Where to Stay in Orlando: 8 Best Areas

In this post, we will discuss about where to stay in Orlando without a car, for families, best areas to stay in Orlando (with a map and video), best hotels for all budgets (including the hotel where I stayed) and the best places to stay near Disney, SeaWorld, Universal Studios.

Located in central Florida midway between the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts, Orlando is known as the theme park capital of the world. With countless major theme parks, such as Universal Studios, Disney World, and SeaWorld, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the east coast.

Orlando is overall a safe city for tourists and visitors. Disney World and International Drive are some of the safest neighborhoods in Orlando. You shoud avoid areas such as Parramore District, Orange Blossom Trail, and Pine Hills.

Where to stay in Orlando first time?

The best areas to stay in Orlando for first-timers are Southwest, Downtown, South Eola, International Drive, Celebration, Lake Buena Vista, and Kissimmee. These are popular and safe neighborhoods for tourists that offers a wide variety of attractions and amenities.

Anyone want to stay in Orlando to visit the theme parks have a big decision to make. If you like those operated by Universal Studios, then Southwest Orlando is probably the place for you. That said, if you would prefer to be near but not right on top of them, then International Drive deserves strong consideration.

Celebration and Lake Buena Vista are the best areas for Disney World, because they are located just a short way from the resort. Many hotels in Lake Buena Vista offers shuttle service to Disney.

International Drive, Lake Buena Vista, Kissimmee are the best areas to stay in Orlando without a car for theme parks. Downtown Orlando is the best base for visitors and adults who are not driving seeking an urban experience with vibrant arts, culture, and nightlife.

International Drive is the overall best place for travelers with no car due to its proximity to major attractions such as Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and Aquatica, as well as well-served by I-RIDE Trolley, Lynx bus, Mears cab or Uber. Disney is also reachable by taxi and hotel’s shuttle service.

Kissimmee is known as the gateway to Orlando, located between the Disney and Universal parks, making it the most convenient place to stay in Orlando to travel to both. Kissimmee appeals to families and budget travelers, offering affordable hotels and a relaxed vibe.

If you aren’t in town for theme parks, you may prefer to stay in Downtown Orlando. This is both the historic and business district of the city, making it a great choice for a number of different visitors. Similarly, South Eola is located within Downtown Orlando and provides an option for those seeking a slightly more residential feel.

There will even be some visitors who simply want to stay near Orlando International Airport. If that is the case, Southeast Orlando and the airport area are probably your best bet.

Where did I stay in Orlando?

When I first visited Orlando, I stayed for 4 nights at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando International Drive ICON Park. It was a great base for easy access to all theme parks without a car. It was also a short distance from restaurants, activities, and shopping. My suite was spacious and comfortable.

💖 Best Area for first-timers:Southwest Orlando
💎 Best luxury hotel:Universal’s Loews Sapphire Falls Resort 
🏨 Best mid-range hotel:DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando 
💰 Best budget hotel:Drury Inn & Suites Orlando near Universal Orlando Resort

Map of areas and neighborhoods in Orlando for tourists:

Map of Best areas to stay in Orlando for tourist
Map of Best areas to stay in Orlando for tourist

8 Best areas to stay in Orlando for tourists are:

1. Southwest Orlando

Southwest Orlando is the best area to stay in Orlando for first-time travelers. It encompasses various world-famous theme parks and neighborhoods that are situated to the southwest of downtown Orlando including International Drive and Lake Buena Vista.

The area is home to at least 6 theme parks including the Universal Studios and Walt Disney World, many of which will be within walking distance from whichever of the luxury hotels you choose to stay in.

Universal Orlando Resort is operated by Universal Studios and is one of the most popular theme parks in the world. Featuring luxury accommodation, restaurants, and rides suitable for all ages, you have all the ingredients for a fun-filled adventure without ever leaving the park.

Universal Studios also operates Universal’s Volcano Bay. A tropical-themed park, it contains all of the water rides you may have felt were missing from Universal Orlando Resort. Considering the humidity in Florida, it makes Universal’s Volcano Bay an ideal place to cool off while having fun.

The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter will transport fans directly to Hogwarts. Enjoy a butterbeer, find out which house you belong in, and learn to become a wizard, while surrounded by iconic locations from the movies.

For those looking to experience other theme parks that may be a little bit different during your stay in Orlando, the Holy Land Experience is a unique destination.

One of the world’s only Christian theme parks, it is designed to resemble Jerusalem in the 1st century. Here you can attend church services and bible classes while jumping on a wild ride in between.

You also have a number of smaller theme parks, such as Icon Orlando and Fun Spot America Theme Parks, while SeaWorld Orlando and Aquatica Orlando are just a short distance further away.

Other things to do in South West Orlando include visiting the Museum Of Osteology, Madame Tussauds Orland, MetroWest Golf Club, Epcot, or having a meal at Shula’s Steak House, and Beaches & Cream Soda Shop.

Put quite bluntly, if you are planning to stay in Orlando to visit theme parks other than the Disney parks, then Southwest Orlando is the best place for you.

Stay in Southwest Orlando if you are first time visit Orlando; you want to visit the theme parks;

Best places to stay in Southwest Orlando:

luxury ($$$): Universal’s Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, 4-star hotel, featuring 4 on-site restaurants as well as Early Park AdmissionƗ to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal’s Volcano Bay water theme park 1 hour before park opening. It’s also a short drive from SeaWorld Orlando and Orlando International Airport.

mid-range ($): DoubleTree by Hilton at the Entrance to Universal Orlando 4-star hotel provides first-class amenities, numerous free services, and is close to all the area’s main attractions. It has a location directly across from the entrance to Universal Orlando Resort.

budget ($): Drury Inn & Suites Orlando near Universal Orlando Resort, 3-star family-friendly hotel, located directly across from the entrance to Universal Orlando Resort, and is close to all the area’s main attractions. Walt Disney World is short Uber ride away.


2. Downtown Orlando

Situated on the west side of Lake Eola, Downtown Orlando is centrally located, features an incredible range of shops, bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and hotels, and has enough attractions to keep even the fussiest of travelers occupied throughout their stay in Orlando. 

Downtown Orlando is also both the central business district and the historic core of the city. This allows it to have a style that is quite unique and inviting for a range of different visitors.

Particularly around Church Street, you will find some of the most historic buildings in the city located directly next to modern skyscrapers. Church Street hosts a bustling nightlife scene with some of the best restaurants in the city and the famous Railroad Depot.

This makes it an equally great place to stay in Orlando whether you are traveling to do business with one of the many corporations found here, or simply want to take in a little more of the culture and history of the city.

Perhaps the most popular reason many people stay in Downtown Orlando during their visit though, is that it is the location of the Amway Center. Located at the west end of Church Street, the Amway Center is a 20,000-seater indoor arena.

It is the home of the Orlando Magic of the NBA, the only major league sports team in the city, and has been since 2010. This makes it a great place to stay in Orlando for those wanting to catch a game of basketball, as well as ice hockey or arena football, which are both played here on a regular basis.

Just a few blocks away from Amway center, you will find the Exploria Stadium which is home to the Orlando City Soccer Club of Major League Soccer (MLS) and Orlando Pride of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL).

If you are interested in history, there are several spots to explore such as Wells’ Built Museum of African American History, Orange County Regional History Center, Orlando Museum of Art, and Orlando Science Center.

Other places of interest are the Dr. Phillips Center, East End Market, Wall Street Plaza, the arts district, and the Orlando Farmers Market.

Downtown Orlando is one of the best areas to stay in Orlando without a car for vibrant nightlife and city life. It is relatively walkable and well-connected by Lynx buses and the free Lymmo bus service that loops around downtown, which provide access to various parts of the city.

Stay in Downtown Orlando if you want lively nightlife with a great range of shops, bars, nightclubs, hotels, restaurants, and amenities; you need to stay in Orlando for business;

Best places to stay in Downtown Orlando:

Hampton Inn & Suites Orlando/Downtown South – Medical Center Located in downtown Orlando, close to Amway Center, Church Street Station, and Orlando Executive Airport. It offers rooms with a flat-screen TV, refrigerator, and coffee-making facilities, a seating area.

Courtyard by Marriott Orlando Downtown 3-star hotel offers an on-site restaurant, an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, and rooms with free wifi. It’s close to the Orange County Regional History Center, The Bob Carr Performing Arts Center, and The Fashion Square Mall. It has non-smoking guestrooms with a cable TV, a microwave, and a small refrigerator.


3. South Eola

South Eola is actually a district located within Downtown Orlando, just outside of the historic and central business districts. It is quite a popular place for tourists to stay in Orlando, as it offers convenient access to the rest of Downtown Orlando, yet with a slightly calmer, more residential feel.

However, there is one distinct attraction the district has to offer in its own right and that is Lake Eola Park. Covering 23 acres, the park surrounds what is actually a sinkhole, as well as boasting a number of other popular attractions.

Perhaps its most popular feature is its prominent fountain. Considered an icon of the city, visitors come from far and wide to see it with their own eyes. It was severely damaged by lightning in 2009 but after renovations costing more than 2 million dollars, it is now better than ever, featuring state-of-the-art lights and water jets.

Another popular feature of the park is the Walt Disney Amphitheater. Throughout the year it hosts a number of free-to-attend events for the community, including the Nutcracker Ballet each December.

The award-winning Orlando Farmers Market is also hosted here every Sunday.

While all the things to do here are a lot of fun, it’s also a popular place to stay in Orlando for those who want to do nothing as well. That’s because it offers a great place to take a stroll and enjoy some downtime, without ever having to go too far from the center of the city.

Stay in South Eola if you want a quieter, more relaxed destination; you want to explore Lake Eola Park; you are attending an event at the Walt Disney Amphitheater; you want to go to the Orlando farmer’s market.

Best places to stay near South Eola:


4. International Drive

International Drive, also known as I-Drive, is one of best areas to stay in Orlando without a car for theme parks due to its proximity to major attractions such as the Universal Studios, SeaWorld, Aquatica, and Orlando Eye. It is well-connected by I-Ride Trolley, lynx buses, Uber, and taxi.

There’s a wide range of hotels and resorts along International Drive, catering to different budgets and preferences. Many hotels offers free shuttle services to the Universal Studios, SeaWorld, and Walt Disney World Resort.

The I-RIDE Trolley is a convenient and affordable way to travel along International Drive, making it easier to explore the area without needing to drive. It has two lines has two main routes, the Red Line on International Drive and the Green Line on Univeral blvd.

Apart from famou theme parks nearby, I-Drive is home to Orange County Convention Centre. Opened in 1983 and covering 7,000,000 square feet, it is the second-largest convention center in the United States. People travel from all over the country to attend the conventions, events, and exhibitions held within.

You then have the WonderWorks Orlando theme park. Unlike most of the parks, you will find during your stay in Orlando, this isn’t just a destination designed for mindless fun. With a science theme, it is designed to provide the perfect combination of education and entertainment.

You even have more laid-back attractions as well, such as Madame Tussauds Orlando and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. However, perhaps the best reason to come to International Drive during your stay in Orlando is for the marine parks located in the area.

With SeaWorld Orlando, Discovery Cove and Aquatica Orlando, you have ample opportunities to enjoy some marine wildlife. Whether you’re catching a dolphin show or simply strolling around the enclosures, learning about the inhabitants, you’re sure to have an incredible experience.

This makes International Drive a great place to stay for anyone don’t plan to hire a car, looking for a slightly quieter, more affordable location, without being cut off from some of the most popular attractions during their stay in Orlando.

International Drive offers a plethora of dining options, from fast food to upscale restaurants, as well as various entertainment options like mini-golf, escape rooms, and dinner theaters.

There are several shopping outlets and malls along International Drive, including the Orlando International Premium Outlets, which is a popular destination for bargain shopping.

Stay in International Drive if you travel without a car; you want easy access to big theme parks like Univeral and SeaWorld; you want to stay in a safe neighborhood;

Best places to stay in Orland in International Drive:


See more:

5. Celebration

Most people who come to stay in Orlando for the theme parks are going to want to stay in Southwest Orlando. However, Walt Disney Company made town, Celebration is the best spot for those primarily interested in Disney parks.

That is because the Walt Disney company operates a number of parks in the region. The area just to the northwest of Celebration is known as Walt Disney World and features Walt Disney World Resort, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, and Epcot.

In addition, staying at Walt Disney World often includes perks, such as early park admission or free shuttle service to Orlando International Airport.

Walt Disney World Resort features countless resorts, hotels, golf courses, restaurants, amenities, and attractions. It is also the home of Magic Kingdom, where kids of all ages have the chance to meet their Disney heroes in person. It is designed so there is no need to leave the confines of the park if you don’t want to.

Epcot was the second theme park built at Walt Disney World and is dedicated to human innovation. Its rides and attractions primarily revolve around technological innovation and international culture. An iconic geodesic sphere known as Spaceship Earth serves as the logo of the park.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom was the fourth theme park opened as part of Walt Disney World. It is a zoological park, focussed on conservation and giving visitors the chance to experience incredible animals in faithful recreations of their natural habitat.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the closest rival to any of the Universal Studios parks you will find in Disney World. Dedicated to recreating worlds from film, TV, theatre, and music, it is an incredible place to visit for those who want to see their favorite works of art come to life.

You also can visit Celebration Lakeside Park, Disney Boardwalk,  Fun Sports America Theme Parks, the Old Town Sling Shot, Celebration Farmer’s Market, or try out some best restaurants in the area such as Avocado Mexican Grill, Holler & Dash, Kilwins, IHOP,  and Five Guys burgers.

All in all, if you want to visit Walt Disney World but need to find more affordable accommodation than what’s on offer in the park, Celebration is ideal. 

Stay in Celebration if you want to stay at a golf resort or just spend time on a golf course; you want to visit Walt Disney World; you want to find some great hotel offers.

Best places to stay in Celebration:


Check out my virtual tour about the best places to stay in Orlando:

6. Lake Buena Vista

Lake Buena Vista is another on the outskirts of Disney World. Located immediately to its east, Lake Buena Vista offers just as much convenience when it comes to accessing the attraction. 

In fact, it even adds some of its own, including Disney’s Old Key West Resort, Disney Springs, and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park. However, despite the abundance of attractions, Lake Buena Vista is equally popular for another, entirely different reason.

The reason in question is that this is an area filled with stylish resorts and spas. This makes it the perfect place to stay in Orlando to enjoy all the wild fun of Disney World, before being able to retreat to a more relaxing destination for an evening.

Receive treatment at a spa, take a stroll along the banks of the springs and lakes, or go for a meal or drink at one of the many establishments on the water’s edge. Lake Buena Vista truly is that perfect location that can give you the best of both worlds throughout your stay in Orlando.

Stay in Lake Buena Vista if you travel without a car; you want to stay close to Disney World; you want a relaxing location.

Best places to stay in Lake Buena Vista:


7. Kissimmee

Kissimmee is unofficially known as the gateway to Orlando. Located just half an hour south of central Orlando, it gives visitors a taste of what’s on offer in the city, for a considerably lower price. 

When you combine the more affordable accommodation and readily available free transportation to the main theme parks and most popular tourist destinations, it makes Kissimmee a great place to stay for those on a budget.

For those that don’t want to travel to attractions like Disney World or Universal Studios, there is plenty to do in the local area as well. Attractions like mini-golf are surrounded by affordable dining options and souvenir stores, perfect for your average tourist.

You also have the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens, the Central Florida Animal Reserve, and Kissimmee Valley Farmers Market to explore.

Its location outside the city makes it a great place to access some of the region’s other most popular attractions. SeaWorld Orlando, Discovery Cove, and Lake Buena Vista are all easily accessible.

It’s also a great place for anyone hoping to enjoy some outdoor adventures. Whether you’re looking to spend a few hours on a golf course or explore the state’s famous wildlife, Kissimmee is a diverse location suitable for all manner of visitors.

Stay in Kissimmee if you are traveling on a budget; you prefer a slightly quieter location, outside of the city center; you want easy access to Orlando’s theme parks.


8. Orlando Airport

Orlando International Airport is located in Southeast Orlando, on the outskirts of the city. Far removed from the glitz and the glamour of the theme parks and tourist attractions the city is known for, this isn’t a part of the city many people will choose to stay in Orlando.

That said, it does come with a number of selling points that will appeal to the right person. For starters, it is obviously extremely quick and convenient to get to and from the airport. Many hotels in the area will even offer free shuttles.

This makes it ideal for anyone who is worried about missing their flight, who doesn’t want to drag their luggage all over town, or who simply wants to remain near the airport during their stay in Orlando for any other reason.

The other main selling point to staying in this part of town is the hotels themselves. For starters, the price is normally much lower than it would be somewhere like downtown Orlando. With plenty of motels and affordable accommodation, it gives everyone the chance to stay in Orlando, no matter their budget.

You will even find that the larger, fancier hotels will have a lower price tag than in downtown Orlando as well. For a little less convenient, it gives you the chance to stay in a hotel the calibre of which may normally be outside your price range.

Like I said at the start, spending your stay in Orlando around the airport won’t be for everyone, but it can provide a number of benefits for the right kind of traveler

Best places to stay near Orlando International Airport:

Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport Hotel Situated inside Orlando International Airport’s main terminal, this 4-star hotel is within an easy ride to attractions such as the Florida Mall, Walt Disney World Resort, and SeaWorld Orlando.

Marriott Orlando Airport Lakeside This hotel offers free scheduled shuttle services, also provides an outdoor and indoor swimming pool, and an on-site tavern. Attractions nearby are SeaWorld, Walt Disney World Resort, and Universal Orlando Resort.


Where should I stay in Orlando for the first time?

Southwest Orlando is the best place to stay in Orlando for first-time travelers due to its close proximity to the major theme parks such as Universal Studios, Epcot, and Walt Disney World.

What are the best areas to stay in Orlando?

Southwest Orlando, Downtown, South Eola, International Drive, Celebration, Lake Buena Vista, and Kissimmeeare the best areas to stay in Orlando because they are the most popular areas for tourists that offer a wide range of attractions and amenities.

Where to stay in Orlando without a car?

International Drive (I-Drive) is one of the best places to stay in Orlando without a car due to its easy access to Southwest Orlando, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, Aquatica, and Orlando Eye by I-Ride Trolley, lynx buses, and taxis.

Where should adults stay in Orlando?

Some of the best places to stay in Orlando for adults are: The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes* and Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort*

Read More:

In conclusion, Southwest, Downtown, South Eola, International Drive, Celebration, Lake Buena Vista, and Kissimmee are some of the best places to stay in Orland for tourists and first-time travalers. They offers a wide range of accommodations and activities for all budget travelers.

There is a reason people travel here from all over the world and that is because there truly is something to make everyone happy. Hopefully, you should now know exactly where to stay in Orlando, to ensure your trip is an experience of a lifetime. All that’s left is for you to go and start getting everything booked, so you can experience it all for yourself as soon as possible.

About Author: Linda Smith

I'm Linda Smith, the Hotel Expert, an experienced travel blogger who passionate about traveling. I'm here to share with you all my travel experiences and tips. I cover a wide range of travel topics, specializing in sharing information about the best areas, neighborhoods, and hotels in each city. I hope all these things will make your travel easier.

Leave a Comment