The epicenter of sun-kissed theme-park holidays, Orlando is a magnet for families around the globe. Topping the list: the huge Disney and Universal Studio complexes. Go there and make your children (and your inner child) deliriously happy!
Icelandair offers frequent cheap flights from the UK and Europe to Orlando for Mickey Mouse days and sultry Miami nights. If you want it to be, Florida offers more than just theme parks. Beaches, gators, and wetlands offer endless thrills.
Before you hit the parks, fancy a soak at the Blue Lagoon, a water park with a difference? When you book flights to Orlando with Icelandair you have the opportunity to add a stopover in Iceland at no additional airfare.
Where to start? Probably with Walt Disney World, the famous park that started Orlando's reign as the king of family holidays. Inside this huge 'world' are four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios), two water parks, golf courses, dozens of hotels, restaurants, malls, and endless entertainment. Plus Mickey, Minnie, Donald Duck, Goofy, and smiles that agree with the sales pitch of 'the happiest place on Earth.'
Also in Greater Orlando's orbit: the brilliance of Universal Orlando Resort, home to Universal Studios, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and the new Volcano Bay waterpark. More? There's also SeaWorld, Legoland, the Kennedy Space Center, and Gatorland, the 'alligator capital of the world.' Tired yet?
Inside the theme parks are scores of eating options, catering to all ages and budgets. But contrary to popular belief, Orlando is more than a cluster of theme parks. In the town itself are appealing gardens, galleries and museums, and a great selection of restaurants. Your best place to start is 'Restaurant Row,' a renowned stretch of Sand Lake Road near the Universal and Disney complexes, in a district called Doctor Phillips. Some of the country's top restaurant names have opened in-demand restaurants here, and reservations are a good idea.
Another fertile patch for excellent dining and drinking spots is the lively historic neighborhood known as Winter Park, a few miles northeast of downtown Orlando. Here, Park Avenue is dotted with stores, restaurants and cafes.
It won't surprise you to learn that the theme parks are home to countless retail opportunities, where Disney- and movie-themed merchandise proliferates. The Orlando area is also primed for mall rats and outlet-store hunters. Top of the pile is the open-air Florida Mall, not far from the airport. The statistics are impressive: 39 acres, 20 million visitors every year, and 250 stores and restaurants. The Mall at Millenia is smaller (hey, only 150 stores!) and its specialty is luxury brands like Chanel and Gucci. Prepare to spend!
If you're looking for bargains, there are a handful of outlet malls to hit - these are where brand names offload excess, off-season, or slightly defective stock at a reduced price.