Orlando

Orlando

Orlando, Florida, is one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. thanks to its status as one of the world’s premier leisure destinations. Orlando’s cleanliness, friendliness, temperate climate and diverse offerings make it a popular getaway for families, honeymooners, seniors, gays and corporate travelers, many of whom immerse themselves in area theme parks, such as Walt Disney World Resorts, SeaWorld Orlando and Universal Studios Florida.

Disney and friends aside, Orlando has become magical in its own right, with vast cultural offerings, a melting pot of dining establishments, high-end golf courses and some of Florida’s most popular freshwater fishing locales. It feels young, both in terms of its energy level and its many new or restored neighborhoods. Downtown Orlando continues to grow in popularity.

Geography

There’s a difference between Orlando the city and Greater Orlando, which encompasses Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Brevard and Lake counties. Many attractions and facilities associated with Orlando are actually outside or on the edge of the city proper but still within the area popularly thought of as Orlando.

Walt Disney World Resort is some 30 minutes southwest of downtown Orlando, in Lake Buena Vista. SeaWorld Orlando, Universal Orlando Resort and the Orange County Convention Center are also southwest of downtown. These areas, along with Kissimmee, east of Disney, are chockablock with hotels and fast-food restaurants. The downtown area’s offerings include art, culture, history, dining and nightlife, while the Cape Canaveral and Cocoa Beach area offers beautiful beaches, a chance to see NASA in action and cruises to Caribbean destinations.

Seminole County to the north is composed of bedroom communities such as Altamonte Springs, Casselberry, Longwood, Lake Mary, Winter Springs, historic Eatonville and Winter Park, where you’ll find lots of shopping and sightseeing. Hotels, motels and an array of dining opportunities are offered throughout suburban Seminole County.

To the west of downtown, Lake County boasts more than 1,000 lakes (including part of the Butler chain) and more of the wall-to-wall residential and commercial development that is rapidly changing central Florida. To the north is the 450,000-acre/180,000-hectare Ocala National Forest.

Orlando’s location in the middle of the state places it within easy driving distance of the Tampa-St. Petersburg area along the Gulf of Mexico, as well as Daytona Beach, Cape Canaveral and St. Augustine to the east.