Orlando is often ranked as the No. 1 tourist destination in the U.S., drawing a record 75 million in 2018, most of whom come to visit Walt Disney World with its four theme parks, water parks, golf courses, campsites, and hotels. It also hosts Universal Studios, Gatorland, and the Kennedy Space Center, just to name a few other popular attractions.
With so much to see and do in the Sunshine State, it can be overwhelming – you’d have to buy one of the homes among the Orlando houses for sale to experience it all. If that’s not in the cards, to make the most of your visit, there are a few things you should know first.
How to Get Around
The most convenient way to get around Orlando is by car. While many resorts and hotels offer complimentary shuttles to major attractions, if you want to explore beyond the metro area, perhaps visiting the state’s beautiful beaches and encountering wildlife, you really need to have your own vehicle. For those who plan to stick to the theme parks, shuttles are a convenient way to save money and are easy to use.
Get Discounts By Booking Tickets in Advance
Speaking of saving money, you should always book your tickets in advance online to get a discounted price. The more attractions you plan to visit, the more it’s going to add up as it doesn’t just apply to theme parks, but everything from museums to dinner shows and tours. If you’re planning any special experiences such as Disney character dining, it’s a must to book as far ahead as possible to avoid disappointment.
International Drive is a Tourist Hub of Resorts, Shops, Restaurants, and Entertainment
Some call International Drive (AKA I-Drive) a cultural theme park itself. This is where many visitors base their stay as it’s also close to both the parks and the Orange County Convention Center. It’s home to many dining and drinking options, hotels and resorts, theaters, clubs, upscale shopping, and discount stores.
The Closest Beaches
Many people visiting Orlando hope to take advantage of the beaches on a day trip. It’s easily doable with the closest, Cocoa Beach, just under an hour’s drive away with 72 miles of shoreline and multiple beaches. Daytona Beach is an hour’s drive from Orland and permits vehicles right on the sand as one of the most popular stretches on the Atlantic coast, while the Canaveral National Seashore, also an hour away, includes 24 miles of shoreline with the longest stretch of undeveloped beach on the state’s east coast.
Be Prepared for the Weather
While Orlando may be part of the Sunshine State, that doesn’t mean you won’t need a rain jacket. If you’re visiting between May and October, expect afternoon rain showers pretty much every day. You’ll want something light as it’s likely to be warm and humid with average summer temperatures in the low 90s Fahrenheit. Winters are typically mild and dry, averaging in the low- to mid-70s, but there are occasional wet, chilly spells. The best thing to do is ensure you’re ready for a wide range of scenarios and take heed of any extreme weather warnings.
While tropical storms and hurricanes are possible, they primarily affect the coastal areas, and Orlando is about 60 miles away from the coastline. By the time a storm hits, it’s usually no more than heavy rainfall and strong wind gusts.