Universal CityWalk Orlando is the self-proclaimed Epicenter of Awesome ... and we can’t argue with that! There is so much to do and see here that you could fill a whole day of your trip exploring. What a great way to add onto your already awesome Universal Orlando Resort visit! CityWalk is a hoppin’ spot whether you’re on an adults-only vacay or there with your whole frog family. In this article, I’m going to give you the low-down on all of the great restaurants, shops, and entertainment you can find at Universal CityWalk Orlando.
Universal CityWalk Location
There are many awesome things about CityWalk. This dining, shopping and entertainment hub is located right at the center of the Universal's Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. That means you could fairly easily hop out of the parks for a bite at Cowfish or a milkshake at Toothsome, and then keep hittin’ the coasters! We also recommend CityWalk as a nightcap to enjoy a nice relaxing meal or window shop before heading back to your hotel. We love that it gives you a little break and change in scenery, as well as a killer food selection. CityWalk is also terrific because it isn’t too spread out. There is a TON to do in a relatively condensed area without feeling crowded, so you don’t have to do too much walking. We’re usually worn out from hopping around the parks all day!
For those of you staying on-site at a Universal Orlando hotel, It's easy to make CityWalk part of your day. If you're staying at Universal's Lowes Sapphire Falls Resort, Lowes Royal Pacific Resort Lowes Portofino Bay Hotel or Universal's Hard Rock Hotel, your water taxi to the theme parks drops you off right in the middle of CityWalk. For guests at Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort Hotel, you'll hop aboard bus transportation
Parking at Universal CityWalk
The most important thing to note about parking at Universal is that the garages are the same for CityWalk as they are for the parks. Don’t be confused if your GPS is headed towards CityWalk parking but signs say Islands of Adventure—you’re headed to the same place. Parking is combined for the multiple destinations and all leads to the security hub you check in through before entering.
There are a few different options that you can utilize to hop on a parking spot at Universal CityWalk.
General: The lowest cost all-day option, general parking can place you anywhere between a 5-20 minute walk to the security hub. Arriving first thing in the morning or later in the evening gives you pretty good odds of snagging a solid spot.
Preferred: For a premium, preferred parking guarantees a more convenient parking spot than is currently available for general parking. This still leaves some variation in where you could park, but will most definitely cut down your walking time.
RV/Bus: Oversized vehicles have an entirely separate parking area than the main garages—be sure to follow signs in order to get to the right place! Parking for these is only a couple bucks extra than general parking.
Evening: Did someone say…free?! During non-peak season, parking after 6PM is free at Universal. During busier times of the year, you’ll still find discounted rates. If you’re visiting Orlando for other attractions and just want to make a brief appearance at CityWalk, this is the best time. Save that money and buy yourself a souvenir! Keep in mind that this isn’t the case during special events such as Halloween Horror Nights.
Valet: At two different price points (two hours and under, or over two hours), valet certainly has its perks. You’ll be parked in a separate area super close to the CityWalk entrance, and be directed towards a less busy security station.
Red Carpet Valet: Red Carpet includes all of the perks of regular valet, with even CLOSER parking and a promise that your car will be brought to you in five minutes or less. Even better? You get to cut the line to avoid waiting. Talk about a major time saver.
Hot tip: Shoot yourself or a family member a text with your parking section and number. Remembering “Spider-Man 352” may seem easy enough, but after hours of eating and shopping pass by, you might start thinking it was Cat in the Hat instead. This will help you save a lot of time and trouble to keep your vacation running smoothly.
A major error first-timers make is not paying attention to which section they’re headed back into when exiting Universal. When you reach the security hub, it’s important to look for the signs and make sure you follow the proper path towards your designated character. Since some of the garages don’t connect, you’ll end up walking in circles looking for where you left your car!
Does all of this sound like a bit too much? Don’t worry, being chauffeured by an Uber, taxi, cab or whoever you want is an option as well. Head to bus parking to be dropped off—take the escalators and follow the signs to get to the entrance.
There’s a bit of a journey between the parking garages and the security hub, which then leads to the entrance of the parks. To help increase your pace, moving walkways are open to help you keep leapin’. When it comes to manners, treat the moving walkway as you would a highway. Slow walkers to the right, fast-paced people to the left…and always keep moving. Remember, no strollers. Don’t be the group holding up traffic…we’re trying to get to the Chocolate Emporium, people!
The perk of the combined parking between Universal, Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay and CityWalk is that you don’t need to drive between Universal destinations. However, should you find yourself wandering off property around Orlando, simply keep your receipt and re-enter at no additional cost later in the day.
Yikes, did the battery die on the SUV? Have no fear, your Universal super heroes are here. Use the garage call boxes to reach an attendant for help.
Universal CityWalk Address:
6000 Universal Boulevard
Orlando FL 32819
Raving Universal CityWalk Restaurants
The selection of outstanding sit-down dining is practically endless. The Universal CityWalk restaurants offer almost every type of cuisine imaginable for an excellent experience with your frog squad.
Antojitos Authentic Mexican Food
Check out Antojitos for authentic Mexican street fare. This colorful building is a must-do photo-op, whether you’re stopping in for a margarita or a full meal. The live mariachi band is sure to spice up your night!
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
“Run, Forrest, run!” to this home of Southern favorites just like Mama makes ‘em. Bubba Gump features a versatile seafood menu as well as other down-home favorites—including gluten-free and kids’ menus. If seafood isn’t your thing, be sure to grab the award-winning BBQ ribs.
BAM! Emeril’s Orlando is packed with flavor. CityWalk has a variety of Southern-style eats, but Emeril puts a modern essence on Creole-style creations.
Hard Rock Café Orlando
A classic spot for an entertaining meal, Hard Rock Café Orlando will have you ready to rock (and hop!) with an excellent variety of dishes, accompanied by live entertainment. Music memorabilia takes center stage with a suit worn by Elvis himself, Buddy Holly’s famous black glasses and much, much more. Hard Rock offers standard dishes including scrumptious salads and sandwiches.
Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville
There’s no better way to get in the laid-back Florida spirit than by wasting away in Margaritaville. Jimmy Buffett’s restaurant is known for stacked burgers and tropical frozen drinks. Stop by the Margaritas to Go Surf Shack beverage window for a marg on-the-fly, or step inside for a tropical dinner and live music. This is one of our go-to Universal CityWalk restaurants when we're hopping with folks from out of town.
NBC Sports Grill & Brew
Out of all the Universal CityWalk restaurants, If I had to recommend one restaurant for a big family with differing tastes, NBC Sports Grill & Brew would be it. This restaurant has a huge menu with a flavor for everyone ... from towering burgers to Caribbean Mahi, to pasta and everything in between. And we mean everything! The portions are generous and prices are reasonable. NBC Sports Grill & Brew is an absolute winner if you’re looking for an easy sit-down meal.
Transport yourself to New Orleans at Pat O’Briens, where Cajun favorites are served while dueling pianos are played. Don’t forget to order some crawfish or a Sweet Bag of Beignets for a true Louisiana-style meal. Gulp down a Hurricanes or two for the true experience.
The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar
You won’t find a more unique restaurant at Universal CityWalk (or maybe anywhere!) than The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar. Where else can you find a sushi burger combo?! This Asian-American fusion restaurant has an excellent, unique burger selection, delicious sushi, and plenty of combinations of the two. Have you ever dreamed of Cheeseburgerooshi? Just like the name suggests, all of your favorite burger fixin’s are wrapped up in soy paper and flash fried. The menu holds many other unique gems like this…and more simple selections if you just want a delicious burger or Bento box. It's a surprising family favorite, but the tadpoles love it.
The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen
At Toothsome, the portions are big and the flavor is even bigger! Described as an eatery, drinkery, and confectionary ... what more could you ask for? Toothsome boasts rich, indulgent plates from Chicken Bourguignon to Apple Pie Crepes. This 19th century steampunk-themed restaurant also offers an outrageous (in the best way possible!) array of milkshakes to-go or candy from the confectionary. Cross your fingers to meet Professor Doctor Penelope Tibeaux-Tinker Toothsome ... her milkshakes bring everyone to the yard! We have a full Toothsome review if you need more convincing.
VIVO Italian Kitchen
For a contemporary twist on Italian cuisine, stop by for dinner at VIVO Italian Kitchen. Hot pizza, pasta, bread and of course vino (wine) are sure to satisfy your palate.
Quick ‘N Easy Bites at Universal CityWalk Orlando
One of my absolute FAVORITE parts of Universal CityWalk is its wide range of dining selections. It makes eating on a budget feel cool since you are surrounded by the excellent ambiance of this entertainment district. Not only that, but it can be an excellent break from the overload (and over-indulgence, am I right?) of vacation food. It almost feels like a fun escape to enjoy a “normal” meal like a BK Whopper while overlooking Universal’s wild coasters.
Bread Box Handcrafted Sandwiches
This isn’t your average sandwich shop. Bread Box offers truly gourmet hot and cold options. My personal favorite is the Veggie Melt with Portobello mushrooms, avocado, caramelized onion, Swiss cheese, arugula, truffle oil and basil pesto. At a great price, this is a great low-key spot to feed your whole family.
Burger King Whopper Bar
Burger King takes “Have it your way” to a whole new level at the Whopper Bar. You can build your own burger with over 20 toppings to choose from! This is a fun twist on your classic fast food.
A mall favorite, Cinnabon has been enticing visitors with its fresh-out-of-the-oven cinnamon rolls for over 30 years. It’s worth splurging on extra icing!
Cold Stone Creamery
If you didn’t get a chance to stop by Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour at Diagon Alley, Cold Stone Creamery is your next best bet. With combinations like the “Birthday Cake Remix” with cake batter ice cream, brownies, fudge and sprinkles, your whole family is sure to be leapin’!
Hot Dog Hall of Fame
The Hot Dog Hall of Fame is likely the most unique under-budget restaurant at Universal Orlando. The name says it all—this spot offers a home run variety of hot dogs inspired by local favorites, such as the “Washington,” which features coleslaw, buffalo sauce, blue cheese dressing and celery salt. The theming is on par with the tasty dogs as well with stadium-style seating, artificial turf and bleachers! Universal knocked this restaurant out of the park.
Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt
Like many of the quick-service restaurants on this list, you may have heard of Menchie’s before. It is a nationwide self-serve frozen yogurt shop with a huge selection of flavors and toppings. Yum! What a good way to cool down during those hot Florida days.
Moe’s Southwest Grill
“Unlimited chips and salsa bar” is the bottom line here. Get delicious burritos, quesadillas, salads, and more with the toppings of your choice at Moe’s Southwest Grill.
Find on-the-go versions of your Asian-inspired favorites at Panda Express. Leap and I never pass up our favorite, the cream cheese rangoons!
Red Oven Pizza Bakery
Whether enjoying your meal on the covered patio or from the take-out window, Red Oven Pizza Bakery is sure to satisfy your pizza craving with its inventive variety of pizzas. The best part? They’re cooked in 90 seconds or less, so you can keep hoppin’!
Need I say more? Everyone’s favorite coffee shop will keep you fueled throughout your day.
Spectacular Shopping at Universal CityWalk Orlando
You may not think of Universal Orlando Resort as a major shopping destination, but you’d be pleasantly surprised! If the traditional theme park souvenir doesn’t speak to you, hop and shop around Universal CityWalk Orlando for a more practical memento like apparel or art pieces. Here is the lowdown on key shops and retailers.
If you’ve got a skater in your family, Element is a must-shop. If you don’t ... go anyway! Element prides itself on “form-meets-function” gear that will have you feeling fly.
What better way to remember the time of your life on vacation than with a gorgeous new watch? Fossil has nice, reasonably priced watches, wallets, jewelry and other accessories. Quality is Fossil’s middle name.
No, you can’t pick up your fruits and veggies here. Fresh Produce is a boutique-style shop offering a wide range of women’s beachy clothing, shoes, and accessories.
Hart & Huntington Tattoo Company
If you’re searching for the ultimate vacation souvenir, step into Orlando’s premier tattoo parlor and get inked in a shop known for its creativity, quality and cleanliness.
P!Q will most certainly peak your family’s interest. There is something for everyone in here! From unique pieces of art alluding to your favorite Netflix binge shows, to hilarious desk accessories ... you won’t want to leave here without picking something up for yourself or a friend back home.
Quiet Flight Surf Shop
I have to admit, my favorite part of this surf shop is the giant wave photo-op outside. Make your way into the store, and you can shop all of summer’s favorite brands like Billabong, Vans, Quicksilver, Volcom, Roxy, Oakley, Ray-Ban and more. Perhaps a new bikini or board shorts for your visit to Universal's Volcano Bay?
Rock out at the Hard Rock Café’s souvenir shop! You can find the Hard Rock logo on everything imaginable to remember your rockin’ visit. Take home a robe, pin, T-shirts and more.
The Island Clothing Co.
Take your vacation vibes home with you by stocking up on laid-back island brands such as Tommy Bahama, Honolua Surf Co. and more. Get ahold of some tropical, colorful garbs to look like a true Floridian!
Universal Studios Store
Didn’t feel like committing to buying and carrying around a certain souvenir in the parks all day? Look no further. You can pick up tons of unique Universal gear here before heading back to your hotel.
Universal CityWalk Bars, Nightlife and Entertainment
If you didn’t get your fill of entertainment and fun at Universal’s parks throughout the day, there’s plenty more to see at CityWalk. From seeing stars on the big screen to karaoke bars where you're the star, as well as nightlife spots that keep the party going, you're never at a loss for fun at Universal CityWalk.
AMC Universal Cineplex 20
There’s no better way to chill out than with a movie after a busy day at the parks. Catch the latest blockbuster, family film or dystopian teenage zombie rom-com right at Universal CityWalk.
Bob Marley—A Tribute to Freedom
We be jammin’, man! This restaurant is modeled after Bob Marley’s home in Kingston, Jamaica and full of artifacts, photos, and video clips of our favorite reggae legend. Get a taste of the island life with Jamaican-infused flavors at the restaurant, or grab a drink to go at the outside window! Beyond the great eats is great entertainment, with live music on select nights.
Blue Man Group
If you can’t decide between a comedy show, theater act, or concert, buy your tickets to see the Blue Man Group for the whole package! This trio has captivated over 35 million people worldwide, and you’re next! Plus you can get Blue Man Group discount tickets through us! The group will enthrall all of your senses and have you engaged from start to finish.
Fat Tuesday is your go-to place if you want to sip on some cocktails without breaking the bank...or spending too much time waiting at a bar. This counter-service joint has two different locations at CityWalk—but Leap and I prefer the “upstairs” main location for its larger variety in flavors. You can get a 16oz. frozen beverage for only $8, and an extra shot for $2 if you’re feeling froggy. And you can mix whatever flavors you want! Strawberry daiquiri + Piña Colada = PERFECTION.
Hollywood Drive-In Golf
This one is a frog family must-do when we hit CityWalk! This interactive putt-putt course will keep your family having fun throughout all 18 holes ... or 36, if you want to do both courses! Choose from 50’s sci-fi or horror movie themes, and keep an eye out for the quirky special effects throughout. You won’t find a mini-golf course like this back home!
Lone Palm Airport
Step onto Jimmy Buffett’s very own seaplane for a waterfront tiki bar to enjoy out-of-this-world appetizers and drinks. This Parrothead oasis offers classic and unique snacks, including Conch Fritters with Lava Lava sauce. Yes, please—after all, it’s 5 o’clock somewhere!
Calling all dancing kings and queens! Head to The Groove for a multi-level dance club equipped with the latest music and lighting effects. If you want the VIP experience for a special occasion, opt for reserved seating and bottle service.
Red Coconut Club
CityWalk’s Red Coconut Club describes itself as “Vintage Vegas with a Tropical Twist.” I don’t think anything could sound better than that! This tiki-chic nightclub has one floor dedicated to dancing, and a second floor dedicated to dining. Check out the outdoor patio for an unbeatable view of CityWalk’s twinkling lights.
Feeling confident? Stop by Rising Star for karaoke, whether it’s your singing debut or just a stop on your tour. Be the star of the show with a live band and back-up singers for the ultimate singing experience! This is a great way to get out of your comfort zone on vacation and make memories that will last a lifetime. Rising Star has a shining menu with specialty cocktails (Read: confidence builders) such as the Pineapple Orange Margarita.
Top Universal CityWalk Orlando Tips
1. Try something unique. Sure, a simple dinner at Burger King’s killer Whopper Bar is a blast. However, we recommend thinking outside of the pond for your dining options. Instead, try the Red Oven Pizza Makery as a more unique, low-cost option.
2. Don’t wait around. Are you just wanting a quick drink or snack? Skip the full-blown dining experience. There are plenty of great places where you can have fun without investing too much time or money. Pick up a milkshake at the walk-up order station at Toothsome, or head to Margaritas-to-go Surf Shack to get that signature Jimmy Buffett beverage.
3. Dine at odd hours. Eating lunch at 1PM on the dot or dinner at 7PM is a sure fire way to get caught up in a long wait time. Try scheduling meals for irregular times—do a late lunch around 2:30PM, and dinner around 8PM. This will allow you to use that wait time for better things!
4. Make reservations. If you have your heart set on a meal at Antojitos, call ahead to make sure you can get your fam a table without an extensive wait.
5. Schedule a night out around your entertainment. Got Blue Man Group tickets? Be sure to time your evening wisely so that you can enjoy a great dinner with plenty of time to make it to the show. Whether or not you plan on hanging at CityWalk before a show, be sure to arrive two hours before show time to allow ample time for parking, security and travel.
6. Plan, plan, plan. There are TONS of shopping, dining and entertainment options at CityWalk. Do research on the options and figure out what would be best for you and your frog squad. CityWalk will overwhelm you with its splendor, so it’s good to have a game plan ahead of time.
7. And plan efficiently. Think you’ll be spending big bucks at a certain shop? Save that for later so you won’t have to haul your bags around all day.
8. Beware of weather. Just like at the parks themselves, Universal CityWalk Orlando is a mostly outdoor experience. If there’s rain in the forecast (SPOILER ALERT: there usually is most Florida evenings) bring umbrellas, rain jackets, or emergency ponchos. It is way better to be prepared than to have to duck out in a shop.
9. Even beware of the GOOD weather. Again, CityWalk will expose you to all of the elements. The last thing your tadpoles need is to get sunburnt while out shopping! Wear sunscreen and stay hydrated to keep the family hoppin’.
10. Get those discounts. Keep your Annual Pass handy at Universal CityWalk. Many shops and attractions offer special pricing.
Woo—time to take a breath! Can you believe that there is so much to do right in the heart of Universal Orlando? It is most definitely worth spending a night—or even a full day—here. It is the perfect place for an escape, whether you want a wild night of karaoke and cocktails, or a laid-back afternoon full of fast food and shopping.
What is your go-to agenda at Universal CityWalk Orlando? Do you have a must-try plate at a restaurant or snack you can't live without? What shop do you spend your green in? Tell me in the comments below!