My Orlando: Fun Things to See and Do in Florida’s Tourist Capital

Orlando is kind of my second home. Well, third home because Tampa is my second. But I’ve been traveling to Orlando long before I became a runner and started going there for races- and I’ve been to several races in the area since then. That being said, I decided since I will once again be there this coming weekend for Princess I’ll give a little breakdown of my favorite places there!

To Stay:

There are thousands of hotels in the Orlando area- literally. I’ve stayed in quite a few of these but there are definitely some I keep coming back to. {Warning: I’m kind of a hotel ‘snob’ so I rarely stay in ‘average’ hotels, but I do know how to find some FABULOUS discounts on the good ones 😉 }

Crowne Plaza Universal Orlando:

This hotel has hands down the most comfortable beds and chairs. I love staying here and it’s proximity to Universal Studios and International Drive is amazing.

Don't those look like the comfiest beds?
Don’t those look like the comfiest beds?

Rosen Centre/Rosen Plaza:

These hotels are some of my favorites directly on I-drive itself. They’re far enough out of the way that you’re not surrounded by crazy tourists but close enough that if you wanted to walk to one of the main areas for dinner instead of driving you could. They’re also a little less expensive than some of the other choices in this area and frequently offer package deals (including amusement park tickets) to visitors.

It just looks cool.
It just looks cool.

Hilton Orlando:

You can’t beat the lazy river for a nice summer getaway! You could probably hang here the entire vacation and not go anywhere else- except to eat of course because their restaurants are a tad overpriced. Since Florida has pretty awesome pool weather 9 months out of the year, this is a pretty safe bet.

I love relaxing here all day
I love relaxing here all day

To Eat:

THE FOOD! Orlando seriously has some of the best restaurants. From celebrity chef’s to smaller hideaway places, the house of the mouse has it all and then some. Foodies could have a blast in this city doing nothing but eating everywhere they set their eyes on! Some of my favorite places to eat:

Todd English’s Bluezoo: If you’re able to get a reservation at Todd English’s definitely take advantage of it. This perpetually popular seafood restaurant is one of the best in town and offers super fresh fish such as snapper and grouper. I’m not a huge seafood person all the time but when I’m in the mood for some truly inspirational cuisine I’ll come here. (Also if I have deep pockets that weekend- it is kind of pricey).

blue zoo

Charley’s Steakhouse: If you’re in the mood for some seriously mouth watering steak, look no further. This is by far the juiciest steak I’ve had the pleasure of eating. It is a la carte so the cost can get a little pricier than other local restaurants, but the quality of food can’t be beat. I don’t compromise on my steak so I’d rather pay a little more to know I had the best possible. Plus it has a nice romantic date night vibe.

charley's steak house

Texas de Brazil: This is another steakhouse that I love but it gives you great value for your money. Once you sit down you’re treated to an all-you-can eat barrage of meat- simply turn the tabletop card to green for the servers to begin bringing you steak, chicken, pork, lamb and sausage to your table. If you want them to stop offering you food, you have to turn your card to the red side. Then when you’re ready to begin again, simply change it back to green. For someone who loves when people just bring her food at her beck and call- this is the perfect place. {Tip: make sure you come hungry- you’ll want to eat as much as possible. Also the Saratoga sparkling water is some of the best I’ve ever tried.}

Maggiano’s Little Italy: Craving a more carb loading experience? Check out Maggiano’s on International Drive. It’s close to many of the entertainment around the area and within walking distance of many hotels that line I Drive so the convenience level can’t be beat. And they have the best gnocchi I’ve tried! {One time we ordered a bottle of wine and I was left to drink the bottle by myself because the other person I was with wasn’t feeling well. I had 5 glasses. Don’t do that before a race.}

Amazing ravioli.
Amazing ravioli.


Of course you’re familiar with the amusement parks, but there are some other attractions to see in Orlando.

Universal CityWalk:

I prefer this area to other clubs because a) one ticket can get you in to all the clubs (I believe it’s $20 for non Universal pass holders) and b) it’s a safer area than some parts of downtown, plus closer to the major hotels so you don’t have to worry much about cab fare or finding your way around. They have everything from Reggae to Techno and House music at the bars and clubs, so there’s definitely something for everyone’s tastes. Plus there’s a Starbucks, Cinnabon, several shops and miniature golf if clubbing or bar hopping isn’t your “thing.”

AMC Universal Cineplex 20 with IMAX at Universal Citywalk Orlando.
AMC Universal Cineplex 20 with IMAX at Universal Citywalk Orlando.

Improv Comedy Club:

Laughter is always the best medicine and this place has it in spades! It’s not too expensive to get tickets (about $20-$25); for the same price as a night out and less than theme park tickets you can have a lot of laughs and a fun night with friends or your significant other.

Discovery Cove:

While this still is classified as a theme park, it’s definitely not as wildly popular as Universal Studios or Disney. Here you can swim with dolphins, play close to a family of otters and see tons of unique sea creatures and water loving mammals. You can even have their SeaVenture experience and get a chance to walk “under the sea.”  It’s a part of SeaWorld parks and offers the similar discounts and ticket packages.

Who wouldn't want to play with this little guy?
Who wouldn’t want to play with this little guy?

There are lots of other things to see and do in Orlando, but these are a few of my favorites! I’m linking up with Amanda from Running with Spoons for Thinking Out Loud Thursday’s!

Thinking-Out-Loud2 (1)

What’s your favorite city? Do you have a “home away from home?”


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16 thoughts on “My Orlando: Fun Things to See and Do in Florida’s Tourist Capital”

  1. Texas De Brazil is one of my all time favorite restaurants. They don’t have one currently close to me but when we go near one (such as Orlando actually, San Antonio or Syracuse…we go…every time!)

    1. Me too! The closest one is about an hour away for me so I don’t get to go as often as I’d like but I definitely make every effort to go whenever I’m in a town that has one. Bacon-wrapped filet mignon is my favorite!

    1. OMG Alaska would be gorgeous! I’d love to visit there- the beauty of the wilderness astounds me.

    1. Well I highly recommend Hilton then! Check out the discount sites- hotwire, Travelocity, priceline- to get great rates on any of those places. I’m dying to swim with dolphins! I’ve tried for several years but something always comes up and I haven’t been able to do it yet!

    1. I haven’t been to the Swan and Dolphin yet, but I’ll be exploring a LOT more of Disney this weekend!

  2. Great tips! We’re probably going to make it down that direction sometime here….My husband’s stepbrother is down here and since we’re out east we figure…why not?!

    1. It would be hard to get bored in Orlando! My post is just the tip of the iceberg- there are so many more things to see and do there!

    1. I’m sure our weather would be better than what you guys have now! Race day is forecasted at low 50s to start and high 70s by midday. It’s pretty much ideal right now!

  3. This was great to read since I definitely would like to do a Disney race at some point and I’ve only been to Orlando once as a kid! I would say my home away from home city is probably Chicago. I’ve been there dozens of times and know the city pretty well!

    1. Chicago is a great city! I’d love to live close enough to visit more often. If you’re looking to do a Disney race, you’ll enjoy the posts I have planned for this week! All about Princess Half weekend 🙂

    1. Princess was a pretty awesome weekend! It goes by fast though when you’re doing something you love! I hope you guys have a great trip in August 🙂

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