- Fort Lauderdale
Orlando — best cities in Florida for a fun family vacation
Do you want to return to childhood for a couple of days? Have fun with Disney characters, venture into the magical world of Harry Potter, watch a dolphin show, or make a splash on the water slide at the water park. Then head to Orlando – one of the best cities in Florida for a fun family vacation, a real Las Vegas for kids.
History of the city
Today, the city of Orlando, located in central Florida, is home to about 3 million people. But once this large metropolis was a small and modest city: at the end of the 19th century, only about 3,000 people lived here. The main occupation of the local population was the cultivation of citrus fruits.
By the way! According to one version, the city was named after a soldier of the American army, Orlando Reeves, who died here at the hands of the Indians. However, this fact was not documented.
Everything changed in the 20s of the last century. It was then that Orlando began to gain popularity as a resort destination.
Today Orlando is a true entertainment champion. The city that every first child in the United States (and not only) dreams of. The metropolis gained its world fame thanks to the world’s largest Disneyland – The Walt Disney World Resort and many other entertainments for the whole family.
And in addition to this, the sun almost always shines in Orlando, and many shopping centers, restaurants and cafes, museums, and luxury hotels are open for tourists.
Orlando Florida Day/Night Aerial City View
If you flew to Orlando for just a couple of days, the entertainment program will become as rich as possible. But to visit all the entertainment attractions of the metropolis, it will take at least a week. Here are the main places that cannot be ignored.
The place where cartoon characters come alive. Where you can ride fun rides and let nostalgia hit you. Remember the famous Cinderella Castle – the main symbol of Disney? So, it is located right here – in the very center of the park.
Once upon a time, there was an unremarkable wetland on the site of the park. But the famous cartoonist Walt Disney built a bright and fabulous world of magic here.
In the park, both children and adults will be able to ride the rides (there are more than 60 of them), become spectators of themed shows, watch fireworks, and eat delicious food in local restaurants. Disney World is the place where the trees are big and Mickey Mouse is real!
Universal Studio is another major amusement park in Orlando. And if Disney is cartoons, then Universal is cinema. In the park, visitors will find an exciting atmosphere of their favorite films. There is also a chance to watch how a movie is made, and if you are lucky, then become part of the crowd.
The park itself is divided into six thematic zones: Hollywood, New York, San Francisco, a children’s area named after the famous Woody woodpecker from the cartoon of the same name, as well as the Production Center and World Expo zones. In different zones you can:
- run from mummies and vampires;
- visit the world of general intergalactic globalization;
- feel like a survivor in the post-apocalypse era;
- learn the secrets of filming the most dizzying stunts;
- watch a futuristic show with stereoscopic effects and robots.
And also, ride on exciting rides based on the films “Back to the Future”, “Jurassic Park”, “Shrek”, and many more.
For all fans of J.K. Rowling’s works, this place is a must visit. The world of the little wizard has been recreated in the smallest detail on an area of 8 hectares.
To make it easier for visitors to travel long distances, already at the entrance to the park, they are met by the Hogwarts Express, which will take passengers to the village of Hogsmeade. Here you can walk through the offices and halls of Hogwarts, visit the pubs, which were the heroes of the film. And also try the unique butter beer at Three Brooms or buy a magic wand as a keepsake.
Want to embark on a journey through a world made entirely of LEGO bricks? Then pass by this park divided into several zones. Tourists love the Middle Ages zone with the Knight’s Tournament attraction; they enjoy visiting the LEGO factory and the Inception zone with a moving panoramic platform. Miniland and the LEGO brand store are very popular.
Is a must-see for anyone who loves water fun. In Disney Typhoon Lagoon, you can become a canyon explorer, wrestle with currents and waves, and raft along winding mountain rivers.
The main attraction of the park is a mountain 100 meters high. Nine water slides are laid along its slopes – both for less daring visitors and for the most desperate extreme lovers.
Is a “permanent residence” for marine life. Visitors can watch the life of killer whales, dolphins and sea lions. In addition to oceanariums, there are a large number of aquariums and even an artificial reef. And in Sea World, you can see the inhabitants of the Arctic, for whom a separate pavilion is reserved.
And in the water park, guests will be greeted by a large open-air pool. Surf lovers will especially like it, because artificial waves reach two meters. For dessert, you will be offered to swim with leopard sharks and bright fish in the Shark Reef diving attraction.
What else can you see?
If you’re tired of the rides and water slides, then it’s time to explore other Orlando attractions. Here are some interesting spots to keep in mind.
Street Drive. For everyone who likes to wander around the bars in the evening or sit in a cozy restaurant, we recommend a stroll along the main street of the city – International Drive. Its length is as much as 19 kilometers. In the evenings, it is especially crowded here: tourists and locals enjoy visiting numerous cafes, clubs, shops, restaurants, museums and other places where you can relax and have fun. And here you can taste dishes from almost all over the world. For example, sample Thai delicacies at Thai Thani, indulge in spicy tacos at Del Taco Mexican Café, and Cuban dishes at Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar.
The Orlando Museum of Art is one of the city’s main attractions. There are many thematic collections, including a collection of folk art items. Here you can find such collections as “African Art”, “Art of America before 1945”, “Art of America after 1945”, “Creativity of the Ancients”, “Modern Graphics” and others. Also, the museum often hosts interesting and informative temporary exhibitions.
The amazing Ripley Museum. “Believe it or not” – this is the motto of the famous Ripley museums, collecting unusual facts and exhibits from all over the world. For example, you can see a swimsuit made of human hair, a mermaid skeleton, cannibal skulls, a fluffy fish, and a sculpture of Marilyn Monroe made from dollar bills. There are many exhibits in the Ripley collection that will surprise or even shock you.
The Orlando Science Center is the most popular science museum in Orlando. Here you can explore the ecosystem and nature of Florida, learn everything about light, sound and magnetic waves, replenish your astronomical knowledge. Also in the Severe Weather Center, guests can feel like meteorologists. Finally, we recommend that you look into the observatory, take a look at the huge telescope in detail and fly on simulators of F1-11 and F-16 fighters.
The Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center is dedicated to difficult and complex topics. However, the concept of the museum is not limited to preserving the memory of the victims of the genocide. The museum was created to foster tolerance, to combat racism and anti-Semetism. The exposition, collected in a huge exhibition hall, changes regularly. Also, all visitors to the museum during the tour can watch a documentary about the Holocaust.
Shopping centers. Shopping enthusiasts will also find something to do in Orlando. After all, shops, boutiques, large shopping centers and small cozy shops are scattered here almost everywhere. For those who choose democratic shopping, the large malls of Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores, Festival Bay Mall at International Drive and Orlando Fashion Square are suitable. And the most sophisticated shopaholics can recommend the elite Mall at Millenia.
The famous Cape Canaveral is located 25 kilometers from Orlando. There is an operating cosmodrome here, from where rockets are regularly sent into space. By the way, it is quite possible to look at the launch of one of them: thematic group excursions are organized for tourists. However, to participate in them you will need to register in advance.
But even if you don’t see the launch, it will be just as interesting to walk along the cape. First, you can take part in a tour of the cosmodrome. Secondly, visit the numerous exhibition halls of the Kennedy Space Center, which has prepared a lot of exciting programs for both children and adults. For example, you can walk through the rocket park, listen to stories about the lives of famous astronauts, see the legendary Antantis shuttle and the Apollo capsule that landed astronauts on the moon.
You can get from Orlando to the cosmodrome at Cape Canaveral either by private car or by regular bus.
Where to dine?
Restaurants, bars and cafes are another feature of Orlando. There are as many of them as there are amusement parks. And if during your holiday you want to have a snack, we recommend that you look at a couple of places from our list.
The popular steakhouse at The Waldorf Astoria captivates with its ambience and stylish interiors. Yes, and you can eat here from the heart: thanks to generous portions of hearty beef, no one leaves here hungry. If you’re looking for fine dining and personalized service, Bull & Bear is a great choice.
The elite restaurant Victoria & Albert’s is a place for those who are not used to having a quick bite. People come here not just to eat, but to spend an evening in the elegant and romantic atmosphere of this establishment. Victorian décor, impeccable service and delicious chef specialties have made Victoria & Albert’s one of Florida’s most luxurious restaurants.
From Italy we move to Japan, to a restaurant that locals call DragonFly for short. This place will delight everyone who loves Asian cuisine. Signature sushi, sashimi, robataiaki, tapas and traditional sake are served here. However, you won’t be able to dine for lunch at DragonFly – the restaurant is open only for dinner.
Old Hickory Steakhouse Restaurant
This world famous steakhouse awaits guests at the Gaylord Palms Orlando Resort. And if you are lucky enough to be here, be sure to try a dish called All Natural Black Angus. Also order homemade cheeses with a glass of wine.
In the relaxed and informal setting of Hillstone Restaurant, you can indulge in succulent aromatic steaks, hearty burgers and seafood specialties. For something extra special, try the Hawaiian Ribeye with Baked Potatoes or exotic fried artichokes. In Hillstone Restaurant you will enjoy not only food, but also wonderful views: the restaurant is located in Winter Park, on the shores of the picturesque Lake Killarney.
For those who love Italian cuisine, we recommend stopping by the La Luce restaurant, captivating with its atmosphere and friendly service. By the way, this institution has been repeatedly recognized as the best restaurant in Orlando. Along with traditional pizza and pasta, you can find unusual regional dishes on the menu, which are usually cooked in Italy according to old family recipes.
How much to fly?
Departing from Fort Lauderdale Airport, we will reach Orlando in approximately 2 hours. To get to know this city and all its attractions, one day is definitely not enough for you. Therefore, our plane, together with the pilot, is ready to wait for you within 24 hours.
You will have plenty of fun in the amusement parks, then relax in one of the local hotels, the next day you will take a little walk around the city, and only then we will go back.
The cost of a flight to Orlando for one day is $ 1600, for two days – $ 2000. Longer tours are discussed individually.