Boasting more than 250 days of sunshine each year, a trip to Orlando is an option if you’re seeking the rays. It’s also a favorite spot for thrill-ride lovers, hikers, bikers, birdwatchers, festival-goers, foodies…and the list goes on. In a nutshell, Orlando has something for everyone. Here are five things to see, not including the fabulous glamping accommodations at Encore Tropical Palms or Clermont (reserve now!), if you’re Orlando-bound:
1. Take the International Drive: I-Drive, as it’s known in Orlando, is almost like an all-inclusive destination for everything from food to fun and more. There are outlet malls, plenty of restaurants (check out the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure or Taverna Opa for an authentic Greek experience); attractions such as the Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum and Ripley’s Believe or Not; a chocolate museum (The Chocolate Museum and Cafe); gator shows (Gator Golf); plenty of golf options from mini-golf courses to Top Golf simulators and whole lot more on this one exciting strip. For all the fun on I-Drive, visit internationaldriveorlando.com.
2. Board the Titanic: The Artifact Exhibit: Get a feel for what it was like to be aboard the Titanic (before the iceberg) in an opulent recreation of the ill-fated ship that has more than 300 artifacts, full scale room replicas from the ship, and costumed actors to give you the feeling it’s 1912 all over again. Guided tours are available as well as other options that include the Titanic Gala Dinner and the Titanic Teatime Experience. For information, go to titanicorlando.com.
3. Be a Spectator: Orlando is home to many sporting teams, and depending on the time of year, you can catch multiple games in a single trip. The Orlando Solar Bears are an NHL affiliate, and the hockey season here begins in October and extends to April; the NBA’s Orlando Magic play their home basketball games at the Amway Center and the regular season runs October to April, and Orlando City is the team for soccer and regular play begins in February. Orlando is also a great homebase to catch Major League Baseball’s spring training games, aka the Grapefruit League, played in several nearby locations including Tampa (NY Yankees) and Lakeland (Detroit Tigers).
4. Enjoy a Festival or Two: Any time of year here, you can find a festival celebrating heritage, music, food and more. Some biggies include Universal’s Mardi Gras (held in late winter each year); EPCOT’s International Food and Wine (July to November annually); and EPCOT’s International Festival of the Holidays (set for November 24 through December 30 this year). To find a festival to coincide with your visit, go to orlandoinsidervacations.com/annual-events-in-orlando-kissimmee.
5. Visit Mount Dora: Just about 40 minutes outside of the popular and populated Orlando, you will find the small-town charmer of Mount Dora. Visitors to this lakefront town (the lake being Lake Dora) will love the historic buildings, shops, green spaces, and authentic southern charm found here. Mount Dora fun fact – Presidents Coolidge and Eisenhower came here for a winter retreat. One fun way to see the historic buildings and the town is to take the one-hour, narrated historic tour aboard the Mount Dora Trolley. There are also opportunities for fishing (Lake Dora); antiquing (Renninger’s); shopping in the historic downtown and browsing modern art (Modernism Museum).
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