Orlando is known as the theme park Mecca of the US, but the city has a lot more to offer than Disney World. With a bustling downtown scene and subtropical weather, Orlando is a great vacation spot for all types of travelers. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your stay in the city.
When to Visit
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Timing is everything when it comes to a trip to Orlando. Whether you’re visiting to warm up during the cold winter or spending your summers sunbathing, you should know that the weather isn’t always ideal. The best times to visit are March to April and October to November. These months offer warm, dry weather and the bonus of fewer tourists.
The best time to visit for tourism depends on your purpose in Orlando. If you are visiting any of the major theme parks or attractions, you’ll want to avoid the times when most students are on school vacation. That includes late December, February to early April, and mid-June to August. If your schedule isn’t dictated by breaks from school, try to plan around them. Going in the low tourist season can also mean better deals at nearby hotels. For great Orlando hotels that offer low-season deals, check out the JW Marriott Orland Grande Lakes or the Ramada Plaza Resorts and Suites.
Getting Into and Around the City
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Most people arrive in Orlando via the Orlando International Airport. While renting a car is extremely popular, there is a fantastic public transportation system that will bring you to the city center and other major destinations for a fraction of the cost. The LYNX bus system offers a $2 base fare from the airport (much cheaper than the shuttle or taxi services on offer in the city). You can take Line 11 or 51 into Downtown Orlando, or take Line 42 to International Drive. If you’ll be using public transport for most of you stay, consider the day pass to cut down on costs.
Places to Spend your Day for Free
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Walt Disney’s Boardwalk is an exciting place to bring the family or enjoy the quirky nightlife. Facing out towards Crescent Lake, the promenade features buildings modeled in an early-19th-century style. Though nestled between two major theme parks, the unique restaurants, shops, and bars on offer here are not just for kids. You’ll find music, shows, and sports bars as well as fine dining on Disney’s Boardwalk. Have dinner, enjoy strolling next to the lake, or just indulge in the fantastic people-watching.
Lake Eola Park is a popular place for escaping the chaos of the city and enjoying its iconic Eola Fountain. Here, you can stroll around the lake, peruse the local vendors and farmers market on Sundays, or have an afternoon picnic. The park also offers events year round, so check out the city website for more information.
Stroll down Orange Avenue for a look at one of the most popular streets in downtown Orlando. At night, this avenue transforms into a bustling pedestrian walkway due to its popularity with locals. Here you can enjoy the well-known restaurants and bars or merely take in the sites and pop into the local shops.