Places to Visit in Orlando

Orlando, for most people, conjures up the image of theme parks, mainly Walt Disney World, but there is a lot more, in fact, Disney World is not in Orlando, but is in nearby Lake Buena Vista). With the estimated 52 million tourists a year, Orlando and many other areas in the region developed a lot to offer a traveler who wants to see something other than a theme park.

Most tourists visit Orlando between June and August, while another peak time for tourism is March and April. Ironically, the less busy times for tourism correspond to the best weather in the Orlando area; the summer months can be exceptionally busy with families who are making a trip while kids are on summer vacation. Visiting when the weather isn't so hot means less people in the area and that provides some advantages, but you will be able to enjoy cooler weather.

If you’re visiting Orlando, do as much planning as you possibly can before you leave. It is not the place for spontaneous vacation decisions unless you’re fabulously wealthy. Book hotels that offer family discounts such as Kids Eat Free deals, have snacks to eat in the inevitable lines you’ll be standing in, and schedule indoor, air-conditioned shows for the hottest times of day.

No vacation in Orlando is complete without a visit to a theme park—and that’s why the vast majority of the crowds orbit the big-ticket parks: Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Florida, and LegoLand. But more determined travelers will uncover a surprisingly sophisticated, albeit lesser-known city rooted in Old Florida values if they take the time to seek it out. Walt Disney World may have put Orlando on the map, but beyond Disney World, there are world-class shops and restaurants in downtown Orlando. That’s where the business districts are, as well as a more laid-back portfolio of hotels and entertainment options, many of which don’t feature a single mouse.