Orlando is one of the top ten tourist destinations in the world, thanks to the plethora of theme parks to be found in the city and in nearby suburbs.
There is so much to see and do in Orlando that you could easily spend a month there and still not see everything. If you are only going to be there for a week, the process of paring down what you want to see becomes extremely difficult!
Here is how to find Orlando’s best tourist spots
- Research each theme park
Most vacationers who visit Orlando for the first time will want to see the theme and water parks of Disney World, Universal Orlando or SeaWorld Orlando. But there are other theme parks nearby, such as Legoland® Florida, Gatorland, and Busch Gardens (located in Tampa but only and hour-and-a-half drive from Orlando!).
Each of these theme parks has a website, so visit each site and decide which ones you’d like to visit.
- Talk to your family
The age and interests of your family members will dictate which tourist spots you will visit. If you have little children, the many theme parks of Disney World will probably be on your agenda, as well as SeaWorld. Teenagers may prefer to spend time at Universal Orlando or Gatorland. If only adults are making the trip, they may not want to visit a theme park at all. They may want to see museums, or attend at least one college or professional sporting event. They may want to engage in a sport themselves, such as scuba diving, water skiing or parasailing.
- Research your interests in Orlando
Once you’ve talked to family members and learned that one or more of them want to visit museums and historical sites in Orlando, start doing research. Thanks to the internet this is extremely easy. Do a search on “museums Orlando” or “art galleries Orlando” or “living history Orlando.” Other topics to search on would be “Native American museums Orlando,” “music Orlando,” “live theater Orlando” and so on.
- Investigate sporting events
Depending on the time of year that you’re visiting Orlando, there will be some college sporting event, or a professional sporting event, everything from basketball to baseball to football. There are a variety of online ticket resources where you can obtain tickets, or you may talk to the concierge of your hotel.
- Choose a convenient hotel
Depending on where you’re going to spend most of your time, choose a nearby hotel. If you’re going to spend time at Disney World, you’ll perhaps want to stay in Buena Vista, if not on the resort property itself. If your interests lie in downtown Orlando, choose a hotel there. This will save you transport time.
- Create a flexible itinerary
A mistake that most first-time visitors to Orlando make is trying to do too much. The heat in Orlando can be daunting at any time of year but particularly during the height of summer, and this must be taken account especially if one is touring with small children or aged relatives or both!
Purchase tickets for all events you plan to see in advance. For sporting events and live theatre, you’ll be able to get the best available seats.
Put all your purchases on one credit card for ease of tracking. Carry a spare credit card but use it only for emergencies.
Protect your credit cards by keeping them in RFD sleeves to foil thieves.
Write down the address of all locations that you want to visit, as well as the address and phone number of your hotel. Give a copy to everyone traveling with you.
As with any large city, Orlando does have its share of pickpockets and even muggers. At night, take taxis from the venue itself back to your hotel rather than walking around unfamiliar areas. If you’re driving a car, bring a GPS to use or pay the extra fee to your rental car company to have one in the car.
On rare occasions, a GPS satellite may be down. It’s rare but it does happen. For this reason, bring a map of the city with you as well. Figure out your route before you start driving. Take a look at the map to orientate yourself and to familiarize yourself with surrounding streets and avenues in case you have to cope with construction and detour signs.