Downtown Orlando: City District and Parramore
Orlando is best known for theme parks and attractions, but they only tell part of our story. The rest of the tale unfolds in distinctive neighborhoods, towns and districts throughout the area, where you’ll discover out-of-this-world dining, unique nightlife and entertainment, and compelling culture — including the city’s core, downtown Orlando, aka City District and Parramore in the Orlando Main Streets program. See why downtown is a local favorite and a place you’ll want to experience every time you visit the Theme Park Capital of the World!
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Getting to Know Orlando's City District and Parramore
City District’s history can be traced to the mid-19th century, with Orlando officially incorporating as a town in 1875. We gained full-fledged city status in 1885, followed shortly thereafter by the arrival of the historic Atlantic Coast Line Railroad and the debut of the Church Street entertainment area, which now hosts some of downtown’s most popular dining and nightlife.
Learn more: Eat & Drink in Orlando
In those early days, Orlando had little to offer outside of cattle and citrus — but that all changed when Walt Disney chose us as the focal point of his company’s theme park empire.
Today, City District and Parramore have award-winning chefs, sizzling nightlife, professional sports teams, a state-of-the-art performing arts center and many other reasons to visit — including fun recreational opportunities, live performances and more at the centrally located Lake Eola Park — and it’s all within easy driving distance of our main tourism districts.
For that matter, why not book a stay here and really explore everything the area has to offer? Top downtown hotels include the art-infused Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando and brand-new AC Hotel by Marriott Orlando, both of which feature rooftop terraces with stunning views of the surrounding city. And at less than 30 minutes from our main tourism districts, not to mention immediately adjacent to hip Orlando Main Street districts like Mills 50, Ivanhoe Village Main Street and College Park Main Street and minutes from Winter Park, downtown can be an ideal base of operations for all your Orlando adventures.
Learn more: Places to Stay in Downtown Orlando
To make the most of your City District visit, stop by the city’s official visitor center, Discover Downtown. Conveniently located on the district’s main drag, Orange Avenue, it’s a one-stop shop for everything you need to know about the area, including info on events, attractions, arts, dining, lodging, transportation, parking, and downtown’s complimentary LYMMO bus service. You can also stock up on one-of-a-kind Orlando souvenirs from local makers and brands, and get an “authentic Orlando” selfie at the famous DTO street installation!
Learn more: Downtown Orlando Virtual Tour
Dining in Orlando’s City District and Parramore
City District and Parramore boast numerous restaurants that can satisfy even the most demanding gourmets. For example, Artisan’s Table in City District’s Church Street area focuses on seasonally inspired food and beverages, while Reyes Mezcaleria in downtown’s North Quarter specializes in authentic Mexican creations from Food Network favorite Chef Wendy Lopez.
Learn more: Hispanic and Latino History & Culture
Other dining points of interest in the immediate downtown area include DoveCote Restaurant and The Boheme, the latter of which is inside the gorgeous, art-filled Grand Bohemian Hotel. Downtown even has something for motorheads courtesy of regular car shows at Ace Cafe Orlando, the only U.S. outpost of the famous London original.
Learn more: Downtown Orlando Restaurants & Entertainment
For something even wilder, grab a bite and take in a drag show at Church Street’s Hamburger Mary’s Bar & Grille. Or, head to HÄOS on Church for gourmet pub food and sizzling burlesque entertainment.
Ample dining and shopping opportunities can also be found in the Parramore area, which is the city’s only commercial National Register Historic District. Top eateries here include Foodies Cafe and Nikki’s Place Southern Cuisine, while Chloe Lane Embroidery, Neu Blooms, Palmer Feed Store and Popcorn Junkie are some of Parramore’s most popular retailers.
Nightlife & Entertainment in Orlando’s City District and Parramore
Most adult visitors will be thrilled to hear that City District and Parramore have a couple of breweries to choose from, including Motorworks Brewing on Orange Avenue and Broken Strings Brewery in Parramore. A second Parramore brewery, Big Storm Brewing Company, is connected to the Amway Center, and even more await in nearby neighborhoods such as The Milk District and Ivanhoe Village Main Street.
Learn more: Orlando Breweries
If you love a good block party, you’ll adore downtown Orlando’s Wall St. Plaza. Comprised of seven themed bars connected by a central, open-air courtyard, this nightlife hub keeps the celebration going every night of the week. It really shines on high-spirited holidays like St. Patrick’s Day, Fat Tuesday and others.
Learn more: Orlando Nightlife
Downtown also knows how to get down, particularly at popular nightclubs and concert venues such as The Beacham, Independent Bar, EVE Orlando, Vyce Lounge and The Social. And soon, Orlando’s famous Parliament House will move into new downtown digs. What’s more, historic Tinker Field in Parramore’s adjacent West Lakes District hosts Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) Orlando every November, showcasing the full spectrum of electronic dance music in an epic, three-day celebration.
You’ll find numerous nightlife hotspots in the Church Street area, too — and none offer a better vantage point than Skylounge at Amway Center. Located on the sixth floor of the home of the NBA’s Orlando Magic and ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears, this unique lounge provides unparalleled views of downtown.
Adjacent to Lake Eola Park, Stardust Lounge and its upstairs neighbor, Aku Aku Tiki Bar, are other local favorites. Don’t skip City District’s many speakeasies, either, including The Courtesy, Hanson’s Shoe Repair, Mathers Social Gathering, The Treehouse and The Woods. Just make sure to check their social channels for any required passwords before your visit.
Learn more: Orlando Speakeasies
Arts & Culture in Orlando’s City District and Parramore
Part of City District’s landscape since 2014, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is the crown jewel of Orlando’s arts scene. At this venue’s three indoor theaters and outdoor plaza, you can catch Broadway shows, performances by the Orlando Ballet, top musicians and comedians, cultural festivals, and much more. Downtown’s Amway Center and Camping World Stadium also host a robust selection of live concerts every year.
Learn more: Orlando Arts and Culture
Need a laugh? SAK Comedy Lab has you covered with live improv featuring lots of opportunities for audience participation. And for pure entertainment, test your wits at The Great Escape Room, downtown’s only escape-style attraction.
Art aficionados will also want to visit the aforementioned Grand Bohemian Hotel’s eclectic art collection and CityArts, which offers free admission and hosts multiple art galleries. Nearby, you can explore 12,000 years of Central Florida history at the Orange County Regional History Center and Heritage Square Park, a Smithsonian Institution affiliate that formerly served as Orange County’s courthouse.
You can dive into more of Orlando’s past at the Wells’Built Museum of African American History and Culture in Parramore. Originally constructed in 1921 as a hotel that catered to African-American travelers in the then-segregated South, the building is named after its founder, Dr. William M. Wells, and features memorabilia of Orlando’s African-American community, displays of the Civil Rights movement, and African art and artifacts.
Learn more: African-American History & Culture
City District also hosts numerous high-profile cultural celebrations. In October, IMMERSE takes over 10 city blocks to send you on a journey of unexpected creative encounters, epic performances and interactive art, including contributions from Orlando Ballet, Orlando Philharmonic, Central Florida Community Arts, and hundreds of other artists from Central Florida and beyond.
Also held in October, Come Out With Pride takes place at Lake Eola Park. Everyone is invited to join the celebration, which encourages LGBTQ+ citizens to live openly and with pride. The festival’s main event is its parade, which features nearly 150 groups spanning a 1-mile route through downtown Orlando, but there is much more to enjoy during this day of love — including the concluding fireworks.
Learn more: LGBTQ+ in Orlando
During Thanksgiving weekend in November, FusionFest brings the world to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts’ outdoor Seneff Arts Plaza — literally! Enjoy a cornucopia of dishes from around the globe, plus interactive experiences and contests celebrating worldwide fashion, music, dance, short films and more. Check our Events Calendar to see what’s happening in City District and Parramore during your next visit.
Sports & Recreation in Orlando’s City District and Parramore
Sports are a key facet of City District and Parramore’s character thanks to the Orlando Magic and Orlando Solar Bears at the Amway Center, plus MLS’ Orlando City Soccer Club and NWSL’s Orlando Pride at Exploria Stadium. Adjacent to Parramore, the West Lakes District hosts NCAA football games at Camping World Stadium, including the Vrbo Citrus Bowl and Cheez-It Bowl. You can also attend numerous special soccer (or European football) matches at Exploria Stadium featuring teams from all over the world.
For pure relaxation, take a break at bucolic Lake Eola Park, which is technically in Orlando’s Thornton Park District but immediately adjacent to City District. Stretch out on the banks or enjoy a stroll along the mile-long paved walking trail that circles the park’s gorgeous namesake lake. You can also frequently catch live music at the Walt Disney Amphitheater — for free, no less — as well as special events such as the biannual Fiesta in the Park art shows and the weekly Orlando Farmers Market on Sundays.
Lake Eola Park has unique examples of authentic Asian architecture, too. The most visible is its red ting, or one-story structure similar to a pagoda, which honors Orlando’s sister-city relationship with Guilin, China, and was built in Shanghai. You can also view a Japanese-style rock garden that was gifted to Orlando by Taipen, Taiwan.
While you’re there, hop aboard one the park’s rentable, swan-shaped paddleboats for a self-guided tour of Lake Eola, including an up-close look at the central Linton E. Allen Memorial Fountain. To hear many locals tell it, you haven’t really experienced Orlando until you’ve taken one of these beauties for a spin — and you’ll only find them in downtown Orlando!