Aerial view of Downtown Orlando, Florida

Orlando Travel Guide

By Patricia Doherty
July 06, 2021

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.

Time Zone

Eastern Standard Time. (Daylight Savings Time EDT, seasonal; dates vary)

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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.

Lake Eola Park in Orlando
Credit: Courtesy of Visit Orlando

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.

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How to Get Around

SunRail: The diesel-electric commuter system operates in four counties, with 16 stations including a bus connection from Orlando International Airport. A Travel Guide is available for planning. 

Lynx is Orlando's regional bus transit system. They cover a wide area and offer a System Guide for Trip Planning.

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).

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Best Hotels

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Pool at Waldorf Astoria in Orlando
Credit: Courtesy of Visit Orlando

Waldorf Astoria Orlando

Address: 14200 Bonnet Creek Resort Lane Orlando, FL 32821
Phone: (407) 597-5500
Website

The hotel features 502 deluxe guest rooms, including 171 suites as well as 12 restaurants and lounges. In addition, guests enjoy the Waldorf Astoria Spa, 18-hole golf course, 24-hour fitness center, WA Kids Club, and continuous transportation to Walt Disney World Theme Parks.

Universal Loews Sapphire Falls Resort

6601 Adventure Way
Orlando, FL 32819
Phone: (407) 503-5000
Website

The hotel offers 1,000 guest rooms including 83 suites, four scenic restaurants and lounges with water views, and resort-style pool with a white sand beach and water slide. Amenities include free water taxi and early admission to several attractions.

Four Seasons Disney World Orlando, Florida
Credit: Don Riddle/Courtesy of Visit Orlando

Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Disney World

Address: 10100 Dream Tree Boulevard Lake Buena Vista, FL 32836
Phone: (407) 313-7777
Website

Set in a secluded residential area within Walt Disney World Resort, this luxurious property offers gardens, pools, and tropical landscapes. The hotel includes a Lazy River, adults pool, 18-hole golf course, tennis facilities, pool tables, game room, and a variety of restaurants.

Grand Lakes Orlando

Address: 4040 Central Florida Parkway
Orlando, FL 32837
Phone: (866) 435-7627
Website

The 500-acre estate features a 582-room Ritz-Carlton and 1,000-room JW Marriott. Guests at both hotels have access to an 18-hole championship golf course, Ritz-Carlton Spa, three pools, JW Marriott Lazy River, and a variety of dining options. Sports experiences include kayaking, eco-tours, falconry, mountain biking, and fishing. Located minutes from the Orange County Convention Center and major theme parks.

Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld

Address: 6677 Sea Harbor Drive Orlando, FL 32821
Phone: (407) 351-5555
Website

Within steps of SeaWorld theme park, Aquatica, International Drive, and attractions, the hotel offers a spa, pool, onsite water park with water slides, and a toddler play area as well as several dining venues.

Hyatt Regency Orlando

Address: 9801 International Drive Orlando, FL 32819
Phone: (407) 284-1234
Website

Conveniently located minutes from theme parks and featuring newly-renovated guest rooms, the hotel offers a pool with waterslide and waterfalls and several dining venues including a 24-hour market.

Exterior of Orlando Bohemian Hotel
Credit: Courtesy of Visit Orlando

Grand Bohemian Hotel Downtown

Address: Trevi Pasta325 South Orange Avenue Orlando, FL 32801
Phone: (407) 313-9000
Website

Located in downtown Orlando, this 247-room boutique-style hotel features elegant touches, a spa, fitness center, restaurant offering all day dining and Sunday jazz brunch.

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Best Restaurants

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Trevi Pasta

Address: 2120 Edgewater Drive Orlando, FL 32804
Phone: (407) 985-2577
Website

With fresh pasta made to order, this Italian eatery offers different options each night of the week. They dish up antipasti, salads, pastas, meats, and seafood.

Brunch at Russell's on Lake Ivanhoe in Orlando
Credit: Courtesy of Russell’s on Lake Ivanhoe

Russell's on Lake Ivanhoe

Address: 1414 North Orange Avenue Orlando, FL  32804
Phone: (407) 601-3508
Website

Sunday brunch and nightly dinner served with spectacular lake views and a menu of classics including Rack of Lamb, Duck Confit, Lobster Tails, Chicken Kiev, and Beef Tenderloin Au Poivre.

Kres Chophouse

Address: 17 West Church Street Orlando, FL 32801
Phone: (407) 447-7950
Website

This independent steakhouse features prime beef aged in-house and hand-cut to order. Fresh Florida fish and regional seafood are also on the menu.

The Tap Room at Dubsdread

Address: 549 West Park Street Orlando, FL 32804
Phone: (407) 650-0100
Website

Dine inside or on their Verandah, and enjoy lunch, dinner, and happy hour with fresh fish, prime meats, burgers, and homemade desserts.

Walt Disney World

Address: Walt Disney World, Orlando FL
Phone: (407) 939-5277
Website

Walt Disney World offers around 400 dining venues from fast food to casual to fine dining throughout their parks. California Grill is a fine dining option that offers West Coast cuisine, focused on fresh, seasonal ingredients. Cabana Bar & Beach Club is another favorite that's set by the pool and offers fish tacos, flatbreads, steaks, and signature cocktails.

Lombard's Seafood Grille

Address: 6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819
Phone: (407) 224-3663
Website

This flagship restaurant is set on the waterfront at Universal Studios and features fresh seafood, lobster bisque, and fish tacos as well as burgers and sandwiches.

Pat O'Brien's

Address: 6000 Universal Boulevard Orlando, FL 32819
Phone: (407) 224-3663
Website

Set in Universal Orlando, this Bourbon Street reproduction of the New Orleans original features live music and specialties like Crawfish Etouffee, Blackened Redfish, and Bar of Beignets.

Waterway Grill

Address: 7007 Sea World Dr, Orlando, FL 32821
Phone: (407) 545-5550
Website

This SeaWorld Orlando restaurant serves cuisine inspired by the Amazon, including chicken, pork, salads, and sandwiches.

Voyager's Smokehouse

Address: 7007 Sea World Dr, Orlando, FL 32821
Phone: (407) 545-5550
Website

Voyager's Smokehouse is a SeaWorld Orlando favorite and features BBQ specialties like Texas-style brisket, St. Louis BBQ ribs, smoked chicken, waffle fries, and fried pickles.

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Things to Do

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Characters on main street in Magic Kingdom
Credit: Courtesy of Disney

Walt Disney World Resort

Phone: (407) 939-5277
Website

Walt Disney World Resort includes Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney Hollywood Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom, as well as Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach Water Parks. A range of accommodations from deluxe villas and resorts to value hotels and campgrounds provide a vast number of places to choose from. Restaurants range from casual to fine dining in the hotels, resorts, and theme parks. Shows, character experiences, thrill rides, tours, shopping, and browsing provide enough activities to fill several days.

Family in masks at Universal Orlando reopening 2020
Credit: Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando Resort

Address: 6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819
Phone: (407) 363-8000
Website

At Universal Orlando Resort there's Universal Studios Florida featuring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Diagon Alley, and Islands of Adventure theme park. Volcano Bay Water Park includes water slides, a wave pool, winding river, and places to lounge. Accommodations at various price levels are available, some with special amenities like front-of-the line passes. Shows, shopping, dining, and activities provide a range of things to do.

SeaWorld Orlando

Address: 7007 Sea World Dr, Orlando, FL 32821
Phone: (407) 545-5550
Website

At SeaWorld Orlando there's plenty to see, including Aquatica, a water park with a winding river, water slides, sandy beaches, and heated wave pools. At Discovery Cove, swim with tropical fish at The Grand Reef, feed rays, and swim with sharks. Enjoy rides for all ages, watch live shows, and see a variety of sea creatures, birds, and mammals. Dining, shopping, tours, and educational experiences are available at SeaWorld.

Legoland Florida
Credit: Courtesy of Legoland Florida Resort

Legoland Florida

Address: 1 Legoland Way, Winter Haven, FL 33884
Phone: (888) 690-5346
Website

Legoland Florida features a theme park with rides, attractions, and shows. Their water park includes a wave pool, build-a-raft lazy river, water slides, and toddler pool. Stay at Legoland, and dine at one of the many casual eateries in the theme park and water park. Shops in both parks offer a variety of souvenirs, clothing, swimwear, toys, and (of course) lego bricks.

Icon Park

Address: 8375 International Drive Orlando, FL 32819
Phone: (407) 601-7907
Website

A variety of attractions includes The Wheel, a 400-foot-high Ferris wheel for views of Orlando's lakes, Walt Disney World, and Universal and the Orlando Star Flyer, the world's tallest swing ride. Sea Life Orlando Aquarium, Arcade City, Madame Tussaud's and the Pearl Express Train tour are additional attractions. Dining venues and shops are also part of Icon Park.

Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures

Address: 2001 East Southport Road Kissimmee, FL 34746
Phone: (407) 344-9550
Website

Tour the wetlands to see wildlife including alligators, birds, and more. Experience the area in early morning, sunset, or night cruises.

Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens

Address: 3755 West Seminole Boulevard Sanford, FL 32771
Phone: (407) 323-4450
Website

At Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens there's more than 500 animals, an insect zoo, reptile house, and petting zoo are set among 23 acres of native gardens and lush tropical foliage.

Exterior of Wonderworks in Orlando
Credit: Courtesy of Visit Orlando

WonderWorks Orlando

Address: 9067 International Drive Orlando, FL 32819
Phone: (407) 351-8800
Website

Combining education and entertainment, WonderWorks features hands-on exhibits for fun and learning, with the focus on science and adventure.

Chocolate Kingdom

Address: 9901 Hawaiian Court Orlando, FL 32819
Phone: (407) 705-3475
Website

Chocoholics can take an interactive factory tour to learn how chocolate is made, visit a chocolate museum, and create a customized chocolate bar.

Exhibition and tourists at Orlando Museum of Art (Pre-Covid)
Credit: Courtesy of Visit Orlando

Orlando Museum of Art

Address: 2416 North Mills Avenue Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 896-4231
Website

The Orlando Museum of Art features American art, African art, art of the Ancient Americas, photography, sculpture, and more, with a collection of over 2,400 items.

Crayola Experience

Address: 8001 South Orange Blossom Trail Orlando, FL 32809
Phone: (407) 757-1700
Website

Hands-on creative activities include learning how crayons are made, naming and wrapping your own Crayola crayon, sculpting colorful greetings, and creating a keepsake with melted wax. There's a two-story color playground and the world's largest Crayola crayon.

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Best Shopping

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Bijou's Boutique

Address: 2501 Edgewater Drive Orlando, FL 32804
Phone: (407) 841-9728
Website

Bijou's Boutique offers upscale women's clothing and accessories with locations in Orlando and St. Petersburg. You'll find pieces by well-known designer brands as well as some hidden gems.

The interior of The Mall at Millenia in Orlando
Credit: Courtesy of Visit Orlando

The Mall at Millenia

Address: 4200 Conroy Road Orlando, FL 32839
Phone: (407) 363-3555
Website

Anchored by Bloomingdales, Macys, and Neiman Marcus, the three level mall includes designer stores like Michale Kors, Emporio Armani, Hugo Boss, Chanel, and Versace as well as home goods, shoes, and a food court.

Retromended Vintage

Address: 930 North Mills Avenue Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 674-8190
Website

The shop offers a unique selection of curated vintage clothing, accessories, and decor all personally selected by the shop owner, stylist Brandy Tezak.

Colonial Photo & Hobby Shop

Address: 634 North Mills Avenue Orlando, FL 32803
Phone: (407) 841-1485
Website

At Colonial Photo & Hobby Shop you can find photographyu equipment and supplies, printing services, photo gifts, cards, and calendars are offered. In addition, hobby products such as model trains, rockets, cars, and supplies like glue, balsa wood, etc. are available at the shop and online.

Exterior of The Florida Mall
Credit: Courtesy of Visit Orlando

The Florida Mall

Address: 8001 South Orange Blossom Trail Orlando, FL 32809
Phone: (407) 851-6255
Website

Located minutes from Orlando International Airport and area attractions, the Florida Mall is Central Florida's largest shopping center featuring more than 250 retail, dining, and entertainment venues. Stores include Apple, American Eagle, Banana Republic, Coach, Gap, Dick's Sporting Goods, Vans, and Tesla.

 

John Craig Clothier

Address: 132 Park Avenue South Winter Park, Florida 32789
Phone: (407) 629-7944
Website

Known for stylish menswear and excellent customer service, John Craig Clothier offers a variety of high-end clothing and accessories.

 

Exterior of Prada at Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets
Credit: Courtesy of Visit Orlando

Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets

Address: 8200 Vineland Avenue Orlando, FL 32821
Phone: (407) 238-7787
Website

Regarded as one of the country's most upscale outlet centers, the mall features more than 160 designer and name-brand outlet stores including Burberry, Calvin Klein, Gucci, Marc Jacobs, Prada, Tod's, Tumi, and Vineyard Vines.

 

Sculpture out of The Menello Museum of American Art in Orlando
Credit: Courtesy of Visit Orlando

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.

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Weather

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

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Apps to Download

Lynx Bus Tracker: Locate your bus and find its arrival time; locate bus stops and schedule.
iPhone | Android

SunRail App: Train status and location; station map; trip planner; schedule; live updates.
iPhone | Android

Visit Orlando App: Lists things to do, theme park details. Purchase discounted theme park and attractions tickets; connect to an Orlando Vacation Guide. (available in English, Spanish, Portuguese)
iPhone | Android

My Disney Experience: For vacation planning, managing reservations, tickets, and itinerary. At the park, there's a GPS-enabled map, details on wait times, show times, character greeting locations, and more.
iPhone | Android

The Official Universal Orlando App: For planning, purchasing tickets, checking wait times, accessing maps, ordering food and drinks at the parks, and more.
iPhone | Android

SeaWorld Official Park App: For show times, ride wait times, interactive map with GPS navigation, general park information, car finder.
iPhone | Android

Ride sharing apps: Uber, Lyft, Wingz