Dubbed the theme park capital of the world, Orlando has no shortage of family-friendly fun. And of course, Orlando is home to the crown jewel of amusement parks: Walt Disney World. Visited by more than 60 million vacationers a year, the four Disney theme parks are the engine that keeps the surrounding city going.
Theme parks dominate Orlando's entertainment landscape. The four major Disney parks are Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Epcot. Smaller parks include Di ...
Theme parks dominate Orlando's entertainment landscape. The four major Disney parks are Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and Epcot. Smaller parks include Disney's Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.
Beyond Disney, you'll find Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, LegoLand, SeaWorld Orlando, Discovery Cove, Aquatica and the newest water park, Volcano Bay. Smaller specialty parks also dot the central Florida map, including Fun Spot America and Gatorland. With such a large variety, it's easy to see why so many theme park enthusiasts and kids of all ages flock to Orlando year after year. But assuming there's nothing in Orlando beyond the Mouse would mean missing out on many exciting experiences.
The high volume of tourism in the region has given rise to a wide variety of world-class accommodations in Orlando. Home to over 90 vacation ownership resorts and hundreds of hotels, travelers looking for where to stay in Orlando enjoy a lot of options. Arguably the most popular of these resort collections in Orlando is the Disney Vacation Club. Timeshares in Orlando can give frequent vacationers the chance to have a home away from home right next to the "happiest place on earth."
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The theme parks alone offer vacationers plenty to do during their stay in Orlando. Visiting Disney World, Universal, SeaWorld and LegoLand are musts for a family vacation. Still, those looking for things to do in Orlando besides Disney World can easily find plenty of activities off the beaten track.
Orlando's lively downtown and Winter Park districts boast a wide array of arts ...
Orlando's lively downtown and Winter Park districts boast a wide array of arts entertainment from theaters to art museums. Three local theaters line this strip: the Enzian, Mad Cow Theater and the Orlando Shakespeare Theater. Each offer a wide variety of shows from classic plays to children's theater.
Museums include the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum which houses the world's largest collection of Tiffany stained glass, the Mennello Museum of American Art and the Orlando Museum of Art. Just outside of Downtown, you can find the Orlando Science Center, a large building housing dozens of interactive science exhibits and an IMAX theater.
Within the Disney area, take a break from the parks by taking a stroll at Disney Springs, a newly revamped shopping and dining area. Just a short drive north, visitors can visit the I-Drive strip featuring more shopping, dining and attractions. Notable experiences here include ICON Orlando, WonderWorks and Chocolate Kingdom.
Believe it or not Orlando is a foodie haven. With tons of eateries to fit any budget, travelers can rest assured that a quality meal at one of the best restaurants in Orlando is just around the corner. Head to Disney Springs to experience the Iron Chef run Morimoto Asia or slip into a unique experience at Fogo de Chao, a top-notch Brazilian rodizio style steakhouse. For comfort food on a budget ...
Believe it or not Orlando is a foodie haven. With tons of eateries to fit any budget, travelers can rest assured that a quality meal at one of the best restaurants in Orlando is just around the corner. Head to Disney Springs to experience the Iron Chef run Morimoto Asia or slip into a unique experience at Fogo de Chao, a top-notch Brazilian rodizio style steakhouse. For comfort food on a budget, grab a seat at one of the 4Rivers Smokehouse locations. 4Rivers is a hidden gem specializing in BBQ so good it inspires locals to show their love by placing 4Rivers bumper stickers on their cars. Once you've had your fill, enjoy shopping in Winter Parks Park Avenue district or one of Orlandos luxury shopping malls.
Despite its reputation as the theme park capital of the world, Orlando has plenty of charm outside of Disney. The city itself is home to over a quarter million people, many (but not all) who work in the hospitality industry. Travel outside the Disney sphere to discover a growing city that is quickly becoming a cultural hub catering to all types of visitors.
Foodies will not be disappo ...
Foodies will not be disappointed by Orlando, which is home to fine dining like Victoria and Alber's in Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Norman's at the Ritz-Carlton. Families looking for cheap eats can rest assured they'll never have to eat at a fast food chain. There are hundreds of small but excellent cafes and restaurants all over town.
For a nice stroll along scenic shops and a boat tour along central Florida's Chain of Lakes, spend the day in Winter Park's Park Avenue district. The boat tour takes visitors through several lakes connected by channels, offering a great view of historic homes in the area.
Attractions in Orlando beyond the theme parks are also concentrated in the International Drive area. I-Drive, as the locals call it, connects SeaWorld Orlando with the Premium Outlet Mall. It runs through the Orange County Convention Center and has some of the best attractions like the ICON Orlando Ferris wheel, the SEA LIFE Aquarium, and Fun Spot.
While public transportation exists in Orlando, it's probably not your best bet for getting around from attraction to attraction. Busses offer limited routes and run infrequently. The new Sun Rail train system runs north to south from the town of DeBary to past Disney World in Kissimmee and has stops all along Orlando's I-4 corridor. The Sun Rail train is a great option if you want to visit the Winter Park area without taking a cab or renting a car.
In the I-Drive area, visitors can take advantage of the I-Ride Trolley which transorts guests anywhere along the I-Drive strip and has drop-offs at attractions such as Fun Spot, Ripley's Believe it or Not and I-Drive 360.
Millions of visitors decide to spend their vacations in Orlando each year. Most of these vacationers head to the parks in the in the spring and summer months from April to August. If you're looking to escape the crowds, the best time to visit Orlando is in early November (before the Thanksgiving holiday) or in early February. The temperatures during these windows is also the best you'll find in central Florida. If you can only visit in the summer months, brace yourself for high heat, humidity and the possibility of tropical storm activity.
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