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Unexpected Orlando: Break away from the parks and explore our city this fall


The fall season brings many changes to Orlando’s theme parks, and it is the stage for several beloved events such as Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights and Disney’s International Food & Wine Festival. But it isn’t just the parks that are enjoying the cooler weather and a break from the crazy summer crowds. Check out these activities that let your family explore a little more of our city, and make memories you never expected from your Orlando vacation.


Magical Dining Month: September 1 – 30 *TOP RECOMMENDATION*

More than 60 restaurants across the Orlando area offer three-course prix fixe menus priced at $33 each, with $1 from each meal going toward the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Florida. There is no better excuse to try something new!

For guests visit Universal, you can indulge your inner gourmet with the prix fixe appetizer, entree, and dessert at a variety of restaurants located at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Loews Royal Pacific, and Hard Rock Hotel. You can view the menus and make reservations by clicking here. Keep in mind you definitely do not have to be staying at these hotels to visit them and enjoy their restaurants. If you’re swinging through Universal CityWalk, Emeril’s Orlando is also participating.

Bice Restaurant and the Harbor Piazza at Loew's Portofino Bay Hotel.
Bice Restaurant and the Harbor Piazza at Loew’s Portofino Bay Hotel.


Date Night at Leu Gardens: September 6

Harry P. Leu Gardens, the 50-acre botanical oasis north of downtown, hosts an outdoor film on the first Friday of each month. Admission is $5 plus tax. Blanket/chairs are recommended, you may bring a dinner picnic basket, and alcohol is permitted.


Fashion Week at Mall at Millenia: September 12 – 19

Runways lined with models and trunks show packed with the most buzz worthy duds make up this five-day fashionista affair hosted at Orlando’s most lavish shopping locale.


Coupled: The Game Show & Game Night: September 14 *TOP RECOMMENDATION*

Borrowing from The Newlywed Game, Coupled invites lovebirds to The Abbey (100 S Eola Drive, Orlando) where they’ll compete live on stage for fabulous prizes. Afterward, board games are set up around the venue while a series of interactive games, including Dance Freeze and Battle of the Sexes, are played on the dance floor.

Coupled: The Game Show.
Coupled: The Game Show.


The Color Run: September 22

During this untimed 5k fun run through downtown Orlando, runners are doused with color every kilometer before heading to the “Finish Festival,” where the color hilarity continues. Cost is $55 per runner.


The Festival of Bacon: October 5 *TOP RECOMMENDATION*

Showcasing everything from bacon-infused food samplings from 30+ area restaurants to live music, this 8-hour foodie affair hosted at Festival Park in downtown Orlando will be one of the largest bacon-centric events in the country. Tickets are $35 each.


40th Annual Winter Park Autumn Art Festival: October 12 – 13

Central Park, the lush green space that flanks Park Avenue, overflows with artists showcasing their work at what has become the only juried art show to feature Florida artists exclusively.

Winter Park Art Festival.
Winter Park Art Festival.


Jazz’n Blues Stroll: October 12

Couples with picnic baskets and bottles of wine flock to this beloved annual evening event, visited by spectacular jazz and blue performers who take the stage at various spots throughout the 50-acre Harry P. Leu Garden. Tickets are $17 in advance and $22 on event day.  |  this year’s map (PDF file)


Taste of Thornton Park: October 17

This trendy downtown Orlando neighborhood highlights its finest foods during this annual fundraiser. Its Merchants come out in full force, representing themselves and the incredible “tastes” that they offer: from fantastic wines, incredible cocktails and refreshing beers, to savory entrée samples and sensational sweets – this event has it all.


Orlando Film Festival: October 16 – 20 *TOP RECOMMENDATION*

Downtown Plaza Cinema Café screens more than 80 independent films created by filmmakers from around the world. Various prices for individual tickets and festival packages.


The Book of Mormon: October 29 – November 10

The Broadway smash makes its much-anticipated decent on the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre for nearly two weeks worth of performances. Tickets start at $55.



We hope you enjoy exploring everything Orlando has to offer this fall! And if you enjoyed this article, I bet you’ll also like my previous OI post: Seven perfect places to pop the big question in Orlando.


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