8 Ways to Pair Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month With Attractions
With more than 100 restaurants offering three-course, prix-fixe dinners for just $35 per person, Visit Orlando's Magical Dining® Month, sponsored by American Express, provides plenty of opportunities for incredible dates and fun times with friends and family ... then again, so do Orlando's attractions. Pair them together for the ultimate night out in Orlando — including these ideas!
1. Disney Springs + 6 Magical Dining Month Restaurants
Disney Springs in Orlando
Shopping, free live shows and music, movies, bowling, fun attractions, and complimentary parking and admission make Disney Springs at Walt Disney World® Resort a must-visit for Orlando locals and visitors alike — but it's the dining options that really "wow." Six of the entertainment nucleus' eateries are Magical Dining Month participants for 2018, each with a distinct three-course menu and dining experience.
Head to Bongo's Cuban Café for a lively, musical atmosphere straight out of Havana, or Morimoto Asia for Asian and Pacific Rim cuisine and a stunningly beautiful dining room. Maria & Enzo's Ristorante, one of Disney Springs' newest additions, tempts Italian cuisine lovers, and at the upscale, sleek and hip STK, enjoy steaks, seafood and ooey, gooey desserts while sipping sumptuous cocktails and grooving to the beats from a live DJ.
Paddlefish, built inside a picturesque riverboat, scores major points for its sunset views and seafood. Last but not least, Wine Bar George is another recent addition that will woo wine-lovers with its seemingly endless selection of vino.
2. Universal CityWalk + 4 Magical Dining Month Restaurants
Universal CityWalk in Orlando
Slip into Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando and escape to the Mediterranean, where opera singers serenade nightly on the outdoor piazza and floating gondolas dot the waterways. Enjoy Magical Dining Month offerings at the hotel's Mama Della's Ristorante, known for its authentic Italian gastronomy and strolling singers, then hop on the free water taxi and head to Universal CityWalk at Universal Orlando® Resort for any number of nightlife diversions.
Other Magical Dining Month options at Universal Orlando Resort with quick access to Universal CityWalk include The Kitchen at Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando, Islands Dining Room at Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando, and Amatista Cookhouse at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando.
The entertainment lineup at Universal CityWalk includes concerts at Hard Rock Live, Blue Man Group shows, karaoke with a full band at Rising Star, dueling piano players at Pat O'Brien's, and nearly a dozen bars and nightclubs that will have you dancing and partying the night away.
3. ICON Orlando 360 + Tapa Toro Tapas Bar & Paella Pit
Step into an air-conditioned capsule on ICON Orlando, the 400-foot observation wheel that towers over International Drive. Tucked between SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium and Madame Tussauds Orlando at the entertainment and dining hub known as ICON Orlando 360, ICON Orlando provides sky-high views of the surrounding area, at times with vistas as far as Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
For dinner, head to one of Orlando's best tapas restaurants, Tapa Toro Tapas Bar & Paella Pit. Here, you can enjoy delicious, authentic Spanish fare, including such Magical Dining Month selections as Wahoo Crudo, Grilled Lamb and Brûléed Crema Catalana.
4. Pointe Orlando + 5 Magical Dining Month Restaurants
B.B. King's Blues Club at Pointe Orlando
From games, bowling and billiards at Main Event Entertainment and mind-blowing exhibits at WonderWorks, to live music at B.B. King's Blues Club and a robust beer selection at The Pub, Pointe Orlando delights as one of Orlando's most bustling and amusing dining and entertainment hubs.
Tackle all of Pointe Orlando's fun diversions after dinner at its five Magical Dining Month restaurants. They include Itta Benna for Southern fare, Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar for award-winning Cuban cuisine and amazing mojitos, Copper Canyon Grill for hearty American, The Oceanaire Seafood Room for an upscale evening inside a swanky ocean liner, or The Capital Grille for legendary steaks and other cuts.
5. Lake Eola Park + 2 Magical Dining Month Restaurants
Lake Eola Park in Downtown Orlando
A meticulously maintained green space in the heart of downtown Orlando, Lake Eola Park hosts many of the city's largest festivals, plus a weekly Farmer's Market every Sunday. Walk the lake's 0.9-mile circumference, hop on a swan-shaped paddleboat, and enjoy a self-guided art walk of massive installations dotting the landscape.
Afterwards, head to one of two nearby Magical Dining Month restaurants, including Soco Thornton Park, which has one of downtown's best patios. The cuisine has an undeniable Southern slant, and Executive Chef Greg Richie isn't afraid to give his artfully plated dishes a modern tilt. Another option is The Stubborn Mule, which features seven iterations of Mule cocktails, plus a bevy of fun, flavorful dishes that are perfect for sharing on date night.
6. Rollins College + 3 Magical Dining Month Restaurants
Luma on Park in Winter Park Near Orlando
Arguably one of the most beautiful places in Winter Park, about 20 minutes from downtown Orlando, Rollins College's campus is perfect for exploration. Visitors are welcome to wander through the 70-acre, lakeside campus to admire the historical architecture, horticulture and outdoor art installations, plus the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, where admission is always free.
Just a short stroll away, Park Avenue is dotted with Magical Dining Month restaurants, including Umi Winter Park for sushi, Prato for rustic Italian, and Luma on Park for modern American served in a chic and sleek milieu. The latter two are operated by local celebrity chef Brandon McGlamery.
7. Maitland + Luke's Kitchen and Bar
Luke's Kitchen and Bar in Maitland Near Orlando
Make the trip to Maitland, about 20 minutes from downtown Orlando, and take a seat inside Luke's Kitchen and Bar, which is McGlamery's third area restaurant. Its Magical Dining Month menu includes such delicious dishes as Deviled Eggs & Braised Bacon and Cast-Iron Trout.
Once your bellies are full, head to the Enzian Theater, Central Florida's iconic art-house movie theater. Or, wander through the gardens and galleries at Art & History Museums — Maitland's Maitland Art Center, home to a magnificent outdoor Mayan chapel with stunning sculptures and meticulously carved floor tiles.
8. Mount Dora + 1921 by Norman Van Aken
1921 by Norman Van Aken in Mount Dora Near Orlando (Photo: Jeffrey Phillips)
Scenic Mount Dora is about 40 minutes from downtown Orlando, but so much awaits on the other side of the route. Explore this quaint town via a Segway tour, discover its canals and waterways by boat, or fly over in a seaplane. Visitors will also delight in a slew of sweet shops along Mount Dora's downtown streets, where you'll also find 1921 by Norman Van Aken.
With American cuisine that often pays homage to Florida's distinct flavors, James Beard winner Norman Van Aken shares many of his favorite dishes on this year's Magical Dining Month menu, including Old Florida Smoked Fish Dip Toast, Russet Potato Gnocchi and Milk Chocolate Panna Cotta.
Kristen Manieri is the founder and editor of Orlando Date Night Guide, a website dedicated to inspiring couples to upgrade their quality time and explore the best of our city.
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