About Downtown

 

 

 
Orlando's Downtown consists of a smallish nightlife and dining scene that concentrates around Lake Eola as well as a smattering of boutique neighborhoods that each are individually indistinguishable with their own character and culture. The area around Lake Eola can actually be split into two parts; first there is Thornton Park on the east side of the lake at the intersections of Summerlin Avenue and Washington Street. Here you'll find a handful of independent boutiques, two quaint inns, and about six different eateries ranging from sushi to BBQ to seafood, most of which support an active patio culture.

As you travel west along Central Avenue (which boarders Lake Eola) you'll pass another group of reasonably good restaurants, some with lake views. The west side of Lake Eola is where you'll find Wall Street Plaza and Church Street Station, two entertainment districts boasting more restaurants and a very busy (and slightly sophomoric) bar and nightclub scene. The area recently unveiled a new dueling piano bar called Baby Grands. There's also a new state-of-the-art movie theater here with the area's most sought-after screens.

While downtown around Lake Eola surely satisfies, a wander into some of the other downtown districts is recommended. To the north, College Park and Ivanhoe Village (a.k.a Antique District) are definitely the most eclectic and artful of the bunch. Both have lots of diverse boutique shopping and unique cafes and restaurants. Baldwin Park, which sits right on the edge of downtown and Winter Park, is representative of the more organized and cookie-cutter downtown trend with its highly ordered shopping district called New Broad Street which offers a good variety of stores and restaurants.

While Orlando's downtown areas may have its share of issues with homeless people, they have the reputation of being reasonably safe, especially when you move towards the more suburban outlying districts mentioned above. Urban Orlando is certainly not as sprawling as Miami or Manhattan, but that's part of its charm. Downtown visits are highly walkable and very manageable within a short time period.