In Orlando, accommodations offer much more than a place to sleep after an exciting day at the theme parks. Destinations unto themselves, Orlando’s hotels and resorts boast an array of entertaining amenities including championship golf courses, world-class spas, boutique shopping and plenty of dining options, not to mention lazy rivers and zero-entry beach pools, splash parks and waterslides for the kids, and even children’s recreation programs.
With more than 450 hotels and 115,000 guest rooms, Orlando offers a multitude of lodging options, from budget and moderately priced hotels to all-suite properties, bed and breakfast inns, and numerous AAA-rated hotels and resorts. Larger families and groups will find a home-away-from-home in one of the area’s numerous vacation home rentals, while those who choose the “great outdoors” can take their pick of campgrounds.
Yet Orlando is constantly opening new hotels to serve future demand. The Hilton Orlando, adjacent to the Orange County Convention Center, is opening in September 2009. Then there is the Bonnet Creek complex. Consisting of the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, which are adjacent to each other and surrounded by the Walt Disney World® Resort, the properties will open during October.
Do the theme parks in Orlando, then go explore the city’s quieter side. This chic urban oasis flourishes in tropical lushness around wide lakes and shady bungalow communities. It’s a city of snowy egrets, elegant swans, and striking architecture. Friendly enclaves host fashionable restaurants, cool boutiques, and places to simply stroll and enjoy.
Some places to check out in Orlando:
Thornton Park and Downtown High rises reflect on Lake Eola, a gathering spot at sunrise and sunset. Everyone comes here: to rent a swan paddleboat, to see performances at the band shell, to jog around the lake (about 1 mile), to picnic, or even to join tai chi. It’s one of the most visitor-friendly areas. You don’t need a car. Free public transportation of buses and pedicabs (bicycle taxis) makes getting around easy.
SHOP: Several boho-inspired boutiques wrap around the brick-lined streets at East Central Boulevard and Summerlin Avenue.
Urban Think! Bookstore: A bastion of independence, this terrific book store caters to folks looking for great reads, and even better conversations with the amiable shopkeepers.
Zou Zou Boutique: Divas discover primping props at this place where stylish bags and fancy dresses make your credit cards faint.
Hue: This most popular after-work spot straddles the Central/Summerlin corner with a progressive American menu. Try the crispy fried oysters with a wasabi caviar.
Wildside BBQ Bar and Grill: Hearty eaters love this spot on Summerlin for the casual menu and friendly prices. Order a pulled pork sandwich and a mug of ice-cold beer out on the open-air porch.
Sky 60: Top off your evening by sipping cool libations with the hip crowd on the rooftop terrace at this bar on Orange Avenue.