Why Orlando Is A Good Location For The NBA All-Star Game - Forbes

Although Orlando's theme parks and family-friendly fun make it a perennial draw for travelers, this weekend the city will be abuzz with sports fans in town for the 2012 NBA All-Star game. On Feb. 25, Orlando's Amway Center will see basketball's greats—Lebron James, Carmello Anthony, Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, just to name a few—face off in an East versus West contest.

Orlando. Photo courtesy of iStock/Laura Stone.

It's the second time the city has hosted the game (the first was 20 years ago, when Magic Johnson famously returned to the court to win MVP). So what makes the city a good place for this star-studded event? Here are four reasons why Orlando won this year's bid:

1. Happening Nightlife

Orlando's two major theme parks—Universal Studios Florida and Walt Disney World Resort—provide plenty of restaurants and nightlife, but venture outside of the resort areas and you'll uncover more spots that aren't teeming with tourists. The nightlife hub of downtown is a 10-minute walk from Amway Center and boasts clubs and sports bars to hit up post-game. Nearby Orange Avenue is Orlando's main downtown artery, and where it intersects with Central Boulevard you'll find Ember—the huge outdoor patio is known for hosting Orlando Magic after-parties. The bar has a relaxed Mediterranean vibe and a menu with craft beers and sliders, flatbreads and small plates.

One80 Lounge. Photo courtesy of Church Street Entertainment.

For a hangout even closer to the action, One80 Grey Goose Lounge is located on top of the Amway Center and stays lively even on the off-season. With a posh South Beach feel and bottle service that draws crowds, you'll want to make a reservation ahead of time to secure a spot. Other popular spots include nightclubs Sky Sixty, Vain, and Bliss, as well as wine bar Eola Wine Company and Frank & Steins pub for a more relaxed atmosphere.

2. Restaurants for Sports-Lovers

Like in any good sports town, steakhouses abound in Orlando. Housed in the historic Kress building, Kres Chophouse is prized for its cozy booths, dim lighting and hearty dishes such as Prime Top Sirloin Diane with white cheddar rosemary mash and brandy cream. The restaurant prides itself on fresh ingredients—seafood makes it way to your table from local Floridian and Caribbean fisherman, and steaks come from the restaurant's packinghouse in Omaha.

The city's "restaurant row," the collection of eateries along Sand Lake Road, offers options from (more) steaks to sushi. Dragonfly is a Japanese fare favorite—the restaurant claims its robata grill is the only open-fire grill of its kind in Orlando. The grill heats up to 1,000 degrees using traditional Binchō-tan charcoal to cook kalbi ribs and skewers of prawns. On the cooler side, the restaurant serves sushi and sashimi and has a full sake bar.

3. Plenty of Golfing and Boating

All-Star weekend doesn't have to be all about basketball—the city is dotted with lush greens to practice your swing. Orlando's Bay Hill Club & Lodge is Arnold Palmer's home course, while ChampionsGate Golf Club features two Greg Norman-designed courses and Villas of Grand Cypress Golf Club has 45 Jack Niklaus Signature-designed holes to tee off from—and each of these greens is less than 30 minutes from downtown.

22 Feb, 2012

Source: http://news.google.com/news/url?sa=t&fd=R&usg=AFQjCNFqBCML6mFh--ifaHcq5ay2eI7mVQ&url=http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestravelguide/2012/02/21/why-orlando-is-a-good-location-for-the-nba-all-star-game/
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