More than meets the eye in Orlando

By Amy Rosoman

Photography by dosecreative / Getty Images

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April 2017

Rollercoaster here, theme park there – Orlando is renowned for the ultimate thrill-seeker experience and family photo finishes with Disney characters. For a first-timer, these are a must, but take time out to enjoy what more The City Beautiful has to share. With golfing greens to blow you away, malls to get lost in and foodie fun, everyone has something to smile about.

1. Spa escapes

Put aside the race to see and do everything, take time to whirlpool the days away with a spa break. You’ll be surprised and spoilt for choice of spas across the city, as you recline with cucumber on your eyelids, after you’ve browsed through the variety of sublime treatments. Perhaps make a booking for the ultimate spa day at the start and end of your break, to feel revitalised from head to toe.

Where to stay: Not far from the south hub of adventure parks and resorts is The Waldorf Astoria with its Guerlain spa, a stay for luxury galore. Choose from treatments, massages and therapies to fully unwind, then lounge by the outside pool under a cabana or in the sun. When you’ve had enough therapy for one day (if that’s possible), relax even more and enjoy the spa’s tea lounge. With a steam room and Jacuzzi, you can melt away, then enjoy some tea and nibbles.

Put aside the race to see and do everything, take time to whirlpool the days away with a spa break.

2. Hole in one

What a putt of luck, Florida is a hot spot for hitting the range and Orlando is no exception to the stunning golf scene. With what feels like endless views of rolling greens, glistening lakes and golden sand pits, enjoy courses like no other. What better way to play your favourite sport than in glorious sun, followed by a bite of club house lunch. Just be sure to watch out for the odd croc.

Where to stay: Close to all the action and perfect to test out your drive on its award-winning course, is the Rosen Shingle Creek. Set in the quieter backdrop of Orlando, nature lovers can spot birds and soak up the scenery. When you’re ready to take a break from the golf clubs at one of the top ten toughest courses in Florida, there is an indulgent spa, outside pool and a two fine dining restaurants to tantalise your taste buds.

Plan your trip to Orlando

  • Rosen Shingle Creek hotel and golfing green. Photo © Rosen Shingle Creek.

    What a drive

    Play on the beautiful award-winning course at the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel. £696 pp

    Book a stay

3. A shopaholics dream

Orlando is a shop until you drop haven. From Macy’s to Michael Kors at the Florida Mall, or the mixture of designer boutiques and outlet malls paving the way of International Drive, you’ll want to explore it all. For something extra special, stroll through The Mall at Millenia for a little window shopping is a must, or why not treat yourself to a piece of Prada. Be sure to make some space in your bag for the journey home.

Where to stay: Located right on the famous International Drive is the Rosen Inn at Pointe. With an abundance of shops in walking distance from you, retail therapy couldn’t be made easier. When you’re not in the shops, you can choose from three outside pools to take a dip in, four nightly entertainment evenings and all-you-can-eat breakfast and dinner. Just a few miles away is the new Universal's Volcano Bay™ water theme park, as well as Universal Studios Florida™ and Universal's Islands of Adventure™ - making the Rosen Inn an ideal base for exploring.

  • Walk around the Harry P Leu Gardens. Photo © Leu Gardens.

    Rose for a rose

    Wander through the beautiful Harry P Leu Gardens and admire your surroundings.€440 return

    Flights to Orlando
  • Take in the striking work at the Fine Arts Museum Rollins College. Photo © RosaIreneBetancourt 6 / Alamy Stock Photo.

    Poignant art pieces

    Stroll through the gallery of the Fine Arts Museum and get lost in the collections. £529 pp

    Book your Orlando holiday
  • Tuck into fish tacos and grab a beer. Photo © Pam McLean / Getty Images.

    A bite to eat

    What better way to spend your meal times, than trying a famous fish taco.£492 pp

    Book a fly-drive to Orlando

4. Eateries and entertainment

The US is the real deal when it comes to finding the best eats. From gigantic morning pancakes to burgers stacked high in the sky, nobody will go hungry on your trip to Orlando. Stroll down Sand Lake Road, nearby International Drive, for a choice of some of the best dining in town. Enjoy an incredible selection of cuisine: steak, seafood, sushi, tacos, waffles… the variety is unbelievable. Plunge into dining experiences with dancing, listen to blues as you enjoy a bite to eat or tuck into the popular all-you-can-eat action.

Where to stay: With a spectacular location, close by to all the fun is Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort. The poolside grill and hotel diner make eating easy, whilst the Swizzle Lounge™ creates tantalising cocktails. Yet, this retro-themed beach resort is set just in walking distance from the Universal’s CityWalk™. Make a visit here for the astronomical variety of dining experiences and assortment of entertainment. With over twenty different joints to hit for meal times, you can dine somewhere different every single day of your trip.

  • Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

    Make a splash

    As a Universal Orlando Resort™ on-site hotel guest, you can use any of the five (soon to be six) hotel pools.£691 pp

    Book a stay

5. North of the hustle

Take some time out from traipsing about the parks, slides and rides. There are plenty of hidden gems to be found in the North of Orlando. Hire a car or jump on the bus and go from place to place to feel like a Floridian. From the antique to the contemporary, Cornell Fine Arts Museum will get you thinking. Make your way down to the interactive Orlando Science Center to encounter 3D experiences, activities and expedition events. Both are great escapes if you get caught out on a rainy day. Just a short ride away is Harry P Leu Gardens, a stunning botanical garden, with 50 acres of garden grounds and luscious lakes, perfect to explore in the warmth of the sun.

Where to stay: With its easy access location and on-site parking, the Hyatt Regency has plenty of appeal. When you’re not out and about exploring the spectacles of the Orlando outskirts, you can choose from five pools to take a dip in, hire bikes and cycle about International Drive or treat yourself to a blissful pamper session at the hotel spa. With four restaurants and room service available, you’ll never have to worry about what time you eat when you’re out exploring all day.

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