Orlando: Top Attractions

Orlando: Play all day, stay in style  (courtesy, Orlando CVB)

Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge
Stay at this lodge and the savanna is your home away from home, and giraffes and gazelles your neighbors. Continuing the African theme, the thatch-roofed lobby has a huge mud fireplace and gorgeous works of African art, including a tribal-shield chandelier. An elevated rocky outcropping puts you within 15 feet of where ibis and the antelope play. Surrounded by the call of the wild, the 9,000-square-foot pool with bubbling spas is particularly romantic at night.

Portofino Bay Hotel
One of Italy's most stunning Mediterranean seaside resort villages has been faithfully recreated in Orlando, right down to a harbor piazza filled with Italian sports cars and Vespa scooters. This posh hotel has all the amenities imaginable, but if that's not enough, Universal Studios and Universal's Islands of Adventure theme parks are within walking distance. Take your pick of adjacent golf courses, or take a water taxi to the CityWalk entertainment complex.

The Villas of Grand Cypress
Club suites overlooking spectacular fairways and elegantly appointed Mediterranean-style villas beckon avid golfers, equestrian enthusiasts, boaters, anglers, and sun worshippers. Four Jack Nicklaus-designed courses (including a new 18-hole Scottish-links-style course) offer challenging play. Brush up on your horse skills at the Equestrian Center, where lessons, trail rides, and other activities cater to all ages and skills. At the 21-acre Lake Windsong, 1,000 feet of white-sand beach, complimentary boats, volleyball nets, excellent fishing, and bicycle trails await.

Westin Grand Bohemian
Sink into this artful hotel after a day at Disney World by taking in a concert at the in-house Klimt Rotunda, cooling your jets in the outdoor pool, and savoring award-winning cuisine. More than 100 works by world-renowned artists occupy the eclectic gallery and spill out into the hotel. Italian mosaic tiles flow over barrel-vaulted ceilings. Rich fabrics, fine art, and java wood accent bedroom, boardroom, and ballroom. The Grand Bohemian is minutes from theme parks, city hall, and airports.

The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes
Guestrooms at this palazzo-inspired hotel are graced with hand-painted Italian furniture and balconies that overlook lakes, pools, and gardens. An 18-hole championship golf course designed by Greg Norman challenges golfers with ingeniously placed bunkers and hazards—but don't go it alone, opt for a caddie who will share well-honed tips and strategies, clean your clubs, gauge yardage, and otherwise treat you as if you were the Great White Shark himself.

Disney's Osprey Ridge
Take a swing on the wild side at one of the most challenging and luxuriantly tropical golf courses around. Extra-long fairways roll through forests of pine, palmetto, and cypress trees, some opening into large, often dramatically elevated greens. This Tom Fazio-designed course is ranked one of the best, and is certainly one of the most stunning. Nine water holes and more than 70 bunkers keep the game lively and creative. Cart-mounted GPS units offer an eagle's-eye view of each hole and keep you posted on what the pros would do.
Disney's Osprey Ridge: 407.939.4653, www.ineedavacation.com/disneyworld/OspreyRidgeGolf.html

Stormalong Bay at Disney's Yacht Club Resort
Being caught in a whirlpool isn't such a bad thing after all, as long as you're in Stormalong Bay, where water jets push you in circles and beaches and lagoons await. A 230-foot slide combines speed, water, sunshine, and splash!—a sure recipe for a goofy day of fun. A foot-deep patch of quicksand is inexplicably fun to get stuck in, and then pull yourself out, and the bay's sandy bottom is pure, toe-wiggling pleasure.
Stormalong Bay at Disney's Yacht Club Resort: 407.934.7000, www.disneyworld.com

Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
Depending on how well you fared on the greens or at the theme parks, head for the spa and treat yourself to a reward (a Golfer's Facial, perhaps?) or a consolation prize (a Detoxifying Body Masque works wonders) at the Grand Floridian Spa. They specialize in deep cleansing, exquisite pampering, and bodywork that transforms you into an ecstatic-yet-limp noodle. Share your bliss with a romantic spa package or an instructional massage session for couples.

Bosendorfer Lounge
Voted by locals as the best hotel bar, the best live music venue, and best place to sip martinis, the Bosendorfer is the epicenter for Orlando's hottest, hippest happenings. An eye-catching round bar glitters with black marble, red stones, and mirrored flecks. Edgy artwork fills your eyes and the heady vibe from patrons and performers will likely intoxicate more quickly than the cocktails. Depending on the night, the jazz or soul music runs from classic to neo to acid; the DJ is an ace.

Mark Two Dinner Theatre
Wine and dine while watching full-scale, professionally staged Broadway musicals at Mark Two Dinner Theatre. The cuisine is regionally acclaimed, and its Equity theater is the best in central Florida. A full-service bar, gourmet desserts, and dazzling performances of Broadway favorites add up to one enchanted evening.
Mark Two Dinner Theatre: 407.843.6275

Published: 26 Apr 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Orlando

$120
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#2
The Courtyard at Lake Lucerne
$190
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#3
Courtyard by Marriott Orlando Downtown
$105
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#5
Crowne Plaza ORLANDO-DOWNTOWN

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