CPG’s Insider Guide to After-Hours I/ITSEC

When the exhibit hall closes at 6:00pm and the meetings come to an end, where should a convention attendee go to unwind? In case you’re not in the mood to visit one of Orlando’s world-class theme parks, or the hustle and bustle of International Drive isn’t your thing, there are plenty of local spots worth a visit. Orlando is more than its tourist attractions; it’s a vibrant and diverse community full of good food, cultural sites, and places to relax and catch your breath.

Below are some recommendations we collected from our CPG team members for the best places to enjoy a little down time.

Immediate Area

Peabody Ducks, Orlando I/ITSECThe Orange County Convention Center is located in Orlando’s tourist corridor. The main street is International Drive and has all the tourist necessities you could think of, from shopping destinations and IMAX movie theaters to upside-down houses filled with curiosities to roller coasters. Nonetheless, International Drive and close-by Sand Lake Road are dining hot spots in Orlando. Whether you’re in the mood to be spoiled, or looking to try a new type of cuisine, you’re never far from amazing restaurants.

Starting Points:

Hidden Gems:

Downtown Orlando, Lake Eola (I/ITSEC)

Trendy Spots

Orlando has plenty to offer in the way of metropolitan wining and dining. A great spot to check out is Downtown Orlando, with a variety of restaurants, music venues, theaters, bars, and parks. Just north of Orlando is Winter Park, with its historic downtown featuring some of the area’s best-known restaurants, lounges, and shopping.

Downtown Orlando:

  • The best source for dining, shopping, arts, sports, and nightlife in Downtown is the official website. A more precise list of restaurants can be found here.
  • Take in a show or sporting event at the Amway Center, Florida Citrus Bowl, Mad Cow Theater, or the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center.
  • Run, stroll, or picnic around Lake Eola Park in the heart of Downtown. During the day, explore the lake by renting one of Eola’s classic swan boats; every night at 8:00pm and 9:00pm, see the fountain light up in sync with your favorite oldies.
  • Visit the historic neighborhood of Thornton Park for even more trendy dining options and classically Floridian architecture.

Dining in Winter Park, close to Orlando (I/ITSEC)Downtown Winter Park:

  • The best place to experience chic yet traditional Winter Park is by exploring the shops, restaurants, and museums of Park Avenue.
  • For some of the highest-rated restaurants in the area, take a look at Urban Spoon for a complete list. Not to be missed are Irish mainstay Fiddler’s Green, lounge-bar-restaurant Luma, the new Italian favorite Prato, and local-sourcing experts Cask & Larder and its sister restaurant The Ravenous Pig.
  • Not far from Winter Park is Maitland’s Enzian Theater, featuring a cinema restaurant, outside bar, and art house movies.
  • Walk around the stunning historic campus of Rollins College or see an outdoor movie at Central Park.

Day Trips

Coming early or staying late? Consider some of these locations for great day trips:

  • Two of Central Florida’s most popular getaways are Cocoa Beach or New Smyrna Beach – so close that some of our employees live there!
  • An hour south or Orlando is Lake Wales, a quaint town home to the beautiful Bok Tower Gardens. Don’t miss their special holiday programming!
  • Visit one of Central Florida’s most pristine springs and go tubing, kayaking, fishing, or hiking at Wekiva Springs State Park.
  • Winter is citrus season and at Showcase of Citrus you can pick (and ship home!) a wide variety of tangy fruits.

About the Author:


Cognitive Performance Group, LLC is a woman-owned small business with offices in Orlando, Florida, and Cleveland, Ohio. It was founded by Dr. Karol G. Ross, Jennifer K. Phillips, and William A. Ross. The three CPG Principals developed the concept for a company to support cognitive performance improvement in industry and government. (more...)

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