Once a swampy backwater in the middle of nowhere, Orlando has become the undisputed theme-park capital of the world. This all-fun-all-the-time resort city is packed with things to do, nearly all of them family-friendly.
Theme Park Central
There’s more to Orlando than theme parks, but let’s get real: if you’re here on vacation, odds are good that you’ll end up strapped into a roller-coaster seat at some point during your stay.
- Walt Disney World® Theme Parks: Roughly 30,000 acres of enchantment, encompassing four theme parks, two water parks, five golf courses, and the Downtown Disney® Marketplace. Rides, games, princesses, live shows, giant, friendly rodents—everything that delights the young and young-at-heart can be found right here.
- Universal Orlando Resort: A theme-park alternative with a little more octane. In addition to riding roller coasters, you can explore Hogsmeade at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or scarf down a Krusty Burger at Springfield, USA, modeled on the hometown of The Simpsons.
- Gatorland: Get up close and personal (safely) with alligators and crocodiles, including four super-rare white alligators. Non-reptilian attractions include a zip line and petting zoo.
Orlando’s Surprising Food Scene
For a break from Orlando’s main claim to fame, consider trying some of the city’s impressive culinary offerings.
- Food trucks are a big deal here—you can easily find mobile dispensers of everything from jerk chicken and hot wings to traditional Cajun seafood and specialty burgers.
- The Ravenous Pig: This award-winning eatery uses seasonal and local ingredients to create unique twists on traditional favorites. Favorites include Gruyere biscuits with smoked sea salt, locally sourced pot-au-feu, and scallops seasoned with Florida citrus.
- Cask & Larder: Both a restaurant and a brewery. Try the double-stack pork burger, the Southern Rockefeller oysters, or Nashville-style hot chicken served with a side of mac and cheese.
Where to Stay
- Disney’s Polynesian Resort®: This hotel is done up like a tropical South Pacific oasis, with sugar-sand beaches, a fire-knife dance welcome for guests, and a giant pool with a volcano and waterslide.
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge®: A hotel inspired by the African savannah, with more than 200 animals onsite and one of the largest collections of African art in the U.S.
- Hard Rock Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort: Live like a rock star at this glam hotel, which features a giant pool and over $1 million worth of music memorabilia from stars such as Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, and Madonna.