Orlando is since long home to Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. More recently in time, Harry Potter was added to the prominent list of characters that call Orlando their home. But where to stay in Orlando for the best experience?
Staying in Lake Buena Vista gives you the best access to Disney World. Other options for where to stay when visiting Orlando are International Drive, Kissimmee and Downtown Orlando.
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Where to stay overview
- Lake Buena Vista – Best for Disney
- I-Drive – The entertainment strip
- Kissimmee – Peacefulness
- Downtown Orlando – Old Orlando
Lake Buena Vista, FL – The best place to stay in Orlando for Disney
Lake Buena Vista is the formal postal address of Walt Disney World. In the area of Orlando you stay right next to where Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot are located.
In Lake Buena Vista you even find Disney resorts, to make your Orlando stay a full Disney experience. But many of the big hotel chains also have hotels in Buena Vista if you look for more neutral Orlando lodging.
To cover the shopping need Disney Springs is located in Lake Buena Vista. And Disney Springs is not just a regular shopping center. It’s a themed shopping, dining and entertainment center, with a beautiful waterfront location.
For additional shopping Florida Mall is only a 20-minute drive from Orlando hotels in Lake Buena Vista. And for more theme parks it takes roughly the same to reach Universal Studios.
All in all, Lake Buena Vista is for the visitor who wants to focus on Disney World and have the Disney experience 24/7. At Orlando hotels in Lake Buena Vista you stay adjacent to Disney’s theme park and even have Disney Springs for shopping and other entertainment right at your doorsteps.
Pick Lake Buena Vista for: Orlando accommodation at Disney World.
International Drive/Southwest Orlando, FL – Stay with the entertainment scene nearby
International Drive is 11 miles long (18 km), and the street is lined with Orlando hotels, restaurants, shops, nightlife and attractions. So the area is a great option for where to stay in Orlando to be close to the city’s wide range of entertainment.
The attractions on International Drive include amusement parks, offbeat museums, wax exhibitions, escape rooms, virtual reality attractions and a huge observation wheel. Orlando’s main tourist strip is so diverse that it has something to offer for anyone.
I-Drive, as it’s also called, is located very strategically between Lake Buena Vista with Walt Disney World and the Universal parks. Therefore it’s very easy to get to the theme parks from Orlando hotels on International Drive. And for maximum convenience many of the hotels on I-Drive even offer shuttle service to the parks.
In short, on International Drive you base yourself on the biggest tourist street in Orlando. It’s a great choice for where to stay in Orlando to be close to a wide range of attractions. The location between Disney and Universal also makes it easy to visit both from International Drive.
Pick International Drive for: Access to entertainment and theme parks.
Kissimmee, FL – Peaceful Orlando accommodation
Kissimmee is a small city that is located a short distance south of Orlando. In Kissimmee you find a more peaceful atmosphere, compared to other areas to stay in Orlando.
In Kissimmee you find many villa communities and a more spread out environment. That means that you need to drive to get around if you pick Kissimmee for where to stay in Orlando.
As Kissimmee is located a drive away from theme parks and entertainment, it’s often possible to find more affordable hotel rates in the area. So Kissimmee is also an option for where to stay when visiting Orlando on a budget.
To sum up, Kissimmee is a great choice for where to stay in Orlando if you look for a more spread out living some distance away from all the action. Just be prepared that you will need to drive from your Orlando accommodation in Kissimmee to get to all the theme parks and entertainment.
Pick Kissimmee for: A peaceful Orlando area.
Downtown Orlando, FL – The place to stay in Orlando if you don’t come for theme parks
I-Drive is the main entertainment strip in Orlando, but it’s in downtown that you find the city’s heart and soul. In Downtown Orlando you can catch a break from the otherwise seemingly endless theme park atmosphere in other parts of the city.
Downtown Orlando is the option for where to stay in Orlando that is located furthest away from Disney World. From Downtown Orlando to Lake Buena Vista it’s 18 miles (29 km) and about 30 minutes by car. But the downtown area has much else to offer.
Orlando became a city in 1885 and the original railroad depot still iconicly stands in the center of downtown. In Downtown Orlando you also find local boutiques, Lake Eola Park, top restaurants and a fun nightlife scene for those late nights out.
For a more educational approach Orlando Science Centre is located just outside downtown. The museum has become an institution for its efforts to bring science to the people.
All in all, the downtown area is not the best area to stay in Orlando if you come for theme parks. But downtown is a great choice for accommodation if you look for a more authentic Orlando stay with other fun things to do.
Pick Downtown Orlando for: An authentic Orlando stay.
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Where to stay in Orlando FAQ
Here you find the answers to some frequently asked questions about where to stay in Orlando, Florida.
Lake Buena Vista is the best area to stay in Orlando for Disney World. In contrast Orlando’s entertainment strip International Drive offers a wider range of entertainment. The Kissimmee area is great for a more peaceful and spread out stay. Finally, Downtown is the best area to stay in Orlando for a more authentic visit without focus on the theme parks.
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