Facing your bank account in college can be a bone-chilling experience, especially if you don't have the constant funds that a job provides so nicely. It doesn't make it any easier that the off-campus dining on Park Avenue entices me to crave an appetizer from every single elegant menu.

Better yet, all of the restaurants are amazing! Just a short walk away, Rollins kids frequent them. Here are some of the best places that accept R-cards. 

But yikes, do those add up fast. You don't think a few dollars here and there will hurt, but they add up, just like Uber can. Fortunately, us Rollins Tars are given separate money set aside on our R-Cards specifically for off-campus dining.

1. Power House Café 

juice, sweet, smoothie
Christin Urso

Wow. Okay, so coming from a small town in Connecticut, I never had anything like this fresh, healthy place nearby. However, thanks to the Winter Park smoothie Gods, there is not only one but two smoothie empires on Park Avenue: Power House Café and Park Avenue Smoothie Café (#2). Fun fact: they are owned by the same family—two brothers—and are situated across the street from one another.

Power House Café sells the 'Rollins Special' complete with a smoothie of your choice (my personal favorites equal anything with peanut butter or chocolate chips), and a hearty sandwich. Strolling down Park Avenue to grab the Rollins Special before an afternoon class is one of my favorite Rollins pastimes. 

2. Park Avenue Smoothie Café

sweet, peanut, peanut butter, chocolate
McKenna Leaden

I haven’t even mentioned the açai bowls yet. They are Park Avenue’s most recent shake-up; the newest fad. You are bound to see the aesthetically pleasing bowls dished up on Snapchat or Instagram, which Park Avenue Smoothie Café even has one of their own (@parkavenuesmoothies). Check this place out, you won't be disappointed

3. The Coop

McKenna Leaden

The Coop is branded on classic southern dining, serving Grandma’s home-cooked dumplings with chicken and waffles, for example. The décor is adorable, with wooden tables and chairs the could have been pulled out of a Country Living magazine, or any Nicholas Sparks movie set. My favorite part personally, are the sides—mac and cheese, hushpuppies, and fluffy mash potatoes. How could you go wrong?

4. 4 Rivers Smokehouse

4 Rivers, on the other hand, offers tangy barbecue options from pulled pork to ribs that fall off the bone. I took my mom and dad here during Parent’s Weekend, and they ranked it high up on their extensive barbecue list. Oh, and need I say much more than Chocolate Chunk Pecan Pie Bar? My mom and I agreed that the ‘Sweet Shop,’ inside 4 Rivers is heaven on earth. 

The Coop and 4 Rivers are actually owned and founded by the same man, John Rivers. 4 Rivers came first, and it all started right in Winter Park, Florida. The background story is honestly touching. Check it out here.

5. Antonella's Pizza

mozzarella, pepperoni, dough, cheese, pie, crust, pizza
McKenna Leaden

Pizza is the way to my heart. After coming to Rollins, I have been missing my hometown pizzerias. Nothing can beat some good old-fashioned northern pizza, but both Antonella’s Pizza and Park Avenue Pizza (#6), hold their own. Antonella’s Pizza offers the luxury of delivery service. Once a group of my friends and I had one big pizza pie, plus wings and sodas, delivered right to Rollins for a picnic on Mills Lawn. How's that for service at a low cost?

6. Park Ave Pizza

Park Avenue Pizza can be paired with a refreshing Power House smoothie since they are neighboring venues. And did someone say garlic knots? Both restaurants serve dishes like eggplant parmesan and garlic knots. Your friends will all fight over who gets the last one

7. Pita Pit

bread, wheat, flour, dough, cereal, pastry, unleavened, pita bread
Shea McCollum

Like a Subway for grilled wraps, Pita Pit was a hidden gem to me. I never went until the end of the first semester, and I warn you to learn from my mistake. I had honestly been missing out! Just steps away from the bookstore, it really boosts your spirit on a rough day of classes.

As a First Year student at Rollins, there is still lots for my taste buds to try out. There's even more restaurants that take the R-Card which I have yet to try, like Grounding Roots for example, that seems to be a hip juicing bar, Café de France, an upscale restaurant on Park Avenue, Jersey Mike's, and Domino's just to name a few.

From what I have explored so far, Park Ave is popping with all of the food choices and we are lucky enough that many of them are on our meal plans. It is a restaurant hub and there is always something new to try.