Planning an Orlando Vacation
There’s a reason Orlando is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country. Its blend of theme parks, shopping, and local attractions appeals to couples, families, and groups of friends. If you’re planning a vacation to the area, the most important questions to ask are when to go and where to stay in Orlando. Planning your trip to this incredible spot couldn’t be easier. Just read through this guide and learn about all the great offers Orlando has in store for you and your travel companions.
Best Time to Visit Orlando
The best time to visit Orlando depends on what you want to do there and your budget. From March through May, the weather is still pleasant and the crowds tend to be smaller at the parks. June through August is hot and humid, and hurricane season picks up from September to the end of November. Parks tend to fill up quickly around the holidays.
Looking for more information on when to visit Orlando? Check out this seasonal guide to Orlando to learn more about when to travel!
Things to Do in Orlando
A few miles northeast of Disney World, Universal Orlando has its own resort area that rivals Disney. All Universal hotels are within walking distance of each other and conveniently located to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. You can walk, ride in a shuttle or enjoy a ride on a water taxi. Guests have early access to the parks and priority access to the restaurants. That being said, staying right in one of the parks can be pricey. If you’re looking to save a little money, consider staying in one of the nearby neighborhoods. A vacation rental saves you money and allows you to prepare meals at home rather than spending a fortune on restaurants in the park.
Pro traveler tip: Looking to beat the heat in the city? Head to the parks around 3:30 pm to avoid the hottest and most packed times of the day.
International Drive South
International Drive South covers a long stretch of land near the Sea World parks, the convention center, and outlet shopping. Stay near the southern end of the road if you want to be closer to Disney World and the Lake Buena Vista area. Choose a hotel on the northern end of the area for access to Sea World and the Orlando area attractions. If you’re traveling on a budget, consider a neighborhood close to International Drive South.
Pro traveler tip: Finding a place a few months in advance during the off-season is a great way to save a little money and beat the heat. Check out this seasonal guide for more information on when to plan your trip.
Walt Disney World Resort Vacations
If your vacation plans include Disney World, consider staying at the Walt Disney World Resort. Covering an area larger than the city of San Francisco, the resort includes an assortment of budget-friendly and luxury hotels with full amenities. Guests also enjoy perks like free transportation, extra hours at the parks and priority access to purchase Magic Bands that let them make reservations for popular rides. Deciding to stay in the parks gives you some convenience while you’re there, but if you want to have an opportunity to explore Orlando as well, we’d suggest finding a vacation rental outside of the parks.
Pro traveler tip: If you do choose to stay outside the park, skip the parades. Especially for first-timers and families, getting to all the rides you’re interested in can be a challenge. Come prepared with a plan of attack for the rides you want to check out and avoid distractions like the parades.
Disney Vacation Club
Disney Vacation Club is its timeshare program and another option for guests who want to be near all the Disney action. You can rent spots from Vacation Club owners and enjoy all the amenities of being on Disney property including easy access to Disney Springs.
Pro traveler tip: For the traveler looking for fun and luxury, this is your best bet. This is not the place to scope out great deals as it is tailored towards an audience seeking more luxury accommodations.
International Drive North
The northern end of International Drive goes from Sand Lake Road to the Oak Ridge area past an assortment of hotels, restaurants, and small attractions. This area offers easy access to the interstate as well as a bustling nightlife. It’s also home to Universal’s Volcano Bay water park.
Pro traveler tip: Trying to explore the city and see the parks can be challenging, but if your goal is to do both then finding a vacation rental around here is the best bet.
Where to Stay in the Orlando Area
The greater Orlando area encompasses a large region in central Florida, so there are plenty of places to stay in the area. In addition to Orlando itself, there are several cities that cater to vacationers, including Lake Buena Vista and Kissimmee. They’re all within driving distance to the parks, and many hotels also have complimentary shuttle service if you want to avoid driving.
Kissimmee is a town in Osceola county that borders Disney World. The 192 corridor has a selection of hotels, restaurants, and area attractions that are still close to the Disney theme parks. Several highways, including Florida’s Turnpike, pass through Kissimmee, providing convenient access to the greater Orlando area, yet many neighborhoods still have a small-town feel.
Favorite local spots: Cafe Barista is the place to go for your morning coffee or cappuccino. Get some delicious Mexican food at Abuelo’s Mexican Restaurant. The Enchiladas are to die for! And for late-night cocktails, there’s no better place than 3 Sisters Speakeasy. This joint offers live music and a great bar bites menu.
For guests who appreciate a more urban environment, downtown Orlando has several hotels, including luxury brands like Ritz Carlton as well as well-known chains. The downtown area is home to boutiques, restaurants and nightlife and gives guests a view of the area outside the theme parks. Take a stroll around Lake Eola, explore historic Church Street Station, or enjoy live music at Wall Street Plaza.
Favorite local spots: Coffee in the downtown area is best served at CFS Coffee Shops. They offer 100% Colombian coffee and it’s delicious! Kres Chophouse is an institution in Orlando and a must-try for visitors. Enjoy great steaks and chops. They offer a solid seafood selection, too. And for a memorable night out, hit up Treehouse, Orlando’s most popular cocktail spot.
For travelers looking to stay away from the tourism and theme parks, consider staying in Winter Park, a lovely community to the north of Orlando. A quick 16-minute drive gets you to downtown Orlando and 30 minutes puts you right in the heart of all the parks. You’ll be nested away in this sensational town, away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist traps. Enjoy the tree-lined boulevards and cobblestone streets of Winter Park. There is another Winter Park to the south. When booking, make sure you find the neighborhood to the north of Orlando.
Favorite local spots: Austin’s Coffee is by far and away and the top choice for morning coffee. For dinner, get reservations at The Ravenous Pig, an Americana joint serving up some killer takes on American classics. Start with the Grilled Octopus and transition to a hot plate of Chestnut Ravioli for the main course. For an elegant cocktail or tasted sandwich, check out Garp & Fuss. Play a game of pool while you wait for dinner.
Plan Your Trip
If you’re looking for a city that offers family fun right next to high-end, award-winning restaurants, Orlando is the spot for you. And finding a vacation rental has never been easier. Whether you’re looking to stay right next to the parks, enjoy the cosmopolitan mecca, or get away from it all, VacationRenter makes it easy to find a great spot at a better price. Head over there today to find the perfect vacation rental for your trip!