Orlando Villa Holiday Guide
Walt Disney World, encompassing four theme parks and two water parks, and Universal, with two theme parks and a water park newly opened in 2017, have enough thrills, spills and entertainment to fill a holiday in Orlando ten times over, without ever venturing into the city. Our villas in Orlando are close to all the action. But, take a break from the magic, and you can experience everything else that is on offer – beautiful parks, a thriving arts scene, excellent shopping and dining, and a buzzing nightlife.
Orlando Theme Parks
The main draw of a trip to Orlando is of course the theme parks, in particular the two big resorts, Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. Walt Disney Worldincludes four theme parks, the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom, and two water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, as well as entertainment and dining complex Disney Springs. Universal Orlando has two theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, as well as a new water park for 2017 – Volcano Bay – and Universal CityWalk where you’ll find restaurants, bars, clubs and shows. Although it may not compete with the excitement of Disney and Universal, the Legoland Florida Resort is still worth a visit for younger children.
Sightseeing in Orlando
If you can drag yourself away from the theme parks, an Orlando holiday has a whole host of other attractions that you won’t want to miss. Many of these are centred around the tourist strip of International Drive, where you can find Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Orlando, WonderWorks, Madam Tussauds, Titanic: The Aritifact Exhibition, and the Orlando Eye. Orlando also has a couple of attractive parks, Harry P Leu Gardens and Lake Eola Park, perfect for a respite from the parks of a different kind. A little further out of Orlando you’ll find the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, a world of wonder for budding astronauts.
Orlando Nightlife and entertainment
Disney fans can find all day entertainment in its variety of parks, with closing times between 9pm and 11pm. Disney Springs and Universal City Walk both offer a range of restaurants, bars, clubs and live music venues, as well as dine-in cinemas and shows including Cirque de Soleil and the Blue Man Group. The city of Orlando isn’t lacking in entertainment either, with a range of comedy clubs, bowling alleys and bars and nightclubs, many centred around Central Boulevard and Orange Avenue. Try the Ice Baron International Drive for a unique experience
Nature in Orlando
Orlando’s terrain is mainly flat wetlands with hundreds of lakes, meaning that if you venture out of the city there are excellent wildlife spotting opportunities. Wekiwa Springs State Park offers 13 miles of trails for hiking and biking, canoe and kayak rental and the opportunity to swim in the springs, as well as the chance to spot alligators, wild turkeys and racoons among other wildlife. If you’re feeling adventurous, take an airboat tour of the wetlands around Kissimmee, where you could see rare birds such as whooping crane and bald eagles, as well as alligators, wild deer and pigs.
Eating and drinking in Orlando
Theme parks may conjure up images of fast food and fizzy drinks, and you’ll find plenty of these, but Walt Disney World and Universal Orlandooffer a variety of options from family-friendly buffets to fine dining, and a whole range of dining experiences from character breakfasts to dinner and a show. Excellent restaurants are not hard to find, particularly the international cuisine on offer in Disney’s Epcot. Away from the parks, a huge range of mainly buffet and chain restaurants can be found along Highway 192 and the tourist hub of International Drive, both close to our luxury villas to rent in Orlando, while you’ll find independent restaurants in the downtown area.
Arts and culture in Orlando
Orlando has a thriving performing and visual arts scene, with the CityArts Factory showcasing local and international contemporary art, and the Dr. Phillips Center scheduling a varied program of music concerts, theatre, dance and musicals. There are several museums which are worth visiting, including the Orlando Museum of Art,founded in 1924, the Mennello Museum of Arthousing, among other exhibits, a range of works by Earl Cunningham, and the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts, a tiny museum focusing on African American artists.
Shopping in Orlando
The usual souvenir shops can be found in Walt Disney World and Universal Florida, where you can pick up anything from mouse ears and cuddly toys to homewares. Orlando has several large shopping malls including the upscale Mall at Millenia, with a range of designer and high street shops and department stores, and Orlando Premium Outlets, an outlet chain with two locations near the city. The outlet malls are definitely worth a visit for cheaper designer clothes, shoes and accessories. For fresh produce, food stalls and arts and crafts the Orlando Farmer’s Market takes place every Sunday between 10am and 4pm in Lake Eola Park.