OrlandoThe sun is shining, there's a sweet scent in the air and you've just passed a castle straight out of a fairytale. Yep, you're in Orlando! Disney World to be exact, and it's just one of the reasons why Orlando is such a favorite tourist destination year in and year out.
Orlando is a sun-drenched paradise of theme parks, golf courses and everything your family needs for a memorable vacation. Why spend the extra money traveling out of the country, when you can have the time of your life in Orlando? Orlando is home to gorgeous scenery, stunning Orlando hotels and creative restaurants. With so much to see and enjoy, how can you not plan a vacation to Orlando, Florida?
Arriving in Orlando
Visitors flying in to Orlando have their choice of five airports that service the city. Orlando International Airport (IATA: MCO) is the most popular one for both domestic and international flights to Orlando. Orlando-Sanford International Airport (SFB) is found in the nearby city of Sanford and while it does accept some domestic flights, it services primarily international flights. The same can be said about Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB), Tampa International Airport (TPA) and Melbourne International Airport (MLB).
Visitors to Orlando who live on the East Coast also have the opportunity to enter Orlando via Amtrak. Currently, the Sunset Limited is still undergoing repairs from damage caused by Hurricane Katrina and it is still a number of years before it will re-open service to all points west.
What to See in Orlando
Theme parks, theme parks and more theme parks! Orlando attractions are what the city is best known for, and there they have the best! Disney World, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens, SeaWorld and Gatorland are just a handful of the theme parks to be found in and around Orlando.
Orlando is also a Mecca for golfers. Gorgeous weather, pristine greens and challenging courses make for the ideal way to spend a few hours in the unceasing sun. Plus, finding one is never a problem! Public courses include Eaglewood Golf Club, Grand Cypress Resort and Lake Orlando Golf Club, just to name a few.
In a land of perpetual sunshine, you can expect flowers galore, and there are some gardens in Orlando where you can stop and stare the day away! The colorful floral delights at Harry P. Leu Gardens and the World of Orchids are two stops that should be on the itinerary of every flower lover.
In addition to Disney World, Orlando is also a city filled with history and lore and much of it is on display at the Orange County Regional History Center. If art is more to your liking, then plan a trip to the Cornell Fine Arts Museum or the Orlando Museum of Art. For something a little out of the ordinary, but infinitely entertaining, be sure to visit the Ripley's Believe It or Not! Orlando Odditorium or the captivating International Trolley and Train Museum.
Where to Sleep in Orlando
Usually, if you're planning a theme park vacation, then odds are you will be staying at one of the on-site hotels. These hotels range from complete opulence to comfortably inexpensive. Whatever your budget is, you can compare the best Orlando hotels and find one that suits you.
For sheer luxury and uncompromised pamper, the Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa doesn't disappoint. If you're heading to the park, a monorail picks you up right at the hotel's door and glides you there in comfort. The hotel is classically appointed with only the finest materials and the amenities are plentiful and modern. The hotel offers an incredible variety of dining options in the form of 1900 Park Fare, Citricos and Victoria & Albert's. Complete indulgence for adults and children alike, the Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa features 900 glorious rooms starting around $376 per night.
At Universal Studios, Universal's Portofino Bay Hotel is a highlight of many vacations. It features sublime luxury and sophistication in each one of its 750 rooms. Constructed to resemble the small fishing village of Portofino, Italy, the hotel even has cobblestone walkways! Guests also enjoy Free Universal Express ride access to help maximize enjoyment of the park and minimize waiting in line. The hotel's amenities include dive-in movies poolside, Mandara Spa, a Golf Universal program and much more. Enjoy the best of the best for around $269 per night.
Of course, if extravagance isn't in your budget, you'll be pleased to know that Orlando has a large selection of budget hotels designed to maximize your spending power. The Sheraton Vistana Resort is ideally situated on 135 acres of tropical property complete with waterfalls and palm trees. No less than seven swimming pools grace the hotel grounds and it has its own miniature golf course and arcade to keep the kiddies busy. The one and two bedroom villas offer comfortable queen-sized beds and numerous amenities. With 1,682 rooms starting around $99 per night, the Sheraton Vistana can be hard to beat.
A family vacation to Orlando is the perfect way to tell your family that you love them and to show them how much you appreciate their hard work and devotion all year long. For a vacation that will bring your family together, with smiles all around, plan a trip to Orlando!