The Other Side to Orlando

Oct. 15-18, Orlando will welcome the largest gathering of public relations professionals in the world at the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) 2011 International Conference. Now, I know when most people think of Orlando, thoughts of roller coasters and  character meet-and-greets dance in their head. But there’s another great side to Orlando, and I’d like to share with you  what mostly only locals know.

A few miles east of the theme parks down Interstate 4 is Downtown Orlando (client). And what better way to kick back and relax than in the DTO.

After a long day at the conference, I’m sure you will have worked up an appetite, and you won’t want to miss some of the fine food Downtown has to offer. From Irish pubs to upscale restaurants, there’s a wide variety to appease any appetite. Hungry yet?

Under the bright city lights is when you really can feel the pulse of Downtown. Historic Church Street and Wall Street Plaza are home to a number of great spots, but there also are other top entertainment spots, including dueling pianos, a comedy club and theaters, to fit any mood. And, with Halloween fast approaching, check out Downtown’s Ghost Tour for some real spooky encounters. There’s even a Haunted Pub Tour. Think you can handle a drink with the paranormal? I’m already starting to feel the chills. Let’s move on…

Photo Credit: Orlando Downtown Development Board

Unlike many downtowns, don’t worry about parking here. Covered and surface lots are easy to find and conveniently located just a few steps from Downtown’s hottest spots. There’s even a parking app called Orlando parkIN’. (Download it in the iTunes or Android store.)

If you’re here before or after the conference, the DTO is just as fun during the day as it is at night. Check out the Lake Eola Farmer’s Market on Sunday or get your tickets to Sugarland’s concert on Oct. 20 and experience the state-of-the-art Amway Center. Maybe you’d like to indulge your senses at A Taste of Thornton Park or explore your creative side at the Third Thursday Gallery Hop, also Oct. 20. It’s OK. You can do that, too.

Want some laughs? Check out SAK Comedy Lab. Tired yet? There’s much more to do!

In the center of Downtown is the iconic Lake Eola Fountain at Lake Eola Park. Did you know you can rent swan-shaped paddle boats? The fountain recently underwent a major renovation and now, when the sun goes down, the majestic fountain lights up and music can be heard throughout the park.

Photo Credit: Orlando Downtown Development Board

What’s more, you can get a great view of Lake Eola and all of Downtown with a skyline tour. This takes you up 16 stories to the top of The Plaza and provides a 360-degree, bird’s-eye view.

It’s all right here in the DTO.

I could go on and on. There’s just so much to see and do. But, let me leave you with this: You won’t experience Orlando unless you go to the DTO.

Christina Morton is an account executive specializing in social media at CBR.

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