Orlando Travel Guide
Best known for theme parks, Orlando is home to more than a dozen family attractions, including Walt Disney World, Epcot, Sea Life Orlando Aquarium, and Universal Orlando, making the central Florida city the "Theme Park Capital of the World." Orlando is also called "The City Beautiful," dating back to 1908 when city officials gave it the nickname that still appears on the city seal. The origin of the city's name is less clear, with several different stories and historical figures claimed as possible sources.
Since the opening of Walt Disney World in 1971, tourism, population, and the local economy have flourished. Orlando is America's most visited destination, with a record-setting 75 million visitors in 2018, according to Visit Orlando. Orlando International Airport is the busiest airport in the state of Florida.
Orlando is also home to industry, including high-tech, aviation and aerospace, biotechnology research, film and television production, and manufacturing. The Orange County Convention Center in Orlando is the second largest in the country, with an average of nearly 200 events annually.
Eastern Standard Time. (Daylight Savings Time EDT, seasonal; dates vary)
Best Time to Go
Spring (March through May) is an ideal season to travel to Orlando. The weather is mild and comfortable for being outdoors. Prices may be lower than in the summer when school vacations bring more visitors to the attractions. Summer weather is hot and humid, with temperatures reaching the low 90's.
Autumn offers a break from summer's heat and humidity, but hurricanes are a possible and unpredictable part of weather.
Winter, from November through February, is a popular time with the year-end holidays, school vacations, and snowbirds escaping from colder climates. Prices are higher, but the weather is pleasant, especially when it means a getaway to somewhere warm.
Things to Know
Orlando International Airport (MCO) is about 10 miles from downtown Orlando and about 25 miles from Walt Disney World.
There are more than 100 lakes in the Orlando area and the largest, Lake Eola, is actually a giant sinkhole. Around 50 swans make their home in Lake Eola, representing five different breeds.
Several popular motion pictures were filmed in Orlando, including Parenthood, Jaws 3, My Girl, Apollo 13, Magic Mike, and Lethal Weapon 3. The opening scene in Lethal Weapon 3 shows Orlando's City Hall being blown up in 1991, in preparation to replace it with a new building.
Orlando has two major league professional sports teams: the NBA Orlando Magic and the Orlando City Soccer Club of Major League Soccer.
Orlando is home to the world's largest Disney Store and the world's largest McDonalds.
Orlando's Downtown Historic District includes eight square blocks of about 80 buildings dating from the 1880s through the early 1940s.
Nearby cities and towns include Kissimmee, Lake Buena Vista, Winter Park, Eatonville, and Winter Garden.
How to Get Around
I-Ride Trolley provides convenient and affordable transportation within the International Drive Resort Area. Their map shows stops at hotels, restaurants, shops, and parks.
From Orlando International Airport:
SunRail riders may connect via the Lynx bus to the Sand Lake Road SunRail station. The Lynx bus stop is located on the A-Side of the Terminal, on the Ground Transportation Level (Level 1). (To DisneyWorld, take the Line 11 bus, Line 50 bus)
Local bus: The Lynx bus stop is located on the A-Side of the Terminal, on the Ground Transportation Level (Level 1).
Taxis: Taxi stands are located on the A-Side of the Terminal in the center of the Arrivals Level (Level 2) and on the B-Side of the Terminal in the center of the Arrivals Level (Level 2).
Shuttle Vans: Located on the A-Side of the Terminal on the Ground Transportation Level (Parking spaces A19-21) and on the B-Side of the Terminal on the Ground Transportation Level (Parking spaces B27-29)
Rental Cars: Most of the major car rental companies are located on-airport, without the need for a shuttle bus, on the A-Side of the Terminal on the Ground Transportation Level.
Hotel Shuttles: Disney's Magical Express is on the B-Side of the Terminal, on the Ground Transportation Level. (Commercial Lane spaces B41-48) Universal's SuperStar Shuttle is on the A-Side of the Terminal, on the Ground Transportation Level. (Commercial Lane spaces A30-33) Local Hotel shuttles are on Ground Transportation Level (Commercial Lane spaces A1-4 & A42-45)
Ride Sharing: All transportation network companies such as Uber, Lyft, and Wingz may pick up passengers at the end of the Arrivals curb (Level 2).
Things to Do
Neighborhoods to Know
Downtown Orlando and Church Street District: This area hosts most of Orlando's professional and collegiate sporting events including the NBA's Orlando Magic at the Amway Center. NCAA bowl games are held at Camping World Stadium. Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, comedy clubs, music venues, and nightlife are centered in this area.
College Park: The streets are named for colleges and universities, and the atmosphere is hometown style. The area hosts several fun cultural events including Dancing on the Drive with a giant dance floor, food trucks, and vendors. The historic home of writer Jack Kerouac still stands as a literary museum.
Ivanhoe Village: This historic lakefront area boasts tree-lined streets, eclectic dining, shopping, street art, and nightlife. Cultural venues include the Orlando Museum of Art, The Mennello Museum of American Art, and the Orlando Shakespeare Theater.
The Milk District: Named for the landmark T.G. Lee Dairy, one of the largest milk producers in Florida, this hip area is home to popular bars, boutiques, and live music venues. Tasty Tuesday is the weekly food truck gathering for great street food fare.
Mills 50: Colorful street murals created by professional artists decorate one of Orlando's oldest neighborhoods, now a lively nightlife area with eclectic live music venues, bars, and restaurants.
Thornton Park: Adjacent to downtown, this area is known for brick-lined, canopied streets with a European atmosphere. Dining, nightlife, theater, shopping, and an arts village attract visitors along with the "Wine, Walk + Art Stroll" every month on the second Thursday.Audubon Park: Home to restaurants, boutiques, music venues, and Harry P. Leu Gardens, a botanical park, this neighborhood is registered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.The active community hosts events like street parties, happy hours, wine tastings, foodie events, bike rides, and races as well as a weekly community market.
Orlando, in Central Florida, has a humid subtropical climate with moderate temperatures all year. Summer months (June, July, August) are hot and humid. Winter months (December, January, February) see pleasant temperatures and minimal rain.
Annual rainfall is about 53 inches, with summer months (especially June) getting the most rain, although the rainy season is considered to be May through October.
Hurricane season is June through November, but there has not been a major hurricane in Orlando for many years. During the season, tropical storms can bring rain and wind.
The following are average Fahrenheit lows and highs by month.
January 50 - 71
February 53 - 73
March 57 - 77
April 62 - 82
May 68 - 88
June 73 - 91
July 76 - 92
August 76 - 92
September 74 - 89
October 68 - 84
November 60 - 78
December 54 - 72