Nicknamed "the beautiful city", the 79th largest city in the United States is actually one of its most visited, thanks to a heap of family-friendly theme parks and of course that famous Florida sunshine. Tourists come back year after year to enjoy the wide range of activities that the city offers: from great shopping to cultural attractions, and sports to adrenalin-thrills at the theme parks.
There are so many things to do in Orlando whatever your tastes; whether you want to relax or see it all there's an itinerary for you. Obviously top of the list for many - especially families - are the theme parks: Walt Disney World Resorts include the Magic Kingdom (the original, and some say the best), Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom and many more while SeaWorld Orlando, Universal Studios Florida and Wet 'n' Wild water park are also very popular. Gatorland is another one; this 110 acre wildlife reserve combines "Old Florida" charm with fun exhibits and entertainment. There are many great golf courses in Orlando such as the chic Waldorf Astoria Golf Club, while airboat rides and hot air balloon tours are also very popular with visitors. Shopaholics will have enough to keep busy at the Orlando outposts of Premium Outlets (International Drive and Vineland Avenue) for hefty discounts on designer threads. Otherwise, you can also check out the largest mall in Orlando, the Florida Mall, or Orlando Fashion Square, the closest indoor shopping centre to Downtown Orlando. After dark there are numerous bars and nightclubs, however the various dinner shows are always lots of fun.
Orlando isn't all about the theme parks. Why not visit 'Old Orlando' (Church Street between Orange Avenue and Garland Avenue in Downtown Orlando) where you'll see some of the city's oldest homes shaded by century old oak trees. Why not catch a show at any one of the city's many theatres such as the Shakespeare Theatre, Mad Cow Theatre or the Ice House Theatre? Orlando is of course home of the legendary Orlando Magic NBA team; even if you're not a fan of basketball it's worth getting tickets to a game as the sport is such a big part of American culture. If you need to slow down the pace we recommend half-day trips to Bok Tower Gardens (50 acres of ferns, palms, oaks, pine and hundreds of floral varieties), Harry P. Leu Gardens (while you're there check out the Leu House Museum - a veritable step back in time) and Orlando Wetlands Park, a "mini-Everglades".
There are some great festivals going on throughout the year such as the International Fringe Festival (May), Magical Dining Month (September) and Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival (October-November). For the young and the young at heart, Universal Orlando Resort's Halloween Horror Nights is one of the country's biggest Halloween celebrations.
The purchase of a 'Fastpass' is worth it at Disney resorts: you'll believe us once you see some of the queues for the rides!"
June to September can be hot and rainy and coincides with the Atlantic hurricane season.
Dining options are plenty in Orlando - various world cuisines are at your fingertips however we recommend tucking into the hearty American classics. One of our favourite places for a good steak is the Bull & Bear at the Waldorf Astoria: very classy.
There are some great bargains to be had at Premium Outlets, even on brands you'll find at home. Also, when at any one of the Disney resorts, don't forget your souvenir Mickey or Minnie ears!
Whether it's to be close to the shopping malls, the theme parks, ...