Warm up to the Orlando that lies beyond the theme parks! This versatile urban metropolis is filled with great restaurants, exciting venues and tree-shaded neighborhoods worth exploring.
Downtown Orlando eats
Book a coveted table at Seasons 52, a cozy and welcoming haven on Sand Lake Road. You can expect the wait staff to be reverent about its flavor-infused menu, built around seasonal ingredients, and complemented by over 70 luscious wines by the glass.
Sand Lake Road also has countless other eateries, many with musical acts in their lounges. Your best bet for live music, however, might well be B.B. King’s Blues Club on International Drive. Located within the Pointe Orlando complex, King’s supremely talented house band keeps the dance floor packed seven nights a week. Bands for touring acts often pop in unannounced, sharing or taking the stage.
If you’re more likely to get moving during daylight hours, join the locals who congregate near Lake Eola. A lakeside jogging path lies in the shadow of downtown high-rises, while just adjacent to the lake is trendy Thornton Park, a revitalized neighborhood well worth exploring. Pop in to Dexter’s for lunch, dinner, or weekend brunch (Elvis French Toast!). Also nearby: The College Park neighborhood—with streets named for Ivy League institutions—-draws food and wine lovers. You’ll stumble across anything from vintage clothing to cooking classes in this eclectic haven.
Must see attractions
Basketball fans rely on the Magic, and lovers of music and culture enjoy the intimacy and near-perfect acoustics at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, home to the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra as well as ballet, opera, concerts of all types, and Broadway shows.
If you’ve yet to catch Downtown Disney’s Cirque du Soleil, then, by all means, treat yourself to tickets. This visual extravaganza is quirky, exciting, and hard to describe but impossible to forget. Next door to the theater, you’ll find the House of Blues restaurant, which quietly showcases on of the country’s finest collections of original American folk art. Creole food tempts, while the House of Blues stage, adjacent to the restaurant, hosts some of the finest touring acts there are.
Downtown Orlando is always buzzing with things to do. Watch out for weekend festivals and special events. No matter which direction you go, sunny Orlando welcomes you with wonderful surprises.