Downtown Orlando has a rich history dating back to the mid-1800s. The area was originally known as Jernigan, named after the first settler, Aaron Jernigan. In 1857, the city was renamed Orlando after a soldier who died during the Second Seminole War.
During the Civil War, Orlando was an important supply base for the Confederate Army. After the war, the city began to grow as a hub for agriculture, particularly in the citrus industry. By the early 1900s, Orlando had become a center for commerce and transportation.
In the 1920s, the city experienced a boom in development, with the construction of several important buildings, including the Angebilt Hotel and the Orlando Public Library. However, the Great Depression and World War II slowed growth in the area.
In the 1950s and 1960s, downtown Orlando began to see significant redevelopment, with the construction of new office buildings, hotels, and shopping centers. The city also became a major tourist destination with the opening of Walt Disney World in nearby Lake Buena Vista in 1971.
In recent years, downtown Orlando has continued to evolve, with the development of new residential and commercial buildings, as well as the renovation of historic structures. The area is now a vibrant hub for arts, culture, and entertainment, with numerous museums, theaters, and music venues. It is also home to a thriving restaurant and nightlife scene.
Downtown Orlando Top Tourist Attractions
- Lake Eola Park: This beautiful park in the heart of downtown features a large lake, swan-shaped paddle boats, walking paths, and a weekly farmer's market.
- Church Street Station: This entertainment complex features a variety of restaurants, bars, and clubs, as well as a historic train depot and the famous Church Street Station ballroom.
- Orlando Science Center: This hands-on science museum features interactive exhibits, live demonstrations, and an IMAX theater.
- Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts: This state-of-the-art venue hosts a variety of concerts, plays, and other performances throughout the year.
- Amway Center: Home to the Orlando Magic basketball team, this arena also hosts concerts and other events.
- The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art: This museum features the largest collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, including his famous stained glass windows.
- Orange County Regional History Center: This museum offers exhibits and artifacts that showcase the history of Central Florida, including its Native American roots, pioneer settlers, and modern-day developments.
- Orlando Museum of Art: This museum features a collection of American art, as well as exhibits from around the world.
- The Citrus Club: This private social club located on the 18th floor of the BB&T building offers stunning views of downtown Orlando and Lake Eola, as well as dining and event spaces.
- Wall Street Plaza: This pedestrian-friendly plaza features a variety of bars and restaurants, as well as outdoor seating and live entertainment. It is a popular spot for nightlife and events.
Downtown Orlando Climate
Downtown Orlando has a subtropical climate, which means it is generally warm and humid throughout the year, with distinct wet and dry seasons.
The summers in Orlando are hot and humid, with average high temperatures in the low 90s Fahrenheit (around 32-34°C) and frequent afternoon thunderstorms. The wet season usually lasts from May through October.
The winters in Orlando are mild, with average high temperatures in the low to mid-70s Fahrenheit (around 22-24°C) and cool nights. The dry season usually lasts from November through April.
Overall, the best time to visit downtown Orlando is during the cooler and drier months of November through April. However, visitors should be prepared for occasional rain and thunderstorms during any season.
Downtown Orlando Geography
Downtown Orlando is the central business district of the city of Orlando, located in the heart of Florida. It is situated in the northern part of the city and is bordered by Lake Eola to the east, Colonial Drive to the north, I-4 to the south, and Parramore Avenue to the west.
The geography of Downtown Orlando is characterized by a mix of commercial, residential, and entertainment areas. The downtown area is relatively flat, with an elevation of around 100 feet above sea level. Lake Eola, which is a popular destination for recreation and events, is located in the center of downtown and is surrounded by a park.
The streets in Downtown Orlando are arranged in a grid pattern, with several major thoroughfares including Orange Avenue, which runs north-south through the center of downtown, and Central Boulevard, which runs east-west.
The downtown area is also home to a number of notable landmarks and attractions, including the Amway Center, home to the Orlando Magic NBA team, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the Orlando City Stadium, home to the Orlando City SC MLS team, and the Orlando Science Center.
In recent years, Downtown Orlando has experienced a significant amount of growth and development, with new residential buildings, office towers, and retail spaces being constructed throughout the area. This growth has helped to make Downtown Orlando one of the most vibrant and dynamic urban centers in Florida.