A Complete Guide to Universal’s CityWalk Orlando
When you're ready for some great food, spectacular shopping, and excellent entertainment—all in one spot—head to Universal’s CityWalk Orlando. A vibrant 30-acre, open-air entertainment complex, CityWalk Orlando offers excellent live music and shows, tons of delicious restaurant options, and plenty of shopping, whether you are looking for the perfect Universal mementos, character keepsakes, or some epic board shorts and surf swag. And it's all served up by Universal Orlando with their trademark splash of exciting theming and fun. CityWalk Orlando is widely known for its nightlife, but it is also a great place to spend the day. CityWalk is open daily and is a perfect spot for enjoying a light lunch, shopping, and even live entertainment.
Admission to CityWalk Orlando is free, which means you can get a little more of Universal without paying for pricey park tickets. Even better, parking after 6pm is free almost every night (some holidays and Halloween Horror Nights are exceptions), and if you're staying at one of the official Universal Orlando Resort hotels, parking fees will never apply.
Read on to discover our guide to the best of CityWalk Orlando. We’ll introduce you to some of our favorite entertainment and eats — and offer a few tips for getting the most out of your visit.
With dozens of clubs and restaurants, CityWalk Orlando is a great place to find hot entertainment. Some options may be separately ticketed and require proof of age (21), but there's still plenty available for everyone.
To start with, CityWalk's Rising Star is a perennial favorite. At this rocking bar and karaoke club, you can step on stage and live out your rock star dream with a live band and backup singers. Imagine the roar of the crowd now! (On some nights, recorded tracks are used instead of the live band so be sure to call ahead if that’s important to you.) The atmosphere is always that of a rock concert, and the cocktails are great, so no need to take the stage to have fun.
For a peek at real rock-star legends, or at least their memorabilia, head to CityWalk Orlando’s Hard Rock Cafe, the largest Hard Rock in the world. Classic musical mementos surrounding you at this bustling hot spot, including the famous suit Elvis wore in Viva Las Vegas, Buddy Holly's black glasses, and hand-painted Beatles posters. Try the Legendary Burger or order steak, wings, fajitas, BBQ chicken, salads, or more. Music videos play non-stop throughout the restaurant, and there’s live music on the Rock Bar Patio, Friday and Saturday nights from 7 pm to 10 pm. Hard Rock is super kid-friendly, so don’t hesitate to bring the family.
For more live music, check out the cool, Jamaican-inspired vibe at Bob Marley - A Tribute to Freedom. Sample a variety of Jamaican and Caribbean fare and listen to live reggae in this fun and unique restaurant, designed in conjunction with Bob Marley’s family to replicate his home. You'll view historical memorabilia, black-and-white photos, and videos that showcase his life and career. Enjoy the island flavors and his spirit of love and freedom.
If high-energy dance music and high-octane cocktails are your things, check out The Groove, a multi-level dance club with VIP seating and a balcony overlooking CityWalk Orlando. This spot is popular with visitors and locals alike thanks to numerous themed full-service bars, the latest in light and sound effects, and a huge pulsating wall of video screens. If you're feeling posh, upgrade your experience with VIP Service, including exclusive seating, table service, a dedicated server, and express entry to the club.
Another favorite at CityWalk Orlando is the Red Coconut Club, a tropical and trendy bi-level club offering DJs, bands, bar snacks, and a party vibe that runs until 2 am. "Sophisticated but casual," this chic spot features a plush ultra lounge and two levels of music. Try one of their signature martinis or something from their extensive wine list to get the party started.
If you're looking for an evening that's more “active” and less “club or bar,” check out Hollywood Drive-In Golf for a unique and fun experience. Try an "out of this world" golf experience with one of two themed, larger-than-life mini-golf courses, "The Haunting of Ghostly Greens" and "Invaders From Planet Putt." You'll meet up with monsters in a haunted house, aliens in a flying saucer, and a 30-foot robot. The courses are based on vintage horror flicks, little green men and all. Cutting-edge special effects immerse you deep into the films as you play.
Regardless of what you may be craving, CityWalk Orlando is sure to provide the perfect option. Go All-American with Hard Rock Cafe, Hot Dog Hall of Fame, or NBC Sports Grill and Brew. Head to the islands with tropically inspired fare at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville or Bob Marley's A Tribute to Freedom. If you're feeling International, explore Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food, VIVO Italian Kitchen, or Fusion Bistro Sushi & Sake Bar.
For an elevated dining experience the whole family can enjoy, reserve a table at Bigfire, a unique dining concept that brings open-fire cooking to the center of the restaurant. The fare is sophisticated American with a variety of steaks and seafood roasted over different types of wood for an array of smoky flavors. For dessert, assemble your own graham crackers, chocolates, and marshmallows and roast s'mores right at your table. The vibe is “family around the fire at a lakeside summer house.”
For the best of two very different worlds, grab a table at The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar. As the name implies, this unique restaurant brings together two very different cuisines for an innovative menu featuring fresh and beautifully prepared sushi, as well as outstanding burgers made from fresh-never-frozen meat. If you can’t decide what to order, go for the bento box: a mini-burger and a choice of sushi roll, plus three sides. The appetizers are tasty and plentiful enough for sharing, and the salads are entree-sized and scrumptious. The extensive drinks menu ranges from premium sake to a spiked milkshake.
If you have sweets on your mind, stop by Voodoo Doughnut, a shop with its own cult following that serves sinfully good creations. Favorites include the Signature Original, the Dirt Doughnut, the Memphis Mafia, and the Bacon Maple Bar. It is offbeat and awesome, and as their tagline says, "The magic is in the hole."
Another one for the sweet tooth is The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen. This full-service restaurant, bar, and confectionary offers classic dishes like steak and seafood, but the real focus is on the dessert. Choose between gourmet chocolates, artisanal milkshakes, and amazing sundaes among other options. The 19th-century theme makes for a fantastical family-friendly experience.
You’ll discover plenty of fun and unique shopping opportunities at CityWalk Orlando. For Universal merchandise, the new Universal Studios Store offers a premier retail experience. Boasting 8,300 square feet of retail adventure, the store sells exclusive merchandise you can’t find elsewhere, from Hogwarts themed kids’ wear to super hero essentials.
If you want to stock up on surf and summer gear, you’re in luck, CityWalk Orlando features all the top brands, from Billabong, Vans, and Quiksilver to Quiet Flight Surf Shop.
One of the best things about CityWalk Orlando is the free water taxi service that runs between CityWalk and Loew's Portofino Bay, Royal Pacific, and Hard Rock Hotel. The service starts 30 minutes before the theme parks' opening and runs until 2:30 am all year long. Hop on to get from one location to another, or just go for a roundtrip ride to enjoy a quiet break on the water.
CityWalk Orlando - Summing it all up
CityWalk Orlando offers a fantastic opportunity to have a Universal experience with great shopping, fabulous themed dining, and plenty of Universal-level entertainment. Access to the 30-acre complex is free, and so is the parking after 6 pm. Stop by for lunch, dinner, or dessert and catch some of the great entertainment—it’s an experience you won't soon forget. Know before you go and check out our tips for the Best Time to Visit Universal and The Best Time to Visit Florida.
Check out some of Orlando's best vacation rentals here!
Vacationing at Walt Disney World in Orlando can be overwhelming and a little bit intimidating, even for the return visitor. There are so many attractions and thousands of things to see and do.
Don’t be fooled by the many family experiences Orlando is known for. When it comes to romance, there is plenty to go around.