Settlers have been making the area that would become Longwood home since before the Civil War, but this well-established town is still growing by leaps and bounds.

Recipient of a host of “Best of” distinctions by various popular websites and known for superb schools, Longwood is a magnet for young families. Retirees should give it a look, too, with an influx of 50 and older housing options.

Longwood’s beginnings, like much of Central Florida’s, are rooted in frontier times with its location between the burgeoning cities of Sanford and Orlando making it convenient.

Its lakes and woodlands made it a beautiful place to settle, and still do. It was named for a Boston suburb that one of the town founders an engineer had helped develop as a young man.

Today, Longwood’s historic district, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, makes a lovely hour-long tour. The larger town around it continues to proliferate with new residences and businesses.

Longwood sits about 15 miles north of downtown Orlando. It is roughly 30 minutes on a moderately busy Interstate 4. Downtown commuters would do better to take advantage of the town’s beautifully designed SunRail stop at Ronald Reagan Boulevard and Church Avenue.

Longwood is a heavenly place to live for outdoorsy types. From dog parks to playgrounds, from wide open festival friendly fields to wild Florida at its best, Longwood has it all.

Reiter Park offers fishing, basketball, tennis, a playground and much more and it also hosts Wekiva Island, which is like an Old South river hang, where cabana rentals and cold beer combine with canoeing and kayaking on lush and serene waterways.

 Less than 10 miles away, Wekiwa Springs State Park in Apopka is a 7,000-acre woodland paradise for hikers, paddlers, horseback riders and more.