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Magical Florida Vacation Orlando

Plan Your Orlando Vacation

Florida Vacation Orlando visitors
With nearly 150,000 people a day visiting Orlando, the city’s infrastructure is built to handle the happy guests.

Last year over 135 million people visited Florida. While exact numbers are elusive, we estimate at least one-third of these travelers visited Orlando theme parks. That being the case, and some simple math, it tells us that Orlando has over 123,000 visitors in town at any one time – plus Florida residents visiting Orlando that go uncounted.

The point here is that should this many people visit any other city in the country on any given day, it would be chaos. Few other cities in the world could handle the influx. Orlando is built for tourism.

The city has the attractions, hotels, resorts, restaurants and infrastructure not just to accommodate these visitors, but to welcome and encourage their travel.

Our Florida Vacation Orlando article will give you all you need to know to plan, enjoy and simplify your memorable trip to Orlando.

Orlando, Florida: A Vibrant City

A few statistics and information about this central Florida city may be useful for travelers to grasp. As indicated above, there are about 150,000 tourists here in a city with only 328,000 residents.

Fortunately, the surrounding Central Florida area furnishes the hundreds of thousands of employees necessary to support the tourism.

Orlando Population 2024:
  • Current: As of 2024 estimates, Orlando’s population is approximately 328,535, making it the fourth most populous city in Florida and the 67th in the United States.
  • Growth: The city is experiencing steady growth, with an annual increase of around 1.93%. Since the 2020 census, the population has risen by 6.76%.
Size of Orlando:
  • Land area: Orlando encompasses roughly 287.6 square kilometers (111 square miles), making it a relatively compact city.
    Florida Vacation Orlando - Map of Orlando on state map
    Fortunately, the state of Florida has constructed a highway system to support the Orlando growth.
Orlando Population Statistics:
  • Median age: The median age in Orlando is 34.7 years, with a slight difference between males (34.2 years) and females (35.2 years).
  • Average household income: The average household income in Orlando sits at $96,619.
  • Poverty rate: The poverty rate in the city stands at 15.15%, slightly higher than the 12.7% for the state of Florida.
Additional Information:
  • County seat: Orlando is the county seat of Orange County, Florida. Check out where Orlando is located on the map.
  • Central Florida Hub: The city serves as the center of the metropolitan area, which boasts a population of over 2.5 million. The cities around the hub provide the people that work in the tourism and theme park industry. Orlando, as the hub, has communities like Longwood, Oviedo, Winter Park, Kissimmee and Clermont surrounding it.
  • Tourism: Orlando is a world-renowned tourist destination, primarily known for its numerous theme parks, including Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort. People plan thousands of Florida vacation Orlando destination daily.
  • Economy: The city’s economy is diverse, with tourism playing a major role. Other significant sectors include healthcare, education, and technology.

Overall, Orlando is a rapidly growing and vibrant city with a diverse population and a thriving economy. It’s a popular destination for families, young professionals, and retirees alike, offering a wide range of attractions, cultural experiences, and employment opportunities.

Florida Vacation Orlando
There is no question that the building of Walt Disney World spurred Orlando to be a great city.

Why is Orlando So Popular As A Vacation Spot

Orlando is a highly popular vacation destination for several reasons:

  1. Theme Parks: Orlando is home to some of the world’s most famous theme parks, including Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando, and LEGOLAND Florida Resort just a few miles away. These parks offer a wide range of attractions and entertainment for visitors of all ages, making Orlando a dream destination for families, thrill-seekers, and Disney enthusiasts.
  2. Variety of Attractions: In addition to theme parks, Orlando offers a diverse array of attractions and activities, such as water parks, wildlife parks, museums, botanical gardens, golf courses, and shopping centers. There’s something for everyone to enjoy, whether you’re interested in outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or relaxation.
  3. Year-Round Warm Weather: Orlando enjoys a subtropical climate, with mild winters and hot, humid summers. This pleasant weather makes it an appealing destination for travelers seeking sunshine and warmth throughout the year, especially during the colder months in other parts of the world.
  4. Accessibility: Orlando is easily accessible by air, with Orlando International Airport being one of the busiest airports in the United States. Additionally, the city’s central location in Florida makes it a convenient base for exploring other popular destinations in the state, such as Miami, Tampa, and the beaches of the Gulf Coast and Atlantic Coast. In fact, many vacations take day trips from Orlando to explore other parts of the state.
    Florida vacation orlando airport MCO
    The Orlando International Airport has helped Orlando’s growth by keeping up with unprecedented passenger levels.
  5. Family-Friendly Environment: Orlando is known for its family-friendly atmosphere, with numerous accommodations, restaurants, and attractions catering to families with children. Many hotels and resorts offer kid-friendly amenities and activities, making it a stress-free destination for parents traveling with young ones.
  6. Cultural Diversity: Orlando’s diverse population contributes to its vibrant cultural scene, with various ethnic neighborhoods, festivals, and events celebrating different cultures and traditions. Visitors can enjoy diverse cuisines, arts, and entertainment options throughout the city.
  7. Convention and Conference Hub: Orlando is a major hub for conventions, conferences, and business events, thanks to its world-class convention center and numerous hotels with extensive meeting and event facilities. This draws a steady stream of business travelers to the city, adding to its overall tourism appeal.

Overall, the combination of world-renowned theme parks, diverse attractions, favorable climate, accessibility, and family-friendly atmosphere makes Orlando a top vacation destination for millions of visitors each year.

We will dive into some of these reasons in this article.

Reason One an Orlando Vacation is Popular – The Major Theme Parks

Orlando, Florida, is a world-renowned destination for theme parks, catering to families, thrill-seekers, and everyone in between. Here’s a comprehensive description, location, and review of some of the major theme parks in Orlando:

Walt Disney World Resort’s Four Parks
  • Magic Kingdom: Immerse yourself in the timeless charm of Disney
    Vacation in Orlando Florida - Magic Kingdom
    These two characters are the representation of why the Magic Kingdom is so popular.
    classics at Magic Kingdom, the most iconic park in the resort. Explore familiar lands like Adventureland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland, ride iconic attractions like Space Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean, and meet beloved Disney characters.
  • Epcot: Embark on a global adventure at Epcot, celebrating international cultures, innovation, and exploration. World Showcase features pavilions representing 11 countries, each offering unique food, drinks, and cultural experiences. Thrilling rides like Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind and Test Track blend high-tech elements with classic Disney storytelling.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Step into the world of movies, television, and Broadway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Experience the excitement of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, including the thrilling Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run ride. Take a trip down memory lane on classic attractions like The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Immerse yourself in the magic of nature and animal conservation at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Explore diverse landscapes like Africa, Asia, and Pandora – The World of Avatar, encounter fascinating creatures through thrilling rides like Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest, and learn about Disney’s dedication to animal welfare.

Reviews: Walt Disney World is consistently rated among the best theme parks globally, praised for its comprehensive experiences, iconic characters, and attention to detail. However, ticket prices can be expensive, and crowds, especially during peak seasons, can be overwhelming.

things you need when flying

Location: Walt Disney World Resort is located in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, approximately 20 miles southwest of Orlando.

Universal Orlando Resort’s Three Parks
  • Universal Studios Florida: Experience the excitement of Hollywood at Universal Studios Florida. Ride thrilling movie-based attractions like The Incredible Hulk Coaster and Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, explore immersive worlds like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, and catch live shows featuring iconic characters.
    vacation Florida orlando - Harry Potter
    The recent success of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter has brought a whole new generation to Orlando and Universal Studios.
  • Universal’s Islands of Adventure: Unleash your inner adventurer at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Journey through the Marvel Universe, battle alongside superheroes in rides like The Amazing Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk Coaster, explore the fantastical world of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, and experience the thrills of Jurassic Park River Adventure.
  • Volcano Bay: Cool off and have a blast at Volcano Bay, Universal Orlando’s water park. Experience thrilling water slides, explore relaxing rivers, and soak up the sun in a tropical paradise.

Reviews: Universal Orlando is known for its thrilling rides, fun experiences, and popular movie franchises. However, similar to Disney World, ticket prices can be high, and wait times for attractions can be long.

Location: Universal Orlando Resort is located in Orlando, Florida, just a few miles from Walt Disney World Resort.

Orlando theme park tickets
Other Notable Theme Parks
  • SeaWorld Orlando: Explore the wonders of the ocean and animal life at SeaWorld Orlando. Witness awe-inspiring shows featuring orcas, dolphins, and other marine animals, experience thrilling rides like Kraken Unleashed and Mako, and learn about ocean conservation efforts.
  • Discovery Cove: Enjoy a personalized and unforgettable experience at Discovery Cove, an all-inclusive day resort offering up-close interactions with marine animals like dolphins, stingrays, and sharks.

Reviews: SeaWorld Orlando offers a mix of animal shows, educational experiences, and thrilling rides. It happens to be one of our family’s favorites. However, the park has faced criticism regarding its treatment of animals. On the other hand, the exposure to a huge population brings awareness to the animals.

Discovery Cove provides a unique and unforgettable experience, but the high cost can be a deterrent for some visitors.

Location: SeaWorld Orlando and Discovery Cove are located in Orlando, Florida, a short distance from the major theme park resorts.

Choosing the right theme park for you and your family in Orlando depends on your preferences and budget. Consider the types of experiences you’re looking for, the ages of those in your group, and your tolerance for crowds and costs when making your decision. Do you know how many theme parks are in Orlando?

Orlando Vacation Florida - Gatorland
Gatorland is one of the original theme parks in Florida since 1949.

Other Amusement Parks Near Disney

In addition to Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld, Orlando offers several other amusement parks and attractions. The list below is another reason a Florida vacation in Orlando is so popular. They offer fun that is not as intense, more affordable and less crowded than the major parks.

LEGOLAND Florida Resort

Located in Winter Haven, about an hour’s drive from Orlando, LEGOLAND Florida Resort features over 50 rides, shows, and attractions geared towards families with children ages 2-12. It offers themed areas, LEGO-themed rides, a water park, and Miniland USA, which features intricate LEGO models of famous landmarks. While not in Orlando proper, LEGOLAND is generally considered part of the Orlando theme parks.

Gatorland

Known as the “Alligator Capital of the World,” Gatorland is a unique wildlife park and theme park featuring thousands of alligators and crocodiles. Visitors can watch alligator wrestling shows, explore the breeding marsh, and interact with other animals like snakes and birds.

Fun Spot America

With two locations in Orlando (Fun Spot America Orlando and Fun Spot America Kissimmee), Fun Spot America offers classic amusement park rides, go-karts, arcade games, and thrill rides like the SkyCoaster. It’s a great option for family fun and affordable entertainment.

ICON Park

ICON Park, another family favorite, is an entertainment complex on International Drive featuring attractions like The Wheel, a 400-foot observation wheel offering stunning views of Orlando’s skyline. It also offers Madame Tussauds Orlando wax museum, SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, restaurants, shops, and live entertainment.

Orlando StarFlyer
things to do in Orlando - Andretti Karting
Want a few thrills in Orlando? Try the Andretti Karting. Plus they have some cool virtual reality.

Located on International Drive, the Orlando StarFlyer is one of the world’s tallest swing rides, standing at 450 feet tall. It offers thrilling swings that soar above the city, providing panoramic views of Orlando.

WonderWorks

This indoor amusement park, WonderWorks, located on International Drive offers over 100 interactive exhibits across six themed zones, including hands-on activities, a ropes course, laser tag, and a 4D motion theater.

Andretti Indoor Karting & Games

Andretti Indoor Karting & Games is perfect for adrenaline junkies, this indoor amusement center features high-speed go-kart racing, arcade games, laser tag, bowling, virtual reality experiences, and a 7D movie experience.

These are just a few examples of the many amusement parks and attractions Orlando has to offer beyond Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld. Each provides its own unique experiences and thrills for visitors to enjoy.

Icon Park in Orlando
Icon Park in Orlando has this famous wheel overlooking for miles. Icon also has a famous wax museum.

The History of the Theme Park Industry in Orlando

The history of the theme park industry in Orlando is rich and fascinating, marked by significant milestones and developments that have transformed the city into one of the world’s premier vacation destinations. Here’s an overview of its evolution:

Early Days: Orlando’s theme park industry traces its roots back to the mid-20th century when tourism began to flourish in Central Florida. The opening of Gatorland in 1949 marked the region’s first major attraction, showcasing Florida’s native alligators and other wildlife.

Walt Disney World: The turning point for Orlando’s theme park industry came with the opening of Walt Disney World Resort in 1971. Spanning over 25,000 acres, it was the largest and most ambitious project undertaken by the Walt Disney Company at the time. The resort featured the Magic Kingdom theme park, inspired by Disneyland in California, as well as hotels, golf courses, and other recreational facilities. Disney’s arrival in Orlando catapulted the city onto the global stage as a top tourist destination.

Expansion of Disney World: Over the years, Disney World expanded its offerings with the addition of EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) in 1982, Disney’s Hollywood Studios (formerly Disney-MGM Studios) in 1989, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 1998. Each new theme park brought its own unique attractions and experiences, further solidifying Disney’s presence in Orlando and attracting millions of visitors from around the world.

vacation in Florida SeaWorld
We can’t forget about SeaWorld and their contribution of a different kind of experience in Orlando.

Universal Studios: In 1990, Universal Studios Florida opened its gates, becoming Orlando’s second major theme park destination. Inspired by the success of its Hollywood counterpart, Universal Studios Florida offered guests the opportunity to experience the magic of movies with thrilling rides, live shows, and behind-the-scenes attractions. The park’s popularity grew with the addition of Universal’s Islands of Adventure in 1999, featuring themed lands based on popular franchises like Harry Potter and Jurassic Park.

SeaWorld and Beyond: SeaWorld Orlando, part of the SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment chain, opened its doors in 1973, adding a marine-themed park to Orlando’s roster of attractions. Over the years, SeaWorld expanded with the addition of Aquatica water park and Discovery Cove, offering guests immersive experiences with marine life.

Diversification and Growth: Orlando’s theme park industry continued to diversify and grow with the addition of new attractions, water parks, and entertainment complexes. Other notable developments include the opening of LEGOLAND Florida Resort in 2011, bringing the iconic toy bricks to life with themed rides and attractions, and the emergence of entertainment districts like ICON Park on International Drive, offering a mix of dining, shopping, and attractions.

Technological Advancements: The theme park industry in Orlando has also been shaped by advancements in technology, with attractions incorporating state-of-the-art ride systems, special effects, and immersive storytelling techniques to create unforgettable experiences for guests.

Today, Orlando stands as one of the world’s leading destinations for theme park enthusiasts, drawing millions of visitors each year with its unparalleled entertainment offerings and iconic attractions. The city’s theme park industry continues to evolve and innovate, ensuring that Florida vacation Orlando remains at the forefront of the global tourism landscape.

vacation to Orlando - Kennedy Space Center
A vacation to Orlando would not be complete without making the trip to Kennedy Space Center.

Orlando is More Than Theme Parks – Nearby Orlando Attractions Besides Theme Parks

Beyond the world-famous theme parks, Orlando offers a surprising variety of attractions for visitors seeking unique experiences. Here are some captivating options:

  • Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex: Embark on a captivating journey into the world of space exploration at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Witness historical artifacts like rockets and spacecraft, learn about the ongoing quest for space exploration, and even get the chance to meet an astronaut.
  • Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens: Encounter a diverse array of animals from around the globe at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens. Explore immersive exhibits, witness exciting animal encounters, and stroll through beautifully landscaped botanical gardens.
  • Orlando Museum of Art: Delve into the world of art at the Orlando Museum of Art, showcasing an impressive collection of American, European, and African art spanning centuries. Explore diverse exhibits, participate in interactive programs, and appreciate the beauty of artistic expression.
  • Mendes Cuban Museum & Art Gallery: Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Cuba at the Mendes Cuban Museum & Art Gallery. Explore exhibits showcasing Cuban art, history, and culture, and gain a deeper understanding of this vibrant island nation.
    florida vacation airboat ride
    For a little family adventure, try an airboat ride at Boggy Creek.
  • Winter Park Historical Society: Step back in time and explore the history of Winter Park, a charming suburb of Orlando, at the Winter Park Historical Society. Visit historic homes and museums, learn about the area’s rich past, and appreciate the unique architecture and culture.
  • Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park: Embark on an exhilarating adventure amidst the treetops at the Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park. Navigate through challenging ropes courses, conquer zip lines, and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
  • Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures: Glide through the swampy wilderness of the Everglades on an airboat tour with Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures. Spot alligators, birds, and other native wildlife in their natural habitat, and learn about the unique ecosystem of this remarkable region.
  • Crayola Experience: Unleash your inner creativity at the Crayola Experience, a vibrant and interactive attraction perfect for families. Explore colorful exhibits, create your own custom crayons, participate in hands-on activities, and discover the magic of color.
  • SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium: Immerse yourself in the underwater world at SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium. Explore diverse exhibits showcasing marine life from around the globe, witness fascinating creatures like sharks, sea turtles, and stingrays, and learn about the importance of ocean conservation.

Whether you’re seeking thrills, cultural experiences, or family-friendly fun, Orlando offers a diverse array of attractions beyond the theme parks. So, explore, discover, and create lasting memories in this vibrant city!

orlando family vacation - Madame'e wax museum
Can you tell this is a wax figure of Taylor Swift. This and dozens more at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum

Indoor Attractions in Orlando for a Rainy Day

Orlando, with its theme parks and outdoor activities, might seem like a place that gets put on hold when the rain comes. But fret not, for the city offers a plethora of indoor attractions that are perfect for beating the rain and having a fun-filled day. Here are some of the best options:

  • WonderWorks Orlando: This amusement park is all about the “edutainment” experience, where learning and entertainment go hand-in-hand. Explore over 100 interactive exhibits that challenge your senses and test your limits. Climb the 35-foot indoor rock wall, experience the simulated moonwalk, or lie on a bed of nails!
  • Kennedy Space Center Complex: Journey through space exploration history at the Kennedy Space Center Complex. Take a tour of the Launch Complex, see the iconic rockets, and learn about the brave astronauts who ventured into the cosmos. You can even experience a simulated space shuttle launch in the Astronaut Training Experience.
  • ICON Orlando: This entertainment complex houses a variety of attractions, including SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, and the Orlando Eye Observation Wheel. Explore the underwater world at the aquarium, take selfies with your favorite celebrities at the wax museum, and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the city from the top of the wheel.
  • Ripley’s Believe It or Not!: Oddity-lovers will have a blast at Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, a museum filled with strange and bizarre artifacts from around the world. Shrink your head like a shrunken head from the Amazon, marvel at a life-sized T-Rex skeleton, and get lost in a mind-bending mirror maze.
  • Crayola Experience: Unleash your inner child at the Crayola Experience, a creative haven for all ages. Make your own crayons, color on giant walls, and take part in a variety of interactive activities that celebrate the world of color.

These are just a few of the many indoor attractions that Orlando has to offer. So next time you find yourself in the city on a rainy day, don’t let the weather dampen your spirits. There’s plenty of fun to be had indoors!

Beaches of Orlandoorlando beach vacation

One of the most popular things to do on most Florida vacations is to look for a beach. People all over the world come just to visit pure white sand beaches in the Sunshine State.

Florida has hundreds of beaches up and down both coasts. Many of our Florida beaches are rated as some of the best in the world. 

If you are visiting Orlando and want a beach day, you must travel from an hour to two hours for the best beaches on either the east or west coast of Florida.

For complete information about which beaches to visit near Orlando, see our Orlando Beach Article.

Florida vacation to Orlando - Mall Millenia
The Mall at Millenia is a sight for futuristic enthusiasts. Shopping is as good!

Best Shopping Spots in Orlando

Here are some of the best shopping spots in Orlando that are relatively easy to get to on your Florida vacation to Orlando:

  • Orlando Outlet Marketplace is an outlet mall near Universal Studios with designer clothing, luggage & gift retailers. It has a 4.5 star rating on Google Maps. Opening hours are 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM on weekdays and 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM on Sundays.
  • The Mall at Millenia is a high-end mall with designer clothes, decor & jewelry plus eateries in sleek, glass-ceilinged space. It has a 4.6 star rating on Google Maps. Opening hours are 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM on weekdays and 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM on Saturdays.
  • SODO Shopping Center is an urban complex of living & office space with national chain stores, specialty boutiques & dining. It has a 4.4 star rating on Google Maps.
  • The Florida Mall is a snazzy, upscale shopping center offering dozens of stores, a food court & sit-down restaurants. It has a 4.5 star rating on Google Maps. Opening hours are 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM on weekdays, 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM on Fridays and Saturdays, and 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM on Sundays.
  • Magic Mall is an enclosed flea market-style shopping mall holds booths selling clothes, shoes & electronics. It has a 3.9 star rating on Google Maps. Opening hours are 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM on Wednesday and Thursdays, 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM on Fridays and Saturdays, and 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM on Sundays.
vacation in Florida Orlando spring
There are hundreds of springs in Florida. Several are near Orlando like our favorite Wekiwa Spring and the river formed by the spring.

Discover The Natural Beauty of Orlando and Central Florida

While Orlando is primarily known for its theme parks and entertainment attractions, Central Florida also boasts abundant natural beauty and diverse ecosystems. Here are some highlights:

  1. Lakes and Waterways: Central Florida is home to numerous lakes and waterways, adding to the region’s natural charm. The most famous is Lake Eola in downtown Orlando, a picturesque lake surrounded by a park, walking paths, and swan boats. Additionally, the region is dotted with smaller lakes and rivers, offering opportunities for boating, fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
  2. Wetlands and Wildlife Preserves: The Orlando area is surrounded by wetlands and wildlife preserves, including the expansive Everglades to the south. The Orlando Wetlands Park, located east of the city, is a 1,650-acre freshwater marsh that serves as a habitat for diverse bird species and other wildlife. Visitors can explore the park’s trails and observation areas for birdwatching and nature photography. Are there alligators in Orlando?
  3. State Parks and Natural Areas: Central Florida is home to several state parks and natural areas, showcasing the region’s natural beauty and biodiversity. Examples include Wekiwa Springs State Park, known for its crystal-clear springs, hiking trails, and wildlife viewing opportunities, and the Ocala National Forest, offering camping, hiking, and horseback riding amid scenic lakes, springs, and forests.
  4. Botanical Gardens and Arboretums: Orlando and its surrounding areas feature several botanical gardens and arboretums, where visitors can immerse themselves in lush landscapes and beautiful plant collections. Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando is one such attraction, offering 50 acres of gardens, including tropical and subtropical plants, historic homes, and scenic trails.
  5. Beaches and Coastal Areas: While not located directly in Orlando, Central Florida is within driving distance of the state’s Atlantic and Gulf Coast beaches. Visitors can enjoy day trips to popular beach destinations like Cocoa Beach, Daytona Beach, and Clearwater Beach, where they can soak up the sun, swim in the ocean, and engage in water sports like surfing and parasailing. Check out the coastal community of Anna Maria Island where many Orlando visitors go.
  6. Natural Springs: Central Florida is known for its natural springs, which offer cool, clear waters for swimming, snorkeling, and tubing. Blue Spring State Park, located near Orlando, is a popular spot for manatees during the winter months and offers opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing, and paddling along the spring run.

Overall, Central Florida’s natural beauty provides a welcome contrast to the region’s urban and theme park attractions, offering visitors opportunities to connect with nature and enjoy outdoor adventures amidst stunning landscapes and diverse ecosystems.

Vacation in Orlando Florida - SunRail
The Orlando SunRail is a community rail system that goes to small town and places around Orlando for visitors convenience. It’s a fun ride!

Transportation Systems in Orlando

Orlando, Florida, has a variety of transportation options to accommodate residents and visitors alike. Here are some of the main transportation systems in Orlando:

Roads and Highways: Orlando has an extensive network of roads and highways, including major thoroughfares like Interstate 4 (I-4), State Road 408 (East-West Expressway), and the Florida Turnpike. These roads provide convenient access to the city’s attractions, downtown area, residential neighborhoods, and surrounding areas. However, traffic congestion can be common, especially during peak travel times and tourist seasons.

Public Transportation – Lynx: Lynx is the public transit system serving Orlando and the surrounding areas. It operates a network of bus routes throughout Orange, Seminole, and Osceola counties, providing affordable transportation for residents and visitors. Lynx also offers LYMMO, a fare-free downtown circulator service in Orlando’s central business district.

SunRail: SunRail is a commuter rail system serving the Orlando metropolitan area. It connects downtown Orlando with neighboring communities such as Winter Park, Altamonte Springs, and Kissimmee. SunRail provides a convenient option for commuters and visitors looking to travel between different parts of the region.

Orlando International Airport (MCO): Orlando International Airport is the primary airport serving the Orlando area and one of the busiest airports in the United States. It offers domestic and international flights, serving millions of passengers each year. The airport provides various ground transportation options, including rental cars, shuttles, taxis, and ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft.

Rental Cars: Rental cars are a popular transportation option for visitors exploring Orlando and its surrounding attractions. Numerous car rental companies operate at Orlando International Airport and throughout the city, offering a wide range of vehicles to suit different preferences and budgets. You can rent a car from one of the largest rental car companies here.

Biking and Walking: Some areas of Orlando, especially downtown and tourist districts like International Drive, are pedestrian and bike-friendly. Dedicated bike lanes and sidewalks make it easy for residents and visitors to explore these areas on foot or by bicycle.

Theme Park Transportation: Many theme parks in Orlando, including Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort, offer complimentary transportation options for guests staying at their resorts. These may include buses, monorails, boats, or other forms of transportation to shuttle guests between hotels and theme parks.

Overall, Orlando’s transportation systems provide convenient options for getting around the city and exploring its many attractions, whether by car, public transit, or other modes of transportation.

The Best Rated Hotels and Resorts in Orlando

Here are the top highly-rated hotels in Orlando and we have saved you time by giving you their ratings:

  • Hilton Orlando. Modern
    Orlando vacation Universal Loew's
    The Ritz Carlton Orlando Luxury Hotel
    rooms & suites in an upmarket hotel featuring 4 restaurants, 2 outdoor pools & a lazy river. 4-star hotel with a user rating of 4.4.
  • JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes. Sophisticated lodging with fine dining, golf & a pool, plus free fitness classes. 4-star hotel with a user rating of 4.6.
  • Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal Orlando. Modern tropical-style resort offering a lagoon & a pool, plus theme park perks & themed restaurants. 4-star hotel with a user rating of 4.5.
  • ette hotel Orlando. Ultra-refined quarters in a premium hotel with an acclaimed restaurant, a rooftop bar & a spa. 4-star hotel with a user rating of 4.8.
  • Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld®. Modern property with several dining options, plus a water park, a pool & a free theme park shuttle. 4-star hotel with a user rating of 4.4.
  • Sheraton Orlando North Hotel. Contemporary hotel with an Irish bar, an outdoor pool & a 24/7 gym, plus Wi-Fi access. 3-star hotel with a user rating of 4.1.
    orlando vacation in Florida - Universal Loew's
    Universal’s Loews Sapphire Falls Resort
  • Tru by Hilton Orlando Convention Center Area. Informal budget hotel offering a 24-hour fitness room & an outdoor pool, plus a lobby lounge. 3-star hotel with a user rating of 4.4.
  • SpringHill Suites by Marriott Orlando at Millenia. Unassuming suites in a laid-back hotel offering a restaurant, a pool & a 24-hour gym. 4-star hotel with a user rating of 4.6.
  • Rosen Shingle Creek: Sprawling resort with 4 pools, a spa, multiple dining options, plus theme park shuttles and a golf course. 4-star hotel with a user rating of 4.3.
  • Waldorf Astoria Orlando: Luxurious hotel with multiple restaurants, a spa & a fitness center, plus a pool & theme park shuttles. 5-star hotel with a user rating of 4.1.
  • The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes:. Opulent hotel with multiple restaurants, a spa & a fitness center, plus 2 pools & theme park shuttles. 5-star hotel with a user rating of 4.1.
    Florida Vacation in Orlando - Grand Floridian Disney
    Disney’s Grand Floridian
  • Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando: Italian-themed hotel with multiple restaurants, a spa & a fitness center, plus a pool & express theme park entry. 4.5-star hotel with a user rating of 4.4.
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa: Victorian-themed resort with multiple restaurants, a spa & a fitness center, plus a marina, a white-sand beach & monorail transportation to Magic Kingdom. 4.5-star hotel with a user rating of 4.6.

We hope this helps you find the perfect hotel for your trip to Orlando!

Some of Our Favorite Dining Options in Orlando

Fine Dining

Orlando has a burgeoning culinary scene with several high-rated fine dining establishments. Here are three of the highest-rated fine dining restaurants in Orlando:

  1. Victoria & Albert’s: Located at Disney’s
    Florida vacation in Orlando - Victoria and Alberts disney
    Arguably the best fine dining in Orlando at Victoria and Alberts in the Grand Floridian Hotel. The cost for perfection should be expected!
    Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Victoria & Albert’s is renowned for its elegant ambiance and exquisite dining experience. It has received numerous accolades, including AAA Five Diamond Awards, making it one of the most prestigious dining destinations in Orlando. The menu features modern American cuisine with a focus on seasonal ingredients, and guests can choose from several tasting menus paired with fine wines.
  2. The Venetian Chop House: Situated at the Caribe Royale Orlando, The Venetian Chop House offers a sophisticated dining experience with a focus on prime steaks and fresh seafood. The restaurant boasts an upscale atmosphere with luxurious decor and attentive service. Diners can enjoy a diverse menu of expertly crafted dishes, complemented by an extensive wine list and handcrafted cocktails.
  3. Bull & Bear Steakhouse: Located at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, Bull & Bear Steakhouse is known for its classic steakhouse fare served in a refined setting. The restaurant features an upscale ambiance with dark wood furnishings, plush seating, and panoramic views of the golf course. The menu highlights premium cuts of beef, as well as innovative dishes prepared with locally sourced ingredients. Guests can also indulge in an extensive selection of fine wines and signature cocktails.

These restaurants offer an exceptional dining experience with impeccable service, exquisite cuisine, and elegant surroundings, making them top choices for fine dining in Orlando.

Casual Dining

Orlando offers a plethora of casual dining options catering to various tastes and preferences. Here are three top-rated casual restaurants in Orlando:

  1. The Ravenous Pig: Located in Winter Park,
    vacation in Orlando Florida - Ravenous Pig
    Outdoor seating at the Ravenous Pig, an eclectic casual dining spot.
    just north of downtown Orlando, The Ravenous Pig is a popular gastropub known for its creative cuisine and relaxed atmosphere. It features a seasonally inspired menu showcasing locally sourced ingredients, with dishes ranging from gourmet burgers and wood-grilled meats to seafood and artisanal charcuterie. The restaurant also offers an extensive selection of craft beers, wines, and cocktails.
  2. Yellow Dog Eats: Situated in Gotha, a short drive from downtown Orlando, Yellow Dog Eats is a quirky and eclectic eatery famous for its inventive sandwiches, salads, and BBQ dishes. Housed in a charming historic building with vibrant decor, the restaurant exudes a laid-back vibe that perfectly complements its flavorful and hearty fare. Guests can enjoy outdoor seating in the restaurant’s picturesque garden area, adding to the overall charm of the dining experience.
  3. Se7en Bites: Located in the Milk District of Orlando, Se7en Bites is a beloved bakery and cafe specializing in Southern comfort food and scratch-made desserts. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and brunch, offering a menu of hearty dishes like biscuits and gravy, fried chicken sandwiches, and shrimp and grits. However, it’s the selection of decadent baked goods and desserts, including pies, cakes, and cookies, that truly steal the show. Se7en Bites has garnered a loyal following for its cozy atmosphere, friendly service, and delicious comfort fare.

These casual restaurants offer a relaxed dining experience with delicious food, welcoming atmospheres, and a touch of local flavor, making them popular choices among both locals and visitors in Orlando.

Best Family Dining on International Drive

International Drive in Orlando offers a wide range of family-friendly dining options, catering to various tastes and preferences. Here are three highly-rated family dining restaurants on International Drive:

The Cheesecake Factory: Located at The Mall at Millenia on International Drive, The Cheesecake Factory is a popular choice for families looking for a diverse menu with something for everyone. Known for its extensive menu featuring American classics, international dishes, and, of course, a wide selection of cheesecakes, this restaurant offers ample seating and a lively atmosphere perfect for families.

trip to Orlando - Cafe Tu Tu Tango
The Cafe Tu Tu Tango is a fun tapas restaurant. This is one of our favorite restaurants when we go to Orlando.

Café Tu Tu Tango: This unique restaurant offers a creative and eclectic dining experience inspired by the art and culture of Spain. Located on International Drive, Café Tu Tu Tango features a tapas-style menu with small plates meant for sharing, allowing families to sample a variety of flavors and dishes. The restaurant also showcases local artists and musicians, adding to the vibrant and lively ambiance. Our favorite restaurant, but not really for very young children.

Bahama Breeze Island Grille: Situated near the Orlando Eye on International Drive, Bahama Breeze Island Grille offers a taste of the Caribbean with its vibrant atmosphere and island-inspired cuisine. Families can enjoy a menu featuring tropical favorites like jerk chicken, seafood paella, and coconut shrimp, as well as refreshing cocktails and mocktails for both kids and adults. The restaurant’s spacious patio and outdoor bar area provide a relaxing setting for families to unwind and enjoy a meal together.

These family dining options on International Drive combine delicious food, welcoming atmospheres, and convenient locations, making them ideal choices for families looking to enjoy a memorable dining experience during their visit to Orlando.

Orlando trip - planning
Planning is the key to a successful Florida vacation Orlando.

10 Tips For Planning Your Florida Vacation Orlando

Planning an Orlando vacation can be exciting but also overwhelming with so many attractions and activities to choose from. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your trip:

  1. Set a Budget: Determine how much you’re willing to spend on accommodations, transportation, meals, and attractions. This will help you prioritize your spending and avoid overspending while on vacation.
  1. Choose the Right Time to Visit: Consider factors such as weather, crowd levels, and special events when deciding when to visit Orlando. Peak tourist seasons, such as summer and major holidays, tend to be more crowded and expensive. Shoulder seasons, like spring and fall, may offer better weather and fewer crowds.
  1. Research Attractions and Plan Your Itinerary: Research the various attractions and activities available in Orlando, including theme parks, museums, outdoor adventures, and cultural experiences. Create a rough itinerary outlining which attractions you want to visit each day, but also leave room for flexibility and spontaneous exploration.
  1. Purchase Tickets in Advance: Consider purchasing tickets for theme parks and other attractions in advance to save time and potentially money. Look for discounted ticket bundles or multi-day passes that offer admission to multiple attractions. However, discounts and packages must be carefully vetted to make sure they offer a true value. We recommend you check with this reputable vendor for the best prices on packages.
  1. Book Accommodations Early: Orlando offers a wide range of accommodations, including hotels, resorts, vacation rentals, and campgrounds. Book your accommodations early, especially if you’re planning to visit during peak season, to ensure you have the best options available. Check availability ad pricing with some of our partners below.

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  1. Consider Transportation Options: Decide whether you’ll need a rental car or if you’ll rely on public transportation, ridesharing services, or shuttle services to get around Orlando. Keep in mind that some hotels offer complimentary transportation to theme parks and other attractions.
  1. Pack Accordingly: Check the weather forecast for Orlando before you pack and pack accordingly. Don’t forget essentials like sunscreen, comfortable walking shoes, a refillable water bottle, and any medications you may need. You can see a packing list for Orlando here.
  1. Stay Flexible: While it’s good to have a rough itinerary, be prepared to adapt your plans based on weather, crowd levels, and unexpected circumstances. Allow yourself some downtime to relax and recharge between activities.
  1. Explore Beyond the Theme Parks: While Orlando is known for its theme parks, don’t forget
    orlando vacation in Florida - alligator
    If you decide to venture away from Orlando, we highly recommend you consider visiting The Everglades. One of the wonders of the world. Visit Everglades National Park.
    to explore other attractions and activities in the area, such as outdoor parks, museums, shopping districts, and cultural events. Explore some alternative things to see and do here.
  1. Have Fun and Enjoy the Experience: Most importantly, relax, have fun, and enjoy the experience of exploring everything Orlando has to offer. Take plenty of photos, make memories, and savor every moment of your vacation!

Final Thoughts on Your Florida Vacation Orlando

Orlando truly is a magical escape that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a fan of theme parks, nature, shopping, or dining, this vibrant city has it all. From the enchanting world of Disney to the breathtaking beauty of the Everglades, Orlando will captivate your heart and create memories that will last a lifetime.

So pack your bags, embrace the excitement, and get ready for an unforgettable journey through the best of Florida. Orlando awaits, ready to whisk you away on a magical adventure you’ll never forget. Let the magic begin!

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