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 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!
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  • 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
    Kristen Manieri answered the question: Kristen Manieri

    What is nightlife like in Orlando?

    Whether you’re planning on sticking near the theme parks or want to venture downtown, there is plenty to do after the sun sets in Orlando. Downtown Disney and Disney’s Boardwalk each house a handful of pubs, lounges, and sports bars, including Jellyrolls, a lively dueling piano bar on the Boardwalk that’s always a good time.

    The crowds never seems to thin at CityWalk where a dozen bars and nightclubs, including Bob Marley-A Tribute to Freedom and the Red Coconut Club, keep the party going into the wee hours of the night. You can catch live music at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville or sing karaoke along with a live band at CityWalk's Rising Star.

    Downtown Orlando is slightly sleepy during the week but it certainly comes alive on the weekends, especially at Wall Street Plaza and in the Church Street District, each housing several bars and nightclubs. Two of my favorites are Sky Sixty, a rooftop club with a South Beach feel, and ONE80 GREY GOOSE Lounge, which is perched on top of the Amway Center and gives the best views of Orlando’s skyline at night.
  • On June 20, 2013
    Kristen Manieri answered the question: Kristen Manieri

    What are the best kids’ activities in Orlando?

    Obviously, any kid (even the kid at heart) is going to love Orlando’s theme parks. But you probably know all about those, so I’ll share some lesser-known ideas. I’m a big fan of the Orlando Science Center, a four-floor, interactive space just north of downtown where you’ll find live animal habitats, dinosaurs reproductions, and science exhibits where kids can explore everything from weather to gravity.

    Definitely plan to watch a documentary-style film in the 300-seat Dr. Phillips CineDome or catch a blockbuster 3D hit in the new Digital Adventure Theater. Traveling exhibits change all the time, but at the moment there is a 1,500 square-foot Blue Man Group – Making Waves exhibit designed to merge science and art.

    If you’re up for a drive a little further north, I think you’ll enjoy Sanford’s Central Florida Zoo, a small zoological park completely outfitted with a boardwalk trail that takes you to each animal habitat, including the home of the two new rhinos that arrived at the zoo earlier this year. Be sure to bring your swim suits; there is a great little splash pad onsite where the kiddos can cool off and mom and dad can relax in the shade. Additionally, the zoo also houses ZOOMAIR Treetop Adventure Park, an aerial zip and climb obstacle course.
  • On June 18, 2013
    Natalie Wearstler answered the question: Natalie Wearstler

    What’s the best time to visit Orlando?

    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 June 11, 2013
    Kristen Manieri answered the question: Kristen Manieri

    What are the best water activities in Orlando?

    If you’ve ever wanted to try paddleboarding, your next visit to Orlando might be the perfect time. There are several outfits in the area, each offering lessons and tours at different destinations and with all the necessary equipment provided. In Winter Park, Paddleboard Orlando takes guests on a 90-minute tour through the renowned Winter Park chain of lakes, including a journey through the exotic Venetian canal.

    Maui B's Stand Up Paddleboarding offers lessons on downtown’s Lake Virginia as well as dolphin and manatee eco tours in New Smyrna Beach, about an hour away. Finally, Hau Hele Wai Paddleboarding takes adventurers on paddleboard trips along the Wekiva River as well as several tours throughout the day at Shingle Creek Regional Park, about 10 miles east of Walt Disney World.

    Of course, if you’d rather just kick back, you can pick from six different water parks, including the newest addition at LEGOLAND Florida where you can float along a 1,000 foot lazy river or race down slides complete with a refreshing plunge finale.
  • On June 7, 2013
    Kristen Manieri answered the question: Kristen Manieri

    What are the best outdoor activities in Orlando?

    I’ve always thought one of the coolest activities in Orlando is at Orlando Watersports Complex, where you can water-ski, wakeboard, or waterskate via the cableway or behind a boat. Besides being one of the state's top locations for international watersports events, the complex is open to the pubic for riders and skiers of all skill levels. In fact, trainers there offer lessons to people with absolutely no experience at all.

    Another outdoor must-do is a kayak or canoe trip down Wekiva River. From the rental shop inside Wekiwa Springs State Park, visitors can rent all the equipment they need for a float down this pristine river where turtle, alligator and otter sightings are commonplace. Afterward, spend some time cooling off with a swim inside the spring, which is always a refreshing 72 degrees.

    Finally, zip lining has officially reached craze status in Orlando, which means you’ll find this exciting but not overly challenging activity all over the area, including Forever Florida, Central Florida Zoo, and now Gatorland, where zippers zoom over alligators watching from below.
  • 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.

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