There are so many things to do in Orlando away from the theme parks, but there’s no escaping the fact that Orlando is unofficially known as “The Theme Park Capital of the World”. Walt Disney World Resort is where it all began in 1971 and covers 47 square miles, including The Magic Kingdom, Epcot Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. Universal Orlando Resort is another mammoth enterprise, consisting of the two theme parks Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure including “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter”, plus a night-time entertainment complex Universal CityWalk. SeaWorld completes the trio, which includes Discovery Cove where you can swim with dolphins and the water park Aqautica. For more details of these attractions, click on the specific section within the Orlando Travel Guide.
The three main areas to stay are International Drive, Lake Buena Vista and Kissimmee:
International Drive is to the south of Orlando and runs through the heart of the tourist district. Similar to The Strip in Vegas, “I-Drive” is flanked by hotels, restaurants, shops and attractions, and is also where you will find Universal Studios and Seaworld.
Lake Buena Vista is where Walt Disney World Resort is located, plus many golf courses, factory outlets, and a great choice of restaurants and shops. This is where you’ll find all the Disney resort hotels, and a handful of hotels featuring suites with self-catering facilities - great for families.
Kissimmee is a quieter choice, comprising communities of homes and villas with pools. It is just a short drive from Kissimmee to Disney, and is still an easy drive into the heart of Orlando and the other attractions. Each neighbourhood offers a good selection of restaurants and shops.
You can go Mall–Crazy in Orlando with outlet shopping and retail opportunities galore. There are eight world-class malls located around International Drive and Lake Buena Vista, including The Mall at Millenia, The Florida Mall, Pointe Orlando and Orlando Premium Outlets.
There are the top department stores of Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s and Bloomingdales. Or at the other end of the spectrum, Kissimmee has several value outlet stores. Alternatively if unique boutiques are more to your taste, then you can stroll around downtown Orlando and Winter Park, where you’ll find diverse items for your home and niche clothing labels.
Finally, there is no shortage of shops in all of the theme parks with branded merchandise in all forms. Downtown Disney is where you’ll find a massive range of Disney merchandise, interspersed with lots of nice cafes and bars so you can take a breather whilst shopping.
There are claims that Orlando is home to more pro golfers than any other city in the world, but more dependably it was voted “North America Golf Destination of the Year”. It’s certainly safe to say that with 170 courses, Orlando is the ultimate golfer’s paradise. At American Sky, we offer hotels with their own golf course such as the Omni Orlando Resort at Championsgate and the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, plus the Highland Reserve Villas are all located around the golf course. But any choice of accommodation in the Orlando area will have several golf courses within easy reach.
Here is just a taster of some of the golf courses on offer. The Shingle Creek Golf Club has an immense reputation for having a perfectly designed and maintained course. Greg Norman designed the 36 holes of the Championsgate Golf Club, creating a unique golfing experience with the links courses of Ireland and Scotland in mind. And rolling fairways which carve through large sandy scrub areas creating an atmosphere of the dunes is the result of a Steve Smyers design at South Dunes Golf Course. Golfers of all standards and ages will find a course to perfectly suit them in Orlando.
Check out the “A to Z of Attractions” section in the Orlando Travel Guide to see more of what Orlando has to offer
Planning an Orlando holiday in 2014 or 2015?
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