Many people are unsure of where to stay in Orlando when visiting Orlando. Luckily, in today’s article, I’ll look at the best places and show you the best areas to stay in Orlando. So, if you’re planning your own trip to visit Orlando, I’d highly suggest reading on.
Located in central Florida, Orlando is known as the theme park capital of the world. With countless major theme parks, such as Universal Studios, Disney world, and SeaWorld Orlando, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the east coast.
Best Areas To Stay In Orlando, Florida: Tips & Info
Before we begin, I want to give you some tips and info. These will be things that, if you keep them in mind while reading, should make deciding where to stay in Orlando as simple as possible.
For example, those who 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. This comes with additional selling points of its own, such as being home to the Orange County Convention centre and the marine parks run by SeaWorld.
On the other hand, you may be more interested in Disney World, which again leaves you with two options.
Celebration and Lake Buena Vista are just a short way from the resort. The former is ideal for those who want to save their money for when they’re in the park, while the latter offers some of the most relaxing accommodation options in the city.
For those who want to try and fit them all in, you even have Kissimmee as an option. Known as the gateway to Orlando, it is located between the Disney and Universal Studios parks, making it the most convenient place to stay in Orlando to travel to both.
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.
If you ensure you consider important points like these as you go, it should make narrowing your options as quick and easy as can be.FIND BEST HOTELS IN ORLANDO
Where To Stay In Orlando, Florida: Best Areas to Stay in Orlando
So, now you know exactly what you’re looking for while reading, I am going to show you what I believe are the 8 best areas to stay in Orlando. I will show you where each is, what it has to offer and who will benefit the most from staying there.
This should hopefully give you all the information you need to choose your ideal location.
- Downtown Orlando, where to stay in Orlando for first time
- South Eola, a popular tourist destination in Orlando
- Southwest Orlando, home to world-famous theme parks in Orlando
- International Drive, the best place to stay near Universal Studios
- Celebration, where to stay in Orlando to visit Walt Disney World
- Lake Buena Vista, a relaxing location on the outskirts of Disney World
- Kissimmee, the gateway to Orlando
- Airport Area
Best Areas to stay in Orlando map
1. Downtown Orlando, where to stay in Orlando for first time
Downtown Orlando offers everything you would expect from the downtown area of a major city. It is centrally located, features an incredible range of shops, bars, restaurants and hotels, and has enough attractions to keep even the fussiest of travellers 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.
This makes it an equally great place to stay in Orlando whether you are travelling 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.
Stay in Downtown Orlando if:
- You need to stay in Orlando for business
- You are attending an event at the Amway Center
- You are interested in the history of the city
- You want a great range of shops, bars, hotels, restaurants and amenities
2. South Eola, a popular tourist destination in Orlando
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 lightening 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 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 down time, without ever having to go too far from the centre 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 Ampitheatre
- You want to go to the Orlando farmer’s market
3. Southwest Orlando, home to world-famous theme parks in Orlando
Southwest Orlando is hands down the most convenient location to stay for those who want to be surrounded by a number of world-famous theme parks during their stay. There are at least 6 theme parks in the area, many of which will be 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.
Just down the road, 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.
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 want to visit the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter
- You want to visit one of the theme parks operated by Universal Studios
- You want to visit the Holy Land Experience
- You want to visit a smaller theme park, such as ICON Park or Fun Spot America Theme Parks
4. International Drive, best place to stay near Universal Studios
International drive is located just a short way south of Southwest Orlando. This makes it a great place to stay for anyone looking to visit the Universal Studios theme parks or the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter, without having to pay the premiums that hotels in that area usually cost.
However, its proximity to Southwest Orlando isn’t the only thing International Drive has going for it, as there are a number of attractions located within the district itself.
For starters, you have the Orange County Convention Centre. Opened in 1983 and covering 7,000,000 square feet, it is the second largest convention centre 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 looking for a slightly quieter, more affordable location, without being cut off from some of the most popular attractions during their stay in Orlando.
Stay in International Drive if:
- You want to visit one of the marine wildlife parks in the area
- You want to visit a theme park with a science theme
- You want to visit Madame Tussauds Orlando or Ripley’s Believe It Or Not
- You are attending a convention, event or exhibition at the Orange County Convention centre
- You want to visit the Universal Studios parks but stay in a more affordable location
5. Celebration, where to stay in Orlando to visit Walt Disney World
Most people who come to stay in Orlando for the theme parks are going to want to stay in Southwest Orlando. However, Celebration is the best spot for those primarily interested in the 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 a 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 favourite works of art come to life.
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
6. Lake Buena Vista, a relaxing location on the outskirts of Disney World
Our next destination is remarkably similar to the last, as it 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 a 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 want to visit Disney World but don’t want to stay in it
- You want a relaxing location
7. Kissimmee, the gateway to Orlando
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.
Its location outside the city makes it a great place to access some of the regions 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 travelling on a budget
- You prefer a slightly quieter location, outside of the city centre
- You want easy access to Orlando’s theme parks
8. Orlando Airport Area
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 convenience, 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 traveller
Stay in the Airport area if:
- You want to remain near Orlando International Airport during your stay in Orlando
- You want more affordable accommodation
- You want to stay at a level of hotel that may be out of your price range elsewhere in the city
- You want a free shuttle service to and from the airport
What is the best area to stay in Orlando?
Best area to stay in Orlando is downtown. Downtown Orlando offers everything you would expect from the downtown area of a major city
Where should adults stay in Orlando?
Some of the best hotels to stay in Orlando are: The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes***, Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort ***
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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.