Universal Orlando CityWalk Guide: Dining, Shopping and Shows
Universal CityWalk Orlando is the Florida resort’s jam-packed entertainment district. There is a ton to eat, drink, do, and buy here. Whether you’re searching for that perfect souvenir, grabbing dinner (and maybe drinks) after a day in the parks, putt-putting around the mini-golf course, singing your heart out, or dancing the night away, there really is something for everyone here.
Let’s break all of it down!
Keep in mind that due to COVID-19, some Citywalk offerings – like most bars and clubs – are currently closed. Additionally, some entertainment offerings, such as live music, and services like valet parking may also be on pause as a result of health and safety guidelines. Be sure to check Universal Orlando’s website or app for the most up-to-date information.
Location of Universal CityWalk in Orlando
Once you’ve parked your car and gone through security, the first place you hit is CityWalk. Smack dab in the middle between Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, Universal CityWalk serves as a hub to the entire resort. You don’t just need to drive here – shuttles and water taxis also bring guests from the Universal and other nearby resorts.
One of the things we love most about the Orlando CityWalk is that its size and location make it easy to either tack it on to the end of your day in one of the parks or to spend an entire day there taking advantage of all the different entertainment, trying a couple of restaurants, and exploring all the shops. Heck, even locals like going here for a fun night out at one of the complex’s many bars and clubs.
Where to Park at CityWalk Orlando
Whether you’re coming for the entire day or just the night, unless you’re coming from one of the Universal resorts or on another hotel shuttle, you’ll need to find parking in one of Universal Orlando’s two massive parking garages. Don’t worry – it doesn’t matter if you’re going to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, or Universal’s Volcano Bay water park because they all share the same garages.
Unless you’re an annual passholder or you’re visiting after 6pm on less busy days, parking isn’t free at Universal Orlando. General parking costs $26 and could land you anywhere in the two garages, while preferred parking is $36 for a more convenient spot. If you’re driving an oversized vehicle of some sort, such as a bus or RV, that is also available for $32. Just be aware that it is in a separate area from the regular parking, so be sure to follow the signs. Or, you could also treat yourself to valet parking and save yourself the walk.
Keep in mind that the parking garage is huge, so we recommend taking a picture of your section. Or, you can also use the Parking Reminder function on the Universal Orlando app. That way, you don’t end up forgetting it and wandering around aimlessly and frustrated at the end of a long day already filled with a bunch of walking.
Of course, if you’d rather avoid driving altogether, you can also call a ride-sharing service like Uber or Lyft. Just make your way either to or from the fifth floor of the Jurassic Park area of the parking garages.
CityWalk Orlando Hours
Universal CityWalk Orlando hours of operation are shorter during the week (8am-10pm on Monday to Thursday) and longer on the weekends (8am-12am on Fridays and Saturdays). However, you might find that some bars and clubs remain open a bit longer.
Universal CityWalk Orlando Restaurants
Whether you need a place to get a cup of coffee on the way into the parks, a quick bite for lunch, or a full, sit-down meal, there is a CityWalk Orlando restaurant for you and your crew. Here are all the dining options available at CityWalk, from quick and full-service restaurants to snack stands.
Full Service CityWalk Orlando Dining
Looking for a longer, more leisurely meal where a server brings your food directly to your table? Good for lunch, dinner, and even brunch, these full service restaurants at CityWalk Orlando really hit the spot.
Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food
Fans of Mexican street food and other authentic dishes won’t want to miss Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food. Housed inside what is easily the most colorful building in all of Universal Orlando, Antojitos serves up vibrantly flavored eats to match. Come for the food and drinks – like fresh, tableside-made guacamole, some of the tastiest restaurant salsa we’ve ever had, and expertly balanced cocktails made by “tequilaologist”-trained bartenders – and stay for the entertainment including live music and, occasionally, free face painting.
Do you like your food to be smoked and grilled to perfection? Then Bigfire, Orlando CityWalk’s newest restaurant, is for you. Many of the items on the menu (drinks too!) receive Bigfire’s “fire-kissed” treatment, from succulent steaks served with grilled carrots – including a cauliflower steak drizzled with charred tomato sauce – to the Smoked, Smoked Maple Old Fashioned garnished with oak-smoked beef jerky. In fact, the entire vibe here screams cozy. We recommend grabbing a spot outside (along with one of the restaurant’s plaid blankets), playing a few lawn games, and toasting some marshmallows for the Tableside S’mores.
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Restaurant & Market
Unlike most of the dining at Disney Springs, many of the restaurants at CityWalk Orlando are nationally, or internationally recognized chains. And while that would normally be something we’d typically steer clear from when on vacation (give us something new instead!), we’ll make an exception for a restaurant based on a movie – Forrest Gump, for the uninitiated – when visiting theme parks dedicated to Hollywood and the making of movies and television.
Unlike that famous box of chocolates (which you can buy here), as a chain restaurant, you know what you’re getting from the moment you walk in: a casual, Southern-inspired atmosphere with details from the film, shrimp of all kinds (plus some other options), and Bubba Gump souvenirs.
Hard Rock Café Orlando
The Hard Rock Café is one of those classic restaurants you typically find in tourist cities around the globe. Made to look like the coliseum, Hard Rock Café Orlando is the largest of the brand’s locations in the world. Filled to the brim with rock and roll memorabilia – with a menu stuffed with American pub-food favorites like burgers, nachos, and steaks – Hard Rock Orlando is perfect for rock-loving adults and picky eaters alike. In fact, it was even recognized as one of Open Table’s most kid-friendly restaurants in the US in 2019.
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville
It’s always five o’clock at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. This laidback restaurant is always on island time, serving up a menu filled with American eats with a Caribbean and Key West twist. Continue the party with one of Margaritaville’s many margaritas or a specially mixed “boat drink” either frozen or on the rocks. All the parrotheads (or Jimmy Buffett fans) out there will especially love the theming and playlist, as well as the live band.
NBC Sports Grill & Brew
Searching for a place to watch the game while visiting Universal Orlando? Every day is game day at the NBC Sports Grill & Brew. Seriously, there are almost 100 TV screens here showing sporting events from around the world. Plus, with foosball tables and over 100 different beers available, this is a great spot to visit whether you’re paying attention to the score or not. Capping off the Universal Studios side of Orlando CityWalk, this table-service restaurant meets sports bar offers up classic American bar food favorites for lunch and dinner.
The Cowfish is a fusion restaurant unlike any that you’ve probably heard of before: burgers and sushi. The “cow”, or burger, part of Cowfish serves up some really interesting burger combinations, while the “fish”, or sushi, side of the menu features your standard and specialty sushi rolls. Or, if you can’t decide between the two, combine them together with a “burgushi” roll or sandwich. So, if your group has a hard time finding something everyone likes, then this is the spot for you.
The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen
The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium is Universal’s take on Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, with a steampunk twist. But don’t let the “chocolate” in the name fool you – Toothsome offers plenty of elevated, chocolate-free entrees like Chicken Bourguignon and their Signature Beef Filet Mignon. Plus, they even offer brunch! Of course, be sure to save room for one of their over-the-top milkshakes or sundaes, or other cocoa-centric desserts. If you couldn’t already tell, this is a total winner for families.
VIVO Italian Kitchen
In the mood for pasta? Then head on over to Vivo Italian Kitchen. This sleek, simple restaurant dishes up modern Italian dishes just like nonna used to make, or maybe your cool aunt who has a loft in Florence. They even have gluten-free pasta for all the celiacs out there. If you’re looking for a highly themed restaurant that’s almost as much of an experience as the parks themselves, this is not it. However, if you’re looking for tasty food with a modern, romantic atmosphere, you’ve come to the right spot.
Quick Service CityWalk Orlando Dining
Wanting a quick bite to eat before heading into the parks or looking for a thriftier dinner option? CityWalk Orlando’s quick service restaurants, including several recognizable chains, are good picks whether you’re in a hurry, on a budget, or dealing with especially picky eaters.
Bread Box Handcrafted Sandwiches
Need some carbs to fuel you for your day at Universal? At Bread Box Handcrafted Sandwiches, the humble slice of bread (baked fresh daily) is piled high with fresh, flavorful ingredients. Each sandwich is made to order, so there’s no need to worry about bread made mushy by tomatoes or wilted lettuce. Beer lovers will especially appreciate the suggested pairings on the menu. Save time here by ordering through the Universal Orlando app.
Burger King Whopper Bar
Have some very picky eaters, or perhaps an insatiable craving that can only be fixed by a fast-food hamburger? Then you might want to consider the Burger King Whopper Bar. With an abbreviated menu and, you guessed it, a Build Your Own Whopper option with 20 different customizable toppings, this wouldn’t be the first place on our list for a meal at CityWalk Orlando, but it does the trick if you’re in a pinch or have some kiddos who need fries to be happy.
Hot Dog Hall of Fame
Ever wondered what kinds of hot dogs are served at baseball stadiums around the United States? If you have, satisfy your curiosity – and your hunger pains too – at the Hot Dog Hall of Fame. Aside from ballpark sides like chili cheese fries, roasted peanuts, and Cracker Jack, this quick service spot serves hot dogs from across this great country, like the Milwaukee bratwurst crowned with grilled onions and brown mustard or the Kansas City dog smothered with pulled pork and coleslaw.
Moe’s Southwest Grill
Craving Chipotle or Qdoba? No worries, Moe’s Southwest Grill – another national, fast-casual Tex Mex chain – has your back. Come here for burritos as big as some newborn babies, fresh salads, loaded quesadillas, and queso that even Chipotle can’t beat.
Joining the slate of other fast-food restaurants at the Universal CityWalk’s Top of the Walk Food Court is the most food court-y option of them all: Panda Express. Of course, authentic Chinese food this is not, but it does hit the spot when you’re fiending for Orange Chicken.
Red Oven Pizza Bakery
Hoping to grab a quick slice? Red Oven Pizza Bakery offers made-to-order, Neapolitan pies with a variety of flavor combinations. If you’re really in a hurry, use the restaurant’s Mobile Food & Drink Ordering on the Universal Orlando app and have your meal delivered directly to your table.
Snacks, Desserts & Drinks at CityWalk Orlando
Tempt your tastebuds with portable eats, sweet treats, refreshing drinks, and boozy adult beverages throughout Universal CityWalk Orlando. Whether you’re looking to kick off your morning, refuel midday, or cap off your evening, there are enough options at Orlando CityWalk to keep you happy all trip long.
Need a salty snack to keep you going? Auntie Anne’s has your back with her signature soft pretzels. This place is open from when CityWalk opens until midnight, making it the perfect place to satisfy your craving any time of day.
Do you smell that? It’s the homey, comforting scent of cinnamon rolls, fresh out of the oven. Stop by for a decadent Cinnabon, the more shareable Minibons, or a cup of coffee – or if you’re simply in need of the smell-equivalent of a warm hug. Soft serve ice cream is also available here. But really, who wants that when there are hot, gooey cinnamon rolls to be had?
Cold Stone Creamery
Who needs soft serve ice cream anyway when you can have your own personal ice cream combination made just for you? For those of you who have never visited this national chain before, Cold Stone team members swirl your selection of mix-ins into the ice cream flavor of your choice on a slab of frozen granite. This isn’t the dense ice cream you’re used to – it’s fluffy, aerated, and slightly soft.
Take the party with you with a frozen daiquiri or another icy cocktail from Fat Tuesday. Another Orlando transplant of a Big Easy institution, Fat Tuesday is the place to go for alcoholic beverages in adult sippy cups and other fun-shaped to-go cups.
Lone Palm Airport
The Lone Palm Airport is a little open-air tiki bar just across from Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. Some island-inspired bar bites are available here, like conch fritters and shrimp, but the highlight is the drinks and the fun of sipping on cocktails near the bar’s namesake seaplane.
Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt
Some people are ice cream people, others can’t get enough of tangy frozen yogurt. As one of the most well-known frozen yogurt chains in the world, you know you’re in good hands at Menchie’s. In case you’ve never been before, frozen yogurt – and all the toppings your put on it – is priced by the ounce, so keep that in mind as you’re piling on mounds of candy pieces and fruit chunks.
Don’t be like everyone else who is too busy running to the parks to forget to grab coffee – get your caffeine fix before heading into Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure at Starbucks in CityWalk Orlando.
Sweet tooths and breakfast fans alike won’t be able to resist Voodoo Doughnut. Known for pumping out quirky pastries in a variety of unique flavors, popular options include the Bacon Maple Bar, Memphis Mafia, and Dirt Doughnut. Whatever you do, we suggest you fight the urge to stop here until the end of your day if you’re planning to take home a dozen, so you’re not stuck carrying that bright pink box around all day. Well, if the doughnuts even last that long.
Family Entertainment at Universal Orlando CityWalk
Want to make a day out of your time at CityWalk Orlando? These next family-friendly entertainment offerings help keep the fun going all day long, no park ticket necessary.
Hard Rock Live
Take in a concert or some stand-up comedy at Hard Rock Live at the Hard Rock Café. If you’ve got the time and there’s a show playing that you’d like to see, you couldn’t find a more fun performance in Orlando.
Hollywood Drive-In Golf
Mini golf and putt-putt fans rejoice! Hollywood Drive-In Golf is a cheeky, kitschy miniature golf course inspired by the lovable cheesiness of 1950s sci-fi and horror movies. Choose from two different 18-hole courses or play all 36 holes for double the fun. You can even hone your putting skills in the moonlight.
Cap off your day celebrating films and television at Universal Studios with an actual film at Universal Cinemark. Universal’s movie theater has some of the comfiest loungers (extendable footrests included!) out there. That’s right – we said loungers, not chairs.
CityWalk Orlando Nightlife
Universal Orlando may be a family resort, but of all the Orlando-area theme parks, it’s probably the most adult of the bunch. CityWalk Orlando has enough bars and clubs to keep you busy for, at the very least, a fun-filled weekend.
Bob Marley – A Tribute to Freedom
Feel alright at Bob Marley – A Tribute to Freedom. Made to look like Bob Marley’s home in Kingston, Jamaica, this spot blurs the line between restaurant and bar. Jamaican-inspired eats like Buffalo Soldier Jerk Wings are a flavorful departure from the various takes on American pub food at Orlando CityWalk. However, nighttime is when the party really starts here, with live reggae music being played on the open-air stage.
CityWalk’s Rising Star
Do you hold regular concerts for your cat, belting out “Livin’ On a Prayer” as you take a shower? Are you the kind of person who likes planning karaoke nights with your friends? Then, trust us, you won’t want to miss CityWalk’s Rising Star. At this live-band karaoke spot, you’re the star – complete with backup singers, flashing lights, and maybe even some fog.
Like the Bob Marley restaurant and bar, Pat O’Brien’s is another spot at CityWalk Orlando which sits in the sweet spot between bar and restaurant. A replica of the famous New Orleans bar of the same name, every day feels like Mardi Gras at Pat O’Brien’s. Indulge in Cajun favorites like Jambalaya and Crawfish Etouffee – and don’t forget the big Bag O’ Beignets – as you listen to the dueling piano players duke it out and down Hurricanes.
Red Coconut Club
Sip martinis and dance the night away at the Red Coconut Club. This bi-level nightclub has all the retro glamour of the Rat Pack’s Las Vega and the spiciness of tropical Cuba. Come here for small bites, sweet drinks, and live music.
Another multi-level, Orlando CityWalk hot spot, The Groove is the perfect spot to let loose after a day exploring the parks. This bar features several full-service bars (each uniquely themed), live dancers to get the party started, and sweeping views of the rest of CityWalk from the balcony.
Universal Orlando CityWalk Shopping
Restaurants and nightlife are only part of the fun at Universal CityWalk Orlando. There are also plenty of shopping opportunities for finding the perfect souvenir, whether you’re hoping to commemorate your trip with a retro Universal Studios t-shirt or a more permanent memento.
Sweet tooths will feel like kids on Christmas morning at Candy Smith. Located inside The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen, Candy Smith is the place to go if you’re on the hunt for chocolate and other candies to take home as gifts – or, you know, save all for yourself. You can even watch some of the tasty confections being made.
CityWalk Hub Store
Do you need a last-minute gift before heading towards the parking lot? The CityWalk Hub Store is the first merchandise location between the parking garage and CityWalk and is stocked with basic souvenirs like shirts, toys, and more.
Hart & Huntington Tattoo Company
Wanting a more permanent reminder of your Universal Orlando vacation? The Hart & Huntington Tattoo Company is home to some best tattoo artists in Florida, with artists specializing in everything from abstract to watercolor. Or, if you’d rather not take the plunge with a permanent tattoo, you can also buy a piece of flash art or a t-shirt instead. If you do plan on coming here for a tattoo and are looking for something or someone specific, we highly recommend you contact the shop in advance about availability. You don’t want to show up, only to find out that who you want is already booked out, or that there isn’t a time slot that works with your schedule.
Quiet Flight Surf Shop
Whether you are a surfer or you just want to look like one, the Quiet Flight Surf Shop is the place to go for all your beach life needs. Come here for (non-Universal) shirts, swimsuits, board shorts, dresses, sandals, and more.
The Smuggler’s Hold
Want to take a piece of Margaritaville back with you? Stop into The Smuggler’s Hold. It’s the place to go if you’re looking for some of the restaurant’s margarita mixes, Jimmy Buffett collectibles, and island-inspired clothing just right for when you’re eating cheeseburgers in paradise.
Universal Legacy Store
The Universal Legacy Store isn’t new per se, but it did go through a massive revamp. Once just general Universal goods, now the Universal Legacy Store sells various items inspired by the Universal Orlando of the 90s. Think, Jaws, E.T., and a whole bunch of neon. There are even props throughout the store from both classic and current movies.
Universal Studios Store
Looking for Universal gear from the present day instead? The new, massive Universal Studios Store is basically souvenir headquarters, with everything from the minions and Spider-Man to Harry Potter and the Cat in the Hat. Stock up on apparel, mugs, magnets, keychains, pins, and much more.
Tips for Enjoying Your Time at CityWalk Orlando
Try something new! Universal CityWalk Orlando has its fair share of chain restaurants. So, rather than eating somewhere familiar, step outside your box and try one of the entertainment district’s unique dining options instead.
Don’t just stick to the regular lunch and dinner hours. Eating your meals at odd hours, like a late lunch or early dinner, helps you beat the rush and save more time for exploring.
Make a plan of attack. There is a lot to do and see at CityWalk Orlando, and even more if you are planning on going to the parks as well. We like having dinner at CityWalk, but, then again, so does everyone else. Try to make reservations ahead of time, if available, to save yourself some hassle. Plus, if you know you’re going to be buying something especially big or heavy (or maybe just a lot), save the purchase until right before you plan on leaving so you don’t have to carry it around everywhere.
Be prepared in case of rain. Universal Orlando CityWalk is an open-air entertainment complex. In other words, if it rains, you’ll still get wet walking from store to store. Don’t forget to pack an umbrella – or your rain poncho from the parks, if you’re so inclined – just in case it happens to rain. Which, it probably will because this is Florida we’re talking about.
Save money! Sorry folks, this one is for annual passholders only. As you’re out shopping, eating, and having fun, remember to flash your annual pass to get any passholder discounts they might offer.
That’s all for our guide to Universal CityWalk Orlando. We hope you’ve got some places in mind for your next Universal Orlando vacation. If you’re looking to save some money, be sure to check out our simple tips for booking cheap Universal tickets. Or, if you’re hoping to save time instead, get a head start by planning out your visit with our Universal Orlando Planning Guide.
What are you most looking forward to at Universal CityWalk? Do you already have some favorites that you absolutely can’t miss any time you visit? Let us know in the comments!