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* <sleep name="Clarion Hotel Universal" address="7299 Universal Blvd" phone="+1 407 351-5009" url="http://www.clarionhotel.com/ires/en-US/html/HotelInfo?hotel=FL129">Pet friendly hotel within only one mile of Universal Studios and many other attractions such as Wet 'n Wild and the Orange County Convention Center.</sleep>
 
* <sleep name="Clarion Hotel Universal" address="7299 Universal Blvd" phone="+1 407 351-5009" url="http://www.clarionhotel.com/ires/en-US/html/HotelInfo?hotel=FL129">Pet friendly hotel within only one mile of Universal Studios and many other attractions such as Wet 'n Wild and the Orange County Convention Center.</sleep>
  
* <sleep name="Comfort Suites Universal Studios Area" address="5617 Major Blvd" phone="+1 407 363-1967" url="http://www.comfortsuites.com/ires/en-US/html/HotelInfo?hotel=FL616"> Hotel located less than one mile away from Universal Studios with free ground transportation to theme parks available.</sleep>
+
* <sleep name="Comfort Suites Universal Studios Area" address="5617 Major Blvd" phone="+1-800-475-1694" url="http://www.comfortsuites.com/ires/en-US/html/HotelInfo?hotel=FL616"> Hotel located less than one mile away from Universal Studios with free ground transportation to theme parks available.</sleep>
 +
 
 +
* <sleep name="Contempo Vacation Homes" address="43344 Hwy. 27" phone="+1 407 363-1967" url="http://www.contempovacationhomes.com/bre/"> Vacation rental management company in nearby Davenport, offering 3,4,5, and 6 bedroom family friendly homes, ideal locations near all of the attractions.</sleep>
  
 
* <sleep name="Courtyard Orlando Downtown Hotel" address="730 North Magnolia Ave" url="http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/mcoma-courtyard-orlando-downtown">Downtown Orlando hotel located minutes from Carr Performing Arts Center and other Orlando attractions.</sleep>
 
* <sleep name="Courtyard Orlando Downtown Hotel" address="730 North Magnolia Ave" url="http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/mcoma-courtyard-orlando-downtown">Downtown Orlando hotel located minutes from Carr Performing Arts Center and other Orlando attractions.</sleep>

Revision as of 18:54, 13 August 2008

Orlando is a large city located in Orange County, Florida.

Orlando, for most people conjures up the image of theme parks, mainly Disney World, but it has a lot more to offer than that. In fact, Disney is technically not in Orlando, but is in nearby Lake Buena Vista. Make sure that you don't miss downtown Orlando.

Contents

Get in

By plane

Those traveling by air can enter via Orlando International Airport (IATA: MCO) [1], Orlando's primary airport. A secondary airport that serves the Central Florida area is the Orlando-Sanford International Airport (IATA: SFB) [2] located in Sanford, a city north of Orlando.

Flights enter Orlando International Airport from all over the United States as well as international destinations in Europe, South America, Mexico, and Canada.

By train

Orlando has an Amtrak [3] station that provides service to other destinations such as Miami, but also connects to other points as far north as New York 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, Virginia, effectively serving as a car-rail link from Orlando to the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

By bus

  • Greyhound, 555 North John Young Parkway, [4]. Visitors arriving by Greyhound can go south on SR 423 to Interstate 4 to get to the major Attractions.

Shuttle Services

There are several shuttle services options that run from the airport to various points, including Kissimmee, theme parks, University of Central Florida, and the cruise port at Port Canaveral.

  • Mears Transportation Group, 407-422-2222, [5].
  • Disney's Magical Express, 407-W-DISNEY, [6] — Complimentary shuttle and luggage delivery service for guests stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel. Advance reservations are required.

Get around

By car

The car is still king in Orlando, and it is a very easy and convenient (if not congested) way to get to your destination. The roads are all wide and easy to drive on with all the major areas signposted, but traffic jams around downtown are common in the afternoons, and around the tourists areas on Saturday nights.

If you arrive by air via Orlando International Airport and get a rental car, go to the North Exit and head to SR 528 West to get to International Drive, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld. This will require $0.75 in tolls. A short-cut to Walt Disney World is the South Exit to SR 417 South, following it to Exit 5, and taking SR 536 straight into Disney. This requires $2 in tolls.

In Orlando, the main tourism area is International Drive, a strip of road that runs parallel to I-4 for about 10 miles.

To get to the Space Coast beaches, such as Cocoa Beach, as well as the cruise terminals of Port Canaveral, use SR 528, the Bee Line Expressway (recently renamed to the Beach Line), which is I-4 Exit 72.

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 easily accessible from inside the airport.

By Car Rentals

Located in terminal at the Orlando International Airport:

  • Alamo, [7].
  • Avis, [8].
  • Dollar Car Rental.
  • E-Z Rent-A-Car, 800-277-5171, [9].
  • L&M Car Rental, [10].
  • National Car Rental, [11].
  • Thrifty Car Rental.

By bus

Orlando's public transportation is the Lynx bus service. Approximately 60 routes serve the metro Orlando area and costs $1.75 per ride (transfers included) except for the free Lymmo bus service as noted below. Check out Go Lynx for routes and fares.

By trolley

  • I-Ride Trolley, +1 407-248-9590, [12]. Along International and Universal Drive, this primarily serves tourists in the attractions area. While the service is advertised as a trolley, the trolleys are in fact modified buses and there is no dedicated traffic lane for the service; heavy traffic with many stops makes for a very slow ride. There are 85 stops along the main route on International Drive and 22 stops on the route that serves Universal Drive. The fare is $1 per ride. Per-day and multi-day bus passes are available from many locations.

By limo/shuttle service

  • Lymmo Bus, 1-841-LYNX. This free service operates frequently in a circuit in Downtown Orlando, 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-12AM, Sa 10AM-12AM, Su 10AM-10PM.
  • Orlando Limo Service, [13] — Orlando Airport Shuttle & Earth Friendly Transportation to & from Disney World! Make your next connection an eco-friendly one! Orlando's 1st Car Service Company to "go Green." Experience the latest advances in transportation and ride in a car on the technological edge. You can make a difference! Remember the contribution you will make riding with Linc's Transportation: Gives you the satisfaction of knowing that your family, kids and their future will be happier and healthier. Expands our ability to provide up to date transportation to more caring citizens while improving the air quality in the State of Florida, raises public awareness on how individuals have the ability to make a difference, educates decision makers about impacts energy use has on the environment and public health, and notifies citizens with accurate information to counter rhetoric from polluters. You can make it happen!

By taxi

  • Ace Metro / Luxury Cab, +1 407-855-1111.
  • Diamond Cab Company, +1 407-523-3333.
  • Green Taxi Earth Friendly Cab, +1 321-239-2289, [14].
  • Linc's Transportation Cab, +1 321-689-4777, [15].
  • Star Taxi, +1 407-857-9999.
  • Town & Country Transportation, +1 407-828-3035.
  • Yellow / City Cab, +1 407-699-9999.

See

Gardens & Parks

  • Arboretum of the University of Central Florida — An arboretum and botanical garden covering 80 acres (32 hectares), it contains 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.
  • Harry P. Leu Gardens, 1920 N Forest Ave, +1 407-246-2620, [16]. Daily 9AM-5PM except Christmas Day. 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. 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. $5 (free every Monday 9AM-noon).
  • World of Orchids — Featuring thousands of blooms in an enclosed tropical rain forest. World of Orchids is a working greenhouse shipping orchids and other plants nationwide. A greenhouse covers nearly an acre (4,000 m²), and in this controlled climate of warm, humid air some 1,000 orchids are displayed in a natural jungle setting, with streams, waterfalls, and squawking parrots. World of Orchids also has a 1,000 foot (300 m) long boardwalk meandering off into nearby wetlands. Admission is free.

Museums

  • Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Rollins College. Features items from Cornell's renowned permanent collection. Admission is free.
  • International Trolley and Train Museum — Features 14 model railroad trains with sound and lighting traveling through an indoor garden with 12 foot (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.
  • The Holy Land Experience — A biblical theme park and museum complex.
  • The Orange County Regional History Center — 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.
  • The Orlando Museum of Art — Ongoing exhibitions of American portraits and landscapes, American impressionist works, and art of the ancient Americas.
  • The Orlando Science Center — A 207,000 square foot (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.
  • Ripley's Believe It or Not! Orlando Odditorium, 8201 International Drive, +1 407 363-4418, [17]. 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.

Sports Teams

  • Orlando Magic (NBA).
  • Orlando Predators (AFL).
  • Orlando Sharks (MISL).
  • University of Central Florida Knights (NCAA Division I FBS).

Do

Major Attractions

Changing times
Universal Orlando Resort will experience three significant changes in the near future. First of all, Back to the Future: The Ride closed early in 2007 and is slated to be replaced in Spring 2008 with a new attraction based on The Simpsons called "The Simpsons Ride". Secondly, Islands of Adventure is building a new theme land based on Harry Potter which is scheduled for a 2009 opening, and thirdly Universal Studios will be building a roller coaster called the "Hollywood Rip, Ride, Rocket".


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 all-new Shamu adventure. About 40 minutes outside of Orlando is the well-known Walt Disney World. Comprised of four theme parks, two water parks, dozens of hotels, three shopping and dining districts, eight 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. Also, don't forget about water park Wet 'N Wild, located right on International Drive.

  • Disney World — The world famous attraction is actually located 35 miles south of Orlando, in a city called Lake Buena Vista.
  • Universal Orlando Resort, International Drive, +1 407-363-8000, [18]. 9AM-(closing times vary from 6PM-10PM). Discounts are given for purchasing tickets online.
  • SeaWorld Adventure Park Orlando, SeaWorld Drive, +1 407-351-3600, 1-800-327-2424, [19]. 9AM-(closing times vary from 6PM-10PM).
  • Aquatica - SeaWorld's Waterpark — A new water park by Sea World.
  • Holy Land.
  • Gatorland, 14501 South Orange Blossom Trail, +1 407-855-5496, 1-800-393-JAWS, [20]. 9AM-5PM.
  • Wet 'N Wild, 6200 International Drive, +1 407-351-1800, 1-800-992-WILD, [21]. Hours vary, check online or call for hours while you are planning on visiting.
  • Discovery Cove, 6000 Discovery Cove Way (just off Central Florida Parkway, next door to SeaWorld), +1 407-370-1280, [22]. Everyday 9AM-5:30PM (open until 9PM on selected evenings). Younger sister park to SeaWorld lets you get even closer to the sea life allowing you to swim with fish, stingrays and the park's main attraction, Bottlenose dolphins. This unique Orlando attraction is sold out most days, despite its high admission price, partly due to the fact that admission is limited to 1000 guest per day but admission does include all your equipment, food, drink and 30 minutes interaction with the dolphins in the water. $259-279 ($159-179 for non-dolphin package).
  • Cocoa Beach Sportfishing Charters, 800 Scallop Dr, 1-321-848-2662, [23]. Orlando's closest deep sea fishing charters leaving from Cocoa Beach, Port Canaveral and only 45 Minutes East of Orlando. Catch dolphin, wahoo, sailfish, grouper and many others. Children Welcome.

Minor Attractions

  • Mary, Queen of the Universe Shrine, 8300 Vineland Avenue, +1 407-239-6600, [24]. 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, therefore it cannot perform weddings, funerals, or baptisms.
  • Rock Springs Run Kelly Park, 400 East Kelly Park Road, Apopka, [25]. Beautiful natural springs with lazy river that you can tube down, crystal clear water.

Downtown

Despite the proximity of theme park haven Lake Buena Vista, the city has a lot to offer on its own. Downtown Orlando [26] 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 [27], 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 year in 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, they set up staging for bands to play for everything from Cinco de Mayo to the Capital One Bowl celebration week.

Golf

  • Bay Hill Club & Lodge, 9000 Bay Hill Blvd, (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, (407) 857-0280. 9 holes, over 3,250 yards with a par of 36 (Public).
  • Country Club of Orlando, 1601 Country Club Dr, (407) 425-2319. 18 holes, over 6,591 yards with a par of 72 (Private Equity).
  • Cypress Creek Country Club, 5353 Vineland Rd, (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, (407) 351-5121. 18 holes, over 2,516 yards with a par of 58 (Public).
  • EastWood Golf Club, 13950 Golfway Blvd, (407) 281-4653. 18 holes, over 7,176 yards with a par of 72 (Public).
  • Fairways Country Club, 14205 E Colonial Dr, (407) 282-7535. 18 holes, over 5,332 yards with a par of 70 (Public).
  • Faldo Golf Institute By Marriott, 12001 Avenida Verde, (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 (Public).
  • Grand Cypress Resort, 1 N Jacaranda St, (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, (800) 371-1165. 18 holes, over 7,012 yards with a par of 72 (Public).
  • Lake Nona Golf Club, 9801 Lake Nona Rd, (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, (407) 299-8800. 18 holes, over 7,051 yards with a par of 72 (Public).
  • Orange Tree Golf Club, 7540 Woodgreen Dr, (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, (407) 277-5121. 18 holes, over 6,929 yards with a par of 72 (Private Equity).
  • Ritz Carlton Golf Club, 4048 Central Florida Pkwy, (407) 393-4900. 18 holes, over 7,122 yards with a par of 72 (Public).
  • Shingle Creek Golf Club, 9939 Universal Blvd, (866) 996-9933. 18 holes, over 7,213 yards with a par of 72 (Public).
  • Stoneybrook Golf Club, 2900 Northampton Ave, (407) 384-6888. 18 holes, over 6,820 yards with a par of 72 (Public).
  • Ventura Country Club, 3333 Woodgate Blvd, (407) 277-2640. 18 holes, over 5,467 yards with a par of 70 (Public).

Tennis

  • Orlando Tennis Center, 649 W Livingston St, (407) 246-2161.
  • Lake Cane Tennis Center, 5108 Turkey Lake Rd, (407) 254-9170.
  • Fort Gatlin Recreation Complex, 2009 Lake Margaret Dr, (407) 858-3290.
  • A-Team Massage, 321-251-8267, [28]. Onsite massage and spa services, delivered to your location. Serving metro Orlando area.

Venues

  • Orange County Convention Center, 9860 Universal Blvd, (407) 685-1061, [29]. With 2.1 million-square feet of exhibition space, the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) serves as the area's convention and meeting center.

Buy

Major malls

The Florida Mall, [30] — The biggest mall in Orlando located at the crossroads of Orange Blossom Trail and Sandlake Road. Home to hundreds of shops and anchored by Saks Fifth Avenue, Macys, Dillards, Nordstrom, JC Penney, and Sears. You can go an entire day in this mall and still not finish.

The Mall at Millenia, [31] — 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 mall is part of the very new and trendy Millenia area of Orlando. Located conveniently on the Conroy Road exit off of I-4 a few miles south of Downtown.

Orlando Fashion Square, [32] — Located on east Colonial Drive just north of downtown.

West Oaks Mall, [33] — Located on West Colonial Drive in the western suburbs of Ocoee and Winter Garden.

Outlet malls

Orlando Premium Outlets, [34] — 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.

Prime Outlets International (formerly Beltz) — Home to many designers such as Polo, DKNY, Nike, Reebok, and Liz Claiborne. The mall is currently undergoing major renovation but the outside centers are still open and have the above stores.

Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores, [35] — 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%. Located off of SR 535 near International Drive and Disney.

Ethnic enclaves

  • Little Saigon, Colonial Dr (just east of downtown). Here you will find about 100 stores that stock items from China, Vietnam, Hong Kong, etc. Also home to many Asian restaurants. The shops will mainly consist of Asian grocery stores and gift shops and a few herbal healing stores.
  • 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.

Eat

  • Stefano's Trattoria, 1425 Tuskawilla Rd (Intersection of Red Bug and Tuskawilla in Winter Springs), (407) 659-0101, [36]. 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!) $$.
  • Bubbalou's Bodacious BBQ, [37]. There are three Bubbalou's locations in the Orlando area. Offers BBQ ribs, sandwiches and other smoked delights. Atmosphere has a home-style feel and plenty of pig companions.
  • Calypso Bar and Grill, 6300 Parc Corniche Dr, [38]. Great menu with a Key West themed dining experience.
  • CityWalk, [39] — Located at Universal Orlando, features a variety of restaurants such as Margaritaville, Hard Rock Cafe, Pastamore, NASCAR Cafe and much more. Parking is $10 during the day and free after 6PM (except during holidays or special events, such as Halloween Horror Nights).
  • Costanzo's Italian Deli, 4034 N Goldenrod Rd, Winter Park. The best dish is Linguine Piemontese.
  • Gabriel's Subs, 2840 Curry Ford Rd. Excellent hot veggie subs.
  • Garden Cafe, 810 W Colonial Dr, [40]. Fantastic vegetarian (mostly vegan) Chinese food.
  • Garibaldi Mexican Restaurant, 929 N Semoran Blvd. The best dishes are: Chili Relleno and cheese enchilada.
  • Pannullo's Italian, 216 S Park Ave, Winter Park. Recommended dish: ravioli Terricina with Gorgonzola cheese, mushrooms, basil.
  • Ponderosa, [41] — An American steakhouse with a wide and varied buffet, from sausages to muffins all day. Great for those with a sweet tooth.
  • Rolando's Cuban Restaurant, 870 Semoran Blvd, Casselberry. Serves excellent rice, yucca, eggplant, plantains, and guava.
  • Rossi's Pizza, 5919 S Orange Blossom Trl, +1 407-855-5755. Located at the corner of Oak Ridge & Orange Blossom Trail. Highly recommend the 12 inch thin-crust pepperoni pizza.
  • Thai Villa, 7355 Aloma Ave, Winter Park. Recommended dish: Tom Yum Gai soup, chili Jam with beef and tofu add peanuts.
  • The Boheme Restaurant , 325 South Orange Ave, (in the Westin Grand Bohemian), +1 407-313-9000, [42].
  • Tijuana Flats, 7608 University Blvd, Winter Park. They serve an excellent ultimate Nachos dish with sweet chili sauce.
  • Tony's Deli, 1323 N Mills Ave. Best dishes: fava bean salad, hommous, taboolie, baklava.
  • Uncle Jones BBQ, 1370 E Altamonte Dr, Altamonte Spgs. Serving the best potatoes ever, along with, lima beans, BBQ pork, corn bread, fried okra, and Texas toast.
  • Vito's Chop House, 8633 International Dr, +1 407-354-2467, [43]. Great cooking, great wine. $15-$30.

Splurge

  • Khasiyat Indian Cuisine, 852 W. Lancaster Rd, +1 407-888-2147. Vegetarian/Indian cuisine.
  • Norman's, 4000 Central Florida Pkwy, (at Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes), +1 407-393-4333, [44]. Chef Norman Van Aken. Prix-fixe $55 and up.

Drink

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Orlando nightlife away from the theme parks is centered mostly around Central Boulevard and Orange Avenue in downtown Orlando. Here you can walk and find many bars and several dance clubs from the chic urban Rhythm and Flow to the Mulvaney's Irish Pub. A short walk away is the tiny Thornton Park District, located near the intersection of Washington and Summerlin. Among the dozens of cafés and pubs, you might stop in for a drink and a quick bite at Dexter's on Washington. For local flair head across the street to Burton's Frosty Mug, or sample the hip urban environment at the trendy HUE at the corner of Washington and Central.

Although most of the downtown Central avenue crowd is comprised of the "twentysomething" generation, for a more 30's and over entertainment experience, one can enjoy live jazz on many nights in the lounge of the Westin Grand Bohemian Hotel located downtown on Orange Avenue. The jazz is excellent and the ambiance is quite comfortable, although drinks tend to be pretty pricey here.

Also, for a more professional crowd with a Latin twist, there is the Samba Room, located on Sand Lake Road, about 3/4 west of I-4. This is a lively restaurant and happy hour type of place. The look is chic and the locals and tourists alike gather here for a quality food, beverage and people watching experience. You should ditch the shorts and flip-flops for a more casual chic look, but if you do you will be rewarded with a nice experience here. If you are traveling west on Sand Lake Road, after passing I-4, The Samba Room is on the left in a large shopping plaza. Latin food, music and mojitos are just some of the specialties here.

Across the street from the Samba Room, on Sand Lake Road, is the Old Vines wine bar, featuring live jazz usually from Thurs. through Saturday nights. The wine selection is extensive and the live jazz is some of the best in town. The jazz is performed in the front of the room by the entrance. There is a divider that separates the more intimate rear portion of the establishment, which is the main dining area.

There are quite a few places to enjoy quality dining and drinks along Park Avenue in Winter Park, an adjacent suburb which is just northeast of Orlando. Winter Park is known for its many older grande homes that dominate the more historic sections of this suburb affectionately referred to by many as the center of Orlando's "old money." Park Avenue is an active pedestrian street featuring trendy shoppes, galleries, restaurants and nightspots. It has recently grown from becoming a one street attraction to more of a district, as several nearby streets have now added similar attractions.

Of particular interest and uniqueness on Park Avenue is the Wine Room, a converted bank featuring literally hundreds of wines available for self serve sampling. The mode of purchasing here is to pre-load a wine "credit card" supplied by the Wine Room. You are then at liberty to peruse the entire building and select any wine you wish to try, merely by inserting your "credit card." Each wine station automatically deducts the value of your current purchase and advises you of your card balance. Dress is very casual here and you are likely to meet both locals and visitors, all sampling and enjoying their vinos of choice throughout the night.

At the theme parks, there is Pleasure Island at Disney World and the CityWalk at Universal Studios. For a nominal admission fee, both sites offer numerous venues for libations and entertainment. If you're staying along International Drive, there are plenty of bars, pubs, and clubs.


  • Orlando Bars & Night Club Reviews are available online [45].

Sleep

  • Orlando Vacation Blog (Orlando Vacation Blog), [46]. Weekly posts and ideas on what to do while staying at a hotel.

With a hotel around virtually every corner (actually 4 or 5 around every corner) it seems impossible to throw a rock and not hit a hotel. There are hotels to meet every traveler's need, whether it be a hostel or a 5-star resort, although many visiting families often prefer to rent their own private villa as they usually provide much more personal space and have their own private facilities. There are also a large number of lodgings in the surrounding cities and towns.

Budget

  • AmeriSuites Orlando Airport/Northeast, 7500 Augusta National Dr, +1 407-240-3939, [47]. Near Orlando International Airport and minutes from Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld.
  • AmeriSuites Orlando Airport/Northwest, 5435 Forbes Pl, +1 407-816-7800, [48]. Near Orlando International Airport and minutes from Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, and SeaWorld.
  • AmeriSuites Orlando/Convention Center, 8741 International Dr, +1 407-370-4720, [49]. Three blocks from the Orange County Convention Center and three miles from Sea World and Universal.
  • AmeriSuites Orlando/Universal, 5895 Caravan Ct, +1 407-351-0627, [50]. Located only 1/4-mile from Universal Studios and City Walk and minutes from Walt Disney World.
  • Microtel Inn & Suites Orlando, 7531 Canada Ave, +1 407-226-9887, [51]. For the fourth consecutive year, Microtel Inns & Suites has been "Ranked Highest in Guest Satisfaction Among Economy/Budget Hotel Chains"*.
  • Suburban Extended Stay South, 9435 Delegates Dr, +1 407-251-1110, [52]. Perfect for a long business trip or a family vacation, this hotel is located minutes away from Sea World and The Orange County Convention Center.

Mid-range

  • Blue Heron Beach Resort Family friendly condo resort less than one mile from Disney. High rise towers with Disney fireworks view. Large Pool on private lake with watersports available. 1-888-BLUE 684.[53]
  • Clarion Hotel Universal, 7299 Universal Blvd, +1 407 351-5009, [54]. Pet friendly hotel within only one mile of Universal Studios and many other attractions such as Wet 'n Wild and the Orange County Convention Center.
  • Comfort Suites Universal Studios Area, 5617 Major Blvd, +1-800-475-1694, [55]. Hotel located less than one mile away from Universal Studios with free ground transportation to theme parks available.
  • Contempo Vacation Homes, 43344 Hwy. 27, +1 407 363-1967, [56]. Vacation rental management company in nearby Davenport, offering 3,4,5, and 6 bedroom family friendly homes, ideal locations near all of the attractions.
  • Courtyard Orlando Downtown Hotel, 730 North Magnolia Ave, [57]. Downtown Orlando hotel located minutes from Carr Performing Arts Center and other Orlando attractions.
  • Doubletree Castle Hotel, 8629 International Dr, [58]. Designed as a medieval themed palace. The interior is decorated with medieval themed artwork and Renaissance music. 216 guest rooms and suites.
  • Doubletree Universal Orlando Hotel, 5780 Major Blvd, [59].
  • Embassy Suites Hotel, Lake Buena Vista Resort, 8100 Lake Ave, [60].
  • Embassy Suites North Orlando Hotel, 225 East Altamonte Dr, +1 407-834-2400, [61]. 19 miles from Orlando Airport and six miles from downtown Orlando, close to the business district, shopping and the many local attractions, and there is a complimentary shuttle within a five-mile radius.
  • Embassy Suites Orlando Hotel & Convention Center on International Drive, 8978 International Dr, +1 407-352-1400, [62]. 244 two-room suites, 10 miles from Orlando Airport MCO, and just minutes from Walt Disney World, Sea World and Universal Studios.
  • Enclave Suites Resort, 6165 Carrier Dr, 1-800-457-0077, (Fax: +1 407-351-2001), [63]. Resort one block from famous International Drive with two outdoor swimming pools, two "kiddie pools", two whirlpools, lighted tennis court, 24-hour fitness center, gazebo overlooking private lake, and indoor heated pool and whirlpool. Also serves as Orlando vacation home with deluxe studio suites and two-bedroom/two-bath accommodations. All suites come with fully equipped kitchens, sofa beds, and a private balcony.
  • Four Points by Sheraton Orlando Studio City, 5905 International Dr, +1 407 351-2100, [64]. 301 guest rooms.
  • Grande Lakes Orlando Resort, 4040 Central Florida Pkwy, [65]. Featuring The Ritz-Carlton Orlando and JW Marriott Orlando. Spa, golf, and restaurants on site.
  • Hawthorn Suites Orlando (Universal Studios), 7601 Canada Ave, +1 407-581-2151, [66]. Located just one block from the famous International Drive, minutes from the Orange County Convention Center.
  • Hawthorn Suites Orlando Airport, 7450 Augusta National Dr, +1 407-438-2121, [67]. Business travelers will enjoy in-room business services, featuring an oversized work area.
  • Hawthorn Suites Orlando/Convention Center, 6435 Westwood Blvd, +1 407-351-6600, [68]. Surrounded by tropical landscaping, free-form heated pool and whirlpool spa, as well as special children’s pool, play area and game room.
  • Hawthorn Suites Orlando/Walt Disney World, 8303 Palm Pkwy, +1 (407) 597-5000, [69]. Superb amenities, warm comfortable surroundings and the excitement of Orlando are just steps from your door.
  • Holiday Inn Nikki Bird Orlando Hotel, 7300 West US 192, +1 407-396-7300, [70]. One mile from Disney's Main Gate and 15 miles from Orlando. Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot and Walt Disney World are all within one mile.
  • Holiday Inn International Drive Orlando Hotel, 6515 International Dr, +1 407-351-3500, [71]. A 13-acre playground just steps away from great restaurants and shopping. Sea World, Universal Orlando, and Wet 'N Wild are just a short ride away along International Drive.
  • Holiday Inn Select Orlando Hotel at the Orlando Airport MCO, 5750 TG Lee Blvd, +1 407-851-6400, [72]. Just outside the exit of Orlando Airport and 8 miles from downtown, well placed for many of the major Florida attractions, including Disney World.
  • Lake Buena Vista Resort & Spa, 8112 Poinciana Blvd, +1 407-239-7100 (Toll Free: 1-866-401-2699), [73]. A brand new luxury condominium resort, located in the heart of all the fun things to do. Minutes away from Disney, Universal, SeaWorld and International Drive.
  • ''''Marriott's Cypress Harbour Resort', 11251 Harbour Villa Rd, +1 407-238-1300 ("Toll Free: 1-800-845-5279"),[74]. Spacious two-bedroom villas with kitchens and more.
  • 'Marriott's Grande Vista Resort' , 5925 Avenida Vista, +1 407-238-7676 ("Toll Free: 1-800-845-5279"),[75]. Spacious guest, one, two and three-bedroom villas with kitchens and more.
  • Marriott Residence Inn Lake Buena Vista , 11450 Marbella Palm Ct, +1 407-465-0075 (Fax: +1 407-465-0050), [76]. Features include: location near Walt Disney World, and accommodations for extended stay business visitors, or events at the nearby Orange County Convention Center hotel.
  • Masters Inn Orlando, 1-800-633-3434, [77]. Masters Inn of Orlando near Disney, MGM Studios, Animal Kingdom, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventures, and Epcot.
  • Masters Inn International Dr., 8222 Jamaican Ct, +1 407-345-1172 (Fax: +1 407-352-2801), [78]. Masters Inn on International Drive is near Universal Studios, SeaWorld & the Orlando-Orange County Convention Center.
  • Nickelodeon Family Suites by Holiday Inn, 14500 Continental Gateway, [79]. In addition to the Nickelodeon colors and themes, the hotel has added over $25 million in amenities and features: Two amazing pool complexes with water park features like slides, flumes and wet/dry play areas. The Lagoon and The Oasis pools are completed and offering live Nickelodeon entertainment pool side.
  • Orlando Vista Hotel, 12490 Apopka Vineland Rd, [80].
  • Parc Corniche Condominium Orlando Suite Hotel, 6300 Parc Corniche Dr, +1 407-239-7100 (Toll Free: 1-800-446-2721, Fax: +1 407-239-8501), [81]. Orlando Hotel Condominium Suites at the Parc Corniche, located in the middle of the action on the famous International Drive and minutes away from the theme parks.
  • Quality Suites Universal, 7400 Canada Avenue, Orlando 32189, +1-407-363-0332 (fax: +1-407-352-2598), [82]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 11AM. $100.
  • Ramada Gateway Orlando, 7470 Highway 192, West Kissimmee, [83]. A designated "Walt Disney World Good Neighbor" hotel.
  • Ramada Plaza Orlando, 3155 South John Young Pkwy, +1 407-841-6450, [84].
  • Ramada Orlando Airport, 1853 McCoy Rd, +1 407-851-1113, [85].
  • Ramada Convention Center I-Drive Orlando, 8342 Jamaican Ct, +1 407-363-1944, [86].
  • Ramada Orlando International Drive Lakefront, 6500 International Dr, +1 407-345-5340, [87].
  • Sheraton Safari Lake Buena Vista Hotel, 12205 S. Apopka-Vineland Rd, [88]. Lake Buena Vista hotel located 1/8 of a mile from the Walt Disney World Resort and minutes from other Orlando theme parks and attractions.
  • The Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel and Suites, 9956 Hawaiian Ct, South International Dr, 1-800-826-4847, [89]. A "AAA 3-Diamond" award winner, conveniently located off South International Drive that features 223 deluxe guestrooms and one bedroom suites. Provides high-speed Internet access in all rooms, meeting rooms and all public areas. Offers business, group and leisure travelers a best rate guarantee. Adjacent to Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center and within walking distance to popular restaurants and shopping centers.
  • Westgate Blue Tree Resort, 12007 Cypress Run Rd, [90].
  • Westgate Lakes Resort and Spa, 10000 Turkey Lake Rd, [91].
  • Westgate Leisure Resort, 6950 Villa de Costa Drive, [92]. 10 minutes from Walt Disney World® Resort and Universal Orlando Resort, and a mile from SeaWorld Orlando.
  • Westgate Palace, 6145 Carrier Dr, [93].
  • Westgate River Ranch, 3200 River Ranch Blvd River Ranch, [94].
  • World Quest Resort, 8849 WorldQuest Blvd, 1-877-987-8378, [95].

Splurge

  • Ginn Reunion Resort, 1000 Reunion Way, Reunion, [96]. Luxury accommodations with world class amenities located just outside of Orlando.
  • Grand Bohemian Hotel, 325 S. Orange Ave, [97]. Takes center stage as downtown Orlando’s landmark luxury hotel. With 250 guest rooms & suites guests experience a dazzling blend of art, music and memorable hospitality.
  • Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Orlando Hotel, One Grand Cypress Blvd, [98]. Ideally located adjacent to Walt Disney World, this Lake Buena Vista hotel combines the most comprehensive selection of activities (including golf, tennis, pools, horseback riding, dining and more) with state of the art meeting facilities, luxurious guestrooms and renowned Hyatt service.
  • International Plaza Orlando Resort and Spa, 10100 International Dr, [99]. Orlando resort located just minutes from Sea World and Orlando Convention Center.
  • Marriott Orlando Downtown Hotel, 400 West Livingston St, [100]. Downtown Orlando hotel located minutes from TD Waterhouse Center and other Orlando attractions.
  • The Peabody Orlando Hotel, 9801 International Drive, [101]. Luxury Orlando hotel, contemporary elegance, home to the famous Peabody Ducks and located across the street from Orlando Orange County Convention Center.
  • Venturella Resort & Spa, 8688 Palm Parkway, [102]. The property, which opened in 1988 as the Riu Hotel, is currently undergoing a $22 million renovation that will reposition this hotel as a world class luxury product with a Mediterranean/Tuscan theme. The hotel is scheduled to open during the winter of 2008 - 2009. It is located in the center of activity and occupies one of the best locations in the greater Orlando market. Situated on slightly more than six acres near the entrance to Walt Disney World®, the 155-room hotel will have two restaurants, a lounge and a spa, as well as more than 7,000 square feet of meeting space.
  • 'Westin Grand Bohemian Hotel, 325 S Orange, +1 407-313-9000, (Toll Free: 1-866-663-0024), [103]. Near Orlando's Church Street Station. Luxury hotel with European styled elegance.
  • Buena Vista Palace, 1900 Buena Vista Dr, [104].

Vacation rental homes

Privately owned vacation rental homes or "villas" are also very popular especially with families and larger groups, usually offering significantly more space than hotel rooms, a private pool, the ability to cook your own meals, and often at a much cheaper price.

  • Blue Heron Beach Resort, Family friendly condominium resort that is less than one mile from Disney. High rise resort with Disney fireworks view 1-888-BLUE 684.[105]
  • Florida Villas [107] available to rent direct from the owner from Direct Villas Florida.
  • Southern Select Villas, 148 Heather Lynn Dr Davenport, FL 33897, beautiful three to six bed homes minutes from Disney and all have private pools! Exclusively offering Five Star Concierge Service that offers discounts on theme park tickets, FREE shuttles, and much more! +1 863 420-1488, [108] or book online 24/7 [109].
  • Orlando Villas [110] available to rent direct from villa owner near Disney.

Contact

  • Ten digit dialing is in effect in the Orlando area. All calls from or within the area, even local calls, require dialing the area code. There are some public pay phones scattered around the city, but they are becoming increasingly rare with the predominance of cell phones. It is not safe to assume you will be able to find a pay phone at any given time.
  • Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 8723 International Dr, 1-800 972-3304, [111]. The official sales and marketing organization for the Orlando and Orange County area.
  • ZIP codes in the city of Orlando begin with 328, and 327 in the surrounding areas.
  • It is common for many of the larger hotels and lodgings in the area to offer free internet access for their guests.

Stay safe

Visitors should be vigilant of their surroundings in downtown Orlando west of I-4 (known as the Parramore district). Orange Blossom Trail (north of Sand Lake Road) is also a notoriously dangerous part of town.

Tourists should tend to venture away from the Pine Hills neighborhood. This neighborhood is located around Silver Star Road and Pine Hills Road west of John Young Parkway. This area is notorious for high crime.

Typical rules of tourism and common sense apply. Hotel room invasions do occur, especially open-air hotel and motel rooms when the victim leaves their hotel room unlocked and not dead-bolted. When you are in a hotel room, lock your doors behind you.

Never leave valuable items in your car unattended, get any purchased items to your hotel room as soon as possible.

Also, do not leave small children unattended for any length of time, especially at a pool. Most hotel pools do not have lifeguards.

Pets are better off left with a friend or in a kennel. If you choose to bring your pet, note that most theme parks and hotels prohibit pets. Do not lock your pet in your car! Due to the high temperatures in the area, it is extremely dangerous and is forbidden by law in Florida.

Get out

  • Altamonte Springs
  • Celebration
  • Kissimmee
  • Clermont. About 20 miles west of Orlando on Florida Highway 50, hosts another Central Florida landmark, the Florida Citrus Tower. The tower celebrated its 50th anniversary in December of 2006.




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