Libraries - Built in 1923, the Orlando Public Library (part of the Orange County Library System) is the largest public library building in Florida. Located in downtown Orlando on Central Boulevard, adjacent to the Regional History Center, the Library houses the Orange County Bar Association's entire law collection (fourth floor). The Children's Library, located on the first floor, includes colorful wall art depicting scenes from the Wizard of Oz, and specially designed reading areas like a tower from the Emerald City, and a front porch of a Florida Cracker home. A Computer Resource Center is located on the second floor and offers free access to computers and the Internet. The Genealogy Collection is one of the largest in the state. A small café is located in the first floor lobby. Most area libraries are members of the Central Florida Library Cooperative (CFLC), one of six multitype library cooperatives in Florida.
Museums - Located in downtown Orlando is the Orange County Regional History Center , housed in the old county courthouse built circa 1927. The museum features displays of Central Florida history from Native American days to when tourism replaced citrus as the area's major industry, in addition to special exhibits, events, childrens' programs and concerts. Loch Haven Park, located just north of downtown Orlando on U.S. Hwy. 17-92 (Mills Avenue) is home to the Orlando Museum of Art, the Civic Theatre and the Mennello Museum of American Folk Art. The Orlando Museum of Art houses a fine permanent collection of 18th , 19th and 20th century American art, pre-Columbian artifacts and African objects, in addition to several visiting exhibitions. The Mennello Museum of American Folk Art showcases the works of folk painter, Earl Cunningham, and various traveling folk art exhibitions. The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in nearby Winter Park features the most comprehensive collection of Tiffany glass in the world, including Louis Comfort Tiffany's masterpiece, The Chapel . Also in Winter Park you will find the oldest art collection in Florida at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum located on the quaint campus of Rollins College, the oldest college in Florida. The collection of decorative arts and sculpture ranges from the Renaissance and Baroque to the 20 th century. Rollins College is also home to the annual spring Bach Festival, featuring classical music. Overlooking Lake Osceola in Winter Park, the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens remains a tribute to the works of the Czech-American sculptor. Consisting of a studio, two galleries, a chapel and three acres of gardens, the museum (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) is a showcase to more than 200 of Polasek's finest works from 1920-1960. Just north of Winter Park is the Maitland Art Center , with a gallery of exhibits dedicated to promoting American artists. The museum also features regular lectures and a resident artists program. The building, also on the National Register, is an impressive example of 1930s architecture. Any trip to Maitland should include the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center . The Center features a museum of exhibits tracing the history of Jewish communities in America and Europe from pre-World War II, and an extensive research library. Just south of Maitland is Eatonville, the nation's oldest African-American municipality - home of the annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities , honoring its famous native author . Visit the Zora Neale Hurston Museum of Arts, with its rotating exhibits by African-American artists, folk art and ethnic food court (but not on weekends – the museum is only open during the week). For a complete listing of Florida art museums and galleries, try the ArtNEW web guide .
Orlando Science Center - The Orlando Science Center , located on U.S. Hwy. 17-92 (Mills Avenue) about 10 minutes north of downtown Orlando, is a great family attraction. Spend the day engaging in hundreds of interactive learning activities and educational programs. Be sure and take in a current feature at the eight-story CineDome , the world's largest domed theater and planetarium.
Performing Arts - Downtown Orlando is home to the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre , host to the Broadway Series, bringing top names to the local stage. In addition, performances throughout the year include the Orlando Philharmonic, visiting symphony orchestras and the Southern Ballet. Next door is the TD Waterhouse Centre (previously the Orlando Arena), home of the NBA Orlando Magic and the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League. The Centre is one of several facilities owned and operated by the City of Orlando as part of the Orlando Centroplex . In addition to hosting sporting events, the Waterhouse Centre is a popular venue for live entertainment and concerts featuring big name performers.
The 950-seat Walt Disney Amphitheater, located on the west side of downtown Orlando's Lake Eola Park , hosts a variety of events, including concerts and performances from the Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival . Other entertainment includes FunnyEola, a free Orlando city-sponsored professional comedy and concert series held at the amphitheater on the second Tuesday of every month. The Orlando City Ballet , a pre-professional performing company, offers performances throughout the year at local festivals and exhibitions. A "must see" is Cirque du Soleil, a theatrical production like nothing you've experienced before. Enjoy the current La Nouba production at the specially-constructed theatre at Downtown Disney's West Side. Tickets sell out well in advance, so plan ahead!
Discount Tickets - Purchase half-priced "day of event" tickets to local theatre, dance and opera performances, concerts and museums. O-Tix!, based on the famous TKTS booth in New York City's Times Square, is operated by the Central Florida Theatre Alliance . Look for the O-Tix! on International Drive in the Official Visitor Center (just north of the Convention Center).