The extravagance and allure of Orlando’s many luxurious resort properties notwithstanding, most of the traveling public takes its vacations on a budget. Fortunately, world-class destinations like the City Beautiful offer myriad options for those looking to spend a little less on their accommodations so they can spend a little more exploring the Magic Kingdom, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the dozens of other attractions that make our city something of a travel Mecca for families from all over the world. What’s especially nice is that giving up a star or two from a property’s name doesn’t have to mean sacrificing amenities or extras – not by a long shot. Cases in point: the Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando isn’t merely across the street from of one of I-Drive’s most frequented destinations for dining, shopping and entertainment; it also has three swimming pools (two heated), a recently renovated arcade and free guest shuttles to Universal, SeaWorld and Wet ‘n’ Wild. Heck, you can even bring your dog. An expansive recreation area, including a pool and beach volleyball keep family vacationers active at the Avanti International Resort, even on off-park days. A convenient location puts guests within walking distance of restaurants, shops and other attractions.
Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista
The 640-room Clarion Inn Lake Buena Vista -- with its two swimming pools and colorful "Splash Zone" -- is an exceptionally family-friendly choice, making intermittent breaks from park-hopping not only relaxing for the grown-ups, but fun for the kids. Rooms feature either two doubles or one king bed, along with fridge, microwave, coffee maker, cable TV and free wireless Internet. Of course, when the time comes to head back to Orlando's signature attractions, the hotel's free scheduled shuttle service and advance ticketing make it easy. The on-site Boardwalk Buffet Restaurant offers a "Kid's Eat Free" program is available for children under 9 who are dining with a paying adult.
Drury Inn & Suites Orlando
Free is this property's middle name -- free hot "Quickstart" breakfast, free "5:30 Kickback" with hot food and cold drinks, free soda and popcorn in the lobby. Sure, Drury offers other freebies, like wireless Internet, but with so many free eats available, you may not even have room for the area's many fine restaurants. You'll have space to swim them off, though, in the hotel's neat indoor/outdoor swimming pool, which means random Florida rains need not send you scrambling for your room. Nearby, attractions like SeaWorld, Aquatica, and the range of Disney's theme parks -- not to mention the near round-the-clock excitement of Universal Orlando -- delight vacationers, but the Drury Inn & Suites Orlando is convenient for business travelers, as well.
StaySky Suites I-Drive Orlando
You want value? You got it. And just one block from everything that I-Drive has to offer. Free guest shuttles run daily to Wet 'n'Wild, Universal, SeaWorld and Walt Disney World theme parks, and since this property is all-suite, your party will have some room to move in their home away from home. An outdoor pool, spa and fitness center are all on site and a nightly Manager's Reception helps put a reasonable spring in your step before you head out for a scintillating evening on the town. Complimentary wi-fi means you'll have all the access you need to fill your days and nights with vacation excitement on the fly.
Rosen Inn International
Not only does this value-centric property offer a lush, tropical setting just minutes from the excitement of Universal and the entertainment, dining and shopping of I-Drive, kids ages 9 and under will dine free at the buffet with a paying adult. That's savings you can easily apply at any number of the city's wonderful venues. Of course, there are on-site amusements here, as well, including two outdoor heated pools, a playground and a video arcade. Lounge lizards will find nightly drink specials and all the sports they want on the bar's multiple TVs and karaoke to entertain would-be American Idols.
Best Western Plus Universal Inn
Yes, this property is uber-convenient for Universal Orlando Resort-centric vacations, but it's also the closest property to the Holy Land Experience if you're in the market to visit. Guests will enjoy free scheduled transportation to SeaWorld, Universal and Wet 'n' Wild and the daily, free full breakfast will have them loaded with plenty of energy for a full day of theme parking. Don't want to wait for the shuttle? For Universal-goers, there's no need. This property makes visits to CityWalk, Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios Florida a walk-to breeze. And in Orlando's mostly glorious weather, you'll want to take advantage.
Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Orlando - International Drive
A location amid all the action of I-Drive (of which there is much!) and free shuttles to both Universal Orlando Resort and the Magic Kingdom mean that guests of the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Orlando - International Drive can relax knowing there will be plenty to do and plenty of extra money with which to do it. For the moments your ideal vacation consists of doing nothing, the hotel's outdoor pool and whirlpool should fit the bill nicely. Business travelers will enjoy a location just three miles from the Orlando Convention Center and come nightfall the restaurants and entertainment of Universal CityWalk are nearby, as well.
Hampton Inn Orlando/Lake Buena Vista
This property sits in the heart of Lake Buena Vista, just minutes from Disney's doorstep, and the complimentary shuttle service makes getting there -- or SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, Universal Islands of Adventure, even one of Orlando's Premium Outlet Malls -- super convenient. In fact, you can even purchase Disney tickets right in the hotel lobby while the family enjoys a free hot breakfast. Other complimentary amenities include high-speed Internet access in every room and use of the gym and fitness center. Business travelers can split the difference between work and play while enjoying the convenience of the on-site center -- fax, photocopying and printer are among its amenities.
Looking for an altogether different Orlando experience than the one offered in the traditional resort area? Check out the EO Inn & Spa, a boutique experience on the shores of lovely Lake Eola and an ideal home base for exploration of beautiful Thornton Park and the excitement of downtown. Known as the "Crown Jewel of Thornton Park," the EO Inn & Spa is ideal for couples looking for romance -- even locals on a one-night "staycation". Much of the city's energetic nightlife is well within walking distance and the on-site spa serves up relaxation in the form of couple's massages, mani-pedis and all manner of upscale services. Take in the balcony views, relax on the hotel's deck and enjoy a soak in its outdoor Jacuzzi before getting ready for a night at the Amway Center, Bob Carr Performing Arts Center or one of the area's trendy restaurants.
Avanti International Resort
Avanti's expansive recreation area means active families will find favor in staying put on those off-park days. Those looking to relax can grab a frosty beverage at the poolside cafe, and those with energy to burn can swim, play beach volleyball or even enjoy the on-site fitness center. Scheduled shuttles to and from the theme parks means you can either leave the car (or skip the rental altogether) and the property's location is walking distance from an array of shops and eateries. Every Friday from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., local artists show off their creative talents in the Avanti Lobby.
Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando
Located on International Drive, the Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando offers easy access to theme parks, restaurants, shops and movie theaters. Complimentary shuttle services are offered to an array of theme park attractions, as well as the Rosen Shingle Creek Golf Course. The 1,020 rooms at the Rosen Inn at Pointe Orlando provide standard amenities like a high-speed Internet access, mini fridge, microwave, coffeemaker, alarm clock, hair dryer and 32-inch television. Late-night snackers will find the Little-Bite Mini-Market and Deli's 24-7 hours an especially nice convenience. Travelers with pets will be happy to know Fido can tag along, as well, for a small, additional fee.
About A.D. Thompson
A.D. Thompson has spent more than 20 years as a professional writer and roughly 15 as a Floridian. The words, she has found, come easier with bare feet and rum.
A roller coaster enthusiast, A.D. readily admits there is fun to be had amid the madness of the theme parks, but has found there is magic, as well, in the outer-lying reaches of Mickey’s long shadow. She is delighted to share with you the spoils of her adopted city.
Visit her colorful compendium at www.amydrewthompson.com.
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