With a tourism corridor that includes Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando, it's understandable that Downtown Orlando is sometimes overlooked. Yet savvy planners know that meeting venues in Downtown Orlando offer a unique urban experience, with easy access to various parts of central Florida via Interstate 4 (which skirts Downtown's western boundary).
Downtown Orlando is located 9 miles northwest of the Orlando International Airport and 15 miles northeast of Orlando's main theme park attractions.
The opening of the Amway Center in 2010, a massive multi-purpose events complex, has revitalized the energy level in Downtown, spurring the arrival of a new dining and entertainment venues in Downtown Orlando that are particularly appealing for groups. Church Street, which is located across the street from the Amway Center, is brimming with bars, lounges and restaurants. Enhancing the area's appeal is its walkable, wide sidewalks, tree-lined streets and open-air cafes.
The accommodations menu is dominated by medium-size hotels such as the 247-room Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando with 9,600 square feet of meeting space, the 290-room Sheraton Orlando Downtown Hotel with 15,000 square feet of meeting space, and the 167-room Embassy Suites Downtown Orlando Hotel with 8,000 square feet of meeting space.
A focal point, the 20,000-seat Amway Center, which is the home of the NBA's Orlando Magic, is the epicenter for entertainment in downtown. The Magic play a schedule of games from October to April and, some of the performers who've entertained recently are Lady Gaga, The Eagles, Taylor Swift, Britney Spears, and Josh Groban. For group events, the Amway Center has 70 hospitality suites on three levels, and the 31,000 square-foot arena floor is available for exhibitions, meetings and events. Other special events options are the 65,136 square-foot Expo Centre, with 7 meeting rooms that can be used for exhibits, trade shows, meetings and banquets; and the Orange County Regional History Center, which has indoor and outdoor venues with space to accommodate groups of up to 2,000.
Among the more popular activities for spouse programs, day trips and post meeting entertainment are Winter Park, a tree-laden New England-style village three miles north of downtown Orlando; cultural performances at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Center; dine arounds on Orange Avenue, Church Street and the Thornton Park area; and Loch Haven Park, home to the Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Mennello Museum of American Art and Orlando Science Center.