Orlando’s fame as a family destination for theme parks resounds around the world and draws visitors from every corner of the world. With many of the world’s top paid visitor attractions, the difficulty is deciding what not to see! However, Orlando has so much more to offer than what lies behind turnstile gates. Visitors of all ages will find shopping on a par with its other attractions as well as museums, sports, performance arts, green oases and outlying towns and neighbourhoods with their own distinct personality.
Walt Disney created the town of Lake Buena Vista, where it all began. From the Magic Kingdom, this wonderful world has expanded to include futuristic Epcot, entertainment’s Disney-MGM Studios, and nature’s Animal Kingdom. Universal Orlando Resort, with its two-part theme parks, furthered the reputation for state-of-the-art showmanship and thrills. Meanwhile, SeaWorld Orlando brings a marine attraction element to the scene and its sister attraction, Discovery Cove, is the ultimate dolphin interaction experience.
Farther from Orlando’s core attractions, parks, springs, canoeing waterways and small towns remember the area’s roots. Some favourite off-the-beaten-path destinations include Mount Dora, where residents have willfully kept out chains and over-development from the historic and hilly, downtown lakefront shopping district. Sanford, a St. Johns River town, offers romantic river ship excursions, manatee snorkel tours and an opportunity to see endangered species from around the world at Central Florida Zoological Park.
Don’t overlook golf when in Orlando. Depending on whom you ask, there are between 100 and 150 golf courses in the greater Orlando area. World-class architects such as Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Fazio, Robert Trent Jones, Dick Wilson and Joe Lee validate Orlando as a golf destination with the quality to match its eye-popping quantity. Further proof that this is truly one of America's golf capitals is that Orlando plays host to two PGA Tour events and an LPGA tournament. All three tournaments are held at courses open to the public. In fact, private courses are the exception and not the rule.
To top it all, Orlando is less than an hour from the Gulf Coast and Tampa Bay, which, as well as offering white, sugar sand beaches is also home to Busch Gardens (theme park),Tampa Bay Lightening (ice hockey), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (American football) and Tampa Bay Downs (horse racing).