Orlando, Florida

Super useful & totally free travel guides, written by locals who love Orlando

Scenic view of Orlando Downtown skyline at night
Downtown Orlando over Lake Eola

Why We Love Orlando: Orlando is one of those cities that everyone recognizes immediately. It is the theme park capital of the world and is known for being a top vacation destination for families. Outside of the theme parks, Orlando is also home to hundreds of international restaurants, new bars and breweries, and gorgeous natural spaces. There is truly something for everyone in the City Beautiful. 

Best of Orlando

Things to Do

View of The Wheel at ICON Park in Orlando on a sunny day
The Wheel at ICON Park, standing 400 feet tall 

Everyone knows about the major theme parks, but there are plenty of can’t-miss attractions, zoos, and museums also. 

  • Gatorland – An Orlando classic that’s home to hundreds of alligators and other local wildlife.
  • The Wheel at ICON Park – Take in the 360-degree views from 400 feet above International Drive
  • Disney Springs – The magic of Disney meets an outdoor mall filled with shops, restaurants, and bars
  • Discovery Cove – An all-inclusive park that gets you up close and personal with marine life
  • Orlando Science Center – Learn and play through hands-on exhibits for all ages

👉 Explore all things to do in Orlando

🎢 Theme Parks

The theme parks are the main features of Orlando. With so many parks and rides to choose from, you have endless possibilities. 

  • Magic KingdomWalt Disney World’s flagship theme park divided into immersive lands and attractions (see my full Magic Kingdom itinerary)
  • SeaWorld – Ride thrilling roller coasters while supporting conservation and discovering the world under the sea
  • Universal Studios – Ride exhilarating attractions that take you into some of your favorite movies 
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Disney’s most diverse park, with lands from Toy Story to Star Wars (see my Hollywood Studios itinerary)
  • Universal’s Islands of Adventure – A park filled with sensational rides and roller coasters, including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The author and her husband visiting Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Head to a galaxy far, far away at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

🗺️ Where to Stay

View of the Lake Eola and skycrapers in Downtown Orlando during sunset
Sunset over Lake Eola in Downtown Orlando

The best neighborhoods to stay in are located from Downtown Orlando south to Kissimmee, with quick access to major highways for getting around. 

  • International Drive – This central location is close to the airport, Universal Orlando, and Walt Disney World
  • Lake Buena Vista – This is the best location for Disney vacations and most of the hotels include free theme park transportation
  • Downtown Orlando – Stay downtown to experience the best of the arts, culture, and food scenes in Orlando

👉 Read full guide to where to stay in Orlando.

🛎️ Best Hotels

Orlando has hotels for every price range and they offer a wide range of amenities. 

  • Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress – A large resort with an expansive pool, lakefront activities, and multiple restaurants 
  • Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort – One of the few non-Disney hotels located at the resort and it features multiple pools and a luxurious spa 
  • Grand Bohemian Hotel – A hotel filled with character that is located in the heart of Downtown Orlando
The entrance to the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Downtown Orlando
The Grand Bohemian in Downtown Orlando (photo: JHVEPhoto / Shutterstock)

🍽️ Restaurants

People enjoying their meal in Raglan Road at Disney Springs
Raglan Road at Disney Springs showcases Irish musicians and dancers

You could spend a year eating at a new restaurant every day in Orlando and never run out of options.

  • Gringos Locos – This Tex-Mex restaurant is a late-night classic after an evening at the Wall St Plaza
  • Raglan Road – One of the many fantastic restaurants at Disney Springs, offering Irish classics like fish and chips
  • Bosphorus Turkish Cuisine – Multiple locations throughout Orlando offer Turkish and Mediterranean cuisine
  • Victoria & Albert’s – This fine dining experience at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort is one of the top restaurants in Orlando
  • Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen – This restaurant sources local seafood for its fish-camp cuisine

👉 Check out the full list of best restaurants in Orlando.

🚗 Day Trips

A water fountain in front of the Flagler College in St. Augustine
Beautiful Flagler College in St. Augustine
  • Kennedy Space Center – Learn the history of space travel while seeing real NASA equipment
  • St. Augustine – The settlement in the United States is home to historical sites and beautiful architecture
  • Tampa – Similar in size to Orlando, this metro is close to the gulf beaches and has a thriving food and drink scene
  • Weeki Wachee State Park – Swim in the natural springs, enjoy family fun at the water park, and meet a real mermaid
  • Clearwater Beach – Regularly ranking among the top beaches in the country, this town has white, sugar sand, and a laid-back atmosphere

👉 Read full list of Orlando day trips.

🏘️ Neighborhoods

Aerial view of Lake Rianhard and the residential area that surrounds it
Lake Rianhard in Orlando
  • International Drive – This strip of hotels, restaurants, and attractions gives you everything you need for a fun vacation
  • Celebration – A picturesque town located near Walt Disney World
  • Lake Buena Vista – The closest town to Walt Disney World and filled with top-quality hotels
  • Winter Park – A small town located north of Downtown Orlando that has cobblestone streets and boutique shops
  • Downtown Orlando – The heart of the city is home to exquisite cuisine and diverse options for nightlife 

🍸 Bars

People having fun inside theTrader Sam’s Grog Grotto
Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto (photo: filedimage / 123RF)
  • Mathers Social Gathering – A sophisticated craft cocktail lounge that celebrates Prohibition-era style 
  • La Cava del Tequila – This is the most famous bar in Epcot, serving delicious margaritas 
  • Player 1 Video Game Bar – Enjoy a drink while you play video games, arcade games, and more
  • Stonewall Bar – This LGBTQ bar has multiple levels and theme nights every week
  • Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto – Located inside Disney’s Polynesian Village, this tiki bar plays along with the bartenders’ jokes

🍺 Breweries

People in the outdoor seating area of Crooked Can Brewing Company
Plenty of outdoor seating at Crooked Can
  • Crooked Can Brewing Company – Known for their “bottle cap allergy,” all the specialty brews are sold in growlers or cans 
  • Orlando Brewing – The taproom is located in Downtown Orlando and offers a rotating variety, including their famous Blonde Ale 
  • Dead Lizard Brewing Company – This brewery is owned by a third-generation brewer and the beers come with outrageous names
  • Ellipsis Brewing – Located close to the airport, this microbrewery has a rotating tap and regular food trucks
  • Ivanhoe Park Brewing Co. – Located one block from historic Lake Ivanhoe, this brewery offers plentiful indoor and outdoor seating

🏖 Nearby Beaches

Sunrise at Cocoa Beach in Orlando
Beginning the day at Cocoa Beach
  • Cocoa Beach – Catch a wave at this historic spring break beach
  • Daytona Beach – Park on the beach and enjoy a concert at the bandshell by the pier
  • New Smyrna Beach – This sleepy beach town offers a more relaxed experience than nearby Daytona Beach
  • Clearwater Beach – Regularly voted one of the top beaches, you don’t want to miss the white sand beach
  • St. Pete Beach – short description (~100 characters)

👉 Check out the best beaches in Florida.

🛶 Nearby Springs

View of people kayaking in De Leon Springs
The Old Spanish Sugar Mill on the water at De Leon Springs
  • Blue Spring State Park – Summer offers a refreshing swimming hole and winter offers excellent manatee viewing
  • De Leon Springs State Park – Cook your own pancakes at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill before taking a dip in the swimming hole
  • Kelly Park/Rock Springs – Arguably the most beautiful springs in the area, enjoy a 25-minute float down the river
  • Wekiwa Springs State Park – See how far you can free dive into the headspring or rent a kayak for a nature paddle
  • Gemini Springs Park – Wander the nature trail or try your luck from the fishing pier

Orlando Travel Advice

🗓️ Best Time to Visit

Spring is the best time to visit Orlando for comfortable weather but lighter crowds. Summer is the busiest season to visit Orlando, but you can have a fantastic vacation at any time of the year. 

  • 🍂 Fall – Fall in Florida is only slightly cooler than summer and the hotels usually have better prices
  • 🌼 Spring – Spring is the perfect blend of comfortably warm weather and low crowds in Orlando
  • ❄️ Winter – The holidays attract a lot of visitors to the theme parks, however, the rest of winter is fairly calm
  • 🌞 Summer – Perfect time for swimming or visiting the springs, but the theme parks will be packed

👉 Read full guide to when to visit Orlando.

🚌 Getting Around

In most cases, a car is necessary for your visit to Orlando. However, hotels and resorts do offer some free transportation options. 

  • 🚶‍♀️ Walking – With a WalkScore of 41, the Orlando metro area is not very walkable. Downtown Orlando and International Drive are good locations for walkers. 
  • 🚗 Driving – A car is necessary to visit different parts of Orlando. Traffic can be overwhelming, especially during holidays and around the theme parks.
  • 🚇 Public Transit – The bus system is not used by most people. SunRail runs through the east side of town from Kissimmee to DeBary.
  • 📲 Ride Share – Uber and Lyft are both available in Orlando, but surge pricing is common.
  • 🚴‍♀️ Biking – The suburbs of Orlando offer excellent biking routes and there is an active cycling community. 

👉 Tips & Things to Know

  • 🗺 – Check the map – Some of the roads in Orlando can be confusing to navigate. Take a look at your route ahead of time and don’t just rely on a navigation system. 
  • 🧴 – Don’t forget sunscreen – They don’t call it the Sunshine State for no reason. The sun’s rays are strong year-round, but it is especially important to lather up in summer.
  • 🥙 – Eat local – Orlando has hundreds of local, family-run restaurants that showcase a variety of cuisines. Check out Yelp or your hotel’s concierge for recommendations.
  • 🧸 – Buy souvenirs outside the theme parks – You can find lots of stuffed animals, toys, and clothing souvenirs at the outlets and even the local grocery stores. Save your money and don’t buy the full-priced
  • ⛈ – Don’t fret about the afternoon showers – It is normal for afternoon showers to show up in the summer. They never last too long and they even help cool it off!

🧳 What to Pack

  • 🧴 – Sunscreen – Don’t become a tomato tourist! Even when it’s cloudy, the sun’s rays are still very strong.
  • 👙 – Bathing Suit – Between the hotel pools, the water parks, and the nearby beaches, there are lots of opportunities to make a splash. 
  • 👟 – Walking Shoes – Sightseeing and visiting theme parks mean you’ll be getting lots of steps in. Don’t let blisters ruin your vacation.
  • 💧 – Reusable Water Bottle – Orlando can reach over 100 degrees in the summer with high humidity. Always stay hydrated. 
  • 🐭 – Mickey Ears – Or your favorite Disney/Universal clothing. Dressing up makes a theme park vacation even more special. 

👉 Check out my full Disney World packing list.

🤓 Facts & Info

  • Census Population (2020) – 1.5 million (city), 2.4 million (metro area)
  • Time Zone – Eastern Time (UTC-5 / UTC-4 during daylight savings)
  • Area Codes – 407, 689
  • Airports – Orlando International Airport (MCO)
  • Nickname – The City Beautiful
  • Demonym – Orlandoan
  • StateFlorida
  • CountryUnited States of America

💵 Costs & Budgeting

  • 3 Star Hotel Room – $120/night
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – $80/night
  • Rental Car – $40/day
  • Ride Share from Downtown to Airport – $25
  • Take Out Meal for Two – $20-30
  • Sit Down Dinner for Two – $80-140
  • Draft Beer – $6-12

👉 How to do Orlando on a budget

FAQs About Visiting Orlando

Is Orlando safe for tourists?

Orlando is safe for tourists. The areas that tourists visit most, like around the theme parks, have low crime rates. For more information, read our full guide to safety in Orlando.

Is Orlando worth visiting?

Orlando is a great destination for families, friends, or couples. The theme parks are the largest draw, but Orlando also offers plenty of natural spaces and cultural attractions to enjoy. 

Is it expensive to visit Orlando Florida?

An Orlando vacation is generally considered expensive. However, you can visit Orlando on a budget, especially if you do not plan on visiting the major theme parks. 

What is the cheapest month to go to Orlando?

January (and into early February) is the cheapest month to visit Orlando. Avoid school breaks, holidays, and events at the theme parks to find the most affordable rates on hotels and tickets. 

How do I plan a trip to Orlando?

Travel Lemming Orlando travel guides will tell you everything you need to know about visiting Orlando. 

What is the cheapest way to get around Orlando?

Renting a car is the most affordable way to get around Orlando if you are planning on visiting sites and attractions around the area. If you are staying at Disney or Universal, utilize the free transportation options between the hotels and theme parks. 

Does Orlando have a subway system?

Orlando does not have a subway system. There is a SunRail train that runs from Kissimmee in the south to DeBary in the north. 

How do you get around Orlando without a car?

If you do not have a car in Orlando, you can utilize free transportation options from your hotel. Depending on where you are staying, they may offer transportation to the theme parks, entertainment centers, and outlet malls. Rideshare apps are also available in Orlando. 

📰 Orlando Travel Guides

Check out all our Orlando travel guides and getting planning your visit to Orlando now:

Meet Our Orlando Travel Experts

Katie Neufeld

Katie Neufeld grew up in the Florida sunshine and currently lives in the Orlando area. Now Katie is on a mission to explore the state with her husband and infant son. Katie loves finding farm-to-table food and exploring an area through local cuisine and the great outdoors.

👉 Read Katie’s Articles

🗺️ Orlando Map