Not Just Disney World: Vacationing in Tropical Orlando, Florida

Often referred to as The City Beautiful, Orlando has much more to offer than Disney World. If you consider a good hotel the key to a successful vacation, Orlando is the place for you. But even if you don’t care that much about accommodations, this city has you covered with an array of things to see and do. What else other than theme parks does Orlando have to offer? Get a taste for Orlando by reading on.

Take It Easy and Embrace Nature in Bustling Orlando

 Image via  Flickr  by National Forests in Florida

Image via Flickr by National Forests in Florida

If you enjoy the outdoors and want to get to know the quieter, more natural side of the city, make sure to visit Wekiwa Springs and Ocala National Forest. Both are great for camping and outdoor activities in a tropical environment. Another quiet spot is Cranes Roost Uptown Altamonte, a nice lake area with a plaza where you can take a walk or see a show at the amphitheater. In the heart of downtown Orlando, you’ll even find Lake Eola Park, a dreamy spot with a small lake and boats for rent.

Another place you shouldn’t miss is downtown Sanford, which has a historic feel and lovely views over Lake Monroe. When you’re done exploring for the day, relax at your choice of IHG hotels near downtown Orlando or your pick of attractions.

See the City Differently and Cover Attractions Aside From Theme Parks

 Image via  Flickr  by Rusty Clark

Image via Flickr by Rusty Clark

Orlando is the world’s biggest theme park destination, but there’s more to it if you look a little closer. Find some impressive art and culture at the Orlando Museum of Art, get hands-on at the Orlando Science Center, or take a scenic walk at the Harry P. Leu Gardens.

If huge malls aren’t your thing but you like unique shopping experiences, the Artegon Market is your place. Escape a rainy day and look at what the creative vendors have to offer at this artisan market.

If you like to get a bird’s-eye view of a city, take a ride on the Orlando Eye. Rides last about 20 minutes, and the best time to go is at sunset. This attraction is located in the middle of the I-Drive 360 entertainment district, which is rather commercialized but still a fun place to explore.

Treat Your Taste Buds at Local Eateries

 Image via  Flickr  by gmmail

Image via Flickr by gmmail

Florida’s cuisine has significant Latin and Caribbean influences. For a variety of eateries, head over to Thornton Park. You should also check out the up-and-coming Milk District, which is particularly interesting for those who like street food and food trucks.

Although Orlando isn’t particularly known for barbecue, the 4Rivers Smokehouse is one of the best barbecue joints anywhere. For a laid-back drink in a cozy environment, check out Hanson’s Shoe Repair. When in Orlando, definitely try key lime pie, rock shrimp, and a Cuban sandwich and check out the quaint Achilles Art Café or the vibrant Mango’s Tropical Café.

Orlando features an abundance of hotels, as well as attractions and activities for travelers of all ages. Get a different perspective on The City Beautiful and experience the lesser-known corners of this city. Are you planning a trip to Orlando yet?

This piece was written in collaboration with IHG Hotels.