Orlando has always carried its own particular brand of enchantment. It rises up from miles of flat wetlands, towering above the hundreds of nearby lakes, gleaming in bright sunlight to guide travelers who’ve made their way to this central Florida getaway. It’s so compelling that even the city’s professional basketball team is called the Orlando Magic. Whether you come for the man-made charm of world class theme parks, to explore natural spaces still rich in native wildlife, or to simply laze poolside until you’ve reached a deep, even shade of brown, the city has plenty to beguile.
Discover The City Beautiful
Much as you’d expect from its promising nickname, Orlando is a gorgeous, vibrant metropolis, where growth and change surge forward at a constant pace. From the expanding skyline to the fragrant mimosa trees with their puffy pink blossoms swaying in the breeze, it fairly hums with potential. Maybe it’s all the sunshine, or the fresh Florida oranges. Either way, you’ll be able to quickly join the flow here as you head out to explore Lake Eola and its iconic fountain (the symbol of the city itself). Along the shore, winding paths entice you out for a sunrise jog. Start your day listening to the call of birds and watch early morning tai chi classes on the lawn near the Red Pagoda.
Once you’re feeling centered from your jog and much-needed coffee, you can plan your day. For you that could mean a carefully planned itinerary or donning your sunglasses and throwing caution to the wind. Whatever you choose, Orlando won’t disappoint.
Things to Do
Best known as the premier destination for theme park enthusiasts, you’ll find all the excitement, adrenaline, and decadent snack foods your thrill-seeking heart desires. You can spend an afternoon transported—from the spindly towers of Cinderella’s Castle, to dizzying slides at Typhoon Lagoon water park, to playing a few rounds of golf on perfectly manicured emerald courses—and do it all in one place. Walt Disney World® offers some of the top hotels in Orlando for every type of traveler. Leave even the idyllic reality of a tropical vacation behind as you immerse yourself in your favorite movie experiences, courtesy of Universal Studios Florida. Whip past reanimated mummies and enormous battling space robots on breathtaking rides, then lull your heartrate back to normal with a frozen butterbeer and sumptuous chocolate cauldron cake at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Beyond the Amusement Parks
Of course, if you want to see more of the city’s hidden treasures without a high-speed broomstick chase through Diagon Alley, it’s easy to find places to stay in Orlando that put you in the heart of downtown. A visit to the Orlando Museum of Art puts new perspective on the history of the area and the wealth of artistic talent, juxtaposing the past with a vivid, riotous present and future. The collections here range from Ancient American and African Art to contemporary pieces, sculpture, and graphics.
But why stop at paintings and floral studies when you can also enjoy the real thing? You won’t regret taking some time to stop and smell the roses, all 215 varieties, at the Harry P. Leu Gardens. Also on display in this tranquil 15-acre refuge are azaleas, hibiscus, bananas, ferns, and over 2,000 camellias. Dripping with color, it’s the perfect backdrop for a stroll. After all, flowers make everything better.
If the succulents and blooming fruit trees haven’t entirely satisfied your desire for outdoor things to do in Orlando, a drive to Kelly Park, Rock Springs, is in order. Here, you can enjoy a natural spring, swimming area, and over 245 acres of green space, hiking trails, and picnic sites. Come out of the 70-degree waters feeling refreshed and renewed in spirit.
Dining and Nightlife
Bright lights and warm nights make Orlando an ideal place to sit outside on a restaurant patio or at a sidewalk café to people-watch. The city draws scores of visitors from all over the world, so expect to find some delectable global fare in addition to neighborhood hotspots and comforting classics. Head to local seafood restaurants, where you can crack into perfectly steamed spiny lobster tails or cold oysters caught that day. Enjoy freshly prepared papaya salad and silky Thai curry under the gentle glow of string lanterns. Or savor a plate of ropa vieja and sweet plantains before burning it all off during an impromptu post-dinner rhumba lesson.
Put those new moves you’ve learned to good use as you dance the night away. When the sun goes down, the city’s glass-walled skyscrapers reflect the twinkling lights and flashing neon of cocktail bars and dance clubs. Even better, look toward the Magic Kingdom® Theme Park and enjoy the colorful starbursts from the evening’s fireworks.
Just outside the city, the landscape transforms into a rich, verdant frontier where delicate ecologies—from indigenous plant life to alligators, key deer, and great egrets—can be found. Guided kayak tours get you up close and personal with the local fauna on the same ancient waterways used to travel the area for centuries. As you paddle your way along the rivers, ospreys swooping overhead, you’ll meet nature at some of its most majestic and mysterious. Airboat rides through the Central Florida Everglades pick up the pace (and noise) for the traveler who wants to see all this, just much faster. Both options sound great to us. We’re here to help you live your travel dreams, at every speed.
You know that magic comes in all forms; all you have to do is follow it to find another great adventure. Don’t worry about where to stay. In Orlando, we have accommodations to suit every travel style. Book your airfare, hotel, and car at Travelocity, where we make planning your vacation easier. And be sure to pack your sunscreen and love of discovery. You’re bound to find so much more in Orlando than you expected. Or maybe, just maybe, the magic will find you.