Things to Do In Orlando
Orlando Travel Guide
Featured Orlando Video
Overview of Magic Kingdom
by Tripfilms member Campion
Get Your Bearings in Orlando
Where to Stay
Orlando could be described as “sprawling” to some degree, so depending on visit’s your prime directive (are you here to hit the theme parks or dedicated to downtown diversions?) choices abound. In areas like Kissimmee and Lake Buena Vista, you’ll find a plethora of properties catering to families and other park-centric travelers. Most offer free shuttle service to and from, though a vehicle will give you added flexibility if you’re interested in park-hopping or heading somewhere special for a post-coaster dinner.
Hot Tips: Monorail-access properties (Disney's Contemporary, Polynesian and Grand Floridian) make hitting the Magic Kingdom a breeze. Change lines at the Transport and Ticket Center and you can add EPCOT to your drive-free repertoire, as well.
What to Eat
Not surprisingly, O-Town is rife with recognizable franchises, whether upscale steak house or child-friendly theme restaurant. Downtown Disney offers much in the way of the latter with places like the T-Rex Café, where life-sized animatronic dinosaurs and regular meteor showers make dining an immersive experience. Those looking for smaller, more unique dining venues might check out neighborhoods like Winter Park, Colonialtown (also known as “Mills 50”) and College Park, for eateries that are ethnic, eclectic and decidedly more “local.”
Hot Tips: Don't let the oft-tight parking on Winter Park's Park Avenue turn you off. Just half a block off Park Avenue North you'll find a couple of free lots and one multilevel garage where (shh!) there's free all-day parking on the fourth and fifth levels.
Things to See
Some visitors consider the Orlando metro one giant attraction as there are so many options for fun. For some, of course, it’s all about the kids and what’s available ranges far beyond obvious choices like Universal Orlando or SeaWorld. Patrons of the arts, however, might be surprised to learn the city has a host of museums and performance-based venues, as well, along with lush, green parks and wilderness areas in which to discover the unique flora and fauna of natural Florida by foot, bike, kayak, canoe or horseback. Wanna go deeper? Try an airboat tour of the wetlands.
Caution: Summer and school vacations are prime time for the theme parks and when you'll find lines longest and most exhausting. Upgrading to your chosen park's "express" ticket option (where availabl) is well worth it.
Hot Tips: Loch Haven Park is home to the Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Orlando Fire Museum, Orlando Philharmonic and hosts all kinds of festivals year-round, making it a phenomenal choice for those with limited time and an art fetish to feed.
Places to Party
From concerts to piano bars, local theater to touring Broadway shows, pulsating nightclubs to trendy hookah bars, the City Beautiful covers all the bases. And downtown’s shining new Amway Center, home of the Orlando Magic, offers the one-two punch of a game or concert followed by drinking, dining, dancing or a scintillating combination thereof just steps away. Closer to the parks on I-Drive, Pointe Orlando’s options include several venues that turn from restaurant to dinner theater or nightclub as the moon begins to rise.
Caution: Dress codes are no joke in some of the more expensive downtown-area nightclubs, especially for men. Save the sneakers and t-shirts for the gym or try a more casual bar instead.
Hot Tips: Dig drag? Pointe Orlando's Funky Monkey Wine Company is home to Danielle Hunter & Company's dazzling show every Friday at 9 p.m. Reservations strongly recommended.
Where to Shop
What can we say? From the Neiman-Marcus- and Bloomingdales’s-anchored Mall at Millenia to the charming, antiques-driven economies of Mount Dora and Sanford to the north, Orlando does not lack for shopping opportunities. In its many bustling outlet shopping centers, it’s not at all uncommon to see international visitors stocking up on brands that are harder to come by back home,
Best Local Souvenir: C'mon. Do you even have to ask? Hit up one of Downtown Disney's varied shops for your choice of iconic Mouse treasure, whether you prefer it emblazoned on a ball cap or t-shirt, pressed into a collectible. Fresh citrus also ranks high, but tastes best if you pick it yourself.
Orlando Is Known for...
Five of Orlando's most unique features and characteristics.Theme Parks
You could plan a whole week's vacation around the big three theme parks - Walt Disney World Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Universal Orlando Resort - and barely scratch the surface. At Animal Kingdom you can lunch with zebras and giraffesright outside the window. Discovery Cove, a sister park of SeaWorld, has guests touring the lagoon via An Atlantic bottlenose dolphin’s dorsal fin. Universal lets you fully immerse yourself in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Don't miss this if you're a Harry Potter fan!The Orlando Magic
Playing pro basketball in a brand new arena in downtown Orlando, the Orlando Magic have a loyal local fan base which swells with ticket-holding visitors. If your city doesn't have an NBA team, then check the team's calendar before you travel. You may get to enjoy the excitement of pro basketball while you're in central Florida.Conventions
The Orange County Convention Center is the second largest convention center in the nation. It plays host to trade shows and conventions that attract people from around the globe. The Surf Expo, Southern Women’s Show and the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions/IAAPA to name a few. This place is so large, in fact, if...
Read the full list of five »