.
LIFE Vice President Rich Sloane said he submitted LIFE to the list “for offering a program of lifelong learning and educational experiences to the senior-citizen community.”
The Learning Institute for Elders at the University of Central Florida (LIFE at UCF), which offers weekly learning programs to its 800 members.
Well-known as a great fishing spot by locals, Mullet Lake Park is a 55-acre park located in Geneva. (Submitted by John Kelly)
The daughter of an OCN reader said her favorite thing about her community is her school, Partin Elementary. The elementary school is nestled in the Riverside subdivision in Oviedo. (Submitted by Brielle, age 8)
Rich Sloane said he submitted the Post Office “for doing a great job every day of the year despite “snow, rain, heat nor gloom of night.’”
The Oviedo Post Office, which, according to Seminole County, was established on Mar. 13, 1879.
The Oviedo Medical Center, a local hospital that offers comprehensive health care, including a free-standing 24-7 emergency room, surgery, a stroke center and women’s care. (Submitted by Amy Robl)
The falls were submitted by Winter Springs reader Patty Grant, who said: “I love it. I love the sound.”
Boonie Falls, a hidden community gem that can be unwittingly passed by because of its small stature, is a mini waterfall that can be found within the Econlockhatchee State Forest by following the Florida State Trail off of the Barr Street Trailhead.
Sloane said he submitted the Oviedo City Council and the city employees to the list “for moving the ball down field.”
Every community has a favorite pizza place, and according to Oviedo reader Joy Widger, Lil Vinny’s Pizza and Pasta is it.
The Cross Seminole Trail Black Hammock Trailhead in Winter Springs. This quiet, lush portion of the 23-mile trail leads to the Winter Springs Town Center, where cyclists can find a variety of places to dine or Central Winds Park for a picnic. (Reader submitted)
At the Oviedo Farmers Market, which recently expanded to offering the market the first and third Saturday of the month, local vendors’ tents dot the oak-shaded lawn surrounding the T.W. Lawton House on Broadway Street in Oviedo. (Reader submitted)
Where else do local historical figures rise from the dead to teach folks about community founders? One reader submitted The Rising Twilight Tour, which takes place annually near Halloween at the Oviedo Cemetery on Broadway Street.
The Bear Creek Nature Trail in Winter Springs, submitted by reader Cassandra Curley, is hidden in plain sight within the Tuscawilla neighborhood. Along its winding footpaths, it has two small bridges over the creek and several picnic tables.
A towering playground and large shaded picnic tables make Friendship Park a popular Oviedo destination. The park was submitted by Ernie Sladek, 3, Oviedo Mayor Megan Sladek’s youngest son.
The mom-and-pop new and used bookstore Walls of Books
Taking over the Winter Springs Town Center, the Winter Springs Festival of the Arts is one of the biggest events of the year. It’s a large collection of businesses, food, drink and entertainment concentrated in one place. Check out the live music on the main stage or sample some local cuisine. (Reader submitted)
The Geneva General Store is a hardware store and restaurant rolled into one. The store serves everything from breakfast to sandwiches to full meals, such as a meatloaf dinner, and it sometimes has live entertainment, such as the recent holiday show by musician Bobby Sanders. (Reader submitted)
Oviedo’s Oktoberfest is a rare touch of old-world cultural heritage in the city every year, sprawling across the main lawn in Center Lake Park and offering authentic Bavarian music plus German food and drinks. Did we mention there’s a biergarten? Es ist ausgezeichnet! (Reader submitted)
That Oviedo has its very own city-themed store: My Oviedo Store
The Central Florida Scottish Highland Games is one of the largest festivals in the county every year, hosting 100,000 visitors as the massive Central Winds Park in Winter Springs transforms into the Scottish Highlands for a weekend. There’s whiskey, bagpipes, haggis, plus the best highland games athletes in the world in some of the most unique sporting events you’ll ever see. Ever thrown a telephone pole end-over-end? How about picking up a 300-pound stone and carrying it as far as you can? It’s the second weekend of January.
Geneva’s Big Red Barn boasts a country store, farm animals that people can visit and a farmers market every third Saturday of the month. (Submitted by Carol Banigan of Oviedo)
This was submitted by reader and OCN Community Advisory Board member Laura Leigh Wood, saying, “I especially love Trotwood Park because it’s where I raised my sons, Thomas and Elliott.”
The towering oaks of Trotwood Park frame one of Winter Springs’ best recreational sports complexes, with basketball, pickleball, tennis, baseball and softball, a multi-purpose field and even a weight-training facility on site. A giant pavilion made of real timber logs can host events or a yoga morning.
Airboat rides at the Black Hammock Restaurant
The eclectic mix of stores, restaurants and entertainment facilities at the Oviedo Mall, said one of our readers. Often serving as the host of events as it’s transitioned in the changing economy, the mall has made itself a place to go for many holidays. On a regular basis they host scavenger hunts and childrens’ storytime, plus Oviedo Brewing Company’s Night Market for the whole family.
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