A Brief Guide to Orlando – Attractions, Shopping, Nightlife and Much More
Mention Orlando and most of us just think of Theme Parks! True, but there are plenty fun alternatives including Gatorland, beautifully landscaped gardens and bird sanctuaries, museums, shopping and a thriving nightlife scene. Check out our brief guide to Orlando.
A brief history:
Orlando (“the beautiful city”) can be traced back to 1837. It takes its name from Orlando Reeves, a soldier who died there during the 2nd Seminole War. Pioneer settlers came across a tree with Orlando’s name carved into it and presumed that this spot marked his grave. The area became known as Orlando’s grave and then just plain Orlando. At one stage Orlando was also known as Jernigan.
The division of Mosquito County in 1845 saw Orlando becoming the county seat of the new Orange County in 1856. Orlando was a town in 1875 and 10 short years later received city status in 1885.
Spring has very little rainfall and you can expect highs of 70 degrees F to 80 degrees F.
Summer sees temperatures rocket into the 90′s (degree F) and the onset of daily thunderstorms.
Autumn sees a steady decrease in daily thunderstorms with temperatures taking a downward turn from the mid 80′s to mid 70′s and the occasional cold front.
Winter sees temperatures in the 70′s dropping to the 50′s after a cold front and don’t faint now – but Orlando has experience of temperatures falling to freezing or below! This only happens about 10 to 15 times a year. January 1977 actually saw a snowfall of 0.2 inches recorded.
When is it best to visit?
Bear in mind that the peak visiting times are between June and August and March and April. So if you want to avoid the rush choose another time of the year.
Orlando is not just all about theme parks. The University of Central Florida in Orlando is host to 80 acres of an arboretum and botanical gardens with over 600 plant species on view.
Historic Bok Sanctuary in Lake Wales has landscaped gardens with many exotic flowers and trees. There’s a Bok Tower in the middle of the gardens. This has a 60 bell carillon which plays music every day at 3pm. Also here in the gardens you’ll spot a colony of wood ducks as well as other feathered friends.
Orange County Regional History Centre in Orlando has exhibits from the “olden days” right through to today.
The International Trolley and Train Museum is ideal for the train enthusiast. Here you’ll find model rail road trains, and tunnels on an indoor garden complete with mountains and waterfalls. The museum is also home to a display of toy trains from the 1920′s to the present day.
Gatorland or the “Alligator Capital of the World” is a nature conservatory and theme park on a massive 110 acres of land. This is an attraction for all the family unless you have a morbid fear of reptiles. Pass through a breeding marsh, swamp walk and see these weird and wonderful creatures take part in a reptile show.
If you do want to head to a theme park Disney World is “the big one”. It’s located 35 miles south of Orlando and has 4 theme parks, two water parks, more hotels than you’ve had hot dinners, 3 shopping and dining areas, 8 golf courses and a whole lot more!
The Florida Mall is located at the crossroads of the Orange Blossom Trail and Sand Lake Road. The mall is home to over 200 shops including Saks Fifth Avenue, Macey’s, Sears and Apple.
The Mall @ Millenia, Conroy Road exit is another retail hotspot. Here you’ll find Tiffany’s, Hugo Boss, Gucci, and Bloomingdales.
No trip to Orlando would be complete without sussing out the nightlife. Central Boulevard and Orange Avenue are THE places to go for a wide selection of bars and clubs. International Drive also has a plentiful supply of bars, clubs and pubs. Jazz is highly featured in pubs and bars here. Other spots to hit would be Downtown Disney and City Walk @ Universal
Studios, both are good sources of entertainment.
That’s just a very brief look at the metropolis that is Orlando. If you do decide to visit you’ll find that the easiest way to get about is by car. Take a look at the excellent rates on our car hire Orlando page.
Have you been to Orlando? We’d love to hear from you if you have any suggestions – drop us a line in the comment box below.