A couple of weeks back, I took the girls out of preschool and we went on a train up to London, a journey they both adore. It was the Highspeed into St Pancras which I love as it saves so much time.
Our destination was Holborn, just a couple of stops on the Piccadilly Line and our appointment was, very excitingly, a morning with Visit Orlando, the sunny, fun destination in Florida that most of us associate with theme parks.
Visit Orlando is the tourist board for that enticing part of the world and time and time again they come up against tourists who think of them as theme parks and that’s it so, they want to get the message out there that there’s loads more to do. In fact, there’s something for everyone from the youngest members of the family to the oldest.
Whilst we enjoyed lattes and croissants at the Aveda Institute, Amy introduced us to the magical wonders in Orlando and of course, like any girl who knows what’s best she told us about the shopping…
Did you know that Orlando has now surpassed Miami in the shopping stakes? It’s now the 4th best place to shop in the USA. 12 shopping malls, top department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and one of the largest outlet locations of the South East, they even have a tour called Shop Orlando and I’m assured there is something for purses of every size.
Then we talked about spas or more specifically, pampering yourself. The City Beautiful lives up to its name with internationally known brands like the Waldorf Astoria by Guerlain or the Ritz-Carlton Spa, many of them also having menus for children too!
Enjoying a fabulous manicure – thanks Visit Orlando :)
It seems the perfect place to point out there are numerous golf courses should the man of your life not want to enjoy some pampering. Like I said, there is something for everyone.
Of course, one thing you can enjoy as a couple or a family is the dining out. Casual dining, Upscale Dining even themed dining are all on offer. I remember one of our favourite places to eat on our last visit to Orlando was the House of Blues in Downtown Disney where I ate my first ever Jambalaya. Amy told me of a Pirate’s Dinner Adventure which is perfect for a swashbuckling family evening, coined as the world’s most interactive dinner show.
Light on the bar in The House of Blues in Disney Downtown
Top tips for planning a visit to Orlando
- Book car hire from the UK to make sure you have the correct insurance cover.
- Quietest time to visit is October half term.
- July – August is VERY hot, remember to drink water, wear a sunhat and cover-up with sun cream.
- If visiting with little ones in the summer, visit the parks early in the morning and in the late afternoon.
- Book Swim with Dolphins before you go, they only take 1000 people max per day.
So yes, Orlando is home to the world’s best theme parks and it has water parks where you can swim with the dolphins but there is also plenty of nightlife and more entertainment than you can shake your hips at. There is a huge range of sports and recreation; hot air balloon rides or flying an open-cockpit 1930’s biplane. There’s plenty of art, history and culture and spa and wellness too, heavens you can even get married there!
Now there’s a thought to put to my other half…
Disclosure – Visit Orlando treated me to coffee and croissants at the Aveda Institute. They also treated me to a fabulous Aveda manicure and a cupcake (see top photo, do you like the colour?) but I checked out the website and I am the one dreaming of returning to Orlando one day with my girls, did you know the Magic Kingdom has had a complete revamp? *sigh* one day I’ll get there too.