Downtown Orlando has plenty of great things to do and see, and guess what - none of them involve trudging around a theme park taking selfies with Micky Mouse and trying to hold in lunch while you take on that 10th rollercoaster of the day.
For Downtown Orlando is much more about history and culture; book your hotel here and you are also spoilt for choice in terms of restaurants, cool bars, theaters and late-night clubs. The area is pretty small too, so you can easily walk around the compact quaint city streets for the day, while Disney World, Universal and Sea World are all just a short drive out of town south on International Drive. Below, find the top 10 best things to do in Downtown Orlando!
The unofficial center of Downtown Orlando, Church Street really is the place to go for first timers wanting to get to know downtown a little better. It’s home to some of the city’s best restaurants, a bustling nightlife scene and the iconic Railroad Depot (that now sits alongside the newly-built ‘SunRail’).
As the historic center of Orlando, the old Railroad depot built in 1889 still stands a reminder of the city’s long-lost past well before Disney and Universal arrived, while the SunRail commuter rail project links Church Street with three other downtown areas of Orlando. It’s here where you’ll also find several clubs, theaters, shopping complexes and the huge Amway Center sports arena. Read More...
- Location: Orlando, FL 32801, United States
The Amway Center is one of the main draws of Downtown Orlando, being the city’s main sports and live entertainment venue, located in the heart of the city’s Downtown core near the famous old Church Street Station. Opened in 2010, seating arrangements and the floor plan at this multi-purpose venue can be transformed from a live music hall, into a basketball court, ice hockey rink and an indoor football pitch. Currently, the Amway Center is home to Orlando’s three major sports teams: the Orlando Magic of the NBA, the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League, and the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL (ice hockey). Read More...
- Opening Hours: varies
- Location: 400 W Church Street, Orlando, Florida
- Tel: +1 407 440 7000
This quaint 23-acre park located off East Washington Street features an almost one-mile-long walkway around the lake perimeter, as well as other attractions such as an event amphitheater, a children’s’ playground, a bright red Chinese pagoda and a Conference States of America monument.
Affectionately considered as one of Orlando’s top ‘natural’ playgrounds (i.e. one that doesn’t involve Disney or Universal), this pleasant downtown spot is great for picnics, exercise, paddle-boating or just a quick escape from the nearby high-rises. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Open daily from 10:00-22:00.
- Location: Lake Eola Park is easy to reach in the heart of Downtown Orlando, borderd by East Robinson Street, Rosalind Avenue, East Central Boulevard, and North Eola Drive.
The range of exhibits at Downtown Orlando’s Science Center have specifically been "designed to inspire curiosity and exploration", while there is also a range of shows, presentations, and hands-on interactions throughout that aim to "bring the exhibits to life" – great for the whole family.
Highlights include NatureWorks, a huge space on the ground floor that details much of the surrounding Central Florida wildlife and ecosystem, KidsTown, a miniature town full of fun and interactive games, and for the budding paleontologists out there, DinoDigs - where you can uncover fossilized dinosaurs and inspect huge dinosaur eggs. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 10:00 -17:00 daily
- Address: 777 E. Princeton Street Orlando, Florida
- Tel: +1 407-514-2000
- Price Range: $19.95 for adults, $13.95 for kids
This hub of day and night-time entertainment is one of the top places to have fun in Downtown Orlando. Home to shops, restaurants, and plenty of bars (that turn into full on clubs after dark), you could easily start and finish your night five hours later without ever leaving Wall Street Plaza. The outdoor square getting packed-out for special events such as New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween and a few local events such as RumFest, Florida Music Fest and City Skip Day. The road is also closed off to traffic every Friday and Saturday night from 21:00 for their weekly ‘Block Parties’, with live DJs (and no cover charge). Read More...
- Opening Hours: 11:00 - late
- Location: Wall Street Plaza, Wall Street, Downtown Orlando, FL 32801
Downtown Orlando really is the place to come if you want a real party in the city, away from the more family friendly entertainment around Disney World and Universal. For relentless dance music, check out Vain club near Lake Eola Park, or venture into the world of lasers, lights and shiny surfaces in the highly-rated Tier club nearby. The Beacham provides a huge space set in a converted old warehouse, proves to be a popular one-off event venue – as well as throwing the occasional themed party – while Parliament House is the best place to check out Orlando’s thriving LGBT scene. Read More...
East End Market
Set just outside of Downtown Orlando (about five minutes’ drive northeast), this two-story market-cum-arcade aims to showcase the best of what Central Florida has to offer in terms of cooked food, art, and fresh produce. The market also features some world-class restaurants, a large event space, a live cooking area and office space. Check their website for up-and-coming events.
- Opening Hours: 10:00-19:00 (closed Mondays)
- Location: 3201 Corrine Dr, Orlando, FL 32803
- Tel: +1 321-236-3316
Just east of the central Lake Eola you’ll find this cool and quiet neighbourhood that really feels like you’ve escaped the city for an out-of-town suburb. But there is a difference with Thornton Park; the area has plenty in the way of hip cafes, cool galleries and a few bistros – all set around some ever-so-quaint old cobbled streets. Well worth a few hours to stretch your legs in Downtown Orlando. Read More...
City Arts Factory
This is where you’ll find the largest collection of art in the whole of Orlando. Located on the corner of East Pine Street – walking distance from both Lake Eola and Church Street – the multi-storey building is home to both locally produced art and international pieces, classic and contemporary. Entrance is free to all from Tuesday to Saturdays 11:00-18:00.
- Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturdays 11:00-18:00
- Location: 29 S Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801
- Tel: +1 407-648-7060
Country Club of Orlando
This vast expanse of greenery can be found surprisingly close to the city streets and high-rises of Downtown Orlando, so close in fact that you could probably walk here is you’re staying in one of Downtown’s many hotels (although a cab is still the preferred method of getting about). The club boasts a fantastic 18-hole golf course with plenty of top-notch onsite amenities such as a restaurants, bar, café, changing facilities and a member’s only club house. Membership options vary and it’s best to check their website in advance for more details.
- Location: 1601 Country Club Dr, Orlando, FL 32804, United States
- Tel: +1 407-849-0990