D.J. Jones

Correspondent

  • Orlando, Florida, USA

D.J. Jones is a correspondent who lives in Central Florida and covers Orlando for Forbes Travel Guide. The prolific travel writer has a passion for great hotels, restaurants and the game of golf. He left a career at an Orlando luxury hotel to pursue these passions from a different perspective. Jones is a regular contributor for GolfWRX, Huffington Post Travel, and his travel blog, The World of Deej. When he is not cheering on the Florida Gators or Manchester United, you can usually find him on the golf course where he plays to a six handicap.

  • On July 21, 2013
    D.J. Jones answered the question: D.J. Jones

    What is Orlando’s dining scene like?

    The dining scene is Orlando is as diverse as any that you'll find in the world's great foodie destinations. The options range from casual family eateries to award-winning fine dining, with a few local favorites mixed in between.

    Families looking for a casual bite to eat following a long day at the theme parks will have plenty of options in Orlando. Stop into Coral Reef at Epcot for dinner under the sea, or the world's largest Hard Rock Cafe over at Universal Orlando.

    If a little fine dining is what you're after, the Forbes Four Star Award winning Victoria & Albert's offers one of the best culinary experiences in Orlando. The seven course pre-fixe menu is a memorable foodie adventure that's best enjoyed with the optional wine pairing. Plan your visit early, however, as seating is very limited and reservations at Victoria & Albert's fill up months in advance.

    For a dining experience that you'll only find in Orlando, pay a visit to a few of the local favorites. Cafe Tu Tu Tango serves a diverse tapas style menu in one of the most unique atmospheres in Orlando. Meanwhile, in downtown Orlando you'll find Hue, Ravenous Pig, and The Boheme, which have long served as some of the most popular restaurants in Orlando.
  • On July 21, 2013
    D.J. Jones answered the question: D.J. Jones

    What are the best museums in Orlando?

    While the theme parks get all of the press, there is plenty of culture to be found in Orlando as well. For a traditional museum experience, the city is home to the Orlando Museum of Art, the Orlando History Center, and the Morse Museum of American Art. But those looking for a more unique way to soak up some culture will find a few good options in Orlando.

    The Harry P. Leu Gardens in Winter Park offers a peaceful stroll through some of the most beautifully manicured landscapes in Orlando. The 50-acre park offers a high-tech educational experience, utilizing QR codes to give guests more information about the artwork and greenery found throughout the grounds.

    Another unique museum in Orlando isn't a museum at all. Billed as "An Experience in Art and Music," the Grand Bohemian Hotel surrounds guests with an array of fine art from around the world. The collection is said to be valued at over a million dollars and features pieces by Dale Chihuly, Gustav Klimpt, and Marcel Marceau among others. After touring the hotel's art collection, stop in to the Bosendorfer Lounge for a signature martini and the gentle melodies coming from the Imperial Grand Bosendorfer piano, one of only two in the world.
  • On July 21, 2013
    D.J. Jones answered the question: D.J. Jones

    What is the one must-do activity in Orlando?

    In a city filled with "must-do" activities, picking which ones should make your list can be a difficult task. At Universal's Islands of Adventure, however, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is one must-do activity that should make every Orlando itinerary.

    Easily the most popular attraction in Orlando in recent years, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter transports guests into the streets of Hogsmeade Village. Here you'll find a re-creation of The Three Broomsticks pub, Dervish and Banges, and Zonko's Joke Shop. Don't miss a visit to Olivander's Wand Shop, where one young wizard is selected from the crowd to be fitted for his or her first wand.

    Of course, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is more than just expertly themed shops. This magical land also features some of the most exhilarating rides in Orlando. The Dragon Challenge roller coaster sends you into the first task of the Tri-Wizard Challenge with sweeping inverted loops and the speed of a Nimbus 2000. The highlight of the rides in the Wizarding World is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, where a visit to Hogwarts Castle turns into a game of Quidditch and an encounter with the dreaded Dementors. In the opinion of yours truly, Forbidden Journey is the best attraction in Orlando and shouldn't be missed under any circumstances.
  • On July 21, 2013
    D.J. Jones answered the question: D.J. Jones

    What are the best water activities in Orlando?

    When the summer heat moves into Central Florida, staying cool is just as important as making the 3 o'clock parade. Thankfully, there are plenty of great water activities in Orlando to help visitors beat the heat.

    The beautiful Reunion Resort near Walt Disney World is home to the appropriately named "Water Park" and offers guests one of the best water activities in Orlando. Complete with a water slide, zero entry pool, and lazy river, the Water Park is the perfect place to spend an afternoon soaking up the Florida sun. The giant water playground for kids will keep the little ones occupied for hours, giving mom and dad plenty of time to enjoy a frozen beverage from The Grill.

    Over at Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resort you'll find Stormalong Bay, which has long been regarded as one of the best hotel pools in Orlando. This famous sand-bottom pool features a giant whirlpool and a thrilling water slide which starts in a pirate ship. After a long day by the pool, stop into Beaches & Cream for the equally enormous Kitchen Sink ice cream sundae.
  • On June 24, 2013
    D.J. Jones answered the question: D.J. Jones

    What are the best golf courses in Orlando?

    In addition to its world famous theme parks, Orlando is also home to an endless supply of great golf courses. For those that prefer 18 holes to roller coasters, here's a look at some of the best golf courses in Orlando.

    Grand Cypress

    The 45 holes of Jack Nicklaus championship golf at Grand Cypress will both challenge and delight the player. The North, South, and East courses feature many vintage Nicklaus design quirks, like an abundance of water hazards, undulating greens, and penalizing bunkers. Meanwhile, the New Course at Grand Cypress is a tribute to the links of Scotland, and is perhaps the most unique golf course in Florida.

    Reunion Resort

    If big name designers is what you're after, then the Reunion Resort is head of the class in Orlando. The resort features courses by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Tom Watson, not to mention a teaching academy by Annika Sorenstam. Each of the layouts provide a unique challenge for the golfer, making the Reunion Resort the perfect choice for an extended Orlando golf vacation.

    Disney's Osprey Ridge

    Even Disney is part of the golfing action in Orlando, and their Osprey Ridge course is one of the most challenging and picturesque in the city. The Tom Fazio design features numerous elevated tee boxes and greens, and if you listen closely you might might hear the whistle from the Magic Kingdom train. In 2014, Osprey Ridge will become the resort course for the new Four Seasons Orlando, currently under construction.
  • On June 24, 2013
    D.J. Jones answered the question: D.J. Jones

    What are the best places for brunch in Orlando?

    While Sunday is when many visitors in Orlando are either beginning or ending their vacation, for locals it is a great opportunity to enjoy brunch with friends and a round of mimosas. Here's a look at some of the best brunches in Orlando.

    The Grand Bohemian Hotel

    For over a decade, the Sunday Jazz Brunch at the posh Grand Bohemian Hotel has been a popular destination for those in search of sumptuous culinary delights. Set to the soothing sounds of the hotel's Imperial Grand Bosendorfer piano, the brunch serves up traditional favorites like made to order omelettes and waffles, plus an incredible array of shellfish and carving stations. Never mind breakfast and lunch, the amazing spread will likely leave you skipping dinner as well.

    Bistro on Park Avenue

    During the week, the Bistro on Park Avenue is known for a premium selection of oysters, but their brunch is the main attraction on Saturday and Sunday. Tucked in the "Hidden Garden" section of Park Avenue, the Bistro features a variety of omelettes and griddle specialties, as well as several forms of Eggs Benedict. The mouth watering Lobster Benedict is a personal favorite, and chances are it will be yours too.
  • On June 24, 2013
    D.J. Jones answered the question: D.J. Jones

    What are the best places for brunch in Orlando?

    While Sunday is when many visitors in Orlando are either beginning or ending their vacation, for locals it is a great opportunity to enjoy brunch with friends and a round of mimosas. Here's a look at some of the best brunches in Orlando.

    The Grand Bohemian Hotel

    For over a decade, the Sunday Jazz Brunch at the posh Grand Bohemian Hotel has been a popular destination for those in search of sumptuous culinary delights. Set to the soothing sounds of the hotel's Grand Imperial Bosendorfer piano, the brunch serves up traditional favorites like made to order omelettes and waffles, plus an incredible array of shellfish and carving stations. Never mind breakfast and lunch, the amazing spread will likely leave you skipping dinner as well.

    Bistro on Park Avenue

    During the week, the Bistro on Park Avenue is known for a premium selection of oysters, but their brunch is the main attraction on Saturday and Sunday. Tucked in the "Hidden Garden" section of Park Avenue, the Bistro features a variety of omelettes and griddle specialties, as well as several forms of Eggs Benedict. The mouth watering Lobster Benedict is a personal favorite, and chances are it will be yours too.
  • On June 20, 2013
    D.J. Jones answered the question: D.J. Jones

    What are the best waterfront hotels in Orlando?

    Orlando is probably not the first destination that comes to mind for waterfront hotels, but in a city built around the concept of "make believe," anything is possible.

    Take, for example, Disney's Beach Club Resort. Located 60 miles from the nearest real beach, this resort transports guests to the shores of New England, albeit in the form of Crescent Lake outside Epcot. There's even a man made beach where the kids can make sand castles while Mom and Dad take a nap in a nearby hammock.

    Over near the Magic Kingdom, Disney's Contemporary Resort is another great waterfront hotel in Orlando. The Contemporary is one of the original hotels at Walt Disney World and is surrounded by the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. Here you can enjoy parasailing, jet-skiing, fishing, or just lounge at one of the resort's lakefront pools. Of course, a personal favorite is renting a miniature "water sprite" and exploring the Seven Seas Lagoon. Just be sure to keep an eye out for the Magic Kingdom ferry!
  • On June 20, 2013
    D.J. Jones answered the question: D.J. Jones

    What are the best hotels in Orlando?

    While my colleagues are correct to sing the praises of the Forbes Four Star Peabody Orlando and Ritz Carlton at Grande Lakes, there are a couple other hotels in Orlando worth a look for your next visit.

    The first is the Villas of Grand Cypress, which is consistently ranked one of the best golf resorts in Florida. The resort recently underwent an impressive renovation, transforming their spacious villas into some of the most technologically forward accommodations in Orlando. And while the two Jack Nicklaus designed golf courses are the main draw, the location right outside the main gate of Walt Disney World makes the Villas of Grand Cypress a perfect choice for families as well.

    Just a few exits further down I-4, you'll find the sprawling Reunion Resort. A golfer's heaven with four championship courses, the Reunion Resort is located on the outskirts of Orlando's hustle and bustle. This makes it an oasis for those seeking a little R&R combined with the comforts of home. Be sure to stop in Eleven - the resort's rooftop restaurant - for the best view of the sunset in Orlando.
  • On June 20, 2013
  • On June 12, 2013
    D.J. Jones is now following The Peabody Orlando
  • On June 6, 2013
    D.J. Jones answered the question: D.J. Jones

    Should visitors rent a car in Orlando?

    It is hard to overlook the irony of Orlando's reliance on the car, considering Walt Disney's original dream for his "Florida Project" was a town where the workers for the Magic Kingdom commuted via a series of PeopleMovers, etc. Today, Orlando - and even Walt Disney World - is the poster child of urban sprawl. Getting around town without a car can be quite a hassle due to a lack of efficient public transportation - the Lynx bus is OK at best - and a round-trip taxi from Disney to Universal might set you back as much as a week long car rental. Many hotels in Orlando, like the Ritz Carlton at Grande Lakes, offer shuttle services to Disney and Universal, which might eliminate your need for a car. Otherwise, I suggest packing your drivers license.

  • On June 6, 2013
    D.J. Jones answered the question: D.J. Jones

    What is the best time to visit Orlando?

    While Spring Break, the holidays, or summer might be the most convenient time to visit Orlando because the kids are out of school, it's important to remember that everyone else has that same idea. The parks are at their busiest during these peak times, and they can be downright miserable during the summer thanks to our wonderful Florida heat and humidity. For these reasons, the fall is the best time to visit Orlando, at least in the opinion of yours truly.

    In addition to lighter crowds and better weather, the fall is also when the annual Food & Wine Festival takes place at Epcot. Between late September and early November the Food & Wine Festival offers visitors the opportunity to sample dishes from around the globe, as well as take in culinary and wine demonstrations from celebrity chefs and TV personalities. Fair warning: attending the Festival can make a serious dent in your wallet, and crowds can be heavy on the weekends, however it's easily the best reason to visit Orlando in the fall.
  • On June 6, 2013
    D.J. Jones answered the question: D.J. Jones

    What is the weather like right now in Orlando?

    The weather in Orlando right now is, well, lousy. Why? Because Tropical Storm Andrea has decided to pay us a visit and has brought with her several inches of rain. But that's Florida in the summertime. Contrary to media coverage, however, hurricanes and tropical storms don't pass through Orlando every week. Sometimes we make it through an entire season without seeing one. Of course, this year is already off to a wet start, but the thing to remember is that if a tropical storm happens to come during your Orlando vacation, the worst case scenario is usually a day or two washed out in the rain. The wind and mass destruction you see on the news is actually quite rare in Orlando.

    Thunderstorms, on the other hand, are a completely different story. During the summer, there are two things you can set your watch by: the 3pm parade in the Magic Kingdom followed by the 3:30 thunderstorm. My advice is to seek shelter in one of the gift shops, wait it out, and after the rain stops enjoy a much less crowded theme park. Just be warned: You've never felt humidity until you've walked through a theme park following a summer rain storm. It's a pretty good substitute for a steam room.
  • On June 6, 2013
    D.J. Jones answered the question: D.J. Jones

    What are the best bars in Orlando?

    After a long day at the theme parks or the convention hall, chances are you'll be in desperate need of an adult beverage. Thankfully, there are plenty of great watering holes in Orlando to decompress or live it up, whichever you prefer.

    Just outside the gates of Walt Disney World you'll find the Reunion Resort and their rooftop lounge known as Eleven. Aside from the incredible view, Eleven serves up tasty hand crafted concoctions and a full menu for dinner. During our recent visit, the Wagyu Beef Sliders and a Manhattan paired perfectly with a trademark Florida sunset.

    Although exciting nightlife and Disney may not seem to go together, Jellyrolls at the Boardwalk Resort delivers just that. This dueling piano experience is not only one of the best bars in Orlando, but it practically guarantees a good time every night. Write a request for your favorite song on a napkin - no matter how obscure, they will know it - and by the end of the night, you'll be swinging your glass with the crowd to Piano Man. Tip: Ask about the "Red Cup" drink special. There's a different one each night and will help keep your bar tab in check.

    Whether you're looking to relax after a long day or are in need of a good time, Orlando has no shortage of great bars for every occasion.