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A city guide to Orlando – theme parks, thrills and dining by the dozen

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Orlando has been nicknamed as ‘The City Beautiful’ and the world’s ‘Theme Park Capital,’ and it is easy to see why. The city plays hosts possibly the most famous brand on the planet, Disney, with its four exciting main attractions that are fun for all the family. Movie-lovers will enjoy the Universal Studios with its movie-themed rides, while first-timers and regular visitors will relish getting stuck into the splash-tastic waterparks, golf courses in Kissimmee or the enchanting Everglades. The magic of Orlando is hard to resist, as millions of big kids and little kids the world over will testify.  

Matt & Travis Hope

My Destination local expert on

Orlando

What to see and do in Orlando

 

Known as the ‘Theme Park Capital of the World’, it’s safe to say Orlando provides no shortage of things to see and do. The premier attraction of the city is certainly the iconic DisneyWorld Theme Parks, where you can buy a pass to see your favorite characters in the Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot Center and - of course - the Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom. As the movie buff, why not head on over to Universal Studios, where you can recreate magic moments in film-making and blockbuster movies? If it’s relaxation you’re looking for, take a stroll through the leafy district of Winter Park or take some time out in the sun to recharge your batteries. Those wanting to cool off have multiple waterparks to choose from; take your pick from Wet N’Wild, Aquatica, Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon and the Coco Key Hotel and Water Resort.
What to eat in Orlando

 

International cuisine is the focus of the dining experience in Orlando, where many of the diverse neighborhoods thrive with eclectic cultural tastes. The City of Theme Parks caters for thrill seekers looking for a bite to eat, besides the main attractions of Disney Downtown or Lake Buena Vista. Close by and accessible by monorail and I-RIDE, you can reach the major tourist strips of Restaurant Row and International Drive and help yourself to an array of delicious roadside snacks. If it is the calm, relaxing and cultural dining experience you are looking for, why not head down to Winter Park and chill out in one of the many boutique style restaurants scattered amongst the tree-lined avenues.

 

What to shop in Orlando

 

Visitors are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to shopping in Orlando; faced with towering Disney stores dotted all around the districts. Visit the 50,000 square foot Disney store that caters for the entire family or perhaps, wander around the mid-20th century style American village in Celebration. Take the I-RIDE to International Drive and discover bargains among the souvenirs from Universal Studios and DisneyWorld, while taking in eccentric activities such as indoor skydiving or glow-in-the-dark golf in many of the malls on this tourist strip. For the upscale shopping experience, Winter Park has many trendy boutique shops ready for you to explore.

 

Where to stay in Orlando

 

For many visitors, Orlando is the perfect place to stay to experience the thrill-seeking rides of DisneyWorld, SeaWorld, Pleasure Island or the Animal Kingdom. Many visitors choose to stay in neighborhoods close to the major attractions, whether they are the Walt Disney World or the bustling Maingate district. For movie lovers, visitors may want to stay close to the iconic Universal Studios in the Universal Orlando district. Visitors looking to escape the theme park attractions may choose to stay in cultural Downtown or Winter Park instead, mingling with the locals and enjoying everyday city life.

Looking for more on Orlando? Take a look at our other Orlando guides or visit our partner site Orlando.com for some inspiration for your next trip!