Orlando Grows Interesting Neighborhoods


While Orlando may be best known for its world-famous theme parks and the country’s largest convention center, visitors are discovering that the city and its surroundings are no longer just the place where people who work in those venues live, according to Gary Sain, president and CEO of Visit Orlando, the city’s convention and visitors bureau.  

Visitors who come to the city on business, whether for a convention like NPE 2012: The International Plastics Showcase, which expects to bring as many as 60,000 attendees and exhibitors to Orlando on April 2-5, or for a meeting or incentive trip at Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, or another of the 100-plus stadiums, attractions, and other venues in the region, are finding that great dining and nightlife options are now available in many neighborhoods throughout the city proper, Sain says. 

People who have experienced it recently say “The theme parks have always had those, so I always knew Orlando knew how to entertain,” he says.  But they come away with “a better understanding of how Orlando can entertain, not just with the attraction but with our newer events and restaurants, what I like to call our newer grown-up adult entertainment options.” 

Sain says areas executives looking for places to entertain clients or colleagues should look at include "Sand Lake Road by the Convention Center District, which we now call Restaurant Row because we’ve added so many restaurants.” He also points to entertainment venues like The Pointe at Orlando, right across from the Convention Center, which has more than 20 entertainment options. 

“Winter Park and College Park, two areas just north of Downtown, have a lot of great restaurants and shopping,” Sain adds. “Downtown has really grown over the last five or six years. There are a lot of nightclubs, bars, and restaurants that are packed on the weekends.” 

Orlando now has “districts with their own personality, and that’s good for business,” Sain says. “Are deals done on the tradeshow floor? Yes. But a lot of deals are done, and a lot of networking is done, after hours. So having venues where businesspeople can get together and continue their business after hours is essential for any destination that wants to be a leader in meetings and conventions. In Orlando we have enhanced that ability immensely over the last couple years.”