Weekend City Picks: Orlando

There's more to the unofficial theme park capital of the world than the famous mouse and his castle, so get ready to discover a side of Orlando you don't know.


 Arts & Entertainment 

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

True to its vision, Arts For Every Life, the Dr. Phillips Center is a hub for performance, community outreach, and arts education. The two-block downtown destination includes a 2,700-seat theater, as well as an intimate 300-seat one, and hosts shows from comedian Brian Regan to Broadway’s Book of Mormon and musical acts like Paramore.

Orlando Museum of Art

Founded in 1924, the Museum annually presents 10-12 exhibitions on-site and 13 exhibitions off-site along with award-winning art enrichment programs, unlimited gallery tours, and distinguished lectures.

Orlando Science Center


Experience the gale force winds of a Category 1 hurricane firsthand, watch a live gator feeding or discover the real life sea monsters that ruled the prehistoric seas. You can even take in a giant-screen movie on a 4K digital projection screen at the Digital Adventure Theater. Check online schedules for movie and animal-feeding times to secure a perfectly timed visit.

Food & Drink


Celebrate Italian cuisine with modern techniques and seasonal ingredients in one of Winter Park’s most vibrant settings. The warm space welcomes guests with its contemporary design balanced by rustic elements, including a long bar and window-paned doors and year round patio seating.


Whether you pop in for a drink at the bar or you dine on one of the small plates off the inventive menu, the folks at Scratch will make you feel like you’ve been a loyal customer since they opened their doors. The wine and beer list is extensive, matched only by the artful plating of its seasonal menu and the whimsical interior setting. 

4 Rivers Smokehouse


A barbecue lovers paradise, Four Rivers is an authentic smokehouse, where the meats are cooked low and slow and the desserts are truly decadent. But the brisket and the burnt ends are the stars of the show, so don’t be surprised if you see a line of hungry customers wrapped around the building.


With Instagram-worthy sunset views over Lake Nona and a popular 3 - 6 p.m. weekly happy hour, Canvas worth the short drive outside of downtown Orlando. The menu is a blend of Southern and Latin American cuisine. And don’t forget the "market" portion - a high-end home-goods store with gifts and foodstuffs abound. 


Voted the best fried chicken in Orlando, The Coop was created by the team behind 4 Rivers Smokehouse and celebrates the home-style fare of the South, right down to its farm house inspired dining room. Passed-down recipes and seasonal ingredients come together in the form of iconic dishes such as southern fried chicken, low country shrimp and grits to Mississippi mud and lemon icebox pies.

Ravenous Pig

Since 2007, The Ravenous Pig has served sustainable food prepared using ingredients sourced in Florida. Husband and wife tandem James and Julie Petrakis have dazzled diners and earned critical acclaim for their thoughtful, seasonal creations, including James Beard Award nominations.  

The Polite Pig

Located in Disney Springs, the sister restaurant of the Ravenous Pig serves plenty of modern barbecue with a wood-fired savory taste. Thirsty? At this beverage wonderland  everything flows from a spout, from draft beer to classic cocktails to wine. The impressive whiskey collection includes hard-to-find varieties crafted by Pappy Van Winkle.


 Aku Aku Tiki Bar

Get ready for a time warp to Hawaiian and South Seas kitsch as tiki culture is front and center in downtown Orlando with art and decor that hearkens back to its heyday of the 1940s and '50s. Potent rum punches served in themed glasses, tiki heads, and coconuts seem to make the drinks taste better.

The Courtesy

One of the first mixology bars in downtown Orlando steeped in classic speakeasy decor, the handcrafted cocktails here are made from top shelf spirits and locally sourced ingredients. The wine and craft beer selection will bring a pleasure to every palate.

Hanson’s Shoe Repair

The Speakeasy at Hanson's Shoe Repair re-creates the Depression-era secret stiff-cocktail culture (they do not allow cellphones) and offers a chance to enjoy a Negroni, martini or French 75 on a lovely balcony. Make sure to call in advance, though, as a password for entry is needed.

Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar 

This family-friendly waterfront outpost is a prime destination for explorers seeking casual fare with a daring flair and rare cocktail concoctions—surrounded by vintage aviation ambience inspired by the high-flying exploits of Indiana Jones’ intrepid pilot.


Disney World 

The theme parks that started it all in Orlando continue to bring out the child in its guests. Animal Kingdom just opened a Pandora-themed experience, Epcot has Frozen movie fever with its new ride based on the movie, Hollywood Studios has everything Star Wars, and the original Magic Kingdom is where you will find the most popular mouse in all of Central Florida.

Universal Orlando Resort 


Be prepared to meet the Minions, or ride roller coasters inspired by Harry Potter and his flight plan. This is one theme-park that is built for teens and not toddlers.

Sea Life Aquarium

Enjoy more than 5,000 species in a colorful and highly “immersive” themed aquarium environment. From sharks to sea turtles, eels to urchins, these creatures from the ocean make learning and observing fun for all ages. A Rock Pool touch tank allows visitors some hands-on education with a few of the residents.


The Mall at Millenia

Set in a dramatic architectural environment, Orlando’s premiere shopping destination is a 1.2 million-square-foot center, offering 150 of the world's finest stores (i.e. Gucci, Prada and Cartier) and eateries (i.e Capital Grille) providing an unparalleled shopping experience.

Orlando International Premium Outlets

Florida's largest shopping outlet with savings of 25 to 65 percent everyday is home to more than 180 designer and name-brand outlet stores, including Saks OFF Fifth, Neiman Marcus Last Call, Victoria's Secret, Kate Spade New York, Nike, Adidas, Polo Ralph Lauren, and Tommy Hilfiger.


Owned by mother and daughter duo Tuni and Paige Blackwelder, this independent boutique in Winter Park for over 25 years showcases trendy clothes, shoes and accessories from known and emerging designers.

Rocket Fizz 


When you walk towards the shop in Winter Park you can tell you are going to be in there for a while just browsing all the different kinds of candy and soda. The store is something out of WIlly Wonka’s imagination, with wall to wall candy from different countries and decorated with the best pop culture has to offer.


Orlando Urban Bike Trail 

Winding by several lakes, where you're likely to spot turtles, blue herons, and other wildlife, this trail offers a pleasant way for bicyclists to reach a number of cultural attractions in the city’s northern neighborhoods. A portion of the trail is also known as the Dinky Line Trail as it follows the former Orlando and Winter Park Railroad, nicknamed the “Dinky Line” for its narrow-gauge tracks.

Peace of Mind Kayak Tours

Run by avid kayakers and outdoor enthusiasts, specialty tours include an experience of the beautiful landscape and history of Winter Park. Located 10 minutes from downtown Orlando, each trip guarantees plenty of towering cypress trees, lush ferns, bamboo, and a variety of flourishing sub-tropical flowers as you meander through three of Winter Park’s seven lakes.

Wekiwa Springs State Park 


Located at the headwaters of the Wekiva River, the beautiful vistas within this park offer a glimpse of what Central Florida looked like when Timucuan Indians fished and hunted these lands. Just one hour from most central Florida attractions, Wekiwa Springs offers visitors 13 miles of trails for hiking, bicycling, and horseback riding. Canoeists and kayakers can paddle along the Wekiva River and Rock Springs Run.  Options for camping include a full facility campground and primitive camping areas.

Healthy Living

Elevate Yoga 


Located in the heart of Downtown, Elevate Yoga Center features two spacious yoga studios, one for aerial and another for traditional mat yoga. Both studios, "Air & Earth" are equipped with high-end Tatami "padded" Zebra Flooring for ultimate comfort and safety. Classes are offered for all ages.

Raw Juice Bar

This Downtown Orlando juice bar specializes in 100 percent organic juice cleanses, plus a healthy and delicious menu of smoothies, vegan wraps and more.

Woodhouse Day Spa 

This 6,000 square foot Day Spa and Wellness Center, features 16 private guest treatment rooms, including our exclusive Vichy Shower, Men’s & Women’s Quiet Rooms, Duet Massage Room, and a Bath & Massage Room. Over 70 distinct treatment options. You can order lunch to enjoy on fine china, a morning latte from Starbucks, or even surprise treats for guests who are celebrating special occasions. 

Hotels featured in this article

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