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What to Do in Orlando

Add some excitement to your vacation by traveling to Orlando, Fla. Pose for a picture between the massive alligator jaws at Gatorland (14501 S. Orange Blossom Tr.), and continue snapping away inside the longtime Orlando favorite. Since 1949, the attraction has provided a way to (safely) view Florida's famous reptiles. A secondary site—a collaboration with Fun Spot America (5700 Fun Spot Way) called Gator Spot—adds more gators to the mix, including a white one!

Ready to travel to an out-of-this-world destination? Set a course for Kennedy Space Center , 11 mi. e. of I-95 on SR 405, for an interstellar daytrip to the Space Coast. Options include tours of launch headquarters, exhibits about space and a simulated space shuttle launch. If reliving Neil Armstrong's historic moon landing isn't enough, then plan to meet a real astronaut.

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Splash around at a thrilling water park to beat the heat. Top picks include Aquatica (5800 Water Play Way), Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park (1500 W. Buena Vista Dr.), Disney's Typhoon Lagoon Water Park (1195 E. Buena Vista Dr.) and Universal's Volcano Bay™ (6000 Universal Blvd.).

There is no shortage of things for couples to do in the area. Visit postcard-worthy Lake Eola Park (195 N. Rosalind St.). A band shell, amphitheater and lighted fountain punctuate the City Beautiful's 43-acre downtown oasis, a landmark since 1888. Pedal a swan boat across the lake or plop down on a shaded bench to savor the serenity.

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See Florida animals during your trip. Observe alligators, eagles, turtles and other creatures in their native habitat by taking an airboat through wetlands and across the headwaters of the Everglades. Boggy Creek Airboat Rides (2001 E. Southport Rd.) offers a thrilling “wild Florida” encounter in Kissimmee; then head northeast on John Young Pkwy. and I-4 for a charming detour to Winter Park .

Stroll along Winter Park's refined Park Avenue, which features designer boutiques, sidewalk cafés, cozy local restaurants, shops with high-end home décor and a centrally located park. At The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art (445 N. Park Ave.), bask in the aura of Louis Comfort Tiffany's stunning stained-glass creations, a renowned collection that has no equal. Lovely lakeside residences and natural tropical scenery are highlights of a narrated cruise on Winter Park's chain of lakes and canals, offered by Scenic Boat Tours (312 E. Morse Blvd.).

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Venture out to the quaint village of Mount Dora , central Florida's antiques and collectibles capital, by driving west on SR 414. This small town overlooking Lake Dora draws quite a crowd on weekends because there are so many fun things to do. Make sure you arrive early to get a good parking spot. Later, take in a play or a musical at the Sonnentag Theatre at the IceHouse (100 N. Unser St.), where you can see shows like “Bye-Bye Birdie” and “Miracle on 34th Street” performed by local thespians. Mount Dora also holds a plethora of activities throughout the year, such as art and music festivals, a sailboat regatta and craft shows.

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There are many fun things to do with friends, especially if you like adventure and the outdoors. Drive west on I-4 to Blue Spring State Park (2100 W. French Ave.), in Orange City , for the annual winter migration of manatees—mid-November through March—from the cool waters of the St. Johns River to the park's warm spring. Enjoy a picnic lunch and a myriad of water sports during your adventure travel experience, including snorkeling, swimming, canoeing and kayaking. Let St. Johns River Cruises (also at 2100 W. French Ave.) show you more of the state's longest river and its wild residents, including alligators, deer and birds. You’ll never have a lack of things to do while you’re here.

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Orlando, FL

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Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

1 Grand Cypress Blvd. Lake Buena Vista, FL 32836

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Marriott Orlando Downtown

400 W Livingston St. Orlando, FL 32801

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Best Western Orlando Gateway Hotel

7299 Universal Blvd. Orlando, FL 32819

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Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando-Lake Buena Vista Resort

8100 Lake St. Lake Buena Vista, FL 32836

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Travel Information

City Population

238,300

Elevation

111 ft.

Sales Tax

In Orange County the sales tax is 6.5 percent; in Lake and Seminole counties it is 7 percent; Osceola sales tax is 7.5 percent. Orange and Osceola counties levy a 6 percent resort tax, while Seminole County imposes a 5 percent tax and Lake County 4 percent.

Emergency

911

Police (non-emergency)

(321) 235-5300; Sheriff (407) 836-4357

Fire (non-emergency)

(407) 246-3473

Time and Temperature

(407) 646-3131

Hospitals

Dr. P. Phillips Hospital, (407) 351-8500; AdventHealth East Orlando, (407) 303-8110; AdventHealth Orlando, (407) 303-5600; Orlando Health Orlando Regional Medical Center, (321) 841-5111.

Visitor Information

301 E. Pine St. Suite 900 Orlando, FL 32801. Phone:(407)425-1234

Air Travel

The Orlando area is served by two airports: Orlando International Airport (MCO), at SR 436 and the Beachline Expressway, and Orlando-Sanford International Airport (SFB) in Sanford, which serves commercial and private aircraft.

Rental Cars

Orlando is served by several major rental car agencies. Arrangements should be made before you depart, especially during peak seasons. Your local AAA club can provide this service or additional information. Hertz, (407) 859-8400 or (800) 654-3080, offers discounts to AAA members.

Rail Service

Amtrak provides train service to four stations in the metro area. Passenger-only trains stop at the stations at 1400 Sligh Blvd. in downtown Orlando and 148 W. Morse Blvd. in downtown Winter Park; Kissimmee's passenger station is at 111 E. Dakin Ave. The Auto Train, which runs round-trip from Lorton, Va., stops at the Sanford station at 600 S. Persimmon Ave. Phone (800) 872-7245 for both rail services.

Buses

A Greyhound Lines Inc. terminal, (407) 292-3422 for customer service, (407) 292-3424 for tickets or (800) 531-5332 for Spanish-speaking persons, is off West SR 50 (Colonial Drive) at 555 N. John Young Pkwy.

Taxis

Local taxis are metered and charge $4.20-$5.40 for the first mile and $2.65 for each additional mile plus 60c for each 80 seconds of waiting time. Major cab companies are Ace Metro, (407) 855-1111; Diamond Cab Co., (407) 523-3333; Quick Cab, (407) 447-1444; Town & Country, (407) 828-3036; and Orlando Taxi, (407) 422-2222.

Public Transportation

Transportation by bus, trolley or rail is available in Orlando.

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