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Original article: Orlando Sentinel

Posh Windermere has been home to many of Orlando’s celebrity residents; the tony gated community of Isleworth (actually just adjacent to Windermere) has boasted a host of stars from PGA superstar Tiger Woods to NBA heavy-hitters Shaquille O’Neal and Dwight Howard and Joey Fatone of NSYNC fame. You need not be a celebrity, of course, to enjoy living in this lovely area with myriad lakefront homes, excellent schools and convenience to both downtown and the most incredible theme parks in the world.

Windermere known for stars and lakes

Quaint historic buildings, many with historic designations, are dotted throughout Windermere. These include the charming 1890 Windermere Schoolhouse and its Town Hall, built between the years of 1922-1924. The town began as a winter home for moneyed Northerners; many grew citrus to offset the land investment. A series of bad winters sullied the crops, however, and in the early 1900s, it began to re-emerge as a resort area. Nowadays, it is perhaps best known for its fabulous homes and exclusive gated communities, but that’s hardly the end of the options. Sparkling three-bedroom townhomes are currently on the market in the low $200s.

Windermere is just about as close to an “inland island” as it gets. Most of its borders are lakefront, with the town itself sitting amid Lake Butler, Lake Down and Lake Bessie. It’s roughly 12 miles from Windermere to downtown Orlando, on average an estimated 30-minute commute. Same goes for the airport. Residents can be at Walt Disney World Resort in less than 20 minutes. Universal Orlando Resort is even closer.

Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors (these are Harry Potter distinctions, for those of you not in the know) will delight in Hogwarts, Diagon Alley and all things related to the J.K. Rowling series —by way of Universal Orlando Resort, which is about 15 minutes’ drive away. Plus, there’s the brand-new-in-2017 Universal’s Volcano Bay water park, along with the brand’s myriad other dining, shopping and theme park offerings.

Those less inclined toward theme park amusements will find solace and serenity paddling or fishing on the Windermere area’s many lovely lakes. For a small city, Windermere has nine parks, not including its eponymous Recreation Center overlooking Lake Crescent. Looking for good music, good wine and great barbecue? Hit up Yellow Dog Eats in nearby Gotha, a favorite among locals from well out of the neighborhood.

Health care in Windermere

Health Central Hospital in nearby Ocoee is about five miles or 12 minutes’ drive from Windermere, Orlando Regional Medical Center —the area’s largest —is only 15 miles away and, therefore, another solid option for treatment.

A.D. Thompson can be reached through her website

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