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Things To Do In Downtown Orlando – The Complete Guide


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Maryanna Pfister



Welcome to downtown Orlando, the vibrant heart of the Sunshine State’s largest city. Bursting with charm, history, and a plethora of exciting attractions, this bustling urban center offers an array of experiences for locals and visitors alike.


With its mix of modern skyscrapers, historic districts, and a thriving arts and culture scene, downtown Orlando is a must-visit destination for those looking to explore the true essence of the city. From iconic landmarks to trendy shops, award-winning restaurants, and lively entertainment options, there is something for everyone here.


Located in central Florida, downtown Orlando serves as a hub for business, tourism, and entertainment. It is home to the city’s major government buildings, corporate headquarters, and an impressive skyline that lights up the night. The area seamlessly blends the old and the new, with beautifully preserved historic buildings standing alongside sleek contemporary structures.


Whether you’re a foodie, history buff, art enthusiast, or nature lover, downtown Orlando has you covered. The city offers an endless array of activities and attractions to suit every taste and interest. From world-class museums and galleries to lush green spaces and captivating street art, there is always something new to discover.


Downtown Orlando also boasts a vibrant nightlife and entertainment scene. As the sun sets, the streets come alive with live music venues, trendy cocktail bars, and bustling clubs. Whether you’re in the mood for a relaxed evening sipping craft cocktails or dancing the night away to live music, downtown Orlando has an option for you.


In this comprehensive guide, we will take you through the top things to do in downtown Orlando. From exploring iconic landmarks to indulging in shopping and dining experiences, experiencing the arts and culture scene, and even taking day trips to nearby destinations, we’ll ensure that you make the most of your time in this vibrant city center.


So grab your walking shoes, have your camera ready, and let’s dive into the exciting world that is downtown Orlando!


Exploring Downtown Orlando

When it comes to exploring downtown Orlando, there is no shortage of exciting sights and attractions. Begin your adventure by taking a leisurely stroll along the bustling streets and immersing yourself in the energetic atmosphere.


One of the highlights of downtown Orlando is Lake Eola Park, a picturesque oasis in the heart of the city. Take a relaxing walk around the lake, rent a swan-shaped paddleboat, or simply find a shady spot to enjoy a picnic. Don’t miss the iconic Lake Eola Fountain, an impressive centerpiece that lights up with vibrant colors at night.


For a dose of history, head to Church Street Station. This nostalgic entertainment complex offers a glimpse into the past with its beautifully restored historic buildings and cobblestone streets. Explore the shops, dine at one of the charming restaurants, or catch a live performance at the iconic Cheyenne Saloon.


Art lovers will be mesmerized by the downtown Orlando art scene. The CityArts gallery showcases the work of local artists and hosts regular exhibitions, while the Orlando Museum of Art offers a diverse collection spanning centuries and continents. Be sure to check out the vibrant murals and street art that adorn the city’s walls too.


No visit to downtown Orlando is complete without a visit to the Thornton Park District. This eclectic neighborhood is known for its bohemian vibe, tree-lined streets, and unique shops and boutiques. Enjoy a leisurely brunch at one of the charming cafes, browse the independent stores for unique finds, and soak up the vibrant atmosphere.


If you’re a sports fan, downtown Orlando has you covered. Catch a basketball game at the Amway Center, home to the Orlando Magic, or head to the Exploria Stadium to cheer on the Orlando City Soccer Club. The energetic atmosphere in these venues is truly infectious.


End your day of exploration with a visit to Wall Street Plaza, a lively entertainment complex with a selection of bars and restaurants. Whether you’re looking for a casual drink with friends or an energetic night out, Wall Street Plaza offers a variety of options to suit all tastes.


With its blend of history, art, entertainment, and outdoor spaces, downtown Orlando will captivate and inspire you. Soak in the vibrant atmosphere as you explore the unique charms of this dynamic city center.


Visiting Iconic Landmarks

Downtown Orlando is home to several iconic landmarks that showcase the city’s rich history and unique character. These landmarks are a must-visit for anyone exploring the area.


One of the most recognizable landmarks in downtown Orlando is the Orlando City Hall. With its striking architecture and beautiful landscaping, it serves as a symbolic representation of the city’s vibrant spirit. Take a moment to admire the grandeur of the building and snap a photo in front of it.


Another must-see landmark is the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. This state-of-the-art venue hosts a variety of concerts, Broadway shows, and cultural events throughout the year. Experience the magic of live performances and immerse yourself in the vibrant arts scene of downtown Orlando.


No visit to downtown Orlando would be complete without a trip to the iconic Orange County Regional History Center. Housed in a historic courthouse, this museum offers a fascinating look into the region’s past. Explore exhibits that showcase the city’s journey from its early beginnings to its modern-day transformation.


If you’re looking for a touch of natural beauty, visit the Harry P. Leu Gardens. This lush oasis spans 50 acres and is home to beautiful gardens, winding trails, and a charming historic home. Take a leisurely stroll through the gardens and enjoy the tranquil surroundings.


The historic Church Street Station, mentioned earlier, is not only an entertainment complex but also a landmark in its own right. With its vintage charm and vibrant nightlife, it has been a gathering place for locals and visitors for decades. Enjoy the lively atmosphere, dine at a restaurant, or catch a show at one of the venues.


No discussion of landmarks in downtown Orlando would be complete without mentioning ICON Orlando, formerly known as the Orlando Eye. This towering observation wheel offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city. Take a ride and marvel at the stunning vistas as you soar above the cityscape.


Lastly, make sure to visit Lake Eola Park and its famous fountain, mentioned earlier in the guide. This peaceful oasis is a beloved landmark in downtown Orlando and a favorite spot for locals to relax and unwind. Take a walk around the lake, enjoy the beautiful scenery, and perhaps even witness a stunning sunset.


Visiting these iconic landmarks will not only provide an opportunity to appreciate the rich history and culture of downtown Orlando but also create lasting memories of your time in this enchanting city center.


Enjoying Shopping and Dining Experiences

Downtown Orlando is a haven for shopaholics and food enthusiasts alike, offering a wide range of shopping and dining experiences to satisfy all tastes and preferences.


For fashionistas and trendsetters, visit the bustling Thornton Park District. This vibrant neighborhood is home to a variety of boutique shops and fashion-forward stores. Browse the racks for unique clothing pieces, accessories, and jewelry to add to your wardrobe.


If you’re in search of unique gifts, head to Church Street Market. This open-air bazaar is a treasure trove of local artisans, vendors, and craftspeople offering handmade goods, artwork, and more. From handmade jewelry to one-of-a-kind home decor, you’re sure to find something special.


If you prefer a more traditional shopping experience, look no further than the charming boutiques and shops along Park Avenue in Winter Park. Just a short drive from downtown Orlando, this upscale shopping district offers a variety of high-end fashion, specialty stores, and art galleries.


When it comes to dining, downtown Orlando has an incredible array of culinary options to tantalize your taste buds. From upscale restaurants to casual eateries, there is something to suit every palate.


For the ultimate food adventure, head to the Church Street District. This area is home to a diverse array of dining options, ranging from international cuisines to classic American fare. Whether you’re in the mood for a juicy steak, fresh seafood, or vegetarian delights, you’ll find it here.


The Thornton Park District is another dining hotspot, featuring a mix of trendy cafes, gourmet restaurants, and cozy eateries. Indulge in farm-to-table cuisine, sip craft cocktails, and savor flavors that will leave you wanting more.


Don’t forget to explore the vibrant food scene at the East End Market. This culinary hub is a gathering place for local chefs, food artisans, and passionate producers. Sample artisanal chocolates, enjoy a freshly brewed coffee, or indulge in a delicious farm-to-table brunch.


For a taste of international flavors, visit Mills 50 District. This vibrant neighborhood is known for its diverse range of restaurants serving cuisines from around the world. From Vietnamese pho to Cuban sandwiches and Korean barbeque, your taste buds will travel the globe.


From shopping for unique finds to indulging in delectable dishes, downtown Orlando offers an unforgettable shopping and dining experience. Embark on a culinary adventure or find the perfect item to take home as a memento of your visit.


Discovering the Arts and Culture Scene

Downtown Orlando boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene that is sure to captivate and inspire visitors. From museums and galleries to live performances and street art, there is no shortage of creative expressions to explore.


Start your cultural journey at the Orlando Museum of Art. With its diverse collection of artworks spanning centuries and continents, this museum offers a comprehensive look at various artistic movements. From classical masterpieces to contemporary works, you’ll find something to pique your interest.


For a more immersive experience, visit the CityArts gallery. This dynamic space showcases the talent of local artists with rotating exhibitions that cover a wide range of mediums and styles. Take some time to admire the artwork and support the local art community.


As you explore the streets of downtown Orlando, be sure to keep an eye out for the vibrant street art that adorns building walls and alleyways. These captivating murals showcase the creativity and talent of local artists while adding a colorful and unique touch to the cityscape.


In addition to traditional visual arts, downtown Orlando is also home to a thriving performing arts scene. The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts hosts a variety of concerts, Broadway shows, and cultural events throughout the year. Check their schedule to catch a mesmerizing performance.


For a more intimate live music experience, head to The Social or The Abbey. These popular venues showcase a diverse range of local and national musicians, providing an intimate setting for music lovers to enjoy live performances.


As a hub for creativity and innovation, downtown Orlando also hosts several art festivals and events throughout the year. The annual Orlando Fringe Festival is a must-see, featuring a wide range of theater, music, and visual arts performances. This festival celebrates the diversity and talent of the local arts community.


Don’t forget to explore the unique galleries and studios in the Mills 50 District. This eclectic neighborhood is a haven for art lovers, boasting a collection of galleries and working spaces where you can discover emerging talents and contemporary art.


Immerse yourself in the arts and culture scene of downtown Orlando, and you’ll be rewarded with a world of creativity, inspiration, and beauty.


Exploring Outdoor Spaces and Parks

Downtown Orlando is not just a concrete jungle – it also boasts a variety of outdoor spaces and parks where you can relax, unwind, and enjoy the natural beauty of the area.


A visit to Lake Eola Park is a must when exploring outdoor spaces in downtown Orlando. This serene oasis is centered around a beautiful lake where you can take a leisurely stroll along the waterfront or rent a swan-shaped paddleboat for a unique experience. Enjoy a picnic on the grassy areas or simply find a bench to sit back and soak in the peaceful surroundings.


For a more immersive nature experience, head to the Harry P. Leu Gardens. This stunning 50-acre botanical garden features a diverse collection of plants, flowers, and themed gardens. Take a leisurely walk along the winding paths, explore the butterfly garden, or simply find a quiet spot to relax and enjoy the tranquil ambiance.


If you’re a fan of outdoor art, make sure to visit the Sculpture Center at CityArts. This unique outdoor venue features an ever-changing collection of sculptures and art installations. Take your time to explore the various pieces and appreciate the creativity and talent of the artists.


For those who enjoy active pursuits, downtown Orlando offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. The Orlando Urban Trail is a scenic multi-use path that winds through downtown, providing pedestrians and cyclists with a safe and enjoyable way to explore the city.


If you’re a sports enthusiast, visit the Camping World Stadium, home to various sporting and entertainment events. Catch a football game or a concert, and experience the electric atmosphere as you cheer on your favorite team.


Lastly, don’t forget to discover the charm of Lake Ivanhoe. This beautiful lake is located just outside of downtown Orlando and offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Take a walk along the waterfront, enjoy the scenic views, or rent a kayak or paddleboard to explore the lake’s serene waters.


With its parks, gardens, and outdoor spaces, downtown Orlando provides a refreshing escape for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.


Experiencing Nightlife and Entertainment

When the sun goes down, downtown Orlando comes alive with a vibrant nightlife and a plethora of entertainment options to suit every taste and preference.


Start your evening by exploring the Church Street District, a hub for nightlife in downtown Orlando. This lively area is filled with bars, clubs, and restaurants offering a variety of experiences. Dance the night away to live music, grab a craft cocktail, or simply mingle with locals and fellow visitors.


For those looking for a more laid-back evening, the Thornton Park District is the place to be. This eclectic neighborhood offers a charming blend of neighborhood bars, wine bars, and patio lounges. Enjoy a relaxing drink under the stars or indulge in a cozy wine tasting experience.


For a unique and immersive nightlife experience, visit the Orlando Improv Comedy Club. This popular venue hosts a variety of comedy shows, bringing laughter and entertainment to downtown Orlando. Sit back, relax, and enjoy a night of laughter and comedic talent.


If you’re a fan of live music, don’t miss a trip to the Abbey. This intimate venue showcases local and national musicians, providing an up-close and personal experience with various genres of music. From acoustic performances to energetic bands, the Abbey offers something for every music lover.


Downtown Orlando is also home to beautifully restored theaters that offer a diverse range of performances. The Mad Cow Theatre and the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts host a variety of shows, including plays, musicals, and dance performances. Immerse yourself in the world of performing arts and witness the magic of live entertainment.


For a memorable and unique experience, consider taking a nighttime helicopter tour. See the stunning lights of downtown Orlando from above and capture breathtaking views of the city’s skyline. This exhilarating adventure will leave you with incredible memories.


Whether you’re looking for a lively night out on the town or a more relaxed evening of entertainment, downtown Orlando has it all. With its vibrant nightlife scene and diverse range of entertainment options, you’re guaranteed to find something to suit your style and preferences.


Attending Events and Festivals

Attending events and festivals is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the vibrant energy and cultural diversity of downtown Orlando. Throughout the year, the city hosts a variety of exciting events that cater to different interests and passions.


One of the most anticipated events in downtown Orlando is the Orlando Fringe Festival. Held annually, this 10-day event features a diverse range of theater, music, dance, and visual arts performances. With hundreds of shows to choose from, you’re sure to find something that piques your interest and leaves you wanting more.


During the holiday season, downtown Orlando comes alive with the spirit of Christmas at the annual Tree Lighting Celebration at Lake Eola Park. Witness as the towering tree adorned with thousands of lights is illuminated, signaling the start of the festive season. Enjoy live entertainment, food vendors, and a magical atmosphere as the park is transformed into a winter wonderland.


The Florida Film Festival is another must-attend event for movie buffs and cinephiles. Hosted by the Enzian Theater, this prestigious festival showcases a diverse selection of films, including independent features, documentaries, and short films. Immerse yourself in the world of cinema and discover hidden gems from talented filmmakers.


Downtown Orlando is also home to a variety of cultural festivals that celebrate different traditions and cuisines. The FusionFest is a multicultural celebration that highlights the diversity of the city through music, dance, food, and art. Experience the richness of different cultures and embrace the spirit of unity and inclusivity.


Throughout the year, downtown Orlando hosts various music festivals that cater to different genres and tastes. From the Orlando Jazz Festival to the Electric Daisy Carnival, music enthusiasts can enjoy live performances by renowned artists and immerse themselves in the infectious energy of these events.


Don’t miss the opportunity to attend the Downtown Food & Wine Fest, where you can indulge in delectable dishes from local restaurants and sample fine wines. This culinary extravaganza is perfect for gastronomy enthusiasts looking to savor the flavors of the city’s vibrant food scene.


Attending events and festivals in downtown Orlando allows you to experience the city in a whole new light. From cultural celebrations to live performances and culinary delights, these events showcase the creativity, talent, and diversity that make downtown Orlando a truly remarkable destination.


Taking Day Trips from Downtown Orlando

While downtown Orlando offers a plethora of attractions and experiences, it’s also conveniently located near several captivating destinations that are perfect for day trips. Take a break from the city and explore the surrounding areas to add even more excitement to your visit.


One popular day trip option is a visit to the charming city of Winter Park, located just a short drive from downtown Orlando. Known for its picturesque Park Avenue, lined with upscale shops, art galleries, and delicious restaurants, Winter Park exudes a laid-back elegance. Explore the Morse Museum, home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, or take a scenic boat tour along the Winter Park Chain of Lakes.


If you’re seeking an adrenaline rush, head to one of the thrilling theme parks located in the vicinity of downtown Orlando. Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld Orlando are all within easy reach. Spend the day exploring magical lands, braving exhilarating rides, and creating unforgettable memories.


For nature lovers, a visit to the Wekiwa Springs State Park is a must. Located just north of downtown Orlando, this gorgeous park offers opportunities for hiking, canoeing, and swimming in the crystal-clear springs. Immerse yourself in Florida’s natural beauty and enjoy a day surrounded by lush greenery and wildlife.


If you’re a history buff, take a trip to St. Augustine, the oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States. Explore the historic fort, stroll along the cobblestone streets of the Old Town, and soak in the rich heritage of this charming city that boasts a vibrant Spanish influence.


An alternative day trip option is a visit to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Discover the wonders of space exploration, learn about NASA’s past and future missions, and even witness a rocket launch if you’re lucky. Explore interactive exhibits, see the iconic space shuttle Atlantis, and experience the thrill of being an astronaut for a day.


These are just a few examples of the many day trip possibilities from downtown Orlando. Whether you’re seeking culture, adventure, nature, or history, you’ll find plenty of exciting destinations to explore just a short distance away.


Tips and Recommendations for Visitors

As you plan your visit to downtown Orlando, here are some helpful tips and recommendations to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience:

  • Plan your visit: Research the attractions and events happening during your visit to downtown Orlando. Check if there are any special exhibitions or festivals that you don’t want to miss.
  • Stay hydrated: Florida’s warm climate can be intense, especially during the summer months. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day and protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen and a hat.
  • Wear comfortable shoes: Downtown Orlando is best explored on foot, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes that will allow you to walk around and explore without discomfort.
  • Use public transportation: Consider using public transportation or rideshare services when navigating downtown Orlando. It can be more convenient and cost-effective than driving and parking.
  • Try the local cuisine: Downtown Orlando is home to a diverse range of culinary delights. Don’t be afraid to explore local restaurants and try unique dishes that showcase the flavors of the region.
  • Be mindful of peak hours: Downtown Orlando can get crowded during peak hours, especially on weekends. Plan your visits to popular attractions and dining spots accordingly to avoid long wait times.
  • Stay informed about safety: Like any urban area, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and take general safety precautions. Keep your belongings secure and be cautious when walking alone at night.
  • Check for discounts and deals: Before visiting attractions or dining establishments, check for any available discounts or special offers. Many places in downtown Orlando offer discounted tickets or happy hour specials.
  • Be respectful of the community: Downtown Orlando is a vibrant and diverse community. Respect the local culture, traditions, and the environment. Dispose of trash properly and follow any rules or regulations at parks and public spaces.
  • Enjoy the local entertainment: Take advantage of the live music scene, theater shows, and cultural events happening in downtown Orlando. Immerse yourself in the local entertainment scene and support local artists and performers.

By following these tips and recommendations, you’ll be well-prepared to make the most of your visit to downtown Orlando and create memories that will last a lifetime.



Downtown Orlando offers a vibrant and diverse experience that combines history, culture, entertainment, and natural beauty. Whether you’re exploring iconic landmarks, indulging in shopping and dining experiences, immersing yourself in the arts and culture scene, or enjoying outdoor spaces and parks, there is something for everyone in this dynamic city center.


From the picturesque Lake Eola Park to the lively Church Street District, downtown Orlando captivates visitors with its unique blend of modernity and historic charm. The city’s thriving arts and culture scene, with its museums, galleries, and street art, showcases the creativity and talent of local artists.


Downtown Orlando’s dining scene is a gastronomic delight, offering a range of options from trendy cafes to upscale restaurants. And when the sun goes down, the city comes alive with a vibrant nightlife and entertainment options that cater to all tastes.


For those looking to venture beyond downtown Orlando, there are plenty of day trip opportunities to explore nearby attractions such as Winter Park, theme parks, nature parks, and historic sites. These excursions enhance your visit and provide a well-rounded experience of the region.


As you plan your visit, remember to stay hydrated, wear comfortable shoes, and take advantage of public transportation options. Be respectful of the local community and make sure to support local businesses and artists.


In conclusion, downtown Orlando is a destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a history buff, a food lover, an art enthusiast, or an adventure seeker, this vibrant city center will leave you with unforgettable memories and a desire to return for more.