BA PEOPLE • October 2018
It’s Florida’s most visited city but, beyond Disney and Universal Studios, Orlando is also full of outstanding restaurants, spectacular scenery and a spread of glam hotels. British Airways destination expert Mark Tanner gives us the lowdown on when to book, where to stay and what to see
May and September are the best times to visit Orlando. The weather is amazing and the queues at the theme parks, if that’s what you’re into, are at their calmest. US schools have resumed by the second half of August, making travelling easier and the public attractions that much quieter.
ICON Orlando (pictured) is the city’s answer to the London Eye. Also in the I-Drive complex (roughly a 20-minute drive outside of Disney’s parameters) you’ll find Florida’s only 360-degree underwater tunnel, plus Madame Tussauds with its new DC Comics Justice League exhibition, and the dizzying, 450-foot-high Orlando Starflyer.
Keen to geek out? Kennedy Space Center is the obvious place to start, just a 50-minute drive outside of Orlando. Main highlights include the original Saturn V Rocket (pictured) and the US Astronaut Hall of Fame. Lesser known is the City of Winter Park, home to The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art and the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens, all just 20 minutes from Orlando.
My top picks for a sophisticated stay are the Waldorf Astoria Orlando (pictured) and Omni Championsgate. They’re upmarket, pride themselves on their championship golf courses, and have a luxury feel – but still with child-friendly facilities such as Omni’s lazy river.
Head to Taverna Opa in Pointe Orlando – one of my favourite spots and a fun mix of great Greek food and dancing. If you want a more eccentric experience, Pharmacy Orlando (pictured) is a cool speakeasy whose entrance is disguised as an elevator – you’ll find great cocktails and food within.
For mums and dads in need of pampering, Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World is by far the best option. The spa is incredible, and they have an excellent kids’ club to keep children occupied.
You just have to know where to look. Book an airboat tour (there are several to choose from, but Everglades City Airboat Tours is a good bet) and explore the tropical wetlands of Florida’s Everglades – home to alligators, manatees and the endangered leatherback turtle. Or try kayaking in Shingle Creek, one of Florida’s top paddling trails.