DOCTOR PHILLIPS,  FLORIDA

Updated March 30, 2021

Doctor Phillips, Florida is  a place name that almost all Orlando citizens recognize, but many people in the rest of Florida have never heard of. 

Only a generation ago, Doctor Phillips was a lonely outpost among the orange groves southwest of Orlando at the intersection of Sand Lake Road with Apopka-Vineland Road.

HOW DOCTOR PHILLIPS GOT ITS NAME

Doctor Phillip PhillipsDoctor Philip Phillips

The area is named for Dr. Philip Phillips, an early big-time Central Florida citrus grower.  Dr. Phillips was born in 1874 and died in 1959. 

He had a medical degree from Columbia University, and at one point owned more than 5,000 acres of citrus groves around Orlando. 

Dr. Phillips developed many successful techniques for the processing and packaging of orange juice. His thousands of acres of groves stretched across nine Central Florida counties.

His land in the area now known as Doctor Phillips extended from Conroy Road on the north to the south end of the Sand Lake Chain of Lakes

His holdings included what is now Arnold Palmer's Bay Hill Country Club,  Orange Tree,  Sand Lake Hills and Turkey Lake.

After he sold his groves in 1953, he became a benevolent philanthropist. His donations are still enjoyed and appreciated by Orlando area residents.

Doctor Phillips Florida Crop DusterCrop Dusting in Doctor Phillips, Florida

DOCTOR PHILLIPS & SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON
TREE HOUSE AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

When construction began on Walt Disney World in the late 1960s, the area around Doctor Phillips was still orange groves and wetlands.  

During the construction of Walt Disney World, a group of Disney workers labored in Doctor Phillips's old citrus packing plant fastening the artificial leaves onto the artificial limbs of the Swiss Family Robinson tree.

Doctor Phillips, Florida. Vintage aerial view.Doctor Phillips, Florida Packing Plant View to North

That was about the only game in town back then.  It was a clever use of a large building that was no longer being used.

DOCTOR PHILLIPS TODAY

Now the unincorporated area around Doctor Phillips is as big as many Florida cities, with a population of about 10,000. 

It is on the edge of Universal Studios Florida, and enjoys quick access via Sand Lake Road to I-4 and International Drive.

It is a modern place, with beautiful shopping malls, plenty of great restaurants and is surrounded by upscale residential communities.

The entire area from Apopka-Vineland Road east to I-4 is now called "Restaurant Row" by locals.

The sprawling upscale neighborhoods in this area have no trouble supporting their local Whole Foods and Trader Joes along with the familiar Publix brand.

If you are visiting Orlando, you can stay at Dr. Phillips's house in the historic downtown area. It is now a bed and breakfast inn.

You can also enjoy a performance at the nearby Doctor Phillips Center for the Performing Arts that opened in downtown Orlando in 2014.


DOCTOR PHILLIPS RESTAURANT ROW

It still amazes me when I drive through Doctor Phillips these days.  There is no longer the narrow road through fragrant citrus groves that still lives in my recent memory.

The rickety old stop sign is gone that stood for years at the end of Sand Lake Road where it reaches Apopka-Vineland Road.  It has been replaced with a sophisticated traffic light directing vehicles in all directions.

Sand Lake Road is now a modern boulevard lined with more good restaurants than just about any other place in Florida. The fragrance these days is of fine food instead of citrus.

I formerly reviewed a few restaurants on this page, but there are far too many for me to keep it up.  There are dozens of places for just about any thing you'd want.  

Upscale, midscale, snacks - it's all here and I now defer to Tripadvisor and other services to tell you about them.

DOCTOR PHILLIPS RESTAURANTS



DR PHILLIPS AREA LODGING




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Mike Miller of FloridaBackroadsTravel.com has written 25 books on Florida.  

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