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There are dozens of affordable hotels in Orlando — and motel options, including those which are part of well-known chains such as Ramada Orlando Downtown, Motel 6 Orlando, Best Western, and Comfort Inn & Suites. Visitors can find reasonable rates in the Florida Center South neighborhood at properties such as Days Inn Orlando on International Drive, and family friendly La Quinta Inn Orlando Universal. Cheap hotels in the business district of Belle Isle include Travelodge Inn and Suites Orlando Airport, and Sleep Inn & Suites Orlando Airport. Budget room rates range from $58 for a stay at Travelodge to $90 at La Quinta Inn Orlando.
There is an array of luxury Orlando hotels available for affluent travelers in neighborhoods like Florida Center North, Florida Center South, downtown Orlando, and the central business district. In Florida Center North and South, high-end hotels include Universal's Hard Rock Hotel, which is near Universal's Islands of Adventure; the four-star resort Universal's Loews Portofino Bay Hotel in Orlando, and Universal's Loews Royal Pacific Resort. For visitors who prefer the heart of the entertainment and sports district, including Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium, then hotel choices include the certified-green hotel Crowne Plaza Orlando and the four-and a-half-star Grand Bohemian Orlando. Choosing either of these luxury hotels in Orlando will place you in the heart of it all, while making you feel great by staying at a sustainable property. Rates range for luxury hotel stays from close to $200 at Crown Plaza Orlando to $400 for a stay at Universal Loews Royal Pacific Resort.
For those visitors who want the comforts of home while on vacation, even if it's someone else's home, then an Airbnb lodging is a great option. There are plenty from which to choose in the Orlando area. From a cozy rental in Winter Park that is within walking distant to plenty of things to do, such as the East End Market and the Orlando Museum of Art, to a private room in the Lake Eola Park area of the city, there are tons of reasonably priced Airbnb rental options that will allow you to have your own space for unwinding and relaxing, either sharing an apartment or home, or staying where the owner is absent.
Alfond Inn boutique hotel in Winter Park is near sightseeing venues such as Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens. Enjoy the luxuries that this Tuscan-style hotel has to offer in design and comforts like complimentary toiletries. In the central area of Orlando, there is an array of boutique and independent hotels offered, such as the family friendly Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando and the cozy Eo Inn and Spa that offers complimentary wireless Internet access and concierge services.
Numerous hotels are available near Orlando International Airport for the convenience of travelers on the go, including Quality Inn Orlando Airport, Hyatt Place Orlando Airport Northwest, Country Inn & Suites by Carlson Orlando Airport, Embassy Suites Orlando Airport, and Orlando Airport Marriott. These are not among the cheap hotels in Orlando, but location outweighs price.
With Orlando being synonymous with theme parks and thrill rides, it is most suited for family travel and getaways with children. The busiest times to visit are the end of May up through Labor Day, some long holiday weekends, during winter vacation holidays (from mid-December to early January), and of course during spring break (late March to mid-April) when both families with young children and groups of college students are most likely to travel.
It is best to try to book your transportation and hotel during the off-season if you want the lowest rates. To save money on hotel or motel rooms, travel a few weeks before or after school spring break occurs (generally around Easter), and just after Thanksgiving but before winter break in mid-December.
If you are planning to visit Universal Studios, as well as other parks in the area such as SeaWorld and Wet ’n Wild Orlando, it's a good idea to buy a FlexTicket, which allows you to visit several theme parks with one ticket. These tickets are valid for up to two weeks and have lower prices for children ages 3-9. Before heading out on your first sightseeing excursion, stop at Visit Orlando, the city's convention and visitors bureau. The staff here are available to help with questions about sites to see, can give you brochures chock full of coupons, and sell discount tickets for many attractions and sites.
Walt Disney World is in Lake Buena Vista, but the area also encompasses sections of Orlando the park. The famous Magic Kingdom Park, Islands of Adventures, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and even the La Nouba Cirque du Soleil Theater are in Lake Buena Vista. Both Hotel Plaza Boulevard and the areas along State Route 535 (Kissimmee-Vineland Road) and County Route 535 (Apopka-Vineland Road) are full of resorts, restaurants, and shops outside the main Walt Disney World area, providing serenity and an escape from the parks.
There are loads of museums and galleries in downtown Orlando. Some of these venues in this area include the Orlando Museum of Art, Mennello Museum of American Folk Art, Contemporary American Graphics Collection, and Creative Spirit Arts Gallery. Other options for things to see in downtown Orlando include the beautiful First Presbyterian Church of Orlando and the Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge.
The International Drive area has many activities and points of interest for families. These include such venues as Ripley's Believe It or Not! Orlando, with its 10,000-square-foot Odditorium; Titanic The Experience, taking visitors back in time; WonderWorks Orlando, an upside-down science laboratory; Florida Dolphin Tours, and the Coco Key Water Resort. Park your car and use the I-Ride Trolley local transportation system when visiting sightseeing attractions along International Drive. It is much easier to enjoy yourself when you don't have to worry about finding a parking space everywhere you go.
There are many sporting events and outdoor activities to enjoy in the East Orlando area, both as a spectator and a participant, including Orlando Speed World Dragway and Eagle Wood Golf Club, a public course. The International Drive area is one of the best areas for adventure and sports venues at which visitors can have fun. These include skydiving at Sky Venture, Fun Sport Action Park, Vans Skatepark; and Putting Edge Fun Center, where you can play a round of miniature golf. The Country Club of Orlando, Capital One Bowl, and Champs Sports Bowl are all in the downtown Orlando area.
Outside of Universal Studios Florida, there is an array of activities and things to see in the area. Some of these include Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery; the cartoon-themed water park, Toon Lagoon; Universal Orlando Resort, and concerts at many venues in the area.
Kissimmee is a city south of Orlando. In addition to motels which are cheaper than those in Orlando, Kissimmee is home to such venues as Dinosaur World, the world’s largest dinosaur attraction, and the Happy Days Family Fun Center in the Old Town area. While you’re in Old Town, enjoy the area's shopping, entertainment, and dining venues. To round out a day of family fun in Kissimmee, take the kids to the Green Meadows Petting Farm, a petting zoo containing farm animals such as cows, pigs, and goats; plus pony, hay, and train rides.
If you are staying in Sanford and have brought your boat with you, visit Lake Jesup Park, primarily used as a boat launch area for Lake Jesup. The parking lot is also used by visitors to the 490-acre Lake Jesup Wilderness Area.
If you are planning to stay north of Orlando in Winter Park, there are a wealth of activities and sightseeing attractions for you to enjoy. Visit “The Land of Flowers” at the Harry P. Leu Gardens, where you can stroll along stone paths, marveling at dozens of exotic plants in this botanical garden. If you are interested in the art, visit the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. If science interests you, vvisit the Orlando Science Center.
Gray Line Orlando offers tours to suit many interests, They offer such activities as deep sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico, a Swim Where the Manatees Live tour, and an excursion to the Kennedy Space Center (Cape Canaveral) tour.
Taxis are readily available at most hotels in the Orlando area. There are many taxi options at your disposable through companies such as Yellow Cab and Ace Metro. Rates can range from $1.75 to $3.25 per mile. Since the meter runs up very quickly, it is best to try to arrange a flat rate for your ride. Ask the staff at your hotel's front desk for the typical rates from their property to the attraction you want to visit. Taxis are affordable if you are traveling with a group. However, driving is usually a better transportation option.
The Lynx bus system makes tourist sites like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and the I-Drive area more accessible. Fares are $2 for adults, $1 for children 7 to 18, and free for children 6 years old and under. It is more economical to buy an express or daily pass instead paying per ride. The Mears transportation system offers buses to major attractions including Universal Studios, SeaWorld, Kennedy Space Center, and even Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in Tampa. The rates depend upon your starting and ending points; it is best to double-check with your hotel’s concierge, as most of them use these shuttles at the request of their guests.
Driving in Orlando is an affordable mode of transportation for visitors. However, if you're not familiar with the area, it is best to ask questions about safety and neighborhoods to which you are planning to travel before you leave the hotel. The speed limit on most highways and interstates ranges from 55 to 70 miles per hour, with the limit being lower on local roads. Follow the driving laws, wear a seat belt, do not drink while driving, and do not make calls on, or answer, your cell phone. (You can send text messages on a restricted basis while driving.) Know your exit before setting out on Interstate 4, the main southwest to northeast highway that connects you to all major attractions in Orlando.
It is imperative to drive defensively in tourist areas, since you will see people with various driving styles from across the globe. Remember that during the peak season, when the area has countless visitors, it is nearly impossible to use public transportation, since buses, not having room for another passenger, will likely not stop for you. Visitors staying close to the major attractions will likely not need a car.
Visit Orlando, the city's convention and visitors bureau, has made it even easier to venture around town with up-to-date mobile apps and programs to help with touring the city. Some of the amazing apps that are available include Visit Orlando’s official visitor guide, Walt Disney World Resort's theme parks app featuring GPS maps to help point you in the right direction, and the Orlando Park ParkIn’ mobile app tool which assists with locating information about parking in and around downtown Orlando.