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Ten Reasons to Visit Orlando
Whether it’s a white-knuckled thrill ride, exhilarating skydive encounter, soothing massage, exciting round of golf, mega shopping junket or a moving theatre performance, Orlando and the surrounding Central Florida region is a perennial favorite destination among vacationers from around the globe. Here are just 10 of the many reasons why guests return time and time again.
1. Divine Dining: Orlando serves up more than 5,180 restaurants to stimulate one’s senses and satisfy the palate. From themed and character dining venues such as Cinderella’s Royal Table to dinner shows and elegant dining settings like Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament and Manuel’s on the 28th, Orlando serves up a buffet of memorable mealtime experiences. Guests can nosh with Mickey Mouse at Chef Mickey’s at Walt Disney World Resort, dine with denizens of the deep at Sharks Underwater Grill at SeaWorld Orlando or check almost any game score at the ESPN Club at Disney’s BoardWalk or Friday’s Front Row Sports Grill on International Drive. For guests in town on business, more than 15,000 seats in upscale restaurants are located within a 10-mile (16-kilometer) radius of Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center, meaning a meal to remember is right around the corner.
2. Birdies, Eagles and More: Golf aficionados are in their element in Orlando thanks to the area’s great lineup of world-class golf. Whether playing a championship course, learning from the pros or cheering on a favorite from the gallery, Orlando’s got the ticket to the best links around. With 168 spectacular golf courses located within a 45-minute drive of downtown, golfers can try their hand at an array of challenging and diverse courses designed by such legends as Jack Nicklaus, Greg Norman, Tom Watson and Rees Jones. For visitors looking to attend a PGA TOUR event, Orlando is the only city in the United States to host two regularly scheduled tournaments – the Bay Hill Invitational and the FUNAI Classic. For students of the game, internationally known golf instructors David Leadbetter and Fred Griffin have academies headquartered here.
3. Major-League Shopping: From Gucci bags and Tiffany diamonds to Ocean Pacific flip flops and second-hand treasures – plus everything in between – Orlando has boldly emerged as an international shopping dynamo. And, with more than 52 million square feet (4.6 million square meters) of retail space – and growing – you can bet that all tastes and budgets will be delightfully satisfied. Home to nine world-class malls, including the upscale The Mall at Millenia and Gen-Xer Festival Bay Mall at International Drive, the area offers great shopping options for the entire mind, body and spirit under one roof.
4. Soothing Indulgences: Orlando’s spectacular day and resort-style spas are truly in a class of their own when it comes to soothing indulgences. Whether it’s for a couple hours or a full day’s treatment, guests of all ages can relax at any of the area’s pampering paradises. The 40,000-square-foot (3,600-square-meter) The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Grande Lakes Orlando is Central Florida’s largest, with 40 treatment rooms and an extensive collection of rejuvenating treatments inspired by different nations and cultures. The award-winning Euro Day Spa & Salon in Winter Park is one of the area’s most established facilities which features a wealth of proven spa techniques and body treatments. From mini manicures and teen facials for the younger crowd to a myriad of invigorating body wraps, exotic treatments and sports facials for men and women, Orlando’s spas offer the ultimate respite.
5. Wedding Bell Magic: Known for years as a haven for honeymooners, Orlando is now emerging as a premier wedding destination. From the simple to the elegant, from the intimate to the grandiose, Orlando provides a host of unforgettable wedding settings just right for the bride and groom’s special day. While the area offers a bouquet of traditional wedding options, Orlando exceeds the extraordinary with a number of unique backdrops to say “I do.” Among the stunning venues are the lush Harry P. Leu Gardens, the intimate Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens, the magical Cinderella’s Castle at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, the sea-faring Rivership ROMANCE and the creative Weddings at the Shack at Orlando Harley-Davidson. Many of the locations have professional wedding and event planners on staff to ensure the day is picture-perfect.
6. Fun and Frolic: With more than 95 attractions in its goodie bag, Orlando is truly the epicenter of fun and excitement that keeps visitors coming back for more year after year. In fact, when combining the legendary theme parks, spectacular museums, world-class entertainment and blockbuster rides and attractions, it would take about 67 eight-hour days to visit all of the entertaining offerings in Orlando. Whether it’s heart-pounding thrill rides and extreme adventures or awe-inspiring nature and laid-back recreation options, Central Florida gets a mega thumbs up from both visitors and area residents. Combine those diverse offerings with comfortable year-round temperatures and Orlando is a grand slam!
7. Unexpected Orlando: A multitude of star-studded performing arts, world-renowned art exhibits and moving cultural celebrations have put Orlando in the international limelight – and for good reason as the area boasts many claims to fame. The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art is home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts, named for the renowned African-American writer, folklorist and anthropologist, celebrates works by artists of African descent. Performing arts standouts include the Orlando Ballet, Orlando Opera, Orlando Philharmonic, Mad Cow Theatre and the 150-voice Bach Festival Society. Annual events such as the Florida Film Festival, Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival and critically acclaimed Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival and the nearby Mount Dora Art Festival add a rich and diverse dimension to the Orlando vacation experience.
8. Extreme Adventure: Looking for spine-tingling, white-knuckled extreme adventure? Orlando’s got just the adrenaline rush with a slew of over-the-edge activities for the daring at heart. For thrill-seekers, O-town is the place to be with the likes of Kraken at SeaWorld Orlando and the Incredible Hulk and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando. The Richard Petty Driving Experience puts gutsy drivers behind the wheel of a NASCAR stock car on a real track. Free-fall fanatics rave about Wet ‘n Wild - Orlando’s Bomb Bay, Disney’s Blizzard Beach’s Summit Plummet and SkyVenture Orlando on I-Drive where a vertical wind tunnel uses 120 mph (193 kph) winds to simulate an unforgettable skydiving experience. Those seeking the perfect wake will find it at the Orlando Watersports Complex, the area’s premier park for wakeboarding, wakeskating and waterskiing. For mega G-force intensity, O-town’s got it all.
9. Year-Round Celebrations: Orlando’s spectacular lineup of special events and festivals offers guests the chance to get more bang for their buck while visiting Orlando. From pro sports and performing arts to home décor and biker mania, the area offers more than 450 annual events to add to one’s vacation itinerary. Festival and show standouts such as the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, Florida Film Festival, Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts & Humanities, Orlando International Fringe Festival and the nearby Mount Dora Art Festival are internationally known and attract hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Many of the events feature hands-on, interactive children’s areas to make it extra special for the entire family. Better yet, a number of the events are free of charge.
10. Awesome Outdoors: Few destinations in the world come close to rivaling Orlando’s incredible year-round outdoor activities and pastimes. With more than 2,000 lakes, springs and rivers for swimming, boating, waterskiing and fishing; 168 golf courses; 800 tennis courts and 21 fitness trails for biking, walking and blading, visitors take great delight in the area’s multitude of recreational options. And, with an average year-round temperature of 72.4 F (22 C), who can blame them? Add to the offerings getting up close and personal with a bounty of original Florida inhabitants like alligators, manatees, osprey, deer and eagles, Central Florida’s diverse menu of outdoor choices keeps visitors coming back for more.
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