For those who are looking to escape to from the typical tourist areas of Florida, the downtown Orlando area has a great deal to offer.
What to Do
Orange Avenue is the main route through downtown Orlando. This one-way street, which moves in a southerly direction, is known by the locals for its splendid nightlife and tall office buildings. In fact, a variety of magnificent high rises characterize the downtown Orlando area. These include the Bank of America Tower, which is an amazing 408 feet tall and 29 stories high. Taller still is the Orange County Courthouse, which stands at 417 feet and is 24 stories and the SunTrust Center Tower that is 441 feet tall and 32 stories high.
Other main roads through the downtown Orlando are include Central Boulevard, Hughey Avenue, Magnolia Avenue, and Colonial Drive, which is also SR 50. Interstate 4 and Toll SR 408, or the East-West Expressway, are the two main highways.
Perhaps the most recognized urban region of downtown Orlando is the Central Business District. In addition to its skyscrapers, a wide variety of nightclubs can be found here. For example, the recently opened and popular Club Paris nightclub, which was named for Paris Hilton, is located here. So, too, is Blue Room, Rhythm & Flow, Bar Orlando, and Church Street Station.
On the ground level of tri-level Church Street Station, guests can enjoy a visit to Chillers. Here, top 40’s music is played while guests enjoy a unique frozen drink. The mid-level features Big Belly Brewery. Here, guests kick back with barrels of peanuts and other bar foods. On the top floor, guests can enjoy watching the night sky, as well as the beautiful Orlando skyline, as they listen to live reggae music.
The Wall Street Plaza in downtown Orlando alone offers 6 different nightclubs and restaurants. The Wall Street Catina has outdoor seating and a great atmosphere for enjoying a cocktail. At One-Eyed Jacks, guests can enjoy the dance scene. Next door is the Loaded Hog, which has a cozy, intimate setting. For a cup of coffee and unique snacks, guests can go across from the Plaza to The Globe. While here, they can enjoy listening to the tunes from Tuk Tuk and Slingapoures, which are attached nightclubs. Each alternates between live music and a DJ with techno, house, and hip-hop music. In all, more than 40 restaurants, bars, and nightclubs can be found here within a 3-4 block radius of Orange Avenue and Central Avenue.
TD Waterhouse Centre, which is an 18,000 seat arena, can also be found in downtown Orlando. It is home to the Orlando Predators Arena Football League team as well as the Orlando Magic NBA team. The SAK Comedy Club is also in downtown Orlando and provides improvisational shows appropriate for the entire family. To enjoy some of the nations top comedians, visitors to downtown Orlando can also stop in at the Improve Comedy Club located on Church Street.
Where to Park
The majority of the streets in downtown Orlando have metered parking during the day. These meters are not, however, enforced after 6pm or on weekends. In addition, the area has many city-run parking garages, such as the Library Garage and the Central Parking Garage. Privately operated lots, which typically cost a flat $5 fee for the evening, can also be found on nights and weekends. It is important to park in only legal spaces, however, because downtown Orlando does have very active and aggressive tow truck companies.
There are two cycle rickshaw companies available in downtown Orlando. While there is no fee to ride, a $2-5 gratuity is customary. There are also many taxis providing curbside service. It is important to note that the Orlando Police Department has been recently closing Orange Avenue to all traffic after 1:00 am on weekends in order to increase safety. In addition, construction projects also periodically cause roads to be closed.