orange87

Is downtown Orlando a tourist destination and is there "nothing to do there?"

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One of my friends from South Florida and I went to a Orlando City Soccer game. After the game we went to Wahlburgers (which sucked by the way). When we were done, my friend suggested we watch a football game at my place (which isn't in Orlando) because (in his words) "there's nothing to do in downtown Orlando." Do you think that's a fair assessment, and if so, should more be done to make downtown Orlando not only a place to live and work, but also a place people go to hang out?

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30 minutes ago, orange87 said:

One of my friends from South Florida and I went to a Orlando City Soccer game. After the game we went to Wahlburgers (which sucked by the way). When we were done, my friend suggested we watch a football game at my place (which isn't in Orlando) because (in his words) "there's nothing to do in downtown Orlando." Do you think that's a fair assessment, and if so, should more be done to make downtown Orlando not only a place to live and work, but also a place people go to hang out?

There's nothing to do there in the sense of tourist attractions (unless you were going to a sports game or show at DPAC). However, for wanting to watch a football game...yeah, there's plenty to do downtown. 

Friday/Saturday nights downtown are a blast and Saturday/Sundays during the day are quite packed. Tons of bars downtown have watch parties for different teams. 

Sounds like he hasn't actually been to Downtown Orlando. Where in Miami would he like to go that's so much better? I don't get people's fascination with Miami. Wynwood is pretty cool but small. South Beach is a tourist trap. Downtown is non-existent. Coconut Grove has a cool vibe but I'd take Orlando. 

Edited by bqknight

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Completely agree.  I stop and chat with lost tourists downtown all the time and like helping with directions but always regret when they ask for tips on what to do.   Swan boats is the go-to but it’s a far drop to #2!   

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Typical Miami response. I can't stand how some of my SoFlo friends who went to UCF acted like we we're on par with Gainsville and Tally essentially. 

I like Miami but until the last few years DT Miami felt like there was only  really tall condo towers with self contained gated parking garages, surrounded by electronic stores and Joyerias. Now I know there was more, it just lacked a cohesive feel and left me realizing how good we have it up here. Now the last few years have spelled record improvements and now there is so much more in general which helps tie the downtown (Brickell specifically) together. South Beach is cool but like mentioned above, a tourist trap and not very local. 

 

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I think an observation tower would be a nice addition to downtown Orlando. It would add something to do and would be cool for our skyline.

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It depends on the age and the interest. First of all, we'll concede I'm a nerd. Having lots of nerdy friends, I show them the History Center and/or the WellsBilt museum; athletic sorts I take over to the Y for swimming or to find some pick-up hoops (I'm a member and there are guest passes.)

Another thing for more sedate folks is a stroll through Thornton Park over to Dickson Azalea Park. Folks are kinda amazed by just how lush the plants are and think walking under the '20's bridge is kinda cool. On the way back, a stop at Maxine's when they've got a singer or Burton's to hang out.

When the great-nephews are around, there's the skate park.

Beyond that, it's the bike trails if they're into it or hop into the car to head to Loch Haven or Winter Park or Rock Springs if they're around for the day.

 

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A few things that have already been discussed here that would add to the “to do” list for outsiders:

- relocating OMA to downtown

- a food hall 

- attracting a luxury hotel brand downtown with some decent convention space 

- a university (I guess we can check off this one next year)

- retail

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Y'all should have went to WOB  on Lake Eola, that place is prolly  my favorite bar in Orlando because of the great view!

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5 minutes ago, prahaboheme said:

A few things that have already been discussed here that would add to the “to do” list for outsiders:

- relocating OMA to downtown

- a food hall 

- attracting a luxury hotel brand downtown with some decent convention space 

- a university (I guess we can check off this one next year)

- retail

For the upscale types, there's the Bosendorfer lounge at the Bohemian complete with piano bar and Kessler's collection of paintings ( there are also galleries downtown.)

I've also taken folks over to Library Central to see authors and other speakers give free talks.

Finally, don't forget we're fortunate to have one of the multiplexes downtown that actually stuck (unlike several other Florida downtowns.)

Edited by spenser1058
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I mean... what do they do for fun?  In addition to what Spenser posted re Wells/History Center ... DTO has just about anything that most people would want.

Live music?  Tanquerays / Caseys
Craft Beer?  WoB / Tap n Grind
Sports?  Harry Buffalo / Graffiti
Games? Joysticks
Movies?  Cobb
Cars?  Ace Cafe
"Unique" drinks?  Pudding Shots at Lizzys, Capri Sun at Basement, Tequila Coffee at Artisans, Campfire at SHOTS
Hookah? Kush
Rooftop?  Latitudes, One80
Patio?  Relax / Ember
Country Bar?  Saddle / Stagger
People Watching?  Anywhere

The only thing we really don't have on weekends (I'm assuming since you mentioned an OCSC game and football) is karaoke and trivia downtown.  But the other 5 nights of the week, it's pretty easy to find.

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Just now, spenser1058 said:

Yay! I knew Andy would take care of the bars! *giggles*

I know my role :shrug:

With that said, outside of [obviously] the craft beer, country bars, and "unique" drinks (and potentially the rooftops), you can easily do any/all of the rest without drinking.  I have many times.

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If you have a lot of time to plan (it sells out minutes after it becomes available each month), the ghost tour at Greenwood Cemetery totally rocks. People are amazed that Orlando really has a past.

2 minutes ago, AndyPok1 said:

I know my role :shrug:

With that said, outside of [obviously] the craft beer, country bars, and "unique" drinks (and potentially the rooftops), you can easily do any/all of the rest without drinking.  I have many times.

Andy is my hero (even if he went to OSU)!

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No sightseeing in downtown Orlando because there's not much to see.

As a place to take a visitor to just hang out and spend the day kicking around and seeing the sights, I hate to say it, but downtown Orlando really is kind of boring.

Still too small.

Hopefully in a couple of years, when MEC, CV and [email protected] are completed, that won't be the case anymore.

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I love downtown Orlando. 

I just wish it had a bowling alley, arcade, shopping or another park besides poop Eola.

I don't drink so it does nothing usually for someone like me who doesn't like or want the bar atmosphere. 

Until downtown Orlando diversifies it's offerings for things to do .....

Better than downtown Tampa though

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39 minutes ago, IAmFloridaBorn said:

I love downtown Orlando. 

I just wish it had a bowling alley, arcade, shopping or another park besides poop Eola.

I don't drink so it does nothing usually for someone like me who doesn't like or want the bar atmosphere. 

Until downtown Orlando diversifies it's offerings for things to do .....

Better than downtown Tampa though

Certainly more non-F&B related recreation would be a huge plus. 

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Offhand, I'd say that Orlando is rapidly falling behind downtown Tampa.

But to be fair, not many downtowns have bonafide attractions. Downtown Orlando is cursed with the "attractions' part. Say "Orlando" and people think attractions.

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Point2Homes compared downtown Orlando w/ downtown Tampa and found 53000 vs 12000 contiguous residents. There's a lot in the pipeline for Tampa but there is for us as well. 

Tampa's downtown is still mostly a ghost town at night. I know, I know, but Tampa's building 50 story buildings! Downtown Tampa's still working on a grocery store and they just lost their theatres at Channelside. Our Publix is more crowded than ever and the Cobb theatres keep plugging along.

If you think verticality defines a successful urban environment, then let's concede that you're never going to like downtown Orlando.

This whole discussion reminds me of the unofficial Disney sites I've followed for 20 years. Every time the prices go up or anything changes they don't like, there's a hue and cry that no one will go to Disney anymore. Meanwhile, here we are 20 years later and attendance keeps growing.

Yogi Berra said it best, "Nobody goes there any more - it's too crowded."

Downtown Orlando is going to be just fine. It will continue to be one of the fastest-growing cores in the Sunbelt for the foreseeable future.

Edited by spenser1058

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45 minutes ago, spenser1058 said:

Point2Homes compared downtown Orlando w/ downtown Tampa and found 53000 vs 12000 contiguous residents. There's a lot in the pipeline for Tampa but there is for us as well. 

Tampa's downtown is still mostly a ghost town at night. I know, I know, but Tampa's building 50 story buildings! Downtown Tampa's still working on a grocery store and they just lost their theatres at Channelside. Our Publix is more crowded than ever and the Cobb theatres keep plugging along.

If you think verticality defines a successful urban environment, then let's concede that you're never going to like downtown Orlando.

This whole discussion reminds me of the unofficial Disney sites I've followed for 20 years. Every time the prices go up or anything changes they don't like, there's a hue and cry that no one will go to Disney anymore. Meanwhile, here we are 20 years later and attendance keeps growing.

Yogi Berra said it best, "Nobody goes there any more - it's too crowded."

Downtown Orlando is going to be just fine. It will continue to be one of the fastest-growing cores in the Sunbelt for the foreseeable future.

Well I agree. Downtown Tampa has nothing on downtown Orlando. It's not even close and I love the city of Tampa as whole.
Downtown Orlando isn't quite as lucky like Tampa to have the water but I rather be downtown.

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Sadly, your friend is right OP. I love our downtown: it’s clean, green, new, and great-looking. But it’s boring if you’re not eating or at a sports game. No shopping mall, no attractions, no vistas, no grand avenues to sightsee or people-watch. Downtown Orlando hasn’t grown up yet, it’s still in its infancy. Creative Village will help, but it’s not our fault our city is so exciting in a place that isn’t downtown. 

Also, someone mentioned DTO is better than Tampa’s CBD. Yeah, for now. Tall buildings aside, what Tampa is building is remarkable. Inside of 5-7 years, Orlando’s downtown won’t hold a candle to Tampa’s. We keep hearing about the Packing District, Magic entertainment complex, the Green District, Under-I parkspace, etc but it’s all talk until it’s built. Tampa isn’t just talking anymore. Once those things are built, it’s over.

Edited by Uncommon

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DT Tampa has WAY more  "stuff to do" but is less vibrant and has less residents actually living DT right now, IMO. 

Tampa has:

  • Riverwalk/Curtis Hixon Park/Cotanchobee Park
  • Tampa Museum of Art
  • Glazer Children's Museum
  • Tampa Bay History Center
  • Florida Museum of Photography
  • Tampa Firefighter/Police Museums
  • Florida Aquarium
  • Straz Center for Performing Arts (similar to what our DPAC will be with multiple venues)
  • Public Library Main Branch right between the Performing Arts Center and the Museum of Art
  • Tampa Theater
  • Convention Center
  • Amelie Arena
  • Channelside entertainment complex with a Bowling Alley
  • Gasparilla Pirate ship dock and American Victory Battleship Museum
  • Cruise Terminal
  • Water Taxi
  • Streetcar/Trolley and Dick Greco Plaza station
  • Bayshore Boulevard

This is all downtown and doesn't even count Ybor attractions (Centro Ybor, Cigar factories, Restaurants/bars/clubs, Theater, etc.) or UT, which is right across the river from DT, and a sight to see itself just for the fabulous architecture, landscaping, and the Plant Museum, and Hyde Park, which is chock full of trendy restaurants/bars/shops.

Edited by dcluley98
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54 minutes ago, dcluley98 said:

DT Tampa has WAY more  "stuff to do" but is less vibrant and has less residents actually living DT right now, IMO. 

Tampa has:

  • Riverwalk/Curtis Hixon Park/Cotanchobee Park
  • Tampa Museum of Art
  • Glazer Children's Museum
  • Tampa Bay History Center
  • Florida Museum of Photography
  • Tampa Firefighter/Police Museums
  • Florida Aquarium
  • Straz Center for Performing Arts
  • Public Library Main Branch right between the Performing Arts Center and the Museum of Art
  • Tampa Theater
  • Convention Center
  • Amelie Arena
  • Channelside entertainment complex with a Bowling Alley
  • Gasparilla Pirate ship and American Victory Battleship Museum
  • Cruise Terminal
  • Water Taxi
  • Streetcar/Trolley and Dick Greco Plaza station
  • Bayshore Boulevard

This is all downtown and doesn't even count Ybor attractions (Centro Ybor, Cigar factories, Restaurants/bars/clubs, Theater, etc.) or UT, which is right across the river from DT, and a sight to see itself just for the fabulous architecture, landscaping, and the Plant Museum, and Hyde Park, which is chock full of trendy restaurants/bars/shops.

Idk if I would consider Channelside Downtown per se, the Selmon express really cuts it off from the CBD.   Lake Eola is a more vibrant park than any in DT Tampa, and Joysticks offers an experience unlike anything in Tampa.  The Tampa Aquarium and the now free streetcar are pretty much the only thing you mention that clearly surpasses anything in or near downtown Orlando.  Our performing arts center is much more of an attraction for example, and DTO also has four great live music venues with the Social, Beacham, The Abbey, and SoundBar (RIP to Firestone), while DT Tampa has none to my knowledge.  Saks Comedy lab has great comedy shows, while Tampa's Improv is in Ybor. I do admit if your combine the surrounding areas Ybor City and Hyde Park are superior to the adjacent neighborhoods to DT Orlando, although Thornton park, College Park and the Milk District all hold their own as unique and trendy spots. 

Regardless St Pete has both cities beat by a mile, but the biggest thing DTO is lacking is museums. If Sunrail ran more often and on the weekends, the museums at  Loch Haven park and Park Ave would be mere minutes away from Downtown and would really bolster Orlando proper as an unique and attractive entity independent of the theme parks.

 

Edited by Naqiy90

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St. Pete’s downtown versus Orlando’s and Tanpa’s downtowns are sort of apples to oranges. I lived in St. Pete for 2 years and although the downtown had a lot going for it, it felt more like a small city’s downtown, like Winter Park or St. Augustine or even St. Pete Beach, as opposed to a central business district. Beach Drive is nice and has beautiful views, cool restaurants, and bars, and the nearby Vinoy Park and beaches are awesome, not to mention the Dali museum and Locale, but outside of that one strip, the downtown is small and not very vibrant or walkable.

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That is fair accessment,  I do agree there is nothing to do in downtown Orlando.

The only attraction I can think of is walking around Lake Eola and that is being generous. 

We are not a strong "placemaking" city.

There are plenty of miss-opportunity here in downtown Orlando.  For example, the front of the DPAC could be transformed into a mellinium park kind of space, the Getrude walk could look like highline but instead it looks like an alley, creating a market place like Ponce City Market, a rooftop obeservation bar and restaurant. Although it is not my kind of museum, they can also throw money at WWE to get their hall of fame down here.

We have 50 to 70 millions visitors per year and if the city would put some effort to get even 5% of them come down to Orlando, that would be great.

 

 

 

Winter Park has more to do than downtown Orlando.  Visiting Rolling college campus, Morse museum, Park Ave, boat tour, quality restaurants.......

 

 

 

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