Universal Orlando Travel Planning Guide
Orlando is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Every year, over 40 million people land in Orlando International Airport (MCO) to discover this warm, fun, and memorable tourist destination, and with the expansions to some of the most well known destinations (including Disney World), the number of tourists is only going to increase.
But while some of the best Orlando vacation ideas and attractions are well known, places like Disney World are not the only things to do in Orlando.
There is so much to do, see, eat, and more, that it helps to have a travel guide to Orlando, Florida so that you know where to go, what to see, and so much more.
The following is a helpful starting point for those that are interested in Orlando vacation advice, and want help seeing the city the way it was meant to be seen.
1.Where to Start: The Best Places to Visit in Orlando, FL
If you have ever thought about visiting Orlando, Florida, chances are it is because of the attractions.
These are the top three attractions in all of Orlando. Indeed, they are some of the top 5 attractions in the entire United States.
Universal Studios is home to not only a huge theme park, but also “Islands of Adventure,” which includes areas like the “Wizarding World of Harry Potter.”
Disney World is broken up into several parks, including Epcot, Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios Park.
In addition, even these parks have satellites around Orlando.
Disney, for example, also has Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon – two waterparks that are considered separate from the rest of Disneyworld, but are both in Orlando.
SeaWorld has Discovery Cove, a sister park also located in Orlando.
For these attractions alone, you can find yourself in Orlando for weeks and still not see it all.
But what if you’re looking for something else? What if theme parks aren’t your thing, or you want to have a more unique Orlando experience?
There are still countless other things to do in Orlando, with options that include, but are not limited to:
- Orlando Museum of Art
- Harry Leu Gardens
- Orlando Science Center
- Old Town
- Fun Sport America (Theme Park for Kids)
- Hollywood Drive in Golf
- Congo River Golf
These are also popular areas of interest, especially for families and visitors.
While the Big 3 theme parks in the area are certainly the highest priority for visitors of Orlando, FL, there are still plenty of other parks, museums, and more that are all worth a visit, even for the seasoned traveler.
2.Popular Hotels and Accommodations in Orlando, FL
Since there are so many tourists in Orlando, there are also many places to stay.
From Orlando vacation resorts themed by the parks they serve (such as Disney resorts) to the everyday niche boutique hotel that serves a select type of clientele, it’s almost overwhelming how many places there are to stay in the area.
If you are looking for some direction, here are some hotels you can use as a starting point.
Disney Hotels and Resorts
- Saratoga Springs Resort
- Disney Yacht Club Resort
- Grand Floridian Resort
- Contemporary Resort
- Animal Kingdom Lodge
Universal Studios Hotels and Resorts
Other Hotels and Accommodations
- Villas of Grand Cyprus
- Four Seasons Resort
- Marriott’s Lakeshore Reserve
- Floridays Resort Orlando
- Courtyard Orlando Downtown
There are quite literally hundreds of highly regarded hotels and resorts around Orlando.
If you’re looking more for a good deal (rather than necessarily being that picky about the quality of the hotel) then you’ll want to consider location more than anything.
Disney Resorts, for example, tend to be on the pricier side, but they also come with more amenities and provide more of an immersive experience than other hotels.
But you can find good deals at nearby hotels as well, such as Holiday Inn, Embassy Suites, and Caribe Royal Downtown – all of which are not on the property, but close enough that a taxi or limousine can take you there easily.
When you consider where to stay, don’t forget transportation, either.
The further you are from your destination, the more you may want to consider what travel options are available.
Since Orlando experiences are often “once in a lifetime,” you may want to consider an Orlando limo rental or something more special.
But in the end, you’ll also want to factor in the costs and quality as well.
3.The Best Restaurants in Orlando, Florida
While you’re visiting Orlando, chances are you will also need to eat. Orlando is a huge city that caters to tourists, so finding food is not much of a problem.
But as is usually the case in tourist cities like Orlando, the food quality can be hit and miss.
As you come up with Orlando vacation things to do, you’ll want to first consider the following eateries:
- Se7en Bites
- Pig Floyds Urban Barbakoa
- The Gnarly Barley
- JJ’s Fusion Grille
- Victoria and Albert’s
- Chatham Place
- Q’Kenan Restaurant
- LongHorn Steakhouse
- The Capital Grille
Of course, your location is going to play a big role in deciding where you eat.
Review sites like Yelp are often hit and miss when it comes to the accuracy of the reviews, but because Orlando is such a popular location for visitors, most places do have hundreds of reviews, so the averages of those reviews are fairly accurate in determining the quality of the cuisine and the level of service.
Of course, no Orlando trip guide would be complete without coffee.
These days, everyone needs coffee. If you want to try a unique coffee shop in Orlando, the following options tend to be fairly highly regarded for those with discerning coffee palates:
- Sugar Daddy Bakery and Coffee Company
- Foxtail Coffee Company
- Downtown Credo
- Lineage Coffee Roasting
- Holy Grain Coffee Shop
You’ll also find your fair share of Starbucks Coffee options essentially everywhere, so there really won’t be too much of a challenge finding coffee on your vacation.
But for those that like a different experience, the above list is a great place to start.
4.Luxury Places to Stay and Fine Dining in Orlando
As a limo company in Orlando, we frequently take men, women, and families from all walks of life all around the city.
Orlando is often a once in a lifetime experience, and traveling with a limo helps to make it special.
We encourage you to consider making your Orlando vacation for your family or for yourself something truly special with an Orlando limo service.
But of course, limos are often associated with luxury, and we are most certainly requested regularly by luxury travelers.
Many of the restaurants and hotels listed above do have suites and resorts that are perfect for even the most refined traveler, but for those that would like more specific accommodation and restaurant ideas, consider the following
5 Star Resorts and Hotels
- Loews Portofino Bay Hotel
- Grand Bohemian Hotel
- Ritz Carlton Grand Lakes
- Reunion Resort
- Four Seasons Resort
Fine Dining Options
- Victoria and Albert’s
- Bull and Bear Steakhouse
- La Luce
- Chatham Place
- Jiko – The Cooking Place
- Deep Blu Seafood Grille
- Hillstone Restaurant
- Texas De Brazil
This is only a small number of the “luxury” restaurants and hotels available in Orlando, since the city is known for attracting experienced travelers.
5.When is the Best Time to Visit Orlando?
One of the advantages of visiting Florida is that there is rarely a time that is not considered “good enough.”
Yes, there are many hot and humid months, and yes, there is a rainy season. For those that are sensitive to the weather, you’ll want to avoid this time frame.
But unlike other areas of the United States, there is never a time that is truly “bad” – at least not for those that can handle some heat.
There are times of the year that are hotter than others, and times of the year where the resorts and city may be more crowded than you like, but few people regret visiting Orlando, no matter what season it is.
That said, the BEST time to visit Orlando is from late February to Mid-May. That is because this timeframe combines:
- The best weather
- The lowest prices
- The least number of other travelers
The second best time to visit is after summer is over and school has started, between early September to roughly a few days before Thanksgiving in November.
It can be on the rainier side during those months, but if the weather is nice it is a good time to visit Orlando because the rates are also usually more affordable and the summer crowd has died down.
The worst time to visit Orlando is summer. Summer break means Orlando is more crowded and more expensive.
It is also very hot and humid, which some people find easy to handle, but others find close to unbearable. Sunburning is a real possibility.
Throughout the holiday season (late November to January) the weather can be much nicer (although it may be on the cool side on some days), but the holiday crowd can be just as bad as summer, if not worse, as people flock to Orlando for warmth from some of the colder climates.
US News has created a helpful little graphic that lets you get a good idea of what types of weather you can expect.
There is also always the risk of hurricanes from June to November, but the risk is low that it will affect your trip.
Traveling in the later part of hurricane season is still very popular, but consider buying some travelers insurance in case the weather takes a turn and you need to cancel.
6.What Else is There to Do in Orlando?
Between all the attractions, museums, and so much more all around Orlando, you’re rarely going to run out of things to do that are fulfilling and fun.
But for those that are simply looking for a few other ideas, rest assured that, like any big city, Orlando has a variety of options to choose from.
For example, Orlando is a sports town. Although it doesn’t have the football or baseball teams that other areas of Florida do, it does have several sports teams, including:
- Orlando Magic
- Orlando City SC (Soccer)
- Atlanta Braves (Spring Training Complex and Minor Leagues)
- Orlando Predators (Arena Football)
- University of Central Florida (UCF) Sports
For sports fans, there are also many popular sports bars to watch your home team’s game. Near Disney World, for example, there is the ESPN Zone.
Across Orlando, there are popular sports bars like Nona’s Tap Room, Duffy’s Sports Grill, and NBC Sports Grill, and Dewey’s Indoor Golf and Sports Grill.
Speaking of golf, there are several golf courses around Orlando as well, including:
7.Find Your Way Around Orlando
Finally, as an Orlando limousine company, we’d be remiss not to talk about transportation.
The most common way to get around is by taxi, rental car, or shuttle. But it should come as little to no surprise that limos are a great way to make the night special.
Whether it’s transferring from the airport to the hotel, driving to and from any of the attractions, or simply going for a tour of Orlando, limos are a way to turn this vacation into a truly memorable one – something that everyone wants from their vacation.
For more information about booking an Orlando limousine, call us today.