On paper, Orlando is just another small town under the sun of Florida. However, everybody in the USA and all over the world knows about its existence. Why? The magical world of Walt Disney awaits here. Tourists come here exclusively for the Magic Kingdom, but during their stay here, those whose dare to cross the magical borders, end up wandering on the alleys of superb gardens, and maybe even spectators at many of the venues in Orlando.
The joyful Orlando
Everything here gravitates around amusement parks with Walt Disney World Resort, the largest theme park in the world reigning over this realm of fun and joy. The resort has four theme parks and water parks, restaurants, resorts and theaters. Universal Orlando Resort adds two more theme parks to the offer, as well as the CityWalk nightlife, three hotels and a shopping district. Harry Potter arrived in town in 2009, when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was inaugurated.
Many more fun things to do
But wait! There are so many more fun things to do in Orlando. You can fly over NASA’s launch station at the Skydive Space Center. You can admire the city from up above in a hot air balloon or glide past alligators in the local swampland by airboat. If you’re into climbing, don’t be discouraged by the fact that Florida has no mountains. Head to the Aiguille Rock Climbing Center. The Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground is the place to visit if you want to play cowboy and enjoy horse riding.
Never-ending playground for kids
The surprises continue in Orlando, especially for kids. WonderWorks and the Orlando Science Center are perfect for fun and educational trips, gators and turtles inviting their visitors to discover amazing stories about wildlife. Even more gators can be found at Gatorland. The Kennedy Space Center is a great day trip destination, especially if your kids want to become astronauts or rocket scientists. Real cowboys and real cattle are to be found at Kissimmee, a 19th-centruy cattle town.
More than theme and chain restaurants
Unsurprisingly, the dining venues in demand in Orlando are the theme and chain restaurants. Families are looking for cheap and efficient meals, and the fast food industry happily provides. The burger and fries combos dominate the dining scene. However, there are more than 4,000 restaurants in Orlando. This means you can eat healthy and good-looking specialties too, in settings that don’t include Disney characters and screaming kids. Emeril Lagasse has its own restaurant here, and we also recommend booking a table at Victoria & Albert’s dining room.
120,000 hotel rooms and counting
The number of hotels in Orlando is growing by the year. The accommodation scene has been improved, and everybody, regardless of their budget and preferences, can find a great hotel for their stay. There are plenty of accommodation options, from basic lodgings to luxury hotels. Of course, most of them are family-friendly. The most expensive hotels in town are just like Las Vegas hotels, but kid-friendly. Most tourists choose to stay in one of the resorts affiliated to the theme parks, Disney itself having no less than 37 properties. However, if you’re not a big fan of having breakfast with Mickey Mouse, you can choose to stay at adult-oriented hotels like Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grand Lakes or The Four Season Resort Orlando. Business persons usually prefer downtown hotels, among their favorite choices being Aloft Orlando Downtown and the Hyatt Regency Orlando.
Not only Disney stores
The Mickey Mouse ears or Harry Potter glasses, as well as thousands of other Disney merchandise are not the only things you can buy in Orlando. Everything might seem tempting inside a Disney store, but do you really need all that plastic and glitter in your home? Set some limits, and your house and wallet will thank you. Retail therapy is available at the Florida Mall, where you will find over 250 outlets. For a charming shopping experience that doesn’t involve anything Disney, head to Winter Park and Ivanhoe Village, great destination for shopping and much more. If you want to buy trinkets and love to bargain, then make sure you visit the flea markets in Kissimmee.