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.
The 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.
- For a list of local Diner’s Choice award-winning restaurants, visit the I-Drive / Sand Lake section of OpenTable to make a reservation today.
- For attractions, shopping, and nightlife, pay a visit to I-Drive’s official site.
- An unassuming strip of stores and restaurants houses one of the more unique restaurants in Orlando such as the Nile Ethiopian Restaurant.
- For the best sushi happy hour on this side of town, be sure to visit Aki Sushi Restaurant.
- A tradition that must be seen is the nightly march at 5:00pm performed by the Peabody hotel’s resident ducks.
- For a good sing-a-long time, stop by Howl at the Moon – but not if you plan to get up early the next day!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.