Updated August 25, 2020
Orlando Florida is strategically located in the center of Florida.
When Walt Disney was looking at places in the 1960's for his new theme park, he observed that Orlando Fla is in the center of the state and served by major highways.
This is still true all these years later, even more so.
The city is at the intersection of I-4 and the Florida Turnpike, and is surrounded by one of the country's greatest toll systems.
Other major roads that go through town are US-17, US-92, SR-50 and US-441.
It has saddened me for years that most of the millions of tourists who visit central Florida's theme parks each year have never seen the real Orlando.
Walt Disney World, for example, is almost 20 miles west of downtown Orlando Florida.
International Drive, Lake Buena Vista, Osceola County and the area around the theme parks has expanded to serve the tourists. But it is not the real Orlando, Florida. Orlando's modern history began in 1838.
In modern times, Martin Marietta opened an aerospace plant in Orlando in 1956 and quickly became a major employer. The aerospace program at nearby Cape Kennedy also boomed in those years and many Orlando residents drove to the coast every day to work on the "man on the moon" project.
And of course, in October 1971, Walt Disney World opened 20 miles southwest of Orlando and changed the course of history in central Florida.
The Beachline Expressway allows easy access to Port Canaveral, an important cruise ship terminal.
Because of its proximity to the Space Coast near the Kennedy Space Center, many high-tech companies have shifted to the Orlando Florida area. Many of them also like being close to the research and teaching resources of the University of Central Florida.
But the old charm of Orlando Fla still remains in spite of this commercial progress.
It is a city bejeweled by lakes. The street grid pattern is constantly meandering around lakes. The streets are lined and canopied with ancient oaks draped with Spanish moss.
A GPS in Orlando is useful if you know the address of your destination. If not, just enjoy the scenic ride.
Orange Avenue is the beautiful main north-south drag in Orlando. It starts in the rural areas south of town near Taft and passes through the busy downtown business district on its way to Winter Park.
Many of the neighborhoods surrounding downtown Orlando were created during the 1920's land boom. Most of these areas have been "gentrified" with wonderful streetscaping.
Private residents have restored many of the houses, and these neighborhoods are great places to live and visit. College Park, Delaney Park,Lake Eola Heights, Lancaster Park, Thornton Park and Orwin Manor are just a few of these lovely Orlando Florida communities.
Each of these neighborhoods is a quiet oasis close to vibrant downtown Orlando.
Another oasis is Lake Eola in the center of downtown Orlando. This lake and its beautiful surrounding public park have always been a part of City's culture. A beautiful fountain in the center of the lake is lighted at night, and a bandshell offers a venue for musical concerts.
Orlando's slogan before Disney was "Orlando, The City Beautiful".
It still resonates today.
ORLANDO FLORIDA HOTELS
The major concentration of hotels in Orlando is around Walt Disney World, SeaWorld and Universal Studios. There are many family hotels in Orlando, fine places to stay if you are visiting the theme parks.
I will also tell you about some nice places to stay in Orlando that are a bit removed from the parks and their activity.
ORLANDO, FLORIDA RESTAURANTS
There are many fine restaurants at or near the major Orlando theme parks. On this website, however, I will tell you about some of the lesser known but popular Orlando restaurants. If you happen to be a member of Club Corp, the Citrus Club in Orlando is, in my opinion, one of the best restaurants in town. It is a private club, or I would have it listed below with my favorite Orlando restaurants.
ORLANDO FLORIDA ATTRACTIONS
Other websites can tell you everything you need to know about Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld and the other major Central Florida tourist attractions.
I will focus instead on a few Orlando places that the average tourist will never see.
Orlando Florida Day Trips is a page on this website that lists dozens of informational articles about towns and attractions within 100 miles of Orlando.