Photo by Ron Buskirk / age fotostock
Similar to Disney Springs, Universal CityWalk offers adult-oriented—but totally family-appropriate—fun for when you’ve wrapped up another theme park day. An entertainment zone with free admission, it connects the Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure theme parks. Still, it’s most happening after the parks close, when it turns into a veritable dining and nightlife district that often attracts more revelers than downtown Orlando itself. All the restaurants and bars surround a man-made lagoon, which becomes busy with boats ferrying guests to and from the Universal hotels. To eat, there’s everything from casual cafés and a food court to extravagant theme restaurants like the new Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen. Bar options are similarly wide-ranging—you can drink a hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s (which looks just like the original in New Orleans), sip a Red Stripe beer to the tune of reggae music at Bob Marley—A Tribute to Freedom, or catch the big game at the NBC Sports Grill & Brew. Parking is free after 6 p.m. so expect crowds starting at sundown. You’ll also want to keep an eye on the calendar, as CityWalk hosts major concerts and festivals throughout the year.
By Terry Ward, AFAR Local Expert
6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819, USA