Orlando is the sixth largest city in Florida, and home to numerous theme parks, including the world famous Walt Disney World Resort. Orlando is also only 45 minutes from Port Canaveral, a major cruise ship port that plays host to at least three major cruise lines and over ten different cruise ships, including the Disney Cruise Line's two ships.
Orlando has a hot, sub-tropical climate that is divided into two main seasons, the warm season (from late spring through early fall), and the cool season. The warm season is hot and very humid. The cool season is more temperate and comfortable. The cool season does occasionally see temperatures below freezing, typically over night. On average, the temperature dips below freezing in Orlando about three times a year.
The area that is now Orlando was originally settled by Native Americans. The first permanent pioneer settlement of Orlando happened in 1842. Settlement did not expand much until after the Third Seminole War in the 1850s. Orlando was incorporated as a town in 1875. At that time, Orlando had 85 residents. Orlando became a popular resort in the late 1800's and early 1900s. Other key dates in Orlando's history include:
- In 1838, the U.S. Army built Fort Gatlin south of present day Orlando to protect settlers from attacks by Indians.
- In 1880, the South Florida Railroad extended its line into Orlando.
- In 1970, the Orlando International Airport was built.
- In October of 1971, Walt Disney World opened.
Orlando Arts and Culture
Orlando is more than just theme parks. It is also home to many arts and cultural attractions and activities. Orlando offers museums, the performing arts, and much more. Some of Orlando's more notable museums and gardens/arboretums include:
- The Central Florida Zoological Park
- The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
- The Cornell Fine Arts Museum
- The Harry P. Leu Gardens
- The Historic Bok Sanctuary
- The Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Central Florida
- The Orlando Science Center
In addition to the numerous shows staged by the many theme parks, for patrons of the performing arts, Orlando has even more to offer. Some of the more notable attractions include:
- The Imperial Symphony Orchestra
- The Maitland Art Center
Orlando also offers numerous festivals and outdoor music events, including the Annual Concert Under the Stars at Historic Bok Sanctuary, Date Night at the Garden’s at the Harry P. Leu Gardens, the Florida Music Festival, the Spring Jazz Stroll, and more.
Orlando Sports and Leisure
Orlando offers a nice assortment of professional sports to keep sports fans happy. Orlando is home to the following major sports teams:
- Baseball - The Minor League Baseball (MiLB), Daytona Cubs play an hour northeast in Daytona Beach, and the Brevard County Manatees play an hour southeast in Viera. The Cubs are a Class A Advanced affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, and the Manatees are a Class A Advanced affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.
- Basketball - The National Basketball League (NBA) Orlando Magic.
- Football - The Arena Football League (AFL) Orlando Predators.
- Hockey - The Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) Florida Seals play 30 minutes south in Kissimmee.
- Soccer - The United Soccer League (USL) USL Premier Development League Ajax Orlando Prospects.
Orlando is also home to two NCAA College Bowl games, the Capitol One Bowl, and the Champs Sports Bowl.
Orlando's climate makes it ideal for outdoor activities. Orlando is close to the coast and all of the associated water sports activities. Orlando also has numerous tennis and sport complexes, horseback riding, Everglades airboat rides, and much more.
Of course, Orlando has enough theme parks to fill any leisure time schedule for a very long time. Orlando is home to Busch Gardens, Cypress Gardens, Discovery Cove, Gatorland, SeaWorld Orlando, Universal Orlando Resort, the Walt Disney World Resort, Wet 'n Wild, and more.
Orlando "Must See" Attractions
Orlando has attractions too numerous to do justice in a simple list. Some of Orlando's more unique attractions include:
- Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in nearby Maitland
- Busch Gardens
- Cirque du Soleil-La Nouba
- Cypress Gardens
- Discovery Cove
- SeaWorld Orlando
- Universal Orlando Resort
- Walt Disney World Resort
Orlando at Night
Nightlife in Orlando is centered in the downtown area, and around the major theme parks. In downtown Orlando, one can find comedy clubs, dance clubs, martini bars, pubs, sophisticated lounges, and sports bars. Universal CityWalk at Universal Orlando Resort features dining, shopping, movie theatres and five nightclubs. Downtown Disney also offers movies, dining, shopping, and seven clubs at Downtown Disney's Pleasure Island.