JOIN US IN AN INTERVIEW WITH LAURA GEORGIEFF FROM ORLANDO, FLORIDA!
Laura is the blogger behind Frugal For Luxury, a family travel and family lifestyle blog where she shares her family’s favorite destinations, travel tips, and parenting advice to help families make memories in remarkable ways. Follow her blog and social media as they travel the world and take you on their everyday adventures.
Orlando,“The City Beautiful” is a big city situated in central Florida. It is one of the most visited family destination because of it’s theme parks like Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Sea World and Legoland . It is also home to the largest Mc Donald’s and Disney Store in the world.
Orlando has over hundred sinkholes turned into lakes. Before tourism the major industries of Central Florida were cattle, cotton and citrus. Head to the countryside for orange picking at Showcase of Citrus which gives visitors a taste of old Florida. Or if you have time check out a local’s guide to the 22 best pick-your-own fruit farms near Orlando.
When is the best time to visit Orlando?
Orlando is best visited between October and April. The weather cools down a bit while remaining warm. The sun shines nearly every day and we stop experiencing heavy afternoon rains and thunderstorms. If possible, try to visit during Halloween or Christmas to enjoy the beautiful decorations Floridians put up! The crowds might be heavier, but the area is very magical!
Which is the most convenient and favoured transport of Orlando?
There are 2 international airports in Orlando, and 2 executive airports. Most travelers will fly into MCO. From the Orlando airport, easily rent a car or hop in a taxi to your hotel. Many hotels offer a shuttle service as well. If not, look into MEARS for a reliable taxi. More and more travelers rely on Uber or Lyft, which are plentiful!
If you are staying at a Disney Resort, use the Disney’s Magical Express, free of charge, to get to your Disney hotel!
The second international airport, SFB, is located in Sanford. While further away from the attractions (count 50 minutes to Disney World or Universal), it is a great option for discount flights (TUI, Allegiant, etc.). From Sanford, the best option is to rent a car. Taxis can be hired as well. Within Orlando, renting a car is always best and gives the most flexibility.
What are the top three must visit places in Orlando?
A visit to Orlando would not be complete without a stop at Walt Disney World. Walt Disney is the guy who turned the area from an orange grove to a metropolis and put Orlando on the map. The property has 4 theme parks and 2 water parks, a huge sports complex, 3.5 golf courses, 2 mini-golfs, many hotels, and a shopping area. You could spend a whole week at Disney and never be bored.
Each theme park is beautifully themed and the resorts are worth a tour! If visiting themes parks is not your thing, Disney is a large property with many other options – enjoy the horse-riding, fishing, golf courses, mini-golf, Disney Springs, and more. Disney Springs is totally free and a nice way to experience Disney. Parking is free and it is accessible via public transportation. It is a beautiful shopping area with the biggest Disney store in the world, wonderful restaurants and free entertainment. You could also decide to park your car there and use the Disney free transportation to visit the park or some of the resorts!
Before traveling down to Orlando, check the calendar of festivals for Walt Disney World. You will find that Epcot has many seasonal festivals, so does Magic Kingdom. At Christmas, definitely go on a monorail ride, visit the 3 hotels around the monorail and enjoy the Christmas decorations as well as a wonderful lunch at one of the resort restaurants!. The parks are beautiful during any holiday and Walt Disney World is definitely our go-to when wanting to some entertainment in Orlando.
A day at Discovery Cove will leave you with memories for a lifetime. An exclusive waterpark, located near Sea World, you will need to book a day-specific ticket ahead of time. Try to book early as the capacity is limited and you will be booking a specific day for your party.
Arrive to Discovery Cove with your swimsuit on and everything else is provided for a day of fun and relaxation: unlimited food and drinks, towels, lockers, wet suits, sunscreen, floatation devices, and more! Discovery Cove is not your typical water park. There are so slides or thrilling attractions. This is a premium experience and all about the nature and sea animals.
Upon arrival, you will enjoy a warm breakfast. Then, find a sun chair in the non-crowded park and apply the provided, animal-safe, sunscreen. You will love the natural lazy river. Grab a mask and snorkel and enjoy some hidden underwater treasure. The lazy river travels through an impressive aviary where you can hop off and feed the birds!
After getting wet in the lazy river, hop over to the Grand Reef. You will be protected from the slightly cooler water with the provided water suits. Swim with rays and tropical fish. If your heart desires thrill, upgrade your ticket for a dolphin or shark encounter.
At lunch, you will love the options at the grand buffet. And throughout the day, enjoy free drinks and snacks!
Canoeing down Shingle Creek is a must-do in Orlando for the nature lovers! It is easy to forget that Orlando is not all about the attractions, fireworks, and a thrilling rides. There is so much nature to enjoy, and us locals, love to take advantage of it!
Enjoy 2 hours on the water in a canoe, kayak, or SUP and take in the beautiful Florida nature. My local’s recommendation is The Paddling Center in Kissimmee. Located on the iconic route 192, which used to be the touristic hub in the 1960’s, you will easily access The Paddling Center from Disney. In less than 30 minutes, you will find yourself paddling down Shingle Creek, the headwaters of the Everglades!
If you are visiting in the summer, depending on the amount of rain, parts of the river might be closed. I would definitely recommend respecting the center’s advice, as to not become the main character of a rescue initiative! After your paddling adventure, take some time to explore the grounds by foot or bicycle. You can spend a wonderful day or half-day there and see some unexpected nature!
Orlando is a treasure-trove for those interested in more such flat-paddling adventures. To know more, click here.
What are the best day trips for nature, culture and history from Orlando?
A great day trip for a fun day outdoors is Bok Tower Gardens. This botanical garden has a wonderful nature playground for the kids. Once their energy is out, enjoy a walk through the Florida gardens and finish your visit by the tower, where you’ll enjoy a twice-a-day carillon concerts of 60 bells. To read more about Bok Tower Gardens, click here.
For the beach lovers, this beach is a locals’ secret. Located on the Gulf of Mexico and less than 2 hours away from the attractions, we love Fort de Soto Park. It is a very natural beach with a $5 entrance fee, payable in cash only. Once there, enjoy a snack bar, playgrounds, bathrooms, showers, a fort visit, and more.
Wekiva Springs State Park is located just north of Orlando and a great day outdoors, enjoyed by many locals. You will enjoy walking around the pine forest, horse back riding, plunging in the 72 degree spring on a hot summer day, or kayaking down the river!
What is the most celebrated holiday of the year in Orlando?
Christmas is beautiful in Orlando. While we do not have the cold and the snow, we make up for it with tons of entertainment and beautiful decorations. Towns like Celebration, FL, offer nightly “snow” falls with festive music and festivals. The theme parks are beautifully decorated and a walk down Disney Springs will reveal a themed Christmas tree trail. The weather is beautiful and everyone enjoys the celebration!
What is the most loved local food of Orlando? Is it a vegetarian friendly city?
Orlando has a wonderful restaurant scene! While it is known as one of the capitals for chain restaurants, it offers many wonderful restaurants with amazing food. Orlando is not known for a local food in particular, but everyone will find something to its taste and budget – from fine cuisine at Victoria and Albert’s to celebrity restaurants such as Morimoto Asia, and food truck events in Celebration for example, there is something to please everyone, including many vegetarian options!
Where to head for shopping in Orlando?
Tourists love shopping in Orlando and typically reserve at least 1 full-day to shopping. There are 2 large outlet malls: the Orlando International Premium Outlet located at 4951 International Drive and the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets located at 8200 Vineland Ave. Both have hundreds of brands waiting for you and a large food court to replenish mid-day!
A locals’ favorite is the Mall at Millenia, located at 4200 Conroy Rd. Millenia, as the locals call it, is a stunning indoor upscale mall where you will find luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Abercrombie, and more; as well as great restaurants. It is a popular spot for a picture with Santa but expect the line to be north of 2 hours.
Most visitors to Orlando leave town with a Disney souvenir, and there are plenty to choose from. The Disney store at Disney Springs recently underwent a major facelift and there will be plenty to choose from!
Which are the best streets of Orlando worthy of taking a stroll on?
Downtown Orlando is not typically known for strolling down the street. If you are downtown, walk around Lake Eola and enjoy the iconic fountain and take a stroll down Church Street. If you are able, however, drive up to Winter Park and take a stroll down Park Avenue! You will love its quaint shops and restaurants bordering a paved avenue leading into Rollins College, one of the most beautiful campuses in the U.S., and definitely worth a visit!
Can you suggest a place from where one can get the best view of the city?
The most beautiful views of Orlando can be seen from the World of Beer on Central Blvd. Located right on Lake Eola, you’ll enjoy beautiful urban views and stunning sunsets when you dine in the evening!
To enjoy views of the Disney fireworks, we recommend the California Grill restaurant at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Time your dinner right and you will see the entire Magic Kingdom fireworks with live music streaming from the restaurant.
For a long-range view of Disney and all the way to downtown, enjoy a romantic evening at the Eleven at Reunion Grande Resort. Located on the rooftop of the Reunion Grande, you will enjoy the Magic Kingdom and Epcot fireworks while savoring their renown steak!
Would you suggest any shows in Orlando to drama, music or art lovers?
If you are an art lover, check the schedule for current shows playing at the Dr. Phillips Center. Located downtown, it offers wonderful shows such as The Nutcracker by the Orlando Ballet, and more. Visit it not only for the shows but also for it’s architecture as it represents a defining moment in Orlando’s history.
If you are in a more entertaining mood, the Blue Man Group is always fun at the Universal City Walk. Blue Man Group Theatre is an attraction located at Universal Orlando Resort. It is a multi-sensory artistic show which combines comical music, dance, theatre and concert, all into one by bald, blue-painted artists. To know more about them, click here.
Would you recommend any local apps for food, transport or hidden gems in Orlando?
When booking a hotel in Orlando, we love the HotelTonight app. Search for very last-minute accommodation and receive great rates on luxurious hotels!
Do you want to give any suggestion to tourists coming to Orlando?
If you are coming for Disney, take advantage to purchasing your tickets early and book FastPasses for your favorite attraction. You’ll avoid disappointing long lines and be better able to plan your visit!
Remember that there is a LOT more to Orlando than just the theme parks! The nature is abundant, close, and magnificent. It is worth researching state parks and venturing out in the green! You won’t regret it!
If you are here for the shopping, sign up for the outlet mall’s mailing lists and receive a coupon to retrieve coupon books at the mall. You can save hundreds of dollars using those coupon books!