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Explore Downtown Orlando

People often come to Orlando to visit the fantastic theme parks. And why not? They are the best in the world. But for an authentic and "local" experience, be sure to make time to explore Downtown Orlando. A visit to Downtown Orlando is a chance to escape the tourism and visit the vibrant and exciting heart of Orlando. Locals and visitors who are "in the know" head Downtown for a long stroll around Lake Eola, to explore the art and cultural scene, Downtown Orlando attractions, and a fun night out on the town. 

Downtown Orlando, located just minutes from the tourism district, is home to award-winning cuisine, a buzzing nightlife, plenty of cultural events, museums and art galleries, and boutique shopping. Soccer fans will want to visit Orlando City Stadium, and the hip set will find plenty of ways to have fun in the bar districts. Check here for more about the Best Adult Things to Do In Orlando

Nightlife

When it comes to nightlife, Downtown Orlando has it all. Whether you're into hip-hop, techno dance music, an excellent outdoor bar, an Irish pub, or a great happy hour, you'll find it here. Enjoy the nightlife on Church Street Station, home to many hotspots, including the tony One80 Skytop Lounge, which offers an unmatched view of the city from its sixth-floor location. Church Street Station is a historic train station that anchors a retail and entertainment district. They feature exciting clubs, upscale lounges and bars, and a tremendous after-hours scene. 

Wall Street Plaza is a center of entertainment and nightlife comprising seven themed bars connected by an open-air courtyard. Every night is a party on Wall Street, and there is 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, an intimate bar, and The Monkey Bar, a sophisticated lounge for Happy hour, and a 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 your style, check out the handcrafted cocktails in one of these 'hidden" lounges Downtown. Stop by The Courtesy, which is hidden away between Washington and Jefferson Streets. They offer elevated craft cocktails and a great experience. While you're here, check out the cocktail classes, where you'll learn how to make a proper cocktail. Watch out for the green door with a T-shaped handle to get into The Treehouse. This is an excellent old-fashioned club with great cocktails and a "secret" atmosphere. Visit the second floor of the Historic Rose Building to find The Woods, with a fantastic lineup of gorgeous and tasty crafted cocktails. Ask around about Hanson's Shoe Repair, a super trendy underground speakeasy on East Pine Street. Check out their Facebook page to get the latest password, which changes frequently. Mathers Social Gathering is another of the popular speakeasies. 

Here are some other tips on the Best Spots for Orlando Nightlife. 

Dining

There are a ton of dining options Downtown. Catch Sunday brunch at Dexter's, bingo and a drag show at Hamburger Mary's, or seasonally inspired American fare at Artisan's table. Ember features Downtown's largest outdoor terrace and Mediterranean food. You're sure to find whatever you're craving at one of the many dining venues offering cutting-edge cuisine and ambiance. 

Other favorites are The Stubborn Mule for their delicious variations of the mule cocktail and The Boheme in the art-filled Grand Bohemian Hotel. Motorheads will love Ace Cafe Orlando.

Sports fans will enjoy the action at Harry Buffalo on Church Street. Don't miss the bison burger or the cajun bowl. 

Soccer fans will gravitate to Lion's Pride, near the Orlando City Stadium. 

A local favorite is The Pop Parlour. Stop by for a frozen treat inspired by their grandfather with every recipe made with natural ingredients, made by hand, and featuring all fresh fruit. This is a local -must-do." And if you want to amp it up, check out the Mango Rum, Pineapple Mimosa, Bourbon Peach, and Bananas foster. 

Lake Eola

Just east of the Central Business district, you'll find an oasis called Lake Eola Park. This picturesque park is the perfect respite from the crowds and the noise. Stroll the walking trails around the lake, take a ride in a swan boat, and paddle across the lake for great views of the Orlando skyline and a close look at the lake's fountain. The fountain looks like a flying saucer, squirts water jets in the daytime, and lights up the sky at night. Relax with a picnic under a shady tree and enjoy the Sunshine State weather. They often hold free concerts and events at the amphitheater. The fountains are lit in various colors with two nightly water shows, and they host a huge Independence Day fireworks display each year.

Thornton Park

Thornton Park is a quaint residential neighborhood located just one block east of Lake Eola. Visitors love the boho-chic clothing boutiques, stylish eateries, and organic juice bars. The cobblestoned-lined streets and quaint neighborhoods have a European vibe with its decorative fountain and several wine bars and cafes. It is promoted as "Downtown for Grownups," referring to its laidback nightlife and easy listening. The food scene is the primary draw with a cappuccino and apricot pastry from Benjamin French Bakery & Cafe to late-night food truck fare at Falcon Bar & Gallery. Check out Southern Contemporary Cuisine (SoCo) for a Bloody Caesar, dine al fresco at Dexter's, a long-time Orlando fixture, or Mucho Tequila and Tacos for their Upside Down Margarita. 

Entertainment 

SAK Comedy Lab is an improvisational theatre that presents ad-lib performances nightly. It seats two hundred and fifty and features "on the spot" one-liners and acts. Viewers can suggest characters and themes to inspire the performers. Audience participation is high, and no two shows are the same. This is a memorable night of laughs and fun. 

Amway Center features big-name concerts and events and Magic basketball games. Watch hockey and cheer on the Solar Bears, or catch a lively soccer match of Orlando City Soccer. 

Check out American Ghost Adventures Downtown Orlando for a paranormal experience and a visit to haunted buildings in the neighborhood. You'll use high-tech ghost hunting equipment and check your skills as a ghost hunter. 

Poseidon Spa is just the place for some decadence. This spa features the fifties glamour and is located in the Marriott Grand Bohemian Hotel. Relax with a massage, body scrub, or wrap. You're on vacation! 

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

If you want your fix of culture while in Orlando, head on over to Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the hub of Orlando's arts scene. You may catch a show like "The Lion King," exciting concerts featuring the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, Broadway shows, or a performance by the Orlando Ballet. The theatre is a hub for international and local artists. In addition, the 2700-seat Walt Disney Theatre and historic Bob Carr Theatre have a great program of entertainment year-round. 

Arts and Culture

Art Orlando is a self-guided tour of nine contemporary artworks located on the streets of Downtown. This is a great way to see some stunning art and get to know the area. 

Check out the artwork at CityArts Factory, an eclectic collection of art showcasing local and international works of art. Admission to CityArt is free Tuesday through Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm. 

Stop by the Grand Bohemian Hotel to check out their unusual art collection. 

Explore Downtown Orlando Attractions

Downtown Orlando is the city's historic district and a cosmopolitan neighborhood with a great arts scene, a spacious lakeside park, plenty of museums, bars, and restaurants. Don't leave Orlando without a trip to some Downtown Orlando attractions and fun. 

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