Orlando is a large city located in Orange County, Florida.
Orlando, for most people, conjures up the image of theme parks, mainly Walt Disney World, but there is a lot more. (In fact, Disney World is not in Orlando, but is in nearby Lake Buena Vista). With the estimated 52 million tourists a year, Orlando and many other areas in the region developed a lot to offer a traveler who wants to see something other than a theme park.
Other cities in the metropolitan area include Altamonte Springs, Davenport, Kissimmee, and Winter Park.
Most tourists visit Orlando between June and August, while another peak time for tourism is March and April. Ironically, the less busy times for tourism correspond to the best weather in the Orlando area; the summer months can be exceptionally busy with families who are making a trip while kids are on summer vacation. Visiting when the weather isn't so hot means less people in the area and that provides some advantages, but you will be able to enjoy cooler weather. The climate of Orlando is subtropical, and therefore is very humid (the heat index typically exceeds 100 degrees). Afternoon thunderstorms are expected in the warmer months, although they can occur in any month.
Many say central Florida has two seasons: hot and hotter. Orlando has warm, balmy springs and autumns; hot summers complete with daily thunderstorms; and temperate winters affected by the occasional cold front. That being said:
*Spring in Orlando has highs in the 80s (27°C) in March & April transitioning to around 90°F (32°C) in May and low-mid 90s in June. Spring is the driest time of year here, and in the past decade some spring months have seen less than a half-inch of rain! This is the time of year in which many small wildfires appear around the region, but this should not bother anyone who stays within the urban area. March and April are great times to visit with dry days, clear skies, and warm temperatures (and no cold fronts). However, late May and early June are arguably the worst time to visit filled with hot, humid, dry days.
*Summer begins with the start of daily thunderstorms around mid-June. Highs from mid-June to mid-September are in the mid 90s, with 90ºF (32°C) often being reached by 10-11AM, and lows in the 70s (23°C). Due to Orlando's proximity to two coasts, thunderstorms form everyday during this period from ocean breezes which heat over land, rise, and cool in the atmosphere to create sometimes violent thunderstorms (see the "Stay Safe" section). However, they often will drop temperatures into the low 80s (28°C) after passing...a welcome relief from the hot temperatures earlier in the year.
*Autumn varies much more from year to year than spring. The daily thunderstorms taper off in September leaving highs in the mid-high 80s (29°C) until mid-October. The first cold front of the season will usually pass between mid and late October, plunging highs into the 70s (24°C) and lows into the 50s (12°C) and high 40s (10°C). The cooling trend continues into November and December, with highs falling into the 70s (24°C) by late December and lows into the 50s (12°C), affected only by the occasional cold front which can plunge highs into the 60s (18°C)(Nov) and 50s (12°C)(Dec) and lows into the 40s (7°C)(Nov) and as low as freezing (32ºF/0ºC) by mid December.
*Winter is much the same as November and December. Highs are in the 70s (24°C), lows in the 50s (12°C), affected every week or two by cold fronts. Following a cold front, highs can drop into the 50s (12°C), lows into the 30s (2°C).
Orlando International Airport ( [url=http://www.orlandoairports.net/])]is the city's primary airport, and the busiest airport in the state in terms of passenger traffic. The airport is located to the southeast of downtown but is centrally located with respect to the region and area attractions. Orlando International Airport is a secondary hub for AirTran Airways, Southwest Airlines, & JetBlue Airways, all of which fly numerous routes to/from Orlando. Furthermore, Delta Air Lines offers 10-15 flights daily between Orlando and their super-hub in [[Atlanta[/url]] and American Airlines has 9 flights a day to their Miami hub. Non-stop service is offered to nearly every major city east of the Mississippi and to several major western cities (LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, & Denver).
Daily flights to Europe are offered by Virgin Atlantic (London-Gatwick & Manchester), British Airways (London-Gatwick), & Lufthansa (Frankfurt). Multiple flights per week are flown to Dublin (Aer Lingus), Paris (Air France, ends Sep. 2012), Glasgow (Virgin Atlantic, seasonally), & Zurich (Swiss Int./Edelweiss Air). To South America, there are daily flights to Sao Paulo, Brazil (TAM) & Bogotá, Colombia (Jet Blue) and seasonal service to Santiago, Chile (LAN). Over a dozen Canadian destinations are served non-stop, many seasonally (Toronto & Montreal are served daily year-round). Other international destinations served from Orlando include: Jamaica (Montego Bay), the Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo), the Bahamas (Nassau), Mexico (Cancun, Mexico City), Panama (Panama City), Costa Rica (San José), & El Salvador (San Salvador). The airport was approved in 2012 to begin Cuba flights.
Orlando International is structured into two components, landside and airside. There is a central landside terminal (A and B), containing airline counters, baggage claim, rental agencies, numerous shops, and a hotel. This central terminal is connected via trams to four other terminals, known as Airside 1-4, with the airplane gates. There are plenty of shops and restaurants in both the central terminal and the airsides.
Security screening is performed in the central landside terminal before taking the tram to the airsides and, as in all U.S. airports, only ticketed passengers are allowed past security. Security lines can become extremely long (1 hr), especially during the summer tourist season and near holidays. Combined with long check-in lines, it is advisable to arrive 2-3 hours before your scheduled departure.
Almost every medium to high priced hotel in the city offers transfers. Orlando is the rental car capital of the world and as such there are several car rental agencies offering a wide range of vehicles for rental.
There are several Shuttle and Town Car services options that run from the airport to various points, including Kissimmee, theme parks, University of Central Florida, and the cruise port at [wiki=837401163f7951e64d78c60d1d1ea477]Port Canaveral[/wiki]. Shuttle services are a cheap alternative to taxis, and operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Approximate rates [url=http://www.orlandoairports.net/transport/local_transport.htm]]for shuttles ranges from $9.99-26 depending on your destination.
Orlando Airport Van, +1 866-204-4000 provides shuttle service from Orlando International to all hotels along International Drive between Universal Studios and Sea World. Rates are $9.99 per passenger, each way. [http://www.orlandoairportvan.us[/url]
Mears Transportation, +1 407-423-5566 provides shuttle service from Orlando International to many hotels in and around the region, including those in the Disney area that are not served by Magical Express. Rates vary depending on the passenger's destination, but generally range between $15 and $30. [http://www.mearstransportation.com/]
Public transit from MCO to Downtown Disney/Magic Kingdom transportation centers is provided by Lynx Route 111[url=http://www.golynx.com/index.cfm?fuse=cstm&app=route&view=sched&cid=111],]every half an hour, picking up at Landside A Terminal (North), on the Ground Transportation Level (Level 1), at Commercial Lane spaces A38-A41. $2.
Disney's Magical Express, +1 407-WDW-MAGIC or 407-939-6244, [url=http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/planning-guides/in-depth-advice/airport-service/[/url]]- Complimentary shuttle and luggage delivery service for guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel. Advance reservations are required.
There are several ""Luxury Transportation Providers"" in Orlando area:
InterPlex Transportation - Orlando, +1 888-398-5392 provides limousine and car services from Orlando International Airport. [http://www.interplextransportation.com/usa/orlando.php[/url]
Florida Magical Tours and Transportation, +1 407-240-8432 provides transportation services (Town Cars, Escalade SUV's, Passengers Vans, Limousines) from Orlando International Airport MCO and Sanford International Airport SFB. [http://www.flmagicaltours.com/]
STAR TRANS-VIP, +1 407-810-7272 Services: Orlando airport transportation, transfers to Port Canaveral, city-to-city transfers, transportation to theme parks, private chauffeur service. [https://www.startransvip.com]
Precision Limousine Service, +1 407-888-2908 provides limousine services in Orlando. [http://www.precisionorlando.com/]
Sunshine Limousine, +1 877-472-5466 Limousine services: prom, wedding, special events transportation services. [http://orlandolimosls.com/]
Garden Tours & Transportation, +1 407-240-4500 Provides Luxurious service vehicles for Transportation from the airport to your hotel in Central Florida at best affordable rates. [http://www.gardentoursandtransportation.com/]
Orlando City Limousine, +1 407-967-5533 Specialized Limo Service provider for Airport Transfer to and from Orlando International Airport MCO, Wedding, Home coming & Prom, Corporate Transportation, large group, party and night out in and around Orlando City. [http://orlandocitylimousine.com/]
Motor Transportation, +1 844-334-9464 Personalized and secure car service to and from Orlando International Airport MCO, along with Orlando to Port Canaveral and other locations [https://motorlando.com/]
A secondary airport which serves the Orlando area is the Orlando-Sanford International Airport ( [url=http://www.orlandosanfordairport.com/])]located in [[Sanford (Florida)|Sanford[/url]], a city just to the north of Orlando, the side of Orlando opposite most attractions. Service between Orlando Sanford International and Europe includes: Monarch Airlines (London-Gatwick & Manchester; seasonally to Cardiff, Glasgow, & Newcastle upon tyne Newcastle); Thomas Cook Airlines (Manchester; seasonally to Belfast, Glasgow, & London-Gatwick); Thomson Airways (Birmingham, London-Gatwick, Manchester; seasonally to Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, & Newcastle upon Tyne); Arkefly (Amsterdam); and Icelandair (Reykjavik, seasonal). Orlando Sanford International is also a hub for Allegiant Air which serves a lot of small U.S. cities.
Other regional airports (within a 90 min drive) include [wiki=b9ba402708377da865974926d834d2a4#By plane]Daytona Beach International Airport[/wiki] (served by Delta to Atlanta and US Airways to Charlotte) & [wiki=6641c8a41b398241a025ff433954d5a3#By plane]Melbourne International Airport[/wiki] (served by Delta to Atlanta, US Airways to Charlotte, & Baer Air to Marsh Harbour, Bahamas). In addition, Orlando area visitors who plan on visiting the Gulf Coast may consider flying into [wiki=4eaac66449fd6ba1a10d5870044e1a4c#By plane]Tampa International Airport[/wiki], about 80 mi (130 km) west of Orlando or just over an hour's drive, as it is less crowded and a bit easier to access via road.
If you plan on visiting more than just Orlando and plan on taking international flights, you may want to consider flying via [wiki=0f5de708d2f6808ffb0c3893b2b8964a#By plane]Miami International Airport[/wiki], a 200 mi (320 km) and a 3-4 hour drive south of Orlando, which offers more international flights and is the largest US gateway for flights to South/Central America and the Caribbean.
Orlando has an Amtrak [url=http://www.amtrak.com/]]station that provides service to other destinations such as [[Miami[/url]], but also connects to other points as far north as [wiki=d97e023dce2bb237a0d44f46d8ee9438]New York[/wiki] via the Silver Star and Silver Meteor lines.
In nearby Sanford, the southern terminus of the Amtrak Auto Train which carries passengers and automobiles between Sanford and Lorton, [wiki=c8b287075ce4f11c834d2a0ada967ddc]Virginia[/wiki], effectively serving as a car-rail link from Orlando to the [wiki=9a8995d0e0d1775d0891f404e43911d7]Washington, D.C.[/wiki] Metro Area.
In addition, the new SunRail [http://www.sunrail.com/] system services Orlando via four stations: Florida Health Village, Lynx Central, Church Street, and Orlando Health/Amtrak.
ATC Buses, 3916 Scotsboro Ct, [url=http://www.atcbuses.com].]Offers bus charter transportation to and from the Orlando Airport to Port Canaveral Cruises and hotels in the Orlando-Sanford area.
Greyhound, 555 N John Young Pkwy, [url=http://www.greyhound.com[/url].]Visitors arriving by Greyhound can go south on SR-423 to I-4 to get to the major attractions.
Runways Transportation Company, Orlando International Airport, Terminal A, Level 1, Spaces A15-A16, [url=http://www.RNWY.com[/url].]Runways offers daily intercity shuttle service to Gainesville, University of Florida, and Jacksonville International Airport.
Express bus service to/from [[Miami[/url]], [wiki=4eaac66449fd6ba1a10d5870044e1a4c]Tampa[/wiki], [wiki=b33a61bf95996bae77aa10d2a4ea64dc]Jacksonville[/wiki], [wiki=a4b9debb8d48dade0a75841659816f9d]Gainesville[/wiki], [wiki=08fa23b4368cabfcc89a4428fc261a2d]Tallahassee[/wiki], [wiki=8b1c40ce6629723de95905617aaf5743]Atlanta[/wiki], and [wiki=ac69cbc800b7f96e0f5f588b7d032949]New Orleans[/wiki]. Double Deck Coaches with WiFi, Restrooms, Power Outlets and seats starting at $1.
Driving to Orlando should be considered as a real and viable possibility for anyone with the geographic means. All Orlando attractions, including most major resorts and hotels are conveniently located off Interstate 4 which connects to Interstate 95, running from Maine to Florida. Five minutes off of a choice of exits, depending on your destination, takes you anywhere you need to go. This can prove to be the most economical for your trip, as well as the most convenient.
The car is omnipresent in Orlando and is a very easy and convenient (if congested) way to get to your destination. Orlando is a sprawling city with most attractions lying far to the south of downtown and into adjacent cities like Kissimmee and Lake Buena Vista (this section includes those areas). The roads are all wide and easy to drive on with all major attractions well signed, but traffic jams around downtown are common in the afternoons, and around the touristy areas on Friday nights and all day Saturday. Orlando ranks 8th in the nation in terms of traffic congestion, and there are numerous ongoing construction projects on area expressways (all aimed at alleviating this, but only causing congestion in the meanwhile). Traffic information is available from new Dynamic Message Signs, most local radio stations, and also by calling 511 (a free, automated service which provides current traffic info collected from hundreds of traffic cameras as well as police reports.)
The main highway through Orlando, and the only interstate serving it, is Interstate 4 (runs NE-SW). In recent years, major construction on it has widened it through areas south of SR528 making it a commuter-friendly highway (except for traffic during rush hours and Friday and Saturday evenings). Downtown Orlando; International Drive; Amway Arena; the Mall at Millenia; and theme parks such as Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, Discovery Cove, the Holy Land Experience, and Wet n' Wild are all conveniently located along or near I-4.
Aggressive drivers are abundant in the Greater Orlando area not only on major highways but also on surface streets in the downtown district. Speed limits are for the most part ignored in and around the city, even though on I-4 the speed limit is only 50 mph (80 km/h) in the downtown area and ranges between 55 and 65 mph (90-105 km/h) near the attractions, it is not uncommon to be tailgated if you travel less than 80 mph (129 km/h) in the left lane. If you are unfamiliar with the area, it is much easier and safer to drive in the far right lane, as road signs will direct.
Other major highways include toll road SR-528, the Beach Line Expressway although known until recently as the Bee Line, which runs east from I-4 (exit 72) towards the Space Coast beaches and Kennedy Space Center, [wiki=7cedcf822d6f3c0396fb573a2f73bb16]Cocoa Beach[/wiki], and Port Canaveral. SR-528 is, like all Orlando area expressways (not including I-4), a toll road. While tolls are modest for short trips within Orlando, tolls can quickly add on long cross-town trips (bypassing Orlando on SR-417 is $5.50 for 55 mi/89 km. If you're driving from the Disney area to Sanford, FL between 4PM and 6PM, paying the toll is good if you're in a hurry, because it could take you up to 2 hours going on I-4). SR-417 starts at I-4 just west of SR-192/Disney World. It takes you north, passing both the Orlando International Airport and the Orlando-Sanford International Airport. It ends at I-4 in Sanford, FL. SR-408 starts at SR-50 on the East side of Orlando, by the University of Central Florida and takes you past the west side of Orlando to the city of Ocoee, FL. It ends at the Florida Turnpike. SR-429 starts in Apopka, FL at SR-441 and takes you past the Florida Turnpike and Disney World. It ends at I-4, just west of SR-192/Disney World. The Florida Turnpike starts in Miami, FL at I-95 and takes you north through Orlando and ends in Wildwood, FL at I-75. See this convenient toll calculator online: [http://www.expresswayauthority.com/Corporate/travel/TollCalculator.aspx].
In Orlando, the main tourism area is International Drive, a strip of road that runs parallel to I-4 for about 10 miles (16 km). Many tourist-focused shops, restaurants, and attractions are to be found along this road; therefore, it is excruciatingly hard to drive on and find parking along this road on weekends, especially in the summer, and excursions to this area are best by bus during such times. Other major roads include: US 192 in Kissimmee (fronted by thousands of small shops and attractions), Orange Blossom Trail (US 92/441...a North-South alternative to I-4), SR-50 (E-W route towards the CBD).
Orlando is the largest rental car market in the world and is known as capital of car rental companies, with all major car rental companies accessible. Operating directly within the airport are Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, E-Z Rent-A-Car, L & M Car Rental, National, and Thrifty; courtesy shuttles are available for transport to other rental companies.
There are also several car rental companies located off the Airport in Orlando which you can normally get a better car rental price. Most of these companies are local companies and [url=http://www.sixt.com]Sixt[/url].
If you arrive by air via Orlando International Airport and pick up a rental car there, you can go through the north exit and head to SR-528 West to get to International Drive, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld. This will require $1.75 in tolls. Alternatively, you can take a direct route to Walt Disney World through the south exit to SR-417 South, following it to Exit 5, and taking SR 536 straight into Disney. This requires $2 in tolls. Toll booths along this expressway uses open road tolling: see note above in box.
Orlando's public transportation is the LYNX bus service. Approximately 60 routes serve the metro Orlando area and costs $2 per ride (transfers included) except for the free Lymmo bus service downtown.
*Lymmo Bus, 1-407-841-LYNX. This free service operates frequently in a circuit in downtown, from City Hall to the Centroplex and back. The Lymmo has a dedicated lane and stations with streetcar type control signals and modified buses that allow passengers to enter the bus without climbing. M-Th 6AM-10PM, F 6AM-midnight, Sa 10AM-midnight, Su 10AM-10PM.
LYNX buses of interest to visitors include routes 8, 37, 42, 50, and 111 -- e.g., bus 8 or 42 for International Drive, bus 37 for Universal, bus 8 for SeaWorld, bus 50 for Disney, and bus 111 for Florida Mall and Orlando International Airport. Seven-day standard passes are $16. Check out GO LYNX [http://www.golynx.com/]to plan your trips.
*I-Ride Trolley, +1 407-248-9590, [http://www.iridetrolley.com/]. Along International Drive and Universal Blvd, this trolley primarily serves tourists in the attractions area, operating daily from 8am to 10:30pm. While the service is advertised as a trolley, the trolleys are in fact modified buses traveling in traffic with many stops, which makes for a slow ride. There are 85 stops along the main (Red) route on International Drive and 22 stops on the (Green) route that serves less congested Universal Blvd. The fare is $1.25 per ride for adults, 25¢ for seniors, and free to kids younger than 12; exact change is required. There's an unlimited 1-day pass available for $4 per person. One-day and multi-day passes, not sold on the bus, are available in many locations. However, because of the very limited route coverage of I-Ride -- it goes nowhere near Disney -- the better choice for many visitors is to use LYNX buses (e.g., bus 8, 42, 50, or 111).
Orlando is visited by millions of tourists each year and there are dozens of taxi companies that are operational in the region. It will not be a problem to find transportation from The Orlando Airport to your hotel or from the hotel to a theme park, restaurant or mall. If you are not planning to rent a car, you probably should do some research and arrange your own transportation before arriving to Orlando. A full list of companies permitted by the City of Orlando and the Aviation Authority can be found on the website of the Orlando International Airport. Most popular taxi companies:
[url=http://www.mearstransportation.com]Mears Transportation Website[/url]
[url=http://www.acemetrocabs.com]Ace Metro Cab website[/url]
Town & Country Transportation
[url=http://www.townandcountrytransportation.com]Town & Country Website[/url]
[url=http://www.tiffanytowncar.com]Tiffany Towncars Website[/url]
[url=http://www.startransvip.com]Star Trans-VIP Website[/url]
Diamond Cab Company
Tel: (407) 523-3333
[url=http://www.diamondcabco.com]Diamond Cab Company Website[/url]
Orlando Airport Taxi Cab
Tel: (407) 448-1350
[url=http://www.orlandoairporttaxicab.com/]Orlando Airport Taxi Cab Website[/url]
It is advisable to never hail a taxi off the street. Unfortunately some of those companies do not have any license or insurance and operating illegally. These taxi services, although questionable in practice, can be quite convenient. They are generally available at all times of the night to safely transport 'party-goers’, or those who take advantage of the lively night scene.
There are various shuttles available in and around Orlando. Orlando Airport Van, Mears Transportation, and Supershuttle, among others, provide service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Rates vary by location, and start as low as $9.99. Many travelers find shuttles a faster and cheaper alternative to their more luxurious counterparts (i.e., taxis, private cars/sedans, etc.). A full list of companies permitted by the City of Orlando and the Aviation Authority you can find on [url=http://www.orlandoairports.net/transport/vfh.htm]Orlando International Airport website[/url].
Arboretum, University of Central Florida, 4000 Central Florida Blvd, +1 407-823-3146, [url=http://arboretum.ucf.edu/].] An arboretum and botanical garden covering 80 acres (32 hectares), containing more than 600 species of plants (including more than 100 bromeliads) in cultivated gardens. Its cultivated areas currently include a Conservatory Compound, a Bromeliad Sanctuary, Cycad Garden, Fern Garden, Palm Collection, Rose Garden, Swamp Habitat, and Wetland Plants Display. Free.
* Harry P. Leu Gardens, 1920 N Forest Ave, +1 407-246-2620, [url=http://leugardens.org/[/url].]Beautiful landscaped gardens and lakes set in nearly 50 acres of land, featuring flora gathered from around the globe since 1936, including the largest rose garden in Florida and America's largest camellia collection outside of California. The Leu House, Harry P. Leu's former home set within the grounds and dating back to the 1880's, has tours every 30 minutes around its museum illustrating Florida living at the turn of the 20th century (closed during July). You can get married in various places in the gardens and there are special events held throughout the year. 9AM-5PM daily except Christmas Day. Last garden admission at 4PM. Admission $7 (free Mondays, 9AM-noon).
*Historic Bok Sanctuary, 1151 Tower Blvd, Lake Wales, +1 863 676-1408, [http://boksanctuary.org/[/url]. The Bok Sanctuary features acres of intricately landscaped gardens filled with an exotic array of flowers and trees. The gardens are home to a colony of wood ducks and many other wild birds. In the middle of the gardens sits the Bok Tower, with its 60-bell carillon playing music daily at 3PM. 8AM-6PM daily with last admission at 5PM. Visitor Center 9AM-5PM daily. Admission $10.
Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art - Houses the world's most comprehensive collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) including Tiffany art glass, leaded-glass windows, lamps, jewelry, pottery, paintings, and the chapel interior he designed for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The Museum's holdings include a major collection of American art pottery and representative collections of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century American paintings, graphics, and decorative arts. $3 adults, $1 students, and free for children under 12. Free between 4PM-8PM Nov-Apr each F.
* Cornell Fine Arts Museum,1000 Holt Ave, Winter Park, +1 407-646-2526, [url=http://www.rollins.edu/cfam/].] Rollins College. Features items from Cornell's renowned permanent collection. Tu-F 10AM-4PM, Sa Su noon-5PM. $5.
* The Orlando Museum of Art - [url=http://www.omart.org/[/url]]Ongoing exhibitions of American portraits and landscapes, American impressionist works, and art of the ancient Americas.
* The Orlando Science Center - [url=http://www.osc.org/[/url]]A 207,000 ft² (19,000 m²) hands-on learning center with hundreds of interactive exhibits for visitors of all ages. Images surround visitors on the giant screen of the Dr. Phillips CineDome. Other attractions include the Body Zone, teaching health and fitness, as well as an observatory. The center has the largest refracting telescope in Florida.
* Orange County Regional History Center[url=http://www.thehistorycenter.org/home/[/url],]65 E Central Blvd, +1 407-836-8500, toll free +1 800-965-2030. Features exhibits and artifacts from the earliest days of the region to the modern day. Includes information on everything from the time of the Seminole Indians to the founding of the city to the Civil Rights era to the Disney period to today. M-Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. $9-12.
* International Trolley and Train Museum - Features 14 model railroad trains with sound and lighting traveling through an indoor garden with 12 ft (4 m) high mountains, waterfalls, and more than 30 trestles and tunnels. Also on display are toy trains from the 1920s to the present. Visitors can catch a ride in a California Victorian-style half open/half closed trolley or the 5/8-scale replica of an 1880 locomotive (a Mason Bogey) with its passenger cars.
* Ripley's Believe It or Not! Orlando Odditorium - 8201 International Dr, +1 407-363-4418, [http://www.ripleysorlando.com/info/[/url]. Located in a building artfully constructed to appear as if it were collapsing to one side. Visitors can explore bizarre artifacts, strange collections, weird art/hobbies (for example, check out the 3/4-scale model of a 1907 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost automobile made entirely of matchsticks and glue), and interactive exhibits in sixteen odd galleries. Seriously schlocky, yet fun.
Orlando is one of the biggest tourist destinations because of the nearby theme parks and resorts. Close to International Drive is Universal Orlando Resort, which includes two theme parks, three hotels and a large shopping district. SeaWorld Orlando is a marine theme park featuring Kraken, the biggest rollercoaster in the Orlando area, as well as Believe, the new Shamu adventure. About 35 minutes southwest of downtown Orlando is [wiki=1f1e96ce0bcc86858b99954169d89056]Walt Disney World[/wiki]. Comprising four theme parks, two water parks, dozens of hotels, two shopping and dining districts, five golf courses, and much more, it is the largest privately managed tourist destination on the planet. Not far from Disney World lies the Alligator Capital of the World: Gatorland.
* The acclaimed gold standard of theme parks on the planet. Hours vary by park and season.The four parks are Epcot has a world variety park, including France and Germany. Hollywood studios has all the Tv and movie rides, including Disney. Magic Kingdom is all Disney, like Alice and Wonderland and Peter Pan. Lastly, Animal Kingdom has all the wildlife rides, like a Yeti ride and Lion King show.
* Top-ranked challenger to Disney, with two theme parks -- the original Universal Studios Florida and the second theme park, Islands of Adventure -- a nightclub and restaurant complex, CityWalk, and three resort hotels. At Universal there are two parks that are really fun. Island of Adventures has a lot of good rides including The Incredible Hulk roller coaster, Jurrasic Park river ride, and Popeyes River run. The best attraction though is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. It has many great rides including a simulator. There are many shows like getting a wand, and picking one. There is also great food and drinks like Butter beer. This Harry Potter park is one of the best in the United States. Then there is the ordianry Universal Studios park. There are many cool rides like Men in Black Alien attack, when you shoot monsters. The mummy ride is also a good one, and there is a Jaws ride. There is also good shows like Despicable Me in 3-D, and Shrek in 4-D.
* A beautifully landscaped 200-acre marine theme park featuring fantastic shows, thrilling rides, and fun exhibits -- a more laid-back alternative to Disney and Universal.
* Opened in 2008 water park by Sea World.
* A unique companion to Sea World, it is often sold out as admission is limited to 1000 guests per day but admission does include all your equipment, food, drink and 30-minute interaction with the dolphins in the water.
* An educational, inspirational, biblical-themed park designed to look like Jerusalem.
* A small alligator and reptile themed park.
Journey deep into Forever Florida, a 4700 acre eco-ranch and wildlife conservation area, preserved just as nature intended. This beautiful site boasts 9 distinct Florida ecosystems and an endless array of natural flora and fauna including alligators, black bears, nearly two hundred species of birds and the endangered Florida panther. Choose your own fully-guided adventure: Coach Safari, Horseback Safari or, soar through the treetops on the Zipline Safari.
* This extravagant Catholic church has become a tourist attraction in itself, thanks in part to the millions of Catholics from around the world who visit it and the rest of Orlando every year. Note: It is not a parish and therefore it cannot perform weddings, funerals, or baptisms.
* A cable park for watersports. Offers lessons and two separate cable systems, a beginner and an advanced. A perfect way to experience Orlando's reputation as the watersport capital of the world.
Member of the National Basketball Association (NBA), the Magic is the city's only member of the big four.
* Member of the USL Pro league from 2010 to 2015 - They will become a Major League Soccer expansion club in 2015.
* Member of the Arena Football League (AFL).
* Professional indoor soccer, dissolved in 2009.
* The teams representing the University of Central Florida-with the largest undergraduate enrollment of any single university campus in the country-compete in NCAA Division I sports, currently as members of Conference USA. UCF has heavily invested in athletics facilities in recent years, with the most notable example being the football team's home of Bright House Networks Stadium.
* Member of the ECHL Orlando's newest professional sports team and third ice hockey team, named for the Original Orlando Solar Bears of the IHL.
Downtown Orlando Information Center, 201 S Orange Ave Ste 102, +1 407-254-INFO (4636). Has two interactive kiosks and electronic message boards with information about local Downtown eateries, retailers, accommodations, special events, etc. M-F 9AM-6PM .
Despite the proximity of theme park haven Lake Buena Vista, the city has a lot to offer on its own. Downtown Orlando [http://www.downtownorlando.com/] is a growing area centered around Orange Avenue that is packed with bars, clubs, and restaurants, as well as theaters and concert venues. The main strip on Orange Avenue is closed most nights because of the large volumes of pedestrians. Just a few blocks over is Lake Eola, a picturesque park situated around a swan-filled lake. In the middle of the lake is a lighted fountain that has been established as an icon of Orlando, and on one side of the lake stands the historic outdoor shell theater, where tourists and locals alike can see a version of the Nutcracker every December. Swan-shaped paddle boats are available for rental as well. Taking over for Church Street as the main night time hot spot is Wall Street. It is a small pedestrian only alley off of Orange Avenue that houses several restaurants and bars. They also have frequent concerts on Wall Street, providing a stage for bands to play for everything from Cinco de Mayo to the Capital One Bowl and Citrus Bowl celebration weeks.
Bay Hill Club & Lodge, 9000 Bay Hill Blvd, +1 407-876-2429. Two courses: 18 holes, over 7,205 yards with a par of 72 (Private Non-Equity); 9 holes, over 3,409 yards with a par of 36 (Private Non-Equity).
* Boggy Creek Golf Club, 3650 8th St, +1 407-857-0280. 9 holes, over 3,250 yards with a par of 36 (Public).
* Country Club of Orlando, 1601 Country Club Dr, +1 407-425-2319. 18 holes, over 6,591 yards with a par of 72 (Private Equity).
* Cypress Creek Country Club, 5353 Vineland Rd, +1 407-351-2187. 18 holes, over 7,014 yards with a par of 72 (Public).
* Dubsdread Golf Course, 549 West Par St, +1 407-246-2551. 18 holes, over 6,055 yards with a par of 72 (Municipal).
* Eaglewood Golf Club, 5800 Pga Blvd, +1 407-351-5121. 18 holes, over 2,516 yards with a par of 58 (Public).
* EastWood Golf Club, 13950 Golfway Blvd, +1 407-281-4653. 18 holes, over 7,176 yards with a par of 72 (Public).
* Fairways Country Club, 14205 E Colonial Dr, +1 407-282-7535. 18 holes, over 5,332 yards with a par of 70 (Public).
* Faldo Golf Institute By Marriott, 12001 Avenida Verde, +1 888-463-2536. 9 holes, over 2,308 yards with a par of 32 (Public).
* Ginn Reunion Golf Resort, 1000 Reunion Way, Reunion, +1 888-418-9611. 54 holes, 3 championship golf courses designed by Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson (Private).
* Grand Cypress Resort, 1 N Jacaranda St, +1 800-835-7377. Four courses: 18 holes over 6,773 yards with a par of 72 (Public); 9 holes over 3,462 yards with a par of 36 (Public); 9 holes over 3,521 yards with a par of 36 (Public); 9 holes over 3,434 yards with a par of 36 (Public).
* Grande Pines Golf Club, 6351 International Golf Club Rd, +1 800-371-1165. 18 holes, over 7,012 yards with a par of 72 (Public).
* Lake Nona Golf Club, 9801 Lake Nona Rd, +1 407-851-9091. 18 holes, over 7,011 yards with a par of 72 (Private Non-Equity).
* Lake Orlando Golf Club, 4224 Club House Rd, +1 407-298-1230. 18 holes, over 6,803 yards with a par of 72 (Public).
* MetroWest Golf Club, 2100 S Hiawassee Rd, +1 407-299-8800. 18 holes, over 7,051 yards with a par of 72 (Public).
* Orange Tree Golf Club, 7540 Woodgreen Dr, +1 407-351-2521. 18 holes, over 6,968 yards with a par of 71 (Private Non-Equity).
* Rio Pinar Golf & Country Club, 8600 El Prado Ave, +1 407-277-5121. 18 holes, over 6,929 yards with a par of 72 (Private Equity).
* Ritz Carlton Golf Club, 4048 Central Florida Pkwy, +1 407-393-4900. 18 holes, over 7,122 yards with a par of 72 (Public).
* Shingle Creek Golf Club, 9939 Universal Blvd, toll free +1 866-996-9933. 18 holes, over 7,213 yards with a par of 72 (Public)[http://www.shinglecreekgolf.com/].
* Stoneybrook Golf Club, 2900 Northampton Ave, +1 407-384-6888. 18 holes, over 6,820 yards with a par of 72 (Public).
* Ventura Country Club, 3333 Woodgate Blvd, +1 407-277-2640. 18 holes, over 5,467 yards with a par of 70 (Public).
Orlando Tennis Center, 649 W Livingston St, +1 407-246-2161.
* Lake Cane Tennis Center, 5108 Turkey Lake Rd, +1 407-254-9170.
* Fort Gatlin Recreation Complex, 2009 Lake Margaret Dr, +1 407-858-3290.
With 2.1 million-square feet of exhibition space, the OCCC serves as the area's convention and meeting center.
*From 20 to 20,000 guests, a Universal event ensures that you will give your attendees something truly out of the ordinary.
Artegon Marketplace, [url=http://www.artegonmarketplace.com]]- Artegon Marketplace has transformed Orlando shopping into a new kind of experience. This is Orlando’s destination for unique stores, shops and foods. Discover the area’s only Bass Pro Shops, Ron Jon Surf Shop, Sheplers Western Wear and Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, as well as one of the world’s largest comic book stores, Gods & Monsters. Artegon also offers Orlando’s only Artisan Marketplace, The Village, where you can browse 165 shops filled with unique, handcrafted goods and foods. And when you want to take a break, Artegon has Florida’s largest indoor ropes course. Experience Unique at Artegon Marketplace.
The Florida Mall, [url=http://www.simon.com/mall/default.aspx?ID=139[/url]]- The largest mall in Orlando located at the crossroads of Orange Blossom Trail and Sand Lake Road, about a mile north of the Orange Blossom Trail/Florida Turnpike/Beachline Expressway interchange. Home to over 200 shops including Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, Dillard's, Nordstrom, JC Penney, and Sears. You can go an entire day in this mall and still not finish. Popular among international tourists wishing to stock up on cheap American goods, but of better quality than found at the many outlet malls/stores.
The Mall at Millenia, [url=http://www.mallatmillenia.com/[/url]]- This is Orlando's most upscale and beautiful mall. Find everything from Tiffany's to Hugo Boss and Gucci. Also home to upscale department stores like Macy's, Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus. This also features Apple and Sony Style selling computers and related products. This mall is part of the very new and trendy Millenia area of Orlando. Conroy Road exit off of I-4 a few miles south of downtown.
Orlando Fashion Square, [http://www.orlandofashionsquare.com/[/url] &mdash, E Colonial Dr and Macguire Blvd, more than a mile NE of downtown.
Orlando Premium Outlets - Vineland Ave, [url=http://www.premiumoutlets.com/orlando]]- Home to the biggest designers such as Armani, Fendi, Burberry, Ferragamo, Lacoste, Coach. Also home to Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, Polo, Nautica and many more. Located off of 535 and visible from I-4 closest to the Disney World area. This is the best mall to pick up bargains from all the name brands and designer wear.
Orlando Premium Outlets - International Drive (formerly Beltz/Prime Outlets) - Home to many designers such as Polo, DKNY, Nike, Reebok, and Liz Claiborne. The mall has completed a major renovation recently, resulting in a beautiful outdoor mall with a wide variety of stores.
Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores, [http://www.lbvfs.com/[/url] - Select from over 300 designer and name brands such as Gap, Reebok, Carters and Eddie Bauer. Stores offer factory direct, quality merchandise at savings up to 75%. Off of SR-535 near International Dr and Disney.
Little Saigon, East Colonial Dr (around N Mills). Here you will find Vietnamese and Asian grocery stores, gift shops, and a few herbal healing stores, which stock items from China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, etc. Also home to many good inexpensive Vietnamese and other Asian restaurants.
Little India area - This area is a bit spread out. You will find many Indian stores in the South Orange Blossom Trail area on the main streets and side roads. Starting with Lancaster Road, which houses a video store and Indian restaurant, and then traveling south you will see a few Indian shops in clusters every mile all the way to 417 where you end at the local Indian movie theater
Little Brazil, the north end of International Dr. Several Brazilian restaurants, bakeries, stores, hairdressers, imports and exports shops. Some are hiding on the back of strip malls, some others are easy to find right up front flying the Brazilian flag.
Classic American cuisine overlooking Lake Eola.
*A legendary Orlando steakhouse named after Patrick Smith's rich novel featuring Florida's historical moments and landscapes. Serving a variety of cuisine and accompanying wine list as succulent and filling as its namesake. Proudly serving Harris Ranch all Natural Prime Black Angus Beef, as well as menu items catering to all tastes.
* BBQ ribs, sandwiches and other smoked delights. Atmosphere has a home-style feel and plenty of pig companions.
* Great menu with a Key West themed dining experience.
*A one-of-a-kind gourmet dining experience featuring unique regional specialties, served in an enchanting setting dedicated to the Florida Everglades. Periodic Vine & Dine wine dinners featuring gourmet cuisine and fine wines.
* Good contemporary American food at reasonable prices.
*Tantalizing gourmet menu featuring prime steaks and fresh seafood in a whimsical atmosphere featuring the world’s largest collection of autographed star caricatures.
* Excellent hot veggie subs.
*A gay-friendly burger joint with drag shows and drinks.
*Upscale American dining.
*A modern twist is given to classic French foods at this restaurant.
*An upscale steak house located downtown.
*American cuisine with an extensive wine list.
* Chef Norman Van Aken.
* An American steakhouse with a wide and varied buffet, from sausages to muffins all day. Great for those with a sweet tooth.
* Serving great potatoes, along with lima beans, BBQ pork, corn bread, fried okra, and Texas toast.
*Flatbreads and wine are the centerpiece of this modern-casual restaurant and wine bar.
El Inka Grill is the perfect restaurant that you can enjoy the peruvian seafood and other peruvian food. Ceviche the one of signature serve of El Inka grill which made with fresh lemon juices is one of the must have experience.
A restaurant featuring a variety of sushi and wine.
* Fantastic vegetarian (mostly vegan) Chinese food.
* Vegetarian/Indian cuisine.
*Nightly oriental folk music performances compliment a wide selection of sushi, dim sum and more.
Mediterranean inspired Italian cuisine.
*Benvenuto! Cala Bella, Rosen Shingle Creek’s upscale Italian Restaurant features Italian classics, with Mediterranean and American inspiration, accompanied by a diverse list of top quality wines.
*A Cuban restaurant that turns into a Latin dance club by night.
* The best dishes are chili relleno and cheese enchilada.
* Serves excellent rice, yucca, eggplant, plantains, and guava.
* Highly recommend the 12 inch thin-crust pepperoni pizza.
*Small, family-run, quiet (but still delicious) Italian/Sicilian restaurant five minutes out of Orlando. A local gem! (Best advice on dishes: Ask Stefano to personally make a recommendation, he walks around the restaurant and will tell you exactly what you want to eat!)
* Best dishes: fava bean salad, hummus and the baklava.
* Great cooking and great wine.
Best selection of Turkish, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern Cuisine with affordable price.
* For the fourth consecutive year, Microtel Inns & Suites has been "Ranked Highest in Guest Satisfaction Among Economy/Budget Hotel Chains".
*Walt Disney World Good Neighbor® Hotel.
* Free wireless high-speed Internet access and continental breakfast.
* Perfect for a long business trip or a family vacation.
BEST WESTERN PLUS Orlando Gateway Hotel is located near popular Orlando attractions such as Universal Studios Orlando and SeaWorld, BEST WESTERN PLUS Orlando Gateway is an ideal destination for a perfect family getaway.
* Walking distance from the Point Orlando and offers free wireless Internet access.
* Less than one mile from Universal Studios, free ground transportation to theme parks available.
* Designed as a medieval themed palace. 216 rooms and suites.
* 2 outdoor pools, kiddie pools, and hot tubs, tennis court, fitness center, indoor heated pool and hot tub. 2/2 suites w/ kitchens, sofa beds, and balcony.
* Located less than 2 miles from Universal Orlando and nearby Islands of Adventure and Orlando Premium Outlets, where complimentary scheduled shuttle service is provided.
* 301 rooms.
* Across from MCO, free shuttle service, outdoor pool, fitness center, WiFi and hot breakfast. Types of rooms: King, two queens and suites.
* A "AAA 3-Diamond" award winner, 223 rooms, high-speed Internet access, adjacent to Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center.
* 175 rooms, high-speed Internet access, close to all attractions in Orlando.
* Business facilities available, located within the terminal.
* Luxury resort hotel with a spa and Greg Norman-designed golf course.
* In the heart of South Orlando, offering luxurious two bedroom, two bath villas near Sea World.
* One, two and three-bedroom villas with kitchens.
* In addition to the Nickelodeon colors and themes, two amazing pool complexes with water park features like slides, flumes and wet/dry play areas. Offers live Nickelodeon entertainment pool side.
* 244 two-room suites, 10 miles from Orlando Airport MCO.
* The only Ramada Hotel on International Drive across Wet 'n Wild. King and double lakefront rooms, free breakfast, internet access and shuttle to attractions.
* Luxurious resort located 6 mi from Walt Disney World. Condos, villas, and private homes available. 3 championship golf courses, Waterpark with lazy river, ANNIKA Academy, dining, and personal concierge service.
* Offers extended stay suite accommodations, complimentary shuttle service to theme parks, heated swimming pool, Jacuzzi, lobby bar, complimentary breakfast, fitness center, and conference rooms.
* Two bedroom villas w/ kitchens & washer/dryers; pools, fitness center; 1 mi from SeaWorld.
* Two bedroom suites w/kitchens & washer/dryers; within walking distance International Dr; pool, basketball, 1 mi from Universal Resort.
In addition to the dozens of hotels on the Disney property, there are a few other luxury hotels and spas in the area:
* 250 rooms and suites.
*The famous rock 'n roll themed hotel combines restaurants, clubs and shows to provide an entertaining place to stay.
* Discover one of Orlando's most inviting escapes. Provides golf, tennis, pools, bikes, kyaks, boating, dining, & meeting facilities.
* Luxury Orlando hotel, contemporary elegance, home to the famous Peabody Ducks and located across the street from the Orange County Convention Center.
* Two luxury hotels sharing a golf course, decadent spa, creative lazy river pool, and two restaurants.
* Mediterranean/Tuscan theme, two restaurants, a spa, 7,000 square feet of meeting space.
* 6,000 square feet of luxury and relaxation, located on restaurant row
* Opened in October 2011.