Explore Downtown Orlando
People often come to Orlando to visit the fantastic theme parks. And why not? They are the best in the world, after all! But for those interested in an authentic, local experience, a visit to Downtown Orlando is a must. Located just minutes from the tourism district, Downtown Orlando is home to buzzing nightlife, award-winning cuisine, boutique shopping, tranquil parks, and plenty of museums, art galleries, and cultural events.
When it comes to nightlife, Downtown Orlando has it all. Whether you're looking for an excellent open-air bar, an Irish pub, a great happy hour, or a late-night dance club, you'll find it here.
For an exciting mix of bars, lounges, and clubs, head to Church Street Station, a historic train station that anchors a retail and entertainment district. Start with cocktails at the tony One80 Skytop Lounge, which offers an unmatched view of the city from its sixth-floor location, before exploring the district’s exciting clubs and upscale lounges and bars. There’s an awesome after-hours scene here, as well.
Comprising seven themed bars, connected by an open-air courtyard, Wall Street Plaza is another can’t-miss hub for entertainment and nightlife in Downtown Orlando. Every night is a party on Wall Street, and there’s a block party every weekend. Venues include Hooch, one of the best party bars in Orlando, Wall St. Cantina for the best margarita, WaiTiki for that island vibe, The Hen House for an intimate bar experience, and The Monkey Bar, a sophisticated lounge featuring an excellent happy hour and great music scene on the weekends. For karaoke and bar games, check out Shine, a punk and warehouse-themed club, and Sideshow for some vintage carnival action.
If Speakeasies are more your style, don’t miss the handcrafted cocktails available at Downtown Orlando’s more exclusive lounges. Stop by The Courtesy, hidden away between Washington and Jefferson streets, for elevated craft cocktails and a swanky experience. (If you’re here on the first or third Saturday of the month, check out The Courtesy Cocktail Class where you'll learn the proper way to make classic cocktails.)
The Treehouse is another excellent option for curated cocktails and a "secret" vibe—when looking for the entrance, watch out for the green door with a T-shaped handle. For modern libations in a vintage atmosphere, try Mathers Social Gathering, situated in a former furniture shop. On the second floor of the Historic Rose Building, sip a tasty drink or two at The Woods, a boutique cocktail and whisky bar. Or for something truly unique, head to one of the city’s oldest buildings, 27 E. Pine St, to experience Hanson's Shoe Repair, a super trendy underground speakeasy that requires a password for entrance (you can find it on Twitter).
Here are some other tips on the Best Spots for Orlando Nightlife.
A spectacular culinary scene awaits in Downtown Orlando. As you explore, you’re likely to stumble across plenty of excellent dining options, but if you want a short list of names to look for, try these:
Ember features Mediterranean food and Downtown Orlando's largest outdoor terrace. Artisan’s Table is popular for seasonally inspired American fare. The Stubborn Mule specializes in innovative cuisine and classic Moscow Mule cocktails. A “roadside gastro diner,” Ace Cafe Orlando is a favorite with anyone who loves bikes, cars, and rock ‘n roll. Sports fans tend to congregate at Harry Buffalo on Church Street (don't miss the bison burger or the cajun bowl) or Lion’s Pride near Explora Stadium. For Sunday brunch, local favorites include the jazz brunch at The Boheme and the Broadway Brunch at Hamburger Mary’s. Finally, for something a little sweet, The Pop Parlour sells gourmet ice pops made with super fresh, natural ingredients.
For more information on dining in Downtown Orlando click here
Just east of Downtown Orlando’s Central Business district, Lake Eola Park is a picturesque oasis, offering the perfect respite from the noise and crowds of Orlando’s many popular theme parks. Stroll the walking trails, take a ride in a swan boat, and paddle across the lake for great views of the Orlando skyline. Bring a picnic and spend an afternoon relaxing under a shady tree and enjoying the Sunshine State weather. Or, come for one of the many free concerts and events held at the amphitheater. The park’s iconic fountains light up nightly with two separate water shows and there is a huge Independence Day fireworks display each year.
Just one block east of Lake Eola, Thornton Park is a quaint residential neighborhood that is well worth a visit, thanks to its boho-chic clothing boutiques, stylish eateries, wine bars, and cafes. The cobblestone-lined streets and quaint storefronts have a European vibe, which have earned the neighborhood the nickname, "Downtown for Grownups." Favorite food stops include Southern Contemporary Cuisine (SoCo), Benjamin French Bakery & Cafe, and the Falcon Bar & Gallery.
Entertainment, Arts & Culture
Downtown Orlando is home to a bustling arts and entertainment scene, with multiple theaters, national professional sports teams, museums, art galleries, and world-class events.
If you want your fix of culture while in Downtown Orlando, look no further than the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the hub of Orlando's arts scene. The center’s multiple theaters feature a packed calendar of events, including concerts by internationally and nationally renowned artists, performances by the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra and Orlando Ballet, Broadway shows such as The Lion King or Cats, and other exciting live shows and events.
For professional sporting events and big-name concerts, head to Orlando’s award-winning Amway Center, home to the NBA’s Orlando Magic and the ECHL’s (AA Hockey) Solar Bears. Located in the heart of Downtown Orlando, this impressive arena is a mesmerizing venue for live sports and events. Soccer fans can catch an Orlando City Soccer Club game at the nearby Exploria Stadium.
If a memorable night of laughs and fun in Downtown Orlando sounds like fun, reserve tickets for the SAK Comedy Lab, an improvisational theater that presents ad-lib performances nightly. The venue seats 250 and features "on the spot" one-liners and acts. Audience participation is a key part of the show, with audience members suggesting characters and themes to inspire the performers. No two shows are the same!
For something a bit on the spooky side, American Ghost Adventures offers walking ghost tours of Downtown Orlando. You'll use high-tech ghost hunting equipment and check your skills as a ghost hunter as you visit haunted buildings in the neighborhood.
If you prefer a walking tour without the ghosts, the SEE ART Orlando walking tour is a free, self-guided tour of nine contemporary artworks located on the streets of Downtown Orlando. This is a great way to see some stunning art and get to know the area—download the tour here. CityArts Factory and the Grand Bohemian Hotel also both offer eclectic art collections you won’t want to miss.
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