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January 13, 2015

Orlando: Things to See and Do

by Julianne Mooney

IMG_3554One thing I can guarantee you, you won’t get everything done in one trip to Orlando. So, with this in mind, my advice to you is to prioritise. Pick the top 5 things you want to see and do and then plan your days around them. After that, if you have spare time, you can hit your reserve list. Orlando means something different to everyone, depending on your tastes and age, but here is what I managed to take in on my visit and what I most enjoyed.

1. UNIVERSAL STUDIOS 

I wasn’t sure if I would be into the theme parks, however, Universal converted me very quickly. Staying at a Universal Hotel means you get access to the park an hour before it opens to the public. Go straight to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and directly to the Gringotts Ride. If you are with friends, opt for the single rider line and you’ll get on in no time. This, my friends, is a ride you will never forget.

Transformers was also super fun. Then jump aboard the Hogswart Express, which takes you over to Universal’s second park – Islands of Adventure. Young kids will love the Dr Seuss area, Spider-Man is one for all ages and a wander around Hogsmeade is certainly worth the wait.

2. WILD FLORIDA

It’s worth the forty-five minute drive out of the city, just to get a glimpse of the Florida’s wilderness. Whizz around the Everglades in an airboat and get up close to some of the wonderful wildlife lurking in the swamp – alligators, bald eagles and lots more! Escaping the intensity of the city was a real joy and I got to soak up the sunshine in beautiful, natural surroundings.

3. LA NOUBA – CIRQUE DU SOLEIL, La Nouba Theatre, Downtown Disney

Spectacular, funny and utterly entertaining. I loved every second of the show, I laughed, gasped and watched in awe along with children and adults alike. Book it, you will love it!

4. EAST END MARKET

Perhaps it seems an odd thing to put in as one of my favourites with so many parks and attractions, but I loved seeing another side to Orlando. Away from the bright lights and chaos of the parks, we found a foodies paradise nestled in Audubon Park Garden District of Orlando. Here food artisans create everything that’s delicious using local produce. It’s a fantastic brunch or lunch spot and if you’re self-catering you could pick up some real treats to take home with you.

5. NIGHTLIFE

The fun doesn’t end when the sun goes down, in fact, the lights seem to get brighter and the crowds, deeper. Universal’s City Walk takes on a whole new guise at night. Music pumps out of bars and outdoor discos have youngsters bopping away under strobe lights. People spill out of the restaurants, browse shops or simply sit on the side-walk soaking up the atmosphere. However, don’t forget to escape the resorts and experience the restaurants of the city.

Minus5 – Pull on a warm coat and sip your cocktail from a glass made of ice, in Minus 5 – Orlando’s only ice bar.

Bistro Clo Clo, Dr Phillips Blvd – Convincingly French, the atmosphere and food are reminiscent of a Parisian bistro and my steak frites was cooked to perfection, which is always a good sign.

Txokos Basque Kitchen, East End Market – you will need to book, especially if planning a weekend brunch. The locals keep the best for themselves and this spot is packed with locals who come to gorge on generous helpings of mouthwatering, traditional Basque dishes. This was my favourite meal of the holiday.

Dragonfly Robata Grill & Sushi, Via Dellagio Way – Sleek and modern with an Asian twist, this restaurant serves up sushi, sashimi and robatayaki (open fire grill) that, if you’re a non-sushi lover like myself, will have you converted in minutes.

I didn’t make it to a number of attractions like John F Kennedy Space Centre, Wet’n’Wild and the beaches – all of which would be on my hit list for my next visit. But, as I said, you can’t do everything in one trip. Enjoy, whatever it is you do get to do and see.

Special Offers

There are heaps of amazing deals out there – from €575 per person (includes flights, 7 nights accommodation and taxes). Check out some of the below agents

http://www.sunway.ie

http://www.gohop.ie

http://www.americanholidays.com

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