What’s the best time to visit Orlando?

Natalie Wearstler

Unless you enjoy maneuvering around amidst a high heat index and throngs of traffic everywhere you turn, I'd avoid booking a trip to Orlando in the summer and opt for early spring instead. March is an ideal time to visit for several reasons — the temperature is perfect, flowers are in bloom all around the city and if you play your cards right, you can skip the long lines that usually plague the city's famous theme parks (assuming you don't visit during spring break, of course).

Two other perks to visiting at this time of year: Spring training baseball games at the Disney Wide World of Sports complex and the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. If you're only in the City Beautiful for one weekend, these two activities should make it onto your short to-do list.

  • On July 23, 2013
    Kristen Manieri answered the question: Kristen Manieri

    What are the best spas in Orlando?

    Nearly every major luxury hotel brand has a home in Orlando, which means the luxury spas are here too. That list includes the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Spa, the area’s biggest and definitely one of the best. Outside you’ll find a 4,000-square-foot adults-only pool flanked by towering palms and plush cabanas. Inside 40 treatment rooms, locker rooms with steam room and saunas, as well as co-ed relaxation rooms decked out with cozy chaise loungers await.

    At the Blue Harmony Spa at the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek, guests are treated to ocean-inspired treatments within six blue hued treatment rooms, including a couple’s suite with side-by-side soaking tubs. Don’t forget to head out to the outdoor spa garden and secluded hot tub.

    The Balinese-inspired Mandara Spa, an 11,000 square-foot oasis of bliss inside the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, features 14 exotic treatment rooms where guests can experience atypical treatments such as the Mandara Ritual for Hands and Feet, a two-hour cleansing, exfoliation and massage treatment designed to lift you to a new stratosphere of relaxation.
  • On July 21, 2013
    D.J. Jones answered the question: D.J. Jones

    Where is the best nightlife in Orlando?

    As with any large city, there is plenty of great nightlife to be found in Orlando. Two of the best nightlife spots, however, are found in the unlikliest of places.

    Downtown Orlando is home to numerous popular nightclubs and bars, and one of the newest and most unique venues is the ONE80 Grey Goose Lounge. On the surface, the Grey Goose Lounge might seem like any other night spot, that is until you learn of its location. The Grey Goose Lounge is found at the Amyway Center arena, on the top floor overlooking downtown Orlando. A sports arena is probably the last place you'd expect to find good nightlife- especially when it isn't a game night - but the ONE80 Grey Goose Lounge is one of the hottest spots in Orlando.

    Another unique nightlife spot in Orlando is the dueling piano bar called Jellyrolls. Again, it's the location that makes Jellyrolls unique, because a mug-swinging raucous piano bar isn't exactly what comes to mind when you think of Walt Disney World. In spite of the family friendly location, Jellyrolls is one of the most fun experiences you'll find in Orlando. Just be sure to arrive early, because the place fills up quick.
  • On July 21, 2013
    D.J. Jones answered the question: D.J. Jones

    What are the best sports bars in Orlando?

    If you've ever been on vacation while your team is playing in a big game, then you know how stressful it can be to find a proper sports bar to catch the action. When visiting Orlando, the best sports bar to watch a game is the ESPN Club at Disney's Boardwalk Resort.

    The ESPN Club is one part restaurant, another part sports bar, coming together to create a nirvana for the sports fan in your family. The restaurant features a giant screen on one wall plus numerous other monitors showing all of the games happening live. The menu feels in some ways like you're at the game itself, with unique twists on hot dogs, burgers, and nachos among other sports bar favorites. Next door, the sports bar is the place to be - especially on Sundays during football season - with countless specialty cocktails and beers on tap, served along with over 100 TV monitors.

    While ESPN Club is the best sports bar in Orlando, it is also the most popular. If you plan to watch any big game, get there early and be prepared to stay all day.
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  • On July 21, 2013
    D.J. Jones answered the question: D.J. Jones

    What are the best fine-dining restaurants in Orlando?

    Orlando is probably not the first city that comes to mind for fine-dining, but this theme park capital has plenty of appeal to foodies and roller coaster enthusiasts alike.

    At the Forbes Four Star Peabody Orlando you'll find Napa, where a locally sourced menu is paired with one of the most extensive wine lists in the city. The restaurant also features a beautiful view of the hotel's Grotto pool, and is just a few steps from the fountain that the famed Peabody Ducks call home.

    Over at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, the Forbes Four Star Award winning Victoria & Albert's is the most celebrated fine dining experience in Orlando. The seven course pre-fixe menu is the brainchild of Chef Scott Hunnel, and features ingredients from around the globe. For an even more outstanding experience, book a table in the Queen Victoria Room, where an expanded ten course menu is offered in an intimate, fireside setting.
  • On July 21, 2013
    D.J. Jones answered the question: D.J. Jones

    What are the best kid-friendly restaurants in Orlando?

    For a city built on the family vacation, it's only natural that Orlando is home to numerous kid-friendly restaurants. Walt Disney World in particular features many kid-friendly restaurants between its famous theme parks and resorts.

    In the Magic Kingdom, the Liberty Tree Tavern serves up family style dining alongside the kids' favorite Disney characters. In addition, the brand new Be Our Guest restaurant inside Beast's Castle has quickly become one of the most popular kid-friendly restaurants in Orlando.

    Over at the Wilderness Lodge Resort, you'll find the Whispering Canyon Cafe. This fun and interactive dining experience serves up skillets of family style favorites in a western themed atmosphere. Here the kids will be encouraged to twirl their napkin above their heads, and join in the general rowdiness of the staff. If you want to have a little fun with your kid, tell them to ask for some ketchup and watch what happens.
  • 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 July 16, 2013
    Susan Barnes answered the question: Susan Barnes

    Where can I go to watch sports in Orlando?

    ©TampaBayBuccaneers Sports make a pretty significant impact on the Orlando landscape; the NBA’s Orlando Magic plays their games at the Amway Center in downtown Orlando. Dwight Howard, the 7-footer with the foot-wide smile, leads the team and has been its All-Star for the last half-dozen years. But if you’re looking for a more active sporting experience, check out the ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World, which hosts a wide variety of sporting events, including soccer, fastpitch softball, track and field, baseball and half- and full marathons. The Atlanta Braves even hold their spring training at the facility, so you can catch Major Leaguers around the complex, depending on when you visit.

    If you’re into baseball and spring training, plenty of teams travel south for the winter, to the Orlando area: the Cleveland Indians (Winter Haven), Detroit Tigers (Lakeland), Houston Astros (Kissimmee) and New York Yankees (Tampa). Just keep in mind you’ll definitely need a car to get around to these spring training games.

    About an hour west of Orlando, Tampa Bay has two sports teams: the Buccanneers of the NFL, and the Lightning of the NHL. In fact, the city has an MLB team as well, the Tampa Bay Rays, but they actually play their games in St. Petersburg. Confusing, we know.

    Of course, if you’d rather relax with a pint of beer and watch your favorite team on TV, you won’t have any trouble finding bars in Orlando - just figuring out which one to take your patronage to.
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