things to do in downtown orlando
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Things to Do in Downtown Orlando – The Complete Guide

things to do in downtown orlando

Things to do in Downtown Orlando are endless. Explore the vibrant charm of Downtown Orlando, a city bustling with energy and teeming with diverse attractions. From its lush green spaces like Leu Gardens, historical landmarks, trendy dining scenes, and exciting nightlife, Downtown Orlando is more than just a gateway to Florida’s famed theme parks. Let’s embark on this journey to discover the hidden gems and popular spots that make this city a must-visit destination.

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A Walk (or Ride) Through Downtown Orlando

Lake Eola Park

Lake Eola Park is the green heart of Downtown Orlando. It’s iconic fountain and lake view make it a perfect setting for a stroll or a picnic. A key highlight of the park is the Walt Disney Amphitheater. This open-air venue on the park’s eastern side hosts various concerts, plays, and community events. Its stunning design and the backdrop of Lake Eola make every event a memorable experience.

Know Before You Go

The park is open from 6 a.m. to midnight every day. Admission to the park is free, but some events at the Walt Disney Amphitheater may require tickets. The best time to visit is during the more excellent morning or evening when you can witness the fountain’s light show.

Thornton Park

Just a stone’s throw away from Lake Eola Park is Thornton Park, a charming, stylish neighborhood known for its beautiful bungalow homes and vibrant, community-focused atmosphere. Brick-lined streets are lined with local boutiques, eateries, and art galleries, creating a hub for Orlando’s creative community. Thornton Park is also known for its frequent outdoor events and festivals, such as the monthly Art & Wine Walk, which attracts locals and tourists alike.

Know Before You Go

Thornton Park is a neighborhood best explored on foot, with many attractions within easy walking distance. It’s particularly lively during the monthly Art & Wine Walk when local galleries and businesses extend their hours and offer special promotions. Check the official Thornton Park District website for event schedules and other neighborhood happenings.

Orlando Urban Bike Trail

Explore Downtown Orlando in a unique way along the Orlando Urban Trail. This three-mile-long trail meanders around six lakes, providing users with picturesque vistas and shade from live oak trees. It connects various neighborhoods and points of interest, such as Orlando Cultural Park and Gaston Edwards Trail. With 85% of the bike trail being an off-street path, it’s an ideal way to escape the city life’s hustle and bustle while staying in its heart.

Know Before You Go

The Orlando Urban Trail is open 24 hours daily, with no admission fees. Access points include Loch Haven Park, Mead Botanical Garden, and Gaston Edwards Park. The trail is also bike-friendly and a beautiful way to explore the city in the more relaxed morning or late afternoon hours.

Entertainment and Nightlife in Downtown Orlando

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Catch a Broadway show or concert at this state-of-the-art venue. The Dr. Phillips Center is a testament to Orlando’s thriving arts scene.

Know Before You Go

Show schedules and ticket prices vary, so it’s best to check the Dr. Phillips Center website for the latest information. It’s recommended to book tickets in advance for popular shows.

Wall Street Plaza

Visit this bustling hub for bars, restaurants, and nightlife. Wall Street Plaza is the place for after-hours fun in Downtown Orlando.

Know Before You Go

Wall Street Plaza is typically open from mid-afternoon until 2:00 AM, with extended hours on the weekend. Each venue within the plaza has its schedule and offerings, so check their websites.

Amway Center

Home to the Orlando Magic and a venue for major concerts, Amway Center is a testament to Orlando’s love for sports and music.

Know Before You Go

Check the Amway Center’s official website for Orlando Magic games, concert schedules, ticket prices, and other events. Tickets can usually be purchased online and in advance.

Art, Culture, and Science in Downtown Orlando

Orlando Museum of Art

Explore diverse art collections and exhibitions that celebrate human creativity in all its forms.

Know Before You Go

The Orlando Museum of Art is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Admission fees are $15 for adults, $5 for children ages 4-17, and free for children three and under. Always check the museum’s website for the most current exhibitions and events.


Discover local art in this multi-gallery art space that is a platform for creative expression.

Know Before You Go

CityArts is open Tuesday-Sunday with varying hours. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. Check the CityArts website for the latest exhibitions and events.

Orlando Science Center

Immerse yourself in the fascinating world of science at the Orlando Science Center. This educational and interactive venue offers exhibits that both kids and adults will love. From planetarium shows to dinosaur fossils, there’s something to spark curiosity in everyone.

Know Before You Go

The Orlando Science Center is open Wednesday-Sunday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Admission fees are $21 for adults, $15 for children ages 2-11, and free for children under 2. Check the Orlando Science Center website for more information and any special events.

The Orange County Regional History Center

Learn about the rich history of Central Florida at this engaging museum.

Know Before You Go

The History Center is open Monday-Saturday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and Sunday from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM. Admission fees are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, students, and military, and $6 for children ages 5-12. Always check the museum’s website for the most current exhibitions and events.

Downtown Orlando Dining Scene

Farmers Market

Find local produce and artisanal foods at the lively Farmers Market. A feast for the senses, this market is a food lover’s paradise.

Know Before You Go

The Farmers Market is located in Lake Eola Park and is open every Sunday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. Check out some top vendors for fresh produce, baked goods, and unique artisanal products.

East End Market

Savor the flavors of Orlando at the East End Market. This neighborhood market is a hub for local food culture, featuring some of the best local artisans and retailers. From fresh produce to prepared meals, homemade crafts, and more, you’ll find an array of unique offerings that showcase the best of Orlando’s culinary scene.

Know Before You Go

The East End Market is open Monday-Saturday from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM and Sunday from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Visit their website for a list of vendors and more information.

Local Restaurants and Bars

Discover Orlando’s culinary scene, where traditional Southern fare meets innovative gastronomy.

Know Before You Go

Orlando has a wide range of dining options. Some top-rated restaurants include The Stubborn Mule for new American cuisine, The Ravenous Pig for locally sourced dishes, and Artisan’s Table for creative comfort food. For craft cocktails and a vibrant bar scene, check out Hanson’s Shoe Repair, a speakeasy-style bar, or Bar B, a trendy rooftop spot.

Craft Breweries

Sample local craft beers and enjoy brewery tours. Orlando’s craft beer scene is booming, and a visit to a local brewery is a must.

Know Before You Go

Some recommended breweries in Orlando include Orlando Brewing, known for its organic beers, Dead Lizard Brewing Company, for its innovative brews; and Ten10 Brewing Company, for its locally loved craft beers.

Things to do (a bit) Outside of Downtown Orlando

Walt Disney World (about 15 miles from Downtown)

No trip to Orlando would be complete without a magical Walt Disney World trip. With four unique theme parks — Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom — it’s a world of adventure and excitement that is a perfect place to take your kids but also brings out the kid in everyone. As you will see below, navigating these parks can be challenging, so ensure you are prepared.

One of the parks, Disney’s Blizzard Beach, offers a unique, wintry take on a water park. Imagine sledding down waterslides and floating down a lazy river amidst a snowy landscape. It’s a fantastic retreat from the Florida heat!

Another fantastic water park option is Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon. With its tropical storm-themed landscape, it offers everything from thrilling water slides to a relaxing sandy beach.

If you plan to stay close to the magic, consider staying at one of Disney’s unique and thematic resorts. David’s DVC Rentals offers a great guide on Disney Vacation Club resorts, where you can enjoy luxurious accommodations in the heart of Walt Disney World.

Know Before You Go

Ticket prices vary depending on the number of days and parks you want to visit. Check the Walt Disney World website for the most current prices and park hours and to book tickets. It’s recommended to book in advance, especially during peak times.

SeaWorld Orlando (about 15 miles from Downtown)

Get up close and personal with marine wildlife at SeaWorld Orlando. This marine zoological park offers thrilling rides, live shows, and opportunities to learn about and interact with marine animals. It’s a fun-filled experience for the entire family. For more detailed insights, check out this comprehensive guide on SeaWorld Orlando.

Know Before You Go

Ticket prices vary, so checking the SeaWorld Orlando website for the most current prices and booking tickets is recommended. The park is generally open from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM, but hours can change depending on the season and special events.

Universal Orlando Resort (about 10 miles from Downtown)

Experience some of the most innovative theme park attractions at Universal Orlando Resort. With two theme parks — Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure — a water park, and a dining and entertainment complex, it’s a destination filled with thrills and excitement.

Know Before You Go

Ticket prices vary depending on the number of parks and days you want to visit. Check the Universal Orlando Resort website for the most current prices and park hours and to book tickets. It’s recommended to book in advance, especially during peak times.

Other Fun Activities Around Downtown Orlando

If you’re visiting Orlando during the hotter months and want a refreshing day out, consider Aquatica. This park provides thrilling water slides, relaxing beaches, and a unique blend of up-close animal experiences. Get a detailed overview from this Aquatica Orlando guide.

For thrill-seekers looking for an alternative to the larger theme parks, Fun Spot Orlando offers a variety of roller coasters, go-karts, and other rides. It’s a great option for those who want a day of adrenaline-pumping fun.

When you think of Orlando, ice skating might not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, it’s a great way to break from the typical Orlando heat. Check out the best spots for ice skating in Orlando.

One unique activity you can partake in is an airboat ride, where you can explore Florida’s natural beauty and possibly catch a glimpse of some alligators! Here’s a guide to Orlando’s airboat rides for an unforgettable adventure.

Golfing in and Around Downtown Orlando

MetroWest Golf Club

Enjoy this challenging and beautifully maintained course, a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

Know Before You Go

The MetroWest Golf Club is open every day from sunrise to sunset. Fees vary depending on the time and day, so check their website for the most current rates and booking information.

Dubsdread Golf Course

Play at the oldest public golf course in Central Florida, offering a slice of Orlando’s history along with your game.

Know Before You Go

Dubsdread Golf Course is open from 6:30 AM until dark every day. Fees vary depending on the time and day, so it’s best to check the Dubsdread website for current rates and to book a tee time.

Golf Performance Center at Bay Hill

Improve your golf skills with professional instructors at this top-rated facility.

Know Before You Go

The Golf Performance Center at Bay Hill offers various programs and lessons. Check their website for more information about services, fees, and booking.

Top Golf Orlando

If you don’t have time for a full round of golf, Topgolf Orlando is a fun alternative where you can hit microchipped golf balls at targets, play various games, and even order food and drinks right to your bay.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is Downtown Orlando?

Downtown Orlando is the central business district of Orlando, Florida. It encompasses several distinct neighborhoods and is the heart of the city’s arts and culture scene.

What are some of Downtown Orlando’s best things to do?

There are many things to do in Downtown Orlando, including visiting Lake Eola Park, exploring the Orange County History Center and Orlando Museum of Art, watching a game by the Orlando Solar Bears or Orlando Predators, and checking out the art and sculptures on Orlando’s streets.

What is Lake Eola Park?

Lake Eola Park is a scenic park in downtown Orlando’s heart. It features a large lake surrounded by walking paths, picnic areas, playgrounds, and swan-shaped paddle boats.

What can I see at the Orange County History Center?

The Orange County History Center is a museum dedicated to preserving the history and culture of Central Florida. Its exhibits cover aviation, African-American history, and Florida history.

What is the Walt Disney Amphitheater?

The Walt Disney Amphitheater is an outdoor performance venue in Lake Eola Park. It hosts concerts, festivals, and community events throughout the year.

What is the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts?

The Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is a large theater complex at the University of Florida in Gainesville. It hosts a variety of performances, including musicals, plays, and concerts.

What is the SAK Comedy Lab?

The SAK Comedy Lab is a famous improv comedy club in downtown Orlando. It hosts shows and workshops featuring local comedians and improv actors.

What is the Amway Center?

The Amway Center is a large indoor arena in downtown Orlando. It is the home of the Orlando Magic basketball team and hosts concerts and other events throughout the year.

What is the best way to explore Downtown Orlando?

The best way to explore Downtown Orlando is on foot or by bicycle. There are also guided tours available, including food tours and ghost tours, that allow visitors to experience the city’s history and culture.

Where can I find more information about downtown Orlando?

The Orlando Information Center, located in the heart of Downtown, is an excellent resource for information about the city’s attractions, events, and dining options.

Closing Thoughts

Whether you’re an art lover, a foodie, a night owl, a golfer, or a nature lover, Downtown Orlando has something for everyone. Its stunning blend of history, culture, cuisine, entertainment, and outdoor attractions makes it a vibrant and diverse destination worth exploring. Embark on this adventure and let Downtown Orlando surprise you at every corner.

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