2024 Orlando Vacation Guide
Located in Central Florida, Orlando is one of the world’s leading holiday destinations. This was not always the case. Originally named Jernigan, the area was sparsely populated until the arrival of the citrus industry after the Civil War. The late 19th century was known as the city’s Golden Era. Many soldiers and airmen who trained at Orlando Army Air Base during the Second World War stayed or returned to the area to raise families. The airbase has since become Orlando International Airport, the 13th busiest in the United States. The name of the facility was changed to McCoy Air Force Base in honor of a former commander who died in an aircraft accident. The airfield’s “MCO” designation is still used today.
The area around Orlando became known as a tourist destination soon after the Spanish-American War. The city grew dramatically with the announcement and construction of Walt Disney World in nearby Lake Buena Vista in the late 1960s. Disney chose Orlando over Miami and Tampa because it was believed that the inland location was less susceptible to hurricanes than coastal regions. Over the years, several other large theme parks and outdoor recreational activities have opened. Because of its close proximity to nearby major attractions, the “City Beautiful” is often called the theme park capital of the world. Annually, more than 52 million people visit the area.
Orlando has numerous cultural venues, shopping centers, and recreational activities. The city is sometimes referred to as Hollywood East because of the large number of movies, television and musical performances that are produced in the area. There are four major shopping centers in Orlando. The Florida Mall is one of the largest single-story malls in America. The city boasts a thriving performing arts scene, including performances by Broadway touring companies. In addition to hosting the NBA’s Orlando Magic, there are several spring training facilities for major league baseball in the Orlando area as well. Numerous cultural festivals, such as the International Fringe Theater Festival, are held throughout the city each year. Orlando is a popular golf resort destination. One of the many courses around the city is the world-famous Bay Hill Club and Lodge.
Orlando is more than just theme parks. Whether it is a group of friends, families or single travelers, a stylish historic district, vibrant nightlife, a wide array of recreational opportunities and a full calendar of events awaits anyone who visits.
About Downtown Orlando
While the Orlando area may be known for its world-famous theme parks, Downtown Orlando offers plenty of entertainment and cultural attractions as well. The vibrant heart of the city, Downtown Orlando offers a wealth of landmarks and sites of interest to discover, including museums, parks, theaters and much more. In addition, the district boasts some of the city’s top nightlife spots, restaurants, shops and other visitor destinations. For any visitor to the Orlando area, a stop in Downtown Orlando is a must.
Downtown Orlando is the commercial, governmental and historic core of the city and the crux of the Orlando region of Florida. It holds most of the city’s skyscrapers and office buildings and also sports a growing nightlife and restaurant scene. The district is very walkable and easily accessible by air, bus, train or car.
The Downtown Orlando district is home to a wide array of visitor attractions, cultural venues, historic sites and other destinations to explore. From renowned museums to beautiful parks, this bustling district offers a little bit of something for everyone. One of its premier attractions is the Orlando Museum of Art, one of Florida’s largest and most celebrated art museums, as well as the Orlando Science Center, a fun place for all ages to learn more about science, technology and nature. Superb entertainment can be found at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater as well as the distinguished Orlando Repertory Theatre. Another top cultural institution worth visiting in Downtown Orlando is the Menello Museum of American Art, among the finest art museums in the state of Florida. In addition, Downtown Orlando plays host to a growing number of shops, galleries, restaurants and nightlife spots for visitors to enjoy.
With its mix of fascinating museums, beautiful parks and a wide array of theaters and restaurants, Downtown Orlando offers something for everyone. One of Florida’s best kept secrets, Downtown Orlando boasts a growing buzz and is among the premier destinations in the state for visitors.
Orlando Downtown Hotels
The downtown Orlando area features the city’s financial and historic districts along with many unique neighborhoods. Many of the residential areas are adjacent to the business district. Downtown living in Orlando is simple and convenient. The streets of downtown Orlando are tree-lined and clean so although it is a vibrant business center, you can still enjoy green scenery and strolls around the city. The downtown Orlando area is made up of five different enclaves
- Lake Eola Heights
- Thornton Park
- Central Business District
The downtown Orlando area covers a five-mile radius with an average daily population of over 250,000 people. Along with hosting the city’s major corporate centers and being the Central Business District, Orlando’s city and state government offices are also located in the downtown Orlando area. Enjoy the city’s arts, culture, sports facilities, nightclubs, performing arts centers and more entertainment areas. While downtown Orlando does not present itself as a tourist destination, visitors seeking an authentic Orlando experience make their way to the downtown Orlando area for adventure. Downtown Hotel Service offers Hotels near Downtown Orlando that are quality hotels at an affordable price. Use our Search box above or click here to see available hotels!
Weather always plays a role when visiting Orlando. Year-round, the weather attracts tons of visitors to its many theme parks and local attractions. On average, January is the coolest month with an average high is around 68 degrees with an average low of 48 degrees. January is one of three months with the lowest average precipitation. June is the warmest month with an average high of 88 degrees and an average low of 70 degrees. On average, June is one of the wettest months of the year with an average precipitation of six inches.
During the fall months, Orlando continues to be warm but is less humid than the summer days. September and October are usually the best known months to travel to Orlando. Tourists could be seen wearing shorts in the cooler months in Orlando compared to the locals who will otherwise bundle up with sweatshirts and pants. Even 50-degree weather can be considered quite cold for those residing in the area.
During the summer months, Orlando tends to be high in humidity. The humidity also increases the chances of possible thunderstorms, usually occurring in the afternoon hours. For those traveling in the summer, it is highly advised to wake up in the early hours when the temperatures are much cooler. It is wise to plan ahead and visit the theme parks and nearby attractions before a possible thunderstorm. When a thunderstorm occurs, always find safe shelter away from the storm to prevent being struck by lightning.
In Florida, lightning strikes are far more frequent than anywhere else in the United States due to the numerous thunderstorms that occur every year. Orlando is also known for its abundant sunshine. It is important to have the appropriate protection from the sun. For those with skin sensitivity to the sun, it is recommended to wear a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. It is also advised to carry a poncho in the event of any possible rainfall. During the warmer days, it is best to stay hydrated at all times.
In Florida, the hurricane season is from June to November. Hurricanes tend to occur at the peak months of late August through October. When under the threat of a hurricane, it is highly advised to seek shelter away from the storm. Following the evacuation, instructions are necessary and can save lives. At the same time, travelers should be prepared for any possible delays or canceled flights due to the possibility of severe weather.
With amusement parks, museums, activities, and places of interest as far as the eye can see, Orlando, Florida, is an entertainment mecca for adults and children, alike. If you bring your own vehicle to Orlando during your trip, transportation is not an issue. Luckily, there are enough transportation options in Orlando to help you get around, no matter what method you prefer.
Transportation by vehicle is a preferred method for many travelers, which is why a large number choose to fly into Orlando via one of the three airports that serve it and then rent vehicles to get around. There are vehicle rental counters at the Orlando International Airport, as well as a number of free-standing rental car businesses throughout the city for easy access.
Public transportation is another popular method of travel around Orlando, Florida. The LYNX bus system serves the city and surrounding areas via 71 different routes. The bus service starts at 4:30 a.m. each day and continues through 12:15 a.m., with buses stopping at high-traffic boarding and disembarking areas approximately every 15 minutes. Less busy areas see buses every half hour, and outlying areas around Orlando will have buses stopping once an hour. A part of the LYNX service is a downtown circulator, which transports riders to various popular stops in the downtown area at no cost. Per-ride, daily, weekly, and long-term fare plans are available.
Many tourists choose to board the IRIDE trolley bus system, which serves only International Drive and major points of interest, hotels, and resorts located along the route. Day passes are available, as passes for longer periods of time. Trolleys run from 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. daily on two different lines: red and green. Red Line trolleys stop every 20 minutes, while Green Line vehicles stop every half hour.
The area’s newest mode of public transportation is the SunRail, a commuter train system that serves the greater Orlando area. The 61-mile track can take passengers to stops within Orlando, or to and from outlying cities. Each train will hold up to 150 passengers and has the capability of traveling up to 79 miles per hour, making travel time between stops as brief as possible. Trains will run every half hour during the morning and afternoon rush hour times, and every two hours the rest of the day. Parts of the commuter rail service are under construction, with completion scheduled for 2014 and later.
If you are looking for a way to get up close to sea life, then this is it. You can swim with dolphins or stingrays and touch other animals that live in the ocean. While you are walking through the aviary, you can touch almost all of the birds that you see. There is a small water park where you can play, and you can eat lunch at the park restaurant. Pictures are taken while you are playing with the dolphins.
This is a fun show where the characters and guests interact. There are several Disney faces in the show including Mickey, Minnie, and Donald. The fireworks are the best part, but there is also a water and laser display. It is best to arrive early so that you can get good seats, and you should try to sit in the middle so that you see everything on stage.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Anyone who has read the books or watched the movies will enjoy this fun adventure. Something that you must see at the attraction is the wand demonstration at Ollivanderâ€™s. You can walk through Hogwarts and ride the Harry Potter Forbidden Journey. This is a small area in Disney, but the rides and shops more than makeup for the size.
Walt Disney World
Who goes to Orlando without visiting Disney World? While you are in the city, you need to spend at least a day exploring this popular family destination. There are rides for all ages, stores, restaurants and surprises around every corner. There is also a fireworks show in the evening at the castle. Parades are held on a regular basis in the park.
This is a fun water park that is great for children or adults. It features a large lagoon area where you can swim or ride the waves, or you can go down one of the water slides. The lazy river is a nice way to relax and soak up some sun. It is very crowded in the summer, so you might want to visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon.
Catch an amazing water show with whales and dolphins at Sea World. Watch as trainers ride on the backs of the animals, and the animals perform tricks in the water. You can also watch the trainers feed the animals.
Famous for the many theme parks that are located in and around the city, Orlando is the largest inland city in Florida. Many people visit and stay in the area each year for business and leisure. While staying in Orlando, people will find many world-class restaurants and fantastic eating establishments within the urban center and its neighborhoods and communities.
Downtown Orland restaurants
When it comes to finding places to eat in the city, the business district has the most popular restaurants. In fact, the downtown and business district has numerous cafes and restaurants. Just east of downtown is the Asian district where Thai, Vietnamese, and other Asian restaurants are found. In Thornton Park and Near Lake Eola are fine restaurants with grand views of the lake and the city. Loch Haven Park and Ivanhoe Village to the north of Downtown have little shops, cafes and more than one vegetarian option.
Of course, Disney World including Downtown Disney, Epcot and more has excellent places to eat from casual to fine dining. Within Epcot are international restaurants that help visitors to get a taste of the cuisines of different countries as well as a feel of the culture. Guests can walk away saying, “I ate in Morocco today!” or another country like Germany. Universal Orlando’s CityWalk is also a great area to find restaurants.
All over the Greater Orlando Area are many different types of cuisines. Travelers can eat foods with which they are familiar, and try some new foods from a variety of cultures. The most popular restaurants seem to be establishments serving local and American cuisines, and the number of restaurants offering American food is high. Other popular choices are Italian, Mexican or Southwestern, Seafood and Steakhouses. However, many international cuisines are well represented within Orlando.
Sometimes the small and out-of-the-way restaurants are gems to be discovered. Jack & Mary’s in Azalea Park serves great breakfasts and brunches, and locals love to eat at this diner-style establishment run by a husband and wife team. Then, Summer Palace near Eastwood serves Chinese, Japanese and sushi, and locals frequent this restaurant for the fine food and dining experience.
With all the options in and around the city, everyone can find something good to eat. Any visitor that is hungry in Orlando does not need to stay that way for long. In no time, the metropolis can feel more like home when travelers find one or two restaurants that they really love. Sitting down and enjoying the cozy dining atmosphere with fantastic food, friendly locals and other guests is a pleasure.
Many travelers think of Disney World when they think of events in Orlando, Florida. Certainly, Disney World offers great events along with its daily attractions and should never be overlooked as a destination for travelers. However, there are many other events in Orlando each season designed to attract visitors to the area.
Each year the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre hosts the Fresh Music Festival. The event is a showcase for the performers who haven’t made the transition to the success of sold out concerts and recording contracts. The event gives people a chance to sample a range of music that they may not hear from other sources.
A number of venues offer concerts and shows in a variety of genres during the year. For example, Hard Rock Live Orlando has a full schedule of rock, country and comedy performances. Check the local media for the best opportunities to enjoy a music event in Orlando.
Universal Orland Resort offers Music USA Festivals throughout the year. These events allow students and other amateur performers to learn from professionals resulting in a professional recording as well as a chance to compete against others.
The Orlando Museum of Art offers a number of art shows, lectures, and displays throughout the year. The events run the gamut from specialty glass sculpture and art to conventional paintings. The museum specializes in contemporary art as well as more modern pieces.
Orlando is the home of the National Basketball Association franchise known as the Magic. The team plays home games at the Amway Center throughout the regular season. Orlando is also home a number of college teams bringing a full schedule of high-quality sports events to the city every year.
Events at Disney World
Springtime at Disney World means baseball. The resort is the spring training headquarters of the Atlanta Braves of the National League. Combine time in the Magic Kingdom with a hot dog enjoyed watching a ball game for the perfect day.
It’s easier to keep in shape when you are having fun. What better place to have fun than Disney World? In a rather unique event, Disney world combines a half marathon that covers a course through the park with a number of other events. They even offer “Mickey’s Jingle Jungle 5K” race for the younger athlete.
Disney World features a number of other events throughout the year ranging from Disney’s Yuletide Fantasy and the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. Many of the events center around the normal operations of the park and include an opportunity to see behind the scenes of the operation.
Family Fun near Downtown Orlando
Orlando, Florida is one of the top family travel destinations in the entire world. Rather than spending those cold winter months at home, many opt to visit Orlando where they can enjoy warm sunny weather and the many popular attractions that can be found here. In addition to some of the most well-known attractions that provide families with days of fun during their stay in the sunshine state, there are some lesser-known spots that everyone is sure to enjoy.
Boggy Creek Airboat Rides
Experience the Everglades without actually traveling there. Boggy Creek Airboat Rides can be found right near Orlando, Florida and give you the chance to see some of the same wildlife that you would see on an airboat ride through the world-famous Everglades National Park. Alligators, turtles, wading birds and eagles are just a few animal species that may sneak up on you while soaring through the tall grass throughout the swamp. This 30-minute tour requires no prior reservations. Children and adults of all ages are welcome to experience the Boggy Creek Airboat Rides.
Gatorland is known as the alligator capital of the world. This wildlife preservation area is home to hundreds of alligators and crocodiles who lurk throughout the swamp’s tall grassy areas. Get up close and personal with the gators, watch as a man wrestles this dangerous beast, see gators jump from the water to catch chickens and more. Be sure to check out the Screaminâ€™ Gator adventure where you can walk across a suspension bridge above the alligators and make your way across a series of 4 ziplines.
Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World is by far one of the most popular and well-known attractions within Orlando, Florida. This family-friendly theme park brings your favorite childhood characters to life through exciting rides, shows, parades and unique dining experiences. Dine with Cinderella and the Prince in the Magic Kingdom, view the latest technology in Epcot, step into the movies at Hollywood Studios and get a little wild at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This is truly the place where dreams come true.
Universal Studios Orlando
When searching for a day of family fun, look no further than Universal Studios Orlando. This main theme park attraction brings visitors into the movies on fun rides such es E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, The Mummy, Despicable Me and The Simpsons. Right next door, visit Universal Islands of Adventure for a variety of top thrill rides, roller coasters and the new Harry Potter theme park. Visit Hogwarts Castle, try a butterbeer and shop for your own magic wand.
Shopping near Downtown Orlando
Orlando, Florida is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country and offers a wide range of shopping experiences. No matter what your style, you are sure to find the perfect place to shop within this sunshine state city. From high-end boutiques to affordable outlet centers that feature designer brands at everyday low prices, Orlando has it all.
Orlando Premium Outlets
Find some of the world’s most popular designer brands for less at the Orlando Premium Outlets. This outlet center features stores such as 7 For All Mankind, Neiman Marcus, The North Face and Saks Fifth Avenue. With over 180 stores to choose from, you are sure to find apparel, accessories and other merchandise that match your very own personal style. By simply taking a stroll around the outlet center, you will get to enjoy the Mediterranean-inspired village feel, complete with fountains and sitting areas.
The Florida Mall
The Florida Mall is known as one of the largest shopping destinations in all of Central Florida. Here you will find more than 250 fine retails, dining options, entertainment facilities and even an on-site hotel for your convenience. Anchor stores at The Florida Mall include Dillard’s, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue. Other top shops that you may pay a visit to during your time at the mall are Michael Kors, Pandora, Hollister Co., Sephora, and Victoria’s Secret.
The Mall at Millenia
When looking for a high-end, upscale shopping experience within Orlando, Florida, look no further than The Mall at Millenia. This premier shopping destination is home to a variety of international brands such s Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Burberry, and Prada. In addition to these fashionable retailers, other popular US stores such as Victoria’s Secret and Apple can be found within The Mall of Millenia. Located just minutes away from all major attractions within Orlando, this mall is easily accessible for all area visitors.
Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores
The Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores provide a smaller, more intimate outlet shopping experience. Located in the Lake Buena Vista area of Orlando, visitors will find a number of different discounted stores here such as the popular Disney Outlet, Crocs, Old Navy Outlet Exclusive and Aeropostale. This spacious village is the perfect place to visit for a relaxing, laid-back day of shopping.
Downtown Disney Marketplace
The Downtown Disney Marketplace combines fun, excitement and entertainment in one unique shopping destination. Stroll through the outdoor boulevard and stop into some favorite Disney shops like the World of Disney, Team Mickey Atheltic Club and Once Upon A Toy.
Map of Hotels in Orlando
- Orlando International Airport – Find hotels Near Taft and Brunetti South
- Orlando Downtown – Find hotels Near Fairview Shores and Pine Hills
- University of Central Florida – Find hotels Near Azalea Park and Mariner’s Village
- Aquatica Water Park – Find hotels Near Williamsburg and Tangelo Park
- Winter Garden – Find hotels Near Ocoee and Gotha
- Universal Studios Islands – Find hotels Near Windermere and Lake Butler
- Orlando Museum of Art – Find hotels Near Executive Airport and Winter Park
- Winter Park – Find hotels Near Maitland and Eatonville