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New AC Hotel Orlando Downtown Is Making Waves
AC Hotel Orlando Downtown exterior
Recently I was invited to explore the 180-room AC Hotel Orlando Downtown—one of the city’s newest hotels. The property is already making a buzz in Orlando. Its 2,000 square feet of meeting space provides planners another compelling option for small groups to Orlando’s ever-growing portfolio of meeting properties.
Its onsite amenities are noteworthy too. AC Hotel Orlando Downtown’s SkyBar is booked far in advance and only open to hotel guests on weekends. The terrace, with spectacular sunset views from its 18th-floor perch, features some delectable fare including tapas, craft beer and signature cocktail, “The Cloud,” with Hendricks gin and a white orb that, when popped, releases smoky elderflower herbals. The reception area, also on the 18th floor, features contemporary art and floor-to-ceiling windows.
Orlando is known for its endless entertainment opportunities at the theme parks, but the new AC’s location downtown is a world away, with plenty of options for groups that want a different kind of experience.
Throughout my stay at the new property, I had a chance to explore what the surrounding area has to offer.
Our first foray into the city was to the Artifact Candle Factory, Orlando’s only DIY candle-making shop. We custom-made our creations with myriad fragrances on hand with the help of our fragrance and candle experts Heather and Sean, who advised us on what scents worked best with other scents.
That night we were treated to an outdoor concert at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts at its one-of-a-kind Frontyard Festival. Since indoor theater-going was shut down for a time during the pandemic, the center got creative with outdoor pods that seat up to six. We saw Foreigner, one of the most popular bands of the ‘70s. While we enjoyed one of their chart-topping songs “I Want to Know What Love Is,” servers took our orders of beer, wine and snacks from local food purveyors, including Oak Flame Pizza and Juniper Patisserie.
The next day we enjoyed breakfast at the hotel’s AC Kitchen with imported croissants from France, savory egg tarts, granola parfaits and Orlando’s own Foxtail coffee.
The sustenance was needed before an eventful day at Southern Hill Farms, just 30 minutes from the heart of the city. Here we snapped Instagram-worthy photos of the sea of sunflowers grown on the farm, picked blueberries and sampled their signature donuts.
Surprisingly, we didn’t spoil our appetites for lunch at the Stubborn Mule, a New American restaurant in Orlando. The restaurant—which serves everything from burgers to scallops and grits—is known for its use of locally sourced ingredients and vast selection of craft beer.
After lunch, we headed to International Drive (I-Drive) to check out the newest tourist spot, The Museum of Illusions. Already popular in Athens, Georgia, and Austin, Texas, this latest outpost will have you shrinking to miniature size in the Ames room or defying the laws of gravity in the Reverse Room. The venue is also available for groups of up to 200 and is located less than a mile from Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center.
If you’re lucky enough to be in the city in May, when the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival takes place, as we were, you’ll see some unique and original theater at different venues all over the city. Now in its 30th year, we were treated to a unique production of “The Little Merman from the Black Lagoon,” where Ethyl Merman and his friends from under the sea come in contact with a group of scientists. While some of the shows may not be everyone’s taste, it’s a great way to support the local theater community.
Our final night dinner was at one of my favorite spots: Reyes Mezcaleria. Not only can you choose from 150 agave spirits, its ceviche, guacamole and tacos are some of the best Mexican fare in the city.