A Guide to Dining, Fun, and Entertainment in Downtown Orlando
Downtown Orlando is the hub of Central Florida where the residential, commercial, entertainment, and business districts work side by side to create an entertaining and vibrant venue for both locals and tourists alike. There are many options for you to consider here from museums, to retail outlets, restaurants, cultural events, and entertainment, making a trip here something you won’t want to miss.
If this is your first time visiting Orlando Fl, be sure to visit this place for a real look at authentic Orlando, and a chance to take advantage of hundreds of activities that will make your stay here truly memorable. When you need a break from the theme parks, the crowds and the fast pace of mainstream Orlando, it’s time to head to Downtown Orlando for the best in arts, culture, museums, dining, and entertainment. With more than 20 galleries, dozens of award-winning restaurants, plenty of nightlife options, a performing arts center, and over 1200 events annually, this vibrant walking downtown district is the place to find local flavor and color.
Here’s a simple guide to get you started.
Downtown Orlando Restaurants
There are many award-winning and eclectic restaurants and neighborhood dining options in downtown Orlando. These are just a few that are worth mentioning:
If you’re feeling international, stop by DoveCote, a neighborhood spot that features French-inspired dishes and ambiance. A great place for a date night, or a visit to the raw bar with friends. The raw bar is a highlight featuring many varieties of oysters, clams, and other shellfish, while the Chef is also serving up beautiful steaks, chicken and =seafood. At lunchtime, they are serving up an inspired menu of beignets, gratinates and burgers. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday mornings with a mouth-watering menu that ranges from olde hearth croissants and banana bread to crab and gruyere quiche. This is the best of downtown Orlando restaurants.
Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant
When it comes to restaurants that serve sumptuous regional cuisine, the Ceviche Tapas bar & restaurant is a great option. The interior design is Spanish-inspired, the perfect spot for a menu of beautiful tapas, ceviche and paella and hundreds of other warm and cold tapas. You may get a chance to see the Flamenco dancing and sample their award-winning Sangria and Spanish wine. Stop by for Tapas Tuesday for $5 sangrias and $7 mojitos paired with the savory Tapas Tuesday menu starting at $3.95.
Ace Café Orlando
Good food, music and motorcycles! Ace Café Orlando, a motor-diner covers several acres and offers a most unique experience by bringing the motor racing scene of London into the very heart of Orlando. This is the spot for those who love bikes, cars and rock ‘ roll. It’s a roadside gastro-diner that serves up comfort food with fresh ingredients and modern influences. They boast their “grub” is influenced by “backroad joints around the world.” Burgers, tacos, hummus, good beer and wine. Stop by to trade stories or just listen in.
Eola Wine Company
A cozy wine bar that features an impressive line-up of wine, this favorite dating spot located in Thornton Park district boasts an upscale but casual menu that offers dishes such as artisanal style tacos, flatbreads, and charcuterie and cheeses, with a weekend brunch that will have you coming back for more. They are conveniently located across the street from Lake Eola, a venue to many events.
Arts, Culture, Outdoor Activities - Fun Activities to Do in Downtown Orlando
Downtown Orlando is a mecca for history, culture, cool bars, theatres and late-night clubs, as well as ways to enjoy the great outdoors and beautiful Florida weather. Here a just a few to get you started.
Lake Eola Park
When you’re ready to take a break from the parks and the hubbub and get back to nature for a few hours, head to Lake Eola Park. This is a 23-acre park that features a gorgeous walk around the lake, a children’s playground, and an amphitheater. The lush parklands are perfect for a picnic with the whole family and a peaceful stroll around the lake which runs just under a mile. Rent a swan boat to paddle across the lake or visit the Chinese pagoda and the very unique fountain that squirts water jets during the day and provides a stunning display of colorful lights at night. If you can make it on a Sunday between 10 am and 4 pm, check out the Farmers Market for locally sourced produce, handicrafts, live music and a beer garden.
Thornton Park, the artistic district is one of the more fashionable neighborhoods in downtown Orlando with a very cosmopolitan vibe, attracting guests and locals alike to socialize while enjoying the stunning outdoors from the outdoor terraces of the many restaurants and cafes that line the street. The combination of the Bohemian artistic vibe along with the cobblestone street creates a charming atmosphere that you’ll not want to pass up. Visit art galleries, bars, designer boutiques, and pubs that play live music.
For those who will be visiting the town for the first time, head to Church Street, downtown Orlando’s historical centre. Here’s where you’ll find several of Orlando’s finest restaurants, an exciting nightlife scene, as well as the historic Railroad Depot. Enjoy the vibrant nightlife of the clubs, theatres, and shopping. The SunRail commuter rail makes it easier for you to venture to other parts of downtown Orlando for a comfortable and convenient trip.
Orlando Science Center
Another must-see site while you are in the area is the Orlando Science Center where its gallery of exhibits is curated to make their guests curious and to start exploring as well. There are plenty of presentations, shows, and even hands-on interactions offered here. Among the highlights of Orlando Science Center is Nature Works, which showcases the wildlife as well as ecosystems of Central Florida. You can also bring your children to KidsTown, which is essentially a miniature town that is filled with interactive games that are made for fun and learning. DinoDigs, on the other hand, is perfect for the curious explorer who wants to dig around the dirt to unearth dinosaur fossils as if you are a paleontologist.
City Arts Factory
The City Arts Factory is home to the most extensive collection of artworks in Orlando and is located at the corner of East Pine Street which is walking distance from Church Street and Lake Eola. This multi-story building houses both local and international artworks that range from classic to contemporary. They are open Tuesday - Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm.
Orange County Regional History Center
Learn more about the rich history of Central Florida by visiting the Orange County Regional History Center, which is in the historic courthouse of the town. There are four floors for you to explore with dozens of exhibits, galleries, as well as activities that are perfect for the whole family to enjoy. The exhibits present local and regional history beginning 12,000 years ago.
Orlando Farmers Market
If you’re in the area on a Sunday, you shouldn’t miss out on the Farmers Market where there are dozens of vendors selling their wares from unique artworks, gourmet food, and even handmade jewelry. If you’re looking for the perfect handcrafted gift that says Orlando, or locally sourced fresh produce stock up here.
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
If you want to experience the culture of the city of Orlando, head to Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts and witness live performances such as Lion King or immerse yourself in concerts such as Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra at the helm. This theater is where many local and international artists perform.
SAK Comedy Lab
If you’re looking for a fun and laid back kind of date night, try SAK Comedy Lab where improv experts will have you laughing the night away as the audience participates in the show. No two shows in this comedy club are the same, so there’s always something new waiting for you. That’s improv, right? Check out their schedule of activities as they offer free entrance on certain days.
Date Night Adventures in Downtown Orlando
If you’re visiting Orlando with your partner or your friends, you’re probably looking for fun things you can do together. The city of Orlando will not disappoint. Here are a few adventures for date night or girls night out that is worth trying.
Happy hour pub crawl
Sitting in a restaurant or bar is great, but, hey, you only live once and you may want to explore and visit as many places as you can. How about a happy hour pub crawl? Check out Shari Sushi Lounge, The Stubborn Mule, and the Eola Wine Company.
Join the cocktail class at The Courtesy
Maybe it’s time you upped your bar skills for your next event. The Courtesy offers cocktail classes for those who want to mix up that special concoction of their own. Isn’t it time you created your own signature cocktail? The fee for the class is $55 per person with classes held during the first and third Saturday of each month. If you’re interested, you’ll need to make a reservation ahead of time.
Do a walking tour
Calling all art fans, history buffs and foodies! Downtown Orlando offers three types of organized tours - Gallery tour, Food tour, and History tour. Check out one or all three if you want to get the most out of your visit to the area.
Who would have thought that Downtown Orlando packs such a powerful punch in terms of fun and activities? Time to head to the heart of Orlando and explore downtown Orlando restaurants, bars, shopping and attractions.
Downtown Orlando Resources:
 Visit Orlando; Where to Eat, Play and Shop In Downtown Orlando, Dalia Colon.
 Blog by Hotels; 10 Best Things to Do in Orlando.
 Top Villas; Things to do in Downtown Orlando, Georgina Brisk.
 Trip to Discover; 11 Best Things to Do in Downtown Orlando, Charity de Souza, June 6, 2019.
 Orlando Date Night Guide; 40 Things to do in Downtown Orlando for Date Night, Stephanie Patterson, August 1, 2016.
Exploring Gay Orlando!
Orlando is a vibrant city that welcomes the LGBT community with warmth and kindness. It offers plenty of attractions, events and gay-friendly places where you can hang out with kindred spirits from all corners of the world.
Orlando Festivals That You Should Not Miss
Regardless of when you visit Orlando, you’ll find tons of great Orlando festivals and events. Amazing food and beverage fests, art shows, film, theater and music. And of course, the theme parks are world renown for their top events too.