One of the best things about living in Downtown Orlando is the ability to walk to nearly everything. If not a walk, residents are a short bicycle ride or free Lymmo bus ride from bars, restaurants, shopping, performing arts, concerts, and sports. In fact, in a recent survey of Thornton Park residents, walkability was listed by 95% of respondents as something they like about living downtown.
However, we often hear from suburban friends and relatives, along with some local media, that getting Downtown can be difficult, especially when finding a place to park. It’s true that SunRail currently only runs Monday through Friday, but did you know that SunRail runs late trains for Magic basketball and Solar Bears hockey games, along with some theater productions? Yes, I-4 can be a nightmare, but try taking SunRail or an Uber, and plan out your parking options ahead of time.
Luckily, there are many parking garages Downtown, many of which go unfilled. The City Commons Parking Garage is located at 460 Boone Avenue, located between the Amway Center and Dr. Phillips Center, behind City Hall. A courtesy shuttle even runs there for Broadway season shows and other select events at the Dr. Phillips Center. The parking price for events is $10. Other public garages include the SunTrust Center off South Street, Lincoln Plaza off Orange Avenue, Seaside Plaza off Magnolia or Jackson, Orange County Administration off Liberty Avenue, the Geico Garage at Amway off South Street, and Central Blvd Garage, off, well, Central Boulevard. No fewer than 18 public garages, along with many private surface lots sell parking, ranging from $5-$20 depending on events, are scattered throughout Downtown.
When the City of Orlando and Orange County built the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, they chose not to build a parking garage, because of the existence of so many garages nearby, saving the City and County millions of dollars. While used by office workers during the day, the nearby garages are largely empty in the evenings when most plays, games, concerts, and other events occur.
The Thornton Park Central Garage has been promoting its availability by adding murals to the interior walls. Thornton Park Main Street District Executive Director, Lisa Cuatt, says that the garage is well-lit, safe, and affordable—but is underutilized.
“To bring attention to this garage in the heart of Thornton Park, we’ve hired local artists to paint murals throughout the garage. So now it is a beautiful structure, as well as being convenient,” Cuatt said.
The first 30 minutes are free, with $4-$11 charged per stay, or $17 per day. Owners of the garage say they’ve seen more people using it since the murals went in. Signage has also been improved. The free Lymmo bus runs between Thornton Park Central and all the Downtown event venues.
Street parking, both paid and free, can also be found on many streets Downtown, but one of the future solutions of transportation doesn’t include parking at all. Ridesharing services, such as Uber and LYFT, are changing transportation in cities across the world. Downtown visitors now have a designated pick-up area on weekends, called the Rideshare Hub located on Magnolia Avenue and Central Boulevard. This operates Friday and Saturday nights, from midnight to 3 a.m.
So don’t be afraid to venture Downtown for the next big event. Or, ask one of us who lives downtown if you can park in our driveway or guest spot — we love having guests!