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Orlando Area Information

Orlando is a major city in central Florida, USA and is the county seat of Orange County, Florida. It is also the principal city of Greater Orlando. The Orlando-Kissimmee MSA is Florida's third-largest metropolitan area, behind Miami and Tampa. Orlando is also home to the University of Central Florida, which is the second largest university in Florida in student enrollment and has the 6th largest enrollment in the nation.

The city is well known for the many tourist attractions in the area, in particular the nearby Walt Disney World Resort, which is located in Lake Buena Vista about 20 miles (32 km) southwest of Orlando city limits via Interstate 4. Other notable area attractions include SeaWorld and Universal Orlando Resort. The region sees an estimated 52 million tourists a year. Orlando has the second largest number of hotel rooms in the country (after Las Vegas, Nevada), and is one of the busiest American cities for conferences and conventions with the Orange County Convention Center, the country's second largest in square footage. It is also known for its wide array of golf courses, with numerous courses available for any level of golfer. Despite being several miles away from the main tourist attractions, Downtown Orlando is undergoing major redevelopment with a number of residential projects, commercial towers, and major public works projects including the Orlando Events Center and the Dr. P. Phillips Orlando Performing Arts Center.

History

Historians date Orlando's name to around 1837, when a soldier named Orlando Reeves allegedly died in the area during the Second Seminole War. It seems, however, that Orlando Reeves (sometimes Rees) operated a sugar mill and plantation about 30 miles (50 km) to the north at Spring Garden in Volusia County, and pioneer settlers simply found his name carved into a tree and assumed it was a marker for his grave site. They then referred to the area as "Orlando's grave" and later simply Orlando. A memorial beside Lake Eola designates the spot where the city's namesake fell.

During the Second Seminole War, the U.S. Army established an outpost at Fort Gatlin, a few miles south of the modern downtown, in 1838. But it was quickly abandoned when the war came to an end.

Prior to being known as its current name, Orlando was known as Jernigan, after the first permanent settler, cattleman Aaron Jernigan, who acquired land along Lake Holden by the terms of the Armed Occupation Act of 1842. But most pioneers did not arrive until after the Third Seminole War in the 1850s. Most of the early residents made their living by cattle ranching.

After Mosquito County was divided in 1845, Orlando became the county seat of the new Orange County in 1856. It remained a rural backwater during the Civil War, and suffered greatly during the Union blockade. The Reconstruction Era brought a population explosion, which led to Orlando's incorporation as a town on July 31, 1875, and as a city in 1885.

The period from 1875 to 1895 is remembered as Orlando's Golden Era, when it became the hub of Florida's citrus industry. But the Great Freeze in 1894-1895 forced many owners to give up their independent groves, thus consolidating holdings in the hands of a few "citrus barons" who shifted operations south, primarily around Lake Wales in Polk County.

There were a couple of notable homesteaders in the area, including the Curry family. Through their property in east Orlando flowed the Econlockhatchee River, which travelers crossed by fording. This would be commemorated by the street's name, Curry Ford Road. Also, just south of the airport in the Boggy Creek area was 150 acres (0.61 km2) of property homesteaded in the late 1800s by the Ward family. This property is still owned by the Ward family, and can be seen from flights out of MCO southbound immediately on the south side of SR-417.

Orlando, as Florida's largest inland city, became a popular resort during the years between the Spanish-American War and World War I. The city was also host to several SKEET, which serves as the basis for its hospitals today.

In the 1920s, Orlando experienced extensive housing development during the Florida Land Boom. Land prices soared. During this period several neighborhoods in downtown were constructed, endowing it with many bungalows. The boom ended when several hurricanes hit Florida in the late 20s and by the Great Depression.

During World War II, a number of Army personnel were stationed at the Orlando Army Air Base and nearby Pinecastle Army Air Field. Some of these servicemen stayed in Orlando to settle and raise families. In 1956 the aerospace/defense company Martin Marietta (now Lockheed Martin) established a plant in the city. Orlando AAB and Pinecastle AAF were transferred to the United States Air Force in 1947 when it became a separate service and were redesignated as Air Force Bases (AFB). In 1958, Pinecastle AFB was renamed McCoy Air Force Base after Colonel Michael N.W. McCoy, a former commander of the 320th Bombardment Wing at the installation, killed in the crash of a B-47 Stratojet bomber north of Orlando. In the 1960s, the base subsequently became home to the 306th Bombardment Wing of the Strategic Air Command (SAC), operating B-52 Stratofortress and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, in addition to detachment operations by EC-121 and U-2 aircraft.

Orlando is close enough to Patrick Air Force Base, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and Kennedy Space Center for residents to commute to work from the city's suburbs. It also allows easy access to Port Canaveral, an important cruise ship terminal. Because of its proximity to the Space Coast near the Kennedy Space Center, many high-tech companies have shifted to the Orlando area.

Perhaps the most critical event for Orlando's economy occurred in 1965 when Walt Disney announced plans to build Walt Disney World. Although Disney had considered the regions of Miami and Tampa for his park, one of the major reasons behind his decision not to locate there was due to hurricanes— Orlando's inland location, although not free from hurricane damage, exposed it to less threat than coastal regions.

The famous vacation resort opened in October 1971, ushering in an explosive population and economic growth for the Orlando metropolitan area, which now encompasses Orange, Seminole, Osceola, and Lake counties. As a result, tourism became the centerpiece of the area's economy. Orlando is consistently ranked as one of the top vacation destinations in the world, and now boasts more theme parks and entertainment attractions than anywhere else in the world.

Another major factor in Orlando's growth occurred in 1962, when the new Orlando Jetport, the precursor of the present day Orlando International Airport, was built from a portion of the McCoy Air Force Base. By 1970, four major airlines (Delta Air Lines, National Airlines, Eastern Airlines and Southern Airways) were providing scheduled flights. McCoy Air Force Base officially closed in 1975, and most of it is now part of the airport. The airport still retains the former Air Force Base airport code (MCO).

In addition to McCoy Air Force Base, Orlando also had a naval presence with the establishment of Naval Training Center Orlando on the former Orlando AFB in 1968. The newest of three Naval Training Centers in the United States providing training to recruits, as well as being a base for selected post basic training programs for enlisted personnel, NTC Orlando also conducted nuclear power training for commissioned officers and the base had a prominent presence in the area. In 1993, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission ordered that NTC Orlando be closed, along with a companion installation, NTC San Diego. NTC Orlando continued in a diminished capacity until the base closed for good in 1999 with the last graduates of the base's Naval Nuclear Power School leaving in December 1998. The former base has been developed into tracts for upscale housing called Baldwin Park. Other than Reserve and National Guard activities, the Orlando area's remaining military presence is the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division/Naval Support Activity Orlando, located just east of the city limits in the Central Florida Research Park. The U.S. Army's Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation (PEO-STRI), the U.S. Marine Corps' Program Manager for Training Systems (PMTRASYS) and the U.S. Air Force's Agency for Modeling and Simulation are also collocated at that location.

Facts

The SunTrust Center, the tallest building in Orlando at 441 ft (134 m), was built in 1988. The next tallest buildings are the Orange County Courthouse (1997, 416 ft (127 m)./127 m), the Bank of America Center (Formerly Barnett Plaza, 1988, 409 ft (125 m)./123 m), Solaire at the Plaza (2006, 359 ft (109 m)./109 m) and the Orlando International Airport ATC Tower (2002, 346 ft (105 m)./105 m). The VUE at Lake Eola, currently under construction, will become the second-tallest building in Orlando upon completion at 426 ft (130 m) tall, but with 35 stories it will have more stories than the SunTrust Center. [6] [7] The SeaWorld SkyTower, at 400 ft (122 m) tall, is the tallest tower in Orange County outside Orlando proper. There are also several tall transmission towers in Orange County, the tallest of which is the WFTV transmission tower in Christmas at 1,617 ft (491.6 m) tall.

In the hurricane season of 2004, Hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Jeanne battered the Orlando area, causing widespread damage and flooding and impeding tourism to the area.
Topography

Location

Orlando is located at 28°32′1″N 81°22′33″W /28.53361, -81.37583 (28.533513, -81.375789).[8] According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 261.5 km² (101 mi²). 242.2 km² (93.5 mi²) of it is land and 19.3 km² (7.5 mi²) of it (7.39%) is water. Orlando is, on average, 106 feet (32 m) above sea level.

Orlando, for most people conjures up the image of theme parks, mainly Disney World, but it has a lot more to offer than that. In fact, Disney is not in Orlando, but is in nearby Lake Buena Vista. Make sure that you don't miss downtown Orlando.

Other cities in the metropolitan area include Altamonte Springs, Davenport, Kissimmee, and Winter Park.

When people think of Orlando, most think of theme parks and urban sprawl. However, Orlando proper includes none of the major theme parks (Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World), dinner attractions (Arabian Nights, Medieval Times), or even most small theme parks(Gatorland, Holyland Experience, Ripley's Believe-it-or-not, etc). While Wikitravel guidelines suggest that this article should pertain only to Orlando proper, the fact that numerous attractions, shopping, and hotels lie in a wide range of suburbs, and even unincorporated areas make doing so difficult.

When to Come

Most tourists visit Orlando between June-August, while another peak time for tourism is March & April. With the number of tourists, 52 million, far outnumbering the regional population, around 2 million, the best times to visit are when there are fewer tourists. Ironically, the less busy times for tourism correspond to the best weather in the Orlando area. So not only will theme parks and malls be less crowded, but you will be able to enjoy great weather.

Many say central Florida has two seasons: hot and hotter. Orlando has warm, balmy springs and autumns; hot summers complete with daily thunderstorms; and temperate winters affected by the occasional cold front. That being said:

Spring in Orlando has highs in the 80s in May & April transitioning to around 90 in May and low-mid 90s in June. Spring is the driest time of year here, and in the past decade some spring months have seen less than an inch of rain! This is the time of year in which many small wildfires appear around the region, but this should not bother anyone who stays within the urban area. March and April are great times to visit with dry days, clear skies, and warm temperatures (and no cold fronts). However, late May and early June are arguably the worst time to visit filled with hot, humid, dry days.

Summer begins with the start of daily thunderstorms around mid-June. Highs from mid-June to mid-September are in the mid 90s, with 90º often being reached by 10-11am, and lows in the 70s. Due to Orlando's proximity to two coasts, thunderstorms form everyday during this period from ocean breezes which heat over land, rise, and cool in the atmosphere to create sometimes violent thunderstorms (see the "Stay Safe" section). However, they often will drop temperatures into the low 80s after passing...a welcome relief from the hot temperatures earlier.

Autumn varies much more from year to year than spring. The daily thunderstorms taper off in September leaving highs in the mid-high 80s until mid-October. The first cold front of the season will usually pass between mid and late October, plunging highs into the 70s and lows into the 50s and high 40s. The cooling trend continues into November and December, with highs falling into the 70s by late December and lows into the 50s, affected only by the occasional cold front which can plunge highs into the 60s (Nov) and 50s(Dec) and lows into the 40s(Nov) and as low as freezing (32ºF/0ºC) by mid December.

Winter is much the same as November and December. Highs are in the 70s, lows in the 50s, affected every week or two by cold fronts. Following a cold front, highs can drop into the 50s, lows into the 30s.

Commercial Aviation

Most arrive by commercial air arrive via Orlando International Airport (IATA: MCO), abbreviated OIA, which is Orlando's primary airport. The airport is located to the southeast of downtown Orlando, but centrally located with respect to the region and area attractions. Orlando International Airport is a secondary hub for AirTran Airways, Southwest Airlines, & Jet Blue Airways which all fly numerous routes to/from Orlando. Furthermore, Delta Airlines offers 8 flights daily (October 2008) between Orlando and their largest hub in Atlanta, the world's busiest airport and from which Delta serves well over a hundred domestic and international destinations. Lufthansa flies 6 times per week to Frankfurt, a major European hub, while Aer Lingus operates direct flights to Dublin, offering a budget aifare between Orlando and Europe. In addition to direct flights with almost every major US city, OIA serves over a dozen Canadian destinations (many seasonal), Jamaica(Montego Bay), the Bahamas(Nassau), Mexico(Cancun, Mexico City), Panama(Panama City), Germany(Frankfurt), Ireland(Dublin), Brazil(Sao Paulo, begin Dec 08), and the United Kingdom (London-Gatwick, Manchester, Glasgow). If you plan on visiting more than just Orlando and plan on taking international flights, you may want to consider flying via Miami International Airport, a 200mi (320km) and a 2-3hr drive south of Orlando, which offers many times more international flights and is the main US gateway for flights to South/Central America & the Caribbean.

The airport is structured such that there is a central "terminal" containing airline counters, baggage claim, rental agencies, numerous shops, & a hotel which is connected via trams to 4 other terminals (known as "Airside 1-4"). There are plenty of shops in both the central terminal and the airsides, but most restaurants are located in the airsides. Security screening is performed before taking the tram to the airsides and, as in all US airports, only ticketed passengers are allowed past security. Security lines can become extremely long (1 hour) during the summer tourist season and near holidays, combined with long check-in lines it is advisable to arrive 2-3 hours before your scheduled departure. Almost every medium to high priced hotel in the city offers transfers. Orlando is the rental car capital of the world and as such there are several car rental agencies offering a wide range of vehicles for rental.

A secondary airport which serves the Orlando area is the Orlando-Sanford International Airport (IATA: SFB)located in Sanford, a city just to the north of Orlando, the side of Orlando opposite most attractions. However, it offers more European flights than Orlando International, especially from the UK. Service between Orlando Sanford International and Europe includes: First Choice Airways (Bristol, East Midlands, Glasgow, London-Gatwick, Manchester); Monarch Airlines (Belfast, Cardiff, Dublin, Glasgow, London-Gatwick, Manchester, Newcastle, Shannon); Thomas Cook Airlines (Belfast, Glasgow, London-Gatwick, Manchester); Thomsonfly (Birmingham, London-Gatwick, Manchester, Newcastle); Flyglobespan (Belfast, Glasgow); Icelandair (Reykjavik). Orlando Sanford International is also a hub for Allegiant Air which serves a lot of small US cities.

Other regional airports (within an hour and a half drive) include: Daytona Beach International Airport (sevrved by Delta via Atlanta and US Airways via Charlotte) & Melbourne International Airport(served by Delta via Atlanta and Baer Air via Freeport, Bahamas). In addition, Orlando area visitors who plan on visiting the Gulf Coast may consider flying into Tampa International Airport, about 80 miles (130km) west of Orlando or just over an hour's drive, as it is less crowded and a bit easier to access via road.

General Aviation

All persons flying via general aviation should consider arriving via Orlando Executive Airport which is six miles east of downtown and about 10 or so miles north of Orlando International Airport. Orlando Executive serves general aviation (95%) and air taxi (5%) exclusively. Additionally, Orlando Sanford International serves general aviation alongside its commercial use.

By Train

Orlando has an Amtrak station that provides service to other destinations such as Miami, but also connects to other points as far north as New York via the Silver Star and Silver Meteor lines.

In nearby Sanford, the southern terminus of the Amtrak Auto Train which carries passengers and automobiles between Sanford and Lorton, Virginia, effectively serving as a car-rail link from Orlando to the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

By Bus

*Greyhound, 555 North John Young Parkway. Visitors arriving by Greyhound can go south on SR 423 to Interstate 4 to get to the major Attractions.

By Car

The car is still king in Orlando, and it is a very easy and convenient (if not congested) way to get to your destination. Orlando is a sprawling city with most attractions lying far to the south of the CBD and into adjacent cities like Kissimmee and Lake Buena Vista (this section include those areas). The roads are all wide and easy to drive on with all major attractions well signed, but traffic jams around downtown are common in the afternoons, and around the touristy areas on Friday nights and all day Saturday. Orlando ranks 8th in the nation in terms of traffic congestion, and there are numerous ongoing construction projects on area expressways (all aimed at alleviating this, but only causing congestion in the meanwhile). Traffic information is available from new Dynamic Message Signs, most local radio stations, and also by calling 511 (a free, automated service which provides current traffic info collected from hundreds of traffic cameras as well as police reports)

Orlando is the largest rental car market in the world and is known as capital of car rental companies, with all major car rental companies easily accessible from inside the airport. If you arrive by air via Orlando International Airport and get a rental car, go to the North Exit and head to SR 528 West to get to International Drive, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld. This will require $0.75 in tolls. A short-cut to Walt Disney World is the South Exit to SR 417 South, following it to Exit 5, and taking SR 536 straight into Disney. This requires $2 in tolls. Toll booths along this expressway uses open road tolling: see note below.

The main highway through Orlando, and the only interstate serving it, is Interstate 4 (referred to as "I-4", running NE-SW). In recent years major construction on it has widened it through areas south of SR528 making it a well signed and commuter-friendly highway (except for traffic during rush hours and Friday and Saturday evenings). Downtown Orlando; International Drive; Amway Arena; the Mall at Millenia; Arabian Nights dinner theater; and theme parks such as Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, Discovery Cove, the Holy Land Experience, and Wet n' Wild are all conveniently located along/near I-4.

Other major highways include SR528, the Beach Line Expressway although known until recently as the Bee Line, which runs east from I-4 (exit 72) towards the Space Coast beaches and Kennedy Space Center, Cocoa beach, and Port Canaveral. SR528 is, like all Orlando area expressways (not including I-4), a toll road. While tolls are modest for short trips within Orlando, tolls can quickly add on long cross-town trips (bypassing Orlando on SR418 is $5.50 for 55 miles). See this convenient toll calculator:

In Orlando, the main tourism area is International Drive, a strip of road that runs parallel to I-4 for about 10 miles. Many tourist-focused shops, restaurants, and attractions are to be found along this road; therefore, it is excruciatingly hard to drive on and find parking along this road on weekends, especially in the summer, and excursions to this area are best by bus during such times. Other major roads include: US 192 in Kissimmee(fronted by thousands of small shops and attractions), Orange Blossom Trail (US 92/441...a North-South alternative to I-4), SR50 (E-W route towards the CBD).

Gardens & Parks

Arboretum of the University of Central Florida — An arboretum and botanical garden covering 80 acres (32 hectares), it contains more than 600 species of plants, including more than 100 bromeliads, in cultivated gardens. Its cultivated areas currently include a Conservatory Compound, a Bromeliad Sanctuary, Cycad Garden, Fern Garden, Palm Collection, Rose Garden, Swamp Habitat, and Wetland Plants Display.

Harry P. Leu Gardens, 1920 N Forest Ave, +1 407-246-2620. Daily 9AM-5PM except Christmas Day. Beautiful landscaped gardens and lakes set in nearly 50 acres of land, featuring flora gathered from around the globe since 1936 including the largest rose garden in Florida and America's largest Camellia collection outside of California. Leu House, Harry P. Leu's former home set within the grounds and dating back to the 1880's, has tours every 30 minutes around its museum illustrating Florida living at the turn of the 20th century (closed during July). You can get married in various places in the gardens and there are special events held throughout the year. $5 (free every Monday 9AM-noon).

World of Orchids — Featuring thousands of blooms in an enclosed tropical rain forest. World of Orchids is a working greenhouse shipping orchids and other plants nationwide. A greenhouse covers nearly an acre (4,000 m²), and in this controlled climate of warm, humid air some 1,000 orchids are displayed in a natural jungle setting, with streams, waterfalls, and squawking parrots. World of Orchids also has a 1,000 foot (300 m) long boardwalk meandering off into nearby wetlands. Admission is free.

Museums

Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art — houses the world's most comprehensive collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848-1933) including Tiffany art glass, leaded-glass windows, lamps, jewelry, pottery, paintings, and the chapel interior he designed for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The Museum's holdings include a major collection of American art pottery and representative collections of late-nineteenth and early-twentieth century American paintings, graphics, and decorative arts.

Cornell Fine Arts Museum — Rollins College. Features items from Cornell's renowned permanent collection. Admission is free.

The Orlando Museum of Art — Ongoing exhibitions of American portraits and landscapes, American impressionist works, and art of the ancient Americas.

The Orlando Science Center — A 207,000 square foot (19,000 m²) hands-on learning center with hundreds of interactive exhibits for visitors of all ages. Images surround visitors on the giant screen of the Dr. Phillips CineDome. Other attractions include the Body Zone, teaching health and fitness, as well as an observatory. The center has the largest refracting telescope in Florida.

The Orange County Regional History Center — Features exhibits and artifacts from the earliest days of the region to the modern day. Includes information on everything from the time of the Seminole Indians to the founding of the city to the Civil Rights era to the Disney period to today.

International Trolley and Train Museum — Features 14 model railroad trains with sound and lighting traveling through an indoor garden with 12 foot (4 m) high mountains, waterfalls, and more than 30 trestles and tunnels. Also on display are toy trains from the 1920s to the present. Visitors can catch a ride in a California Victorian-style half open/half closed trolley or the 5/8-scale replica of an 1880 locomotive (a Mason Bogey) with its passenger cars.

The Holy Land Experience — This evangelical Christian-owned, biblical theme park also has museum exhibits.

Ripley's Believe It or Not! Orlando Odditorium — 8201 International Drive, +1 407 363-4418. Located in a building artfully constructed to appear as if it were collapsing to one side. Visitors can explore bizarre artifacts, strange collections, weird art/hobbies (for example, check out the 3/4-scale model of a 1907 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost automobile made entirely of matchsticks and glue), and interactive exhibits in sixteen odd galleries. Seriously schlocky, yet fun.

Sports Teams

Orlando Magic (NBA).

Orlando Predators (AFL)

Orlando Sharks (MISL)

University of Central Florida Knights (NCAA Division I FBS).

Major Attractions

Orlando is one of the biggest tourist destinations because of the nearby theme parks and resorts. Close to International Drive is Universal Orlando Resort, which includes two theme parks, three hotels and a large shopping district. SeaWorld Orlando is a marine theme park featuring Kraken, the biggest rollercoaster in the Orlando area, as well as Believe, the all-new Shamu adventure. About 40 minutes outside of Orlando is the well-known Walt Disney World. Comprised of four theme parks, two water parks, dozens of hotels, three shopping and dining districts, eight golf courses and much more, it is the largest privately managed tourist destination on the planet. Not far from Disney World lies the Alligator Capital of the World: Gatorland. Also, don't forget about water park Wet 'N Wild, located right on International Drive.

Disney World The world famous attraction is actually located 35 miles south of downtown Orlando, in a city called Lake Buena Vista. Hours vary by park and season.

Universal Orlando Resort, International Drive, +1 407-363-8000. 9AM-(closing times vary from 6PM-10PM). Discounts are given for purchasing tickets online.

SeaWorld Adventure Park Orlando, SeaWorld Drive, +1 407-351-3600, 1-800-327-2424. 9AM-(closing times vary from 6PM-10PM).

Aquatica., 5800 Water Play Way. A recently-opened water park by Sea World. Hours vary by season.

Holy Land. 4655 Vineland Road. An educational, inspirational, biblical-themed park designed to look like Jerusalem. $5 discount on tickets purchased online.

Gatorland, 14501 South Orange Blossom Trail. A small alligator and reptile themed park. Open 9-5 year round. +1 407-855-5496, 1-800-393-JAWS,.

Wet 'N Wild, 6200 International Drive. Waterpark. Hours vary by season. +1 407-351-1800, 1-800-992-WILD.

Discovery Cove, 6000 Discovery Cove Way. A unique companion to Sea World, it is often sold out, admission is limited to 1000 guests per day but admission does include all your equipment, food, drink and 30 minutes interaction with the dolphins in the water. $259-279 ($159-179 for non-dolphin package). Open 9AM-5:30PM (open until 9PM on selected evenings). +1 407-370-1280.

Downtown

Despite the proximity of theme park haven Lake Buena Vista, the city has a lot to offer on its own. Downtown Orlando is a growing area centered around Orange Avenue that is packed with bars, clubs, and restaurants, as well as theaters and concert venues. The main strip on Orange Avenue is closed most nights because of the large volumes of pedestrians. Just a few blocks over is Lake Eola, a picturesque park situated around a swan-filled lake. In the middle of the lake is a lighted fountain that has been established as an icon of Orlando, and on one side of the lake stands the historic outdoor shell theater, where tourists and locals alike can see a version of the Nutcracker every year in December. Swan-shaped paddle boats are available for rental as well. Taking over for Church Street as the main night time hot spot is Wall Street. It is a small pedestrian only alley off of Orange Avenue that houses several restaurants and bars. They also have frequent concerts on Wall Street, they set up staging for bands to play for everything from Cinco de Mayo to the Capital One Bowl celebration week.

Golf

Bay Hill Club & Lodge, 9000 Bay Hill Blvd, (407) 876-2429. Two courses: 18 holes, over 7,205 yards with a par of 72 (Private Non-Equity); 9 holes, over 3,409 yards with a par of 36 (Private Non-Equity).

Boggy Creek Golf Club, 3650 8th St, (407) 857-0280. 9 holes, over 3,250 yards with a par of 36 (Public).

Country Club of Orlando, 1601 Country Club Dr, (407) 425-2319. 18 holes, over 6,591 yards with a par of 72 (Private Equity).

Cypress Creek Country Club, 5353 Vineland Rd, (407) 351-2187. 18 holes, over 7,014 yards with a par of 72 (Public).

Dubsdread Golf Course, 549 West Par St, +1 407-246-2551. 18 holes, over 6,055 yards with a par of 72 (Municipal).

Eaglewood Golf Club, 5800 Pga Blvd, (407) 351-5121. 18 holes, over 2,516 yards with a par of 58 (Public).

EastWood Golf Club, 13950 Golfway Blvd, (407) 281-4653. 18 holes, over 7,176 yards with a par of 72 (Public).

Fairways Country Club, 14205 E Colonial Dr, (407) 282-7535. 18 holes, over 5,332 yards with a par of 70 (Public).

Faldo Golf Institute By Marriott, 12001 Avenida Verde, (888) 463-2536. 9 holes, over 2,308 yards with a par of 32 (Public).

Ginn Reunion Golf Resort, 1000 Reunion Way, Reunion, +1 888-418-9611. 54 holes, 3 championship golf courses designed by Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson (Private).

Grand Cypress Resort, 1 N Jacaranda St, (800) 835-7377. Four courses: 18 holes over 6,773 yards with a par of 72 (Public); 9 holes over 3,462 yards with a par of 36 (Public); 9 holes over 3,521 yards with a par of 36 (Public); 9 holes over 3,434 yards with a par of 36 (Public).

Grande Pines Golf Club, 6351 International Golf Club Rd, (800) 371-1165. 18 holes, over 7,012 yards with a par of 72 (Public).

Lake Nona Golf Club, 9801 Lake Nona Rd, (407) 851-9091. 18 holes, over 7,011 yards with a par of 72 (Private Non-Equity).

Lake Orlando Golf Club, 4224 Club House Rd, +1 407-298-1230. 18 holes, over 6,803 yards with a par of 72 (Public).

MetroWest Golf Club, 2100 S Hiawassee Rd, (407) 299-8800. 18 holes, over 7,051 yards with a par of 72 (Public).

Orange Tree Golf Club, 7540 Woodgreen Dr, (407) 351-2521. 18 holes, over 6,968 yards with a par of 71 (Private Non-Equity).

Rio Pinar Golf & Country Club, 8600 El Prado Ave, (407) 277-5121. 18 holes, over 6,929 yards with a par of 72 (Private Equity).

Ritz Carlton Golf Club, 4048 Central Florida Pkwy, (407) 393-4900. 18 holes, over 7,122 yards with a par of 72 (Public).

Shingle Creek Golf Club, 9939 Universal Blvd, (866) 996-9933. 18 holes, over 7,213 yards with a par of 72 (Public).

Stoneybrook Golf Club, 2900 Northampton Ave, (407) 384-6888. 18 holes, over 6,820 yards with a par of 72 (Public).

Ventura Country Club, 3333 Woodgate Blvd, (407) 277-2640. 18 holes, over 5,467 yards with a par of 70 (Public).

Tennis

Orlando Tennis Center, 649 W Livingston St, (407) 246-2161.

Lake Cane Tennis Center, 5108 Turkey Lake Rd, (407) 254-9170.

Fort Gatlin Recreation Complex, 2009 Lake Margaret Dr, (407) 858-3290.

Venues

Orange County Convention Center, 9860 Universal Blvd, (407) 685-1061. With 2.1 million-square feet of exhibition space, the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) serves as the area's convention and meeting center.

Universal Orlando Meetings & Events, 1000 Universal Studios Plaza, 888-266-2121. From 20 to 20,000 guests, a Universal event ensures that you will give your attendees something truly out of the ordinary.

Shopping

The Florida Mall,— The biggest single-level mall in the US and the largest mall in Orlando located at the crossroads of Orange Blossom Trail and Sandlake Road, about a mile north of the Orange Blossom Trail/Florida Turnpike/Beachline Expressway interchange. Home to over 200 shops aincluding Saks Fifth Avenue, Macys, Dillards, Nordstrom, JC Penney, Sears, & Apple. You can go an entire day in this mall and still not finish. Popular among international tourist wishing to stock up on cheap American goods, but of better quality than found at the many outlet malls/stores.

The Mall at Millenia,— This is Orlando's most upscale and beautiful mall. Find everything from Tiffany's to Hugo Boss and Gucci. Also home to upscale department stores like Macy's, Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus. This also features Apple and Sony Style selling computers and related products. This mall is part of the very new and trendy Millenia area of Orlando. Located conveniently on the Conroy Road exit off of I-4 a few miles south of Downtown.

Orlando Fashion Square,— Located on east Colonial Drive just north of downtown.

Outlet malls

Orlando Premium Outlets,— Home to the biggest designers such as Armani, Fendi, Burberry, Ferragamo, Lacoste, Coach. Also home to Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, Polo, Nautica and many more. Located off of 535 and visible from I-4 closest to the Disney World area. This is the best mall to pick up bargains from all the name brands and designer wear.

Prime Outlets International (formerly Beltz) — Home to many designers such as Polo, DKNY, Nike, Reebok, and Liz Claiborne. The mall is currently undergoing major renovation but the outside centers are still open and have the above stores.

Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores,— Select from over 300 designer and name brands such as Gap, Reebok, Carters and Eddie Bauer. Stores offer factory direct, quality merchandise at savings up to 75%. Located off of SR 535 near International Drive and Disney.

Eat

The Boheme Restaurant , 325 South Orange Ave, (in the Westin Grand Bohemian), +1 407-313-9000.

Bubbalou's Bodacious BBQ. There are three Bubbalou's locations in the Orlando area. Offers BBQ ribs, sandwiches and other smoked delights. Atmosphere has a home-style feel and plenty of pig companions.

Calypso Bar and Grill, 6300 Parc Corniche Dr. Great menu with a Key West themed dining experience.

CityWalk,— Located at Universal Orlando, features a variety of restaurants such as Margaritaville, Hard Rock Cafe, Pastamore, NASCAR Cafe and much more. Parking is $10 during the day and free after 6PM (except during holidays or special events, such as Halloween Horror Nights).

Downtown Disney Head to downtown Disney any night of the week for a wide range of restaurants of varying prices and flares. Some notable restaurants there include Rainforest Café & Ghiradelli Chocolate Factory.

Gabriel's Subs, 2840 Curry Ford Rd. Excellent hot veggie subs.

Garden Cafe, 810 W Colonial Dr. Fantastic vegetarian (mostly vegan) Chinese food.

Garibaldi Mexican Restaurant, 929 N Semoran Blvd. The best dishes are: Chili Relleno and cheese enchilada.

Ponderosa,— An American steakhouse with a wide and varied buffet, from sausages to muffins all day. Great for those with a sweet tooth.

Rolando's Cuban Restaurant, 870 Semoran Blvd, Casselberry. Serves excellent rice, yucca, eggplant, plantains, and guava.

Rossi's Pizza, 5919 S Orange Blossom Trl, +1 407-855-5755. Located at the corner of Oak Ridge & Orange Blossom Trail. Highly recommend the 12 inch thin-crust pepperoni pizza.

Stefano's Trattoria, 1425 Tuskawilla Rd (Intersection of Red Bug and Tuskawilla in Winter Springs), (407) 659-0101. Small, family-run, quiet (but still delicious) Italian/Sicilian restaurant five minutes out of Orlando. A local gem! (Best advice on dishes: Ask Stefano to personally make a recommendation, he walks around the restaurant and will tell you exactly what you want to eat!) $$.

Tony's Deli, 1323 N Mills Ave. Best dishes: fava bean salad, hommous, taboolie, baklava.

Uncle Jones BBQ, 1370 E Altamonte Dr, Altamonte Spgs. Serving the best potatoes ever, along with, lima beans, BBQ pork, corn bread, fried okra, and Texas toast.

Vito's Chop House, 8633 International Dr, +1 407-354-2467. Great cooking, great wine. $15-$30.

Wingate Florida, 5750 Hazeltine National Drive (Orlando, FL), 800-228-1000. : Whether you’re traveling to Florida for business or pleasure, rest easy knowing there’s a Wingate by Wyndham Hotel conveniently located and well-equipped to accommodate your every need.

A Land Remembered classic steakhouse, 9939 Universal Blvd., 407-996-9939. A legendary Orlando steakhouse named after Patrick Smith's rich novel featuring Florida's historical moments and landscapes. Serving a variety of cuisine and accompanying wine list as succulent and filling as its namesake. Proudly serving Harris Ranch all Natural Prime Black Angus Beef, as well as menu items catering to all tastes.

Jack's Place, 9700 International Drive, 407-996-9700,. Tantalizing gourmet menu featuring prime steaks and fresh seafood in a whimsical atmosphere featuring the world’s largest collection of autographed star caricatures.

Everglades Restaurant, 9840 International Drive, 407-996-9840,. A one-of-a-kind gourmet dining experience featuring unique regional specialties, served in an enchanting setting dedicated to the Florida Everglades. Periodic Vine & Dine wine dinners featuring gourmet cuisine and fine wines.

Cala Bella (Creek Beautiful), 9939 Universal Blvd., 407-336-3393. Benvenuto! Cala Bella, Rosen Shingle Creek’s upscale Italian Restaurant features Italian classics, with Mediterranean and American inspiration, accompanied by a diverse list of top quality wines.

Drink

Orlando nightlife away from the theme parks is centered mostly around Central Boulevard and Orange Avenue in downtown Orlando. Here you can walk and find many bars and several dance clubs from the chic urban Rhythm and Flow to the Mulvaney's Irish Pub. A short walk away is the tiny Thornton Park District, located near the intersection of Washington and Summerlin. Among the dozens of cafés and pubs, you might stop in for a drink and a quick bite at Dexter's on Washington. For local flair head across the street to Burton's Frosty Mug, or sample the hip urban environment at the trendy HUE at the corner of Washington and Central.

Although most of the downtown Central avenue crowd is comprised of the "twentysomething" generation, for a more 30's and over entertainment experience, one can enjoy live jazz on many nights in the lounge of the Westin Grand Bohemian Hotel located downtown on Orange Avenue. The jazz is excellent and the ambiance is quite comfortable, although drinks tend to be pretty pricey here.

Also, for a more professional crowd with a Latin twist, there is the Samba Room, located on Sand Lake Road, about 3/4 west of I-4. This is a lively restaurant and happy hour type of place. The look is chic and the locals and tourists alike gather here for a quality food, beverage and people watching experience. You should ditch the shorts and flip-flops for a more casual chic look, but if you do you will be rewarded with a nice experience here. If you are traveling west on Sand Lake Road, after passing I-4, The Samba Room is on the left in a large shopping plaza. Latin food, music and mojitos are just some of the specialties here.

Across the street from the Samba Room, on Sand Lake Road, is the Old Vines wine bar, featuring live jazz usually from Thurs. through Saturday nights. The wine selection is extensive and the live jazz is some of the best in town. The jazz is performed in the front of the room by the entrance. There is a divider that separates the more intimate rear portion of the establishment, which is the main dining area.

There are quite a few places to enjoy quality dining and drinks along Park Avenue in Winter Park, an adjacent suburb which is just northeast of Orlando. Winter Park is known for its many older grande homes that dominate the more historic sections of this suburb affectionately referred to by many as the center of Orlando's "old money." Park Avenue is an active pedestrian street featuring trendy shoppes, galleries, restaurants and nightspots. It has recently grown from becoming a one street attraction to more of a district, as several nearby streets have now added similar attractions.

Of particular interest and uniqueness on Park Avenue is the Wine Room, a converted bank featuring literally hundreds of wines available for self serve sampling. The mode of purchasing here is to pre-load a wine "credit card" supplied by the Wine Room. You are then at liberty to peruse the entire building and select any wine you wish to try, merely by inserting your "credit card." Each wine station automatically deducts the value of your current purchase and advises you of your card balance. Dress is very casual here and you are likely to meet both locals and visitors, all sampling and enjoying their vinos of choice throughout the night.

At the theme parks, there is Pleasure Island at Disney World and the CityWalk at Universal Studios. For a nominal admission fee, both sites offer numerous venues for libations and entertainment. If you're staying along International Drive, there are plenty of bars, pubs, and clubs.