To take downtown Orlando at face value – a skyscraper hub of businesses, banks and bars – is too simplistic. The city’s core is a mecca for the creative with a diverse culinary landscape, experimental art, theater spaces and the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. It’s become the space where we hold emotions together – from the weekly protests at U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s office to vigils in front of the rainbow-colored Walt Disney Amphitheatre at Lake Eola. Our nightlife is vibrant and varied – craft cocktail connoisseurs and Jägerbomb shot lovers can party mere feet from each other. Downtown is the place where Orlando truly comes alive.
El Buda Latin Asian Restaurant
116 W. Church St., 407-203-8171, facebook.com/elbudadowntown
One of downtown's newest gastronomical adventures, El Buda Latin Asian Restaurant fuses the palates of two great cultures into dishes like sweet plantain pork dumplings and grilled pork hong pong fufu. Chef Roberto Treviño makes it even better with an extensive list of craft cocktails and local brews.
22 E. Pine St., 407-730-7499, artisanstableorlando.com
A delectable menu from breakfast to dinner, Artisan's Table offers tweaked-up classics like crispy chicken sandwiches and lamb sliders alongside distinct dishes such as a brunchy Japanese bowl and jalapeño popper mac. Taste Artisan's breakfast latte and never look back at your caramel Frappuccino again.
Hubby Bubbly Falafel Shop
131 N. Orange Ave., 407-286-5667, hubblybubblyfalafel.com
Nosh on healthy Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine at Hubbly Bubbly's newest location in downtown. Since opening in College Park in 2013, this restaurant has been a one-stop shop for healthy-ish meals.
17 W. Church St., 407-447-7950, kresrestaurant.com
Billing itself as "not your father's steakhouse," Kres Chophouse is for diners who like their meat with superb flavor, elegant service and a serious wine list. Prepare to stay impressed through the evening.
22 S. Magnolia Ave., 407-801-7005, celineorlando.com
One of Orlando's newer clubs, Celine boasts vintage furnishings, a rooftop lounge and a speakeasy with an enviable cocktail menu.
Foxtail's Coffee Bar
390 N. Orange Ave., 407-930-1700, foxtailcoffee.com
Hidden inside the Bank of America building, Foxtail's Coffee Bar is a quaint pop-up next to the French restaurant DoveCote. Order some cold brew and spend a magnificently quiet afternoon in their magical sitting area.
Mathers Social Gathering
30 S. Magnolia Ave., 407-250-5005, mathersorlando.com
Posh throwback decor and creative craft cocktails are the stock in trade of this upscale spot.
Wall Street Plaza
25 Wall St., 407-849-0471, wallstplaza.net
You haven't partied in Orlando until you've gone through the rite of passage that is Wall Street. Eight venues take over one block every night for a guaranteed good time.
Orange County Regional History Center
65 E. Central Blvd., 407-836-8500, thehistorycenter.org
Local historical curators work hard to record Central Florida's past and present by documenting everything from indigenous artifacts to Pulse tributes. Take an hour and find the story of Orlando here.
Orlando Farmers Market
Lake Eola Park, corner of East Central Boulevard and North Eola Drive, orlandofarmersmarket.com
The market has been a staple at Lake Eola Park since 1987. Come for a morning stroll and buy fresh vegetables, homemade soaps and sweet, hot kettle corn.
Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
445 S. Magnolia Ave., 407-839-0119, drphillipscenter.org
Orlando's world-class arts venue brings Broadway musicals like Hamilton to the forefront, along with comedy performances by Second City and soulful gospel by diva Patti LaBelle.