Whether it’s a trip for families, couples, single travelers or a group of friends, Orlando is the perfect destination thanks to incredible diversity that ensures unique experiences for every visitor. In short, you’ll never run out of things to do in Orlando — and you’ll make a lifetime of cherished memories while you’re at it! For instance, if thrill-seeking is your style, you won’t be able to get enough of the theme parks, water parks and attractions. There’s a lot more to discover, including dining, shopping, and ecotourism. You can also experience the destination with confidence, knowing that the theme parks, attractions, restaurants, nightlife establishments, retail centers and other things to do have rolled out enhanced cleaning and safety measures to help keep you protected. So, get out and explore it all — there’s no wrong way to experience Orlando!
History and Culture
To hear some people tell it, Orlando’s history didn’t begin until Walt Disney World® Resort opened in 1971 — but the fact is, the region’s rich past can be traced to the prehistoric era, with indigenous Americans, Spanish cattle ranchers, citrus growers, a historic African-American community, astronauts, visionaries and other trailblazers making their marks along the way.
Even the “modern” era dates to 1838, with the then-town of Orlando officially incorporating in 1875. Want to learn more? You can delve into Orlando’s origins and milestones at unique history centers and historical communities throughout the destination. Explore it all while you’re in Orlando for the 2022 World Forum on Early Care and Education!
African-American – One of the most fascinating aspects of Orlando’s history is its deep ties to the Civil Rights movement. Historic Eatonville, located 15 minutes west of Winter Park, played a key role and is a must-visit for history buffs. Incorporated in 1887, it’s one of the oldest African-American municipalities in the United States. What’s more, Eatonville was the childhood home of celebrated author Zora Neale Hurston (Their Eyes Were Watching God).
Today, Hurston is honored by the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts, aka The Hurston, which provides gallery space for artists of African descent. There’s no set admission fee, but donations are encouraged. Eatonville also hosts the annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities, aka Zora! Festival, a month-long celebration in January with several events that are free to attend.
Downtown Orlando is home to the Wells’Built Museum of African-American History and Culture, which was originally the historic Wells’Built Hotel and is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Today, it houses memorabilia of Orlando’s African-American community, exhibits about the Civil Rights movement, and African art and artifacts.
Constructed in 1921 by prominent African-American physician Dr. William M. Wells, the hotel offered lodging to African-American guests who were barred from Florida’s then-segregated hotels. Numerous famed musicians stayed at the Wells’Built during that era, including Ray Charles, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and others. The hotel was also listed in The Negro Travelers’ Green Book, an annual publication that began in the 1930s and served as the basis for the Oscar-winning 2018 film, Green Book.
Hispanic & Latino – Orlando has robust Hispanic and Latino communities, accounting for more than 25 percent of the population inside our city limits alone. Throughout the year, we honor these groups’ many contributions to local history and culture at vibrant, multifaceted festivals. April’s Puerto Rican Festival and Parade is one of the most popular of these events — no surprise given that more than half of Orlando’s Hispanic and Latino population originated in Puerto Rico. Held in downtown Orlando, the parade culminates with a celebration at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts’ outdoor Seneff Arts Plaza.
Other Hispanic and Latino cultural happenings of note include July’s Orlando Salsa Congress and October’s Festival Calle Orange. Furthermore, the City of Orlando and Orange County governments both commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15) with special events such as receptions, art exhibitions, the Orange County Mayor’s Cup Soccer Tournament and more.
Close to downtown Orlando, the Orlando Museum of Art has one of the region’s most extensive collections of historic Hispanic and Latino artifacts. Displayed as the Art of the Ancient Americas Collection, it consists of more than 900 works of art from more than 35 ancient cultures, including the Aztecs of central Mexico and the Inca of Peru. Of particular to note to anyone with an interest in Hispanic history are 160 Mexican Chupicuaro figurines — the most comprehensive museum collection of its kind in the southeastern U.S.
Spanish architecture is celebrated at Casa Feliz, an Andalusian-style masonry farmhouse that was commissioned in 1932. Located in Winter Park, about 15 minutes north of downtown Orlando, it’s available for private tours for groups of up to six people, but appointments must be made in advance.
Asian-American and Pacific Islander – Encompassing a wide range of cultural backgrounds, Orlando’s Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) population is richly diverse. One of the largest segments is our Vietnamese community, which grew as a result of the Vietnam War. As refugees settled in the area during the 1970s, they built homes, families, churches and businesses — including many stores that still exist in the Mills 50 district, a multicultural dining and nightlife area just north of downtown Orlando.
Today, the second and third generations of Orlando’s Vietnamese-American population carry on their ancestors’ traditions while branching out into all areas of Central Florida’s social, economic and political life. Their history and positive impact are celebrated at the annual Tet (aka Vietnamese Lunar New Year) Festival, held every winter at the Central Florida Fairgrounds.
About 15 minutes west of downtown, Orlando’s Chinatown is a collection of authentic Chinese restaurants and retailers. The centerpiece is a traditional Chinese arch known as a paifang or pailou, making it easy for visitors and locals alike to find this historic area.
Orlando is also home to numerous residents of Filipino, Korean, Japanese and Indian descent, among other Asian backgrounds. You’ll find their influences on local culture and history throughout the destination, including celebrations such as winter’s Central Florida Dragon Parade Lunar New Year Festival, October’s Orlando International Dragon Boat Festival and Asian Cultural Expo, and November’s Orlando Korean Festival, among others.
Must See Attractions
Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures – Located in Kissimmee near Walt Disney World, this attraction invites you to glide across the headwaters of the Florida Everglades at speeds up to 40 mph aboard six-passenger airboats that have been inspected and approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. During the 45-minute tour, you’ll encounter areas untouched by man and see a wide range of exotic wildlife. Night expeditions, which last an hour, are also available.
Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park – Practice your best Tarzan yell before heading to this attraction, which is located near Walt Disney World in Kissimmee. It features 97 challenges for climbers of every skill level, including swings, nets, ropes, a trapeze and other ways to show off. Safety is never an issue, either, as you’ll be securely clipped to a safety cable, and all guests receive a safety demonstration from trained instructors.
Bok Tower Gardens – Just 10 miles from LEGOLAND Florida, this is one of Florida’s first attractions and best-kept secrets. The National Historic Landmark was dedicated in 1929 as a gift of gratitude from Edward Bok, a humanitarian, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and world peace advocate. Bok Tower Gardens’ nearly 700 acres of citrus groves, woodland gardens, nature trails, conservation lands and endangered
Theme Parks –
Walt Disney World
One of Orlando’s biggest draws is our year-round sunny, mild weather — it is the Sunshine State, after all! What’s more, Central Florida maintains a comfortable average annual temperature of 72 degrees.
Between celebrity chef-driven restaurants, local James Beard honorees, family-friendly feasts, sleek lounges, dazzling nightclubs, sports-focused pubs, gourmet food trucks, breweries, wineries, and more, you will never run out of amazing things to eat and drink in Orlando — no matter your budget or preferences. You can also dine and celebrate with confidence thanks to enhanced health and safety measures at premier restaurants and nightspots, as well as at theme parks, attractions, accommodations, transportation providers, and other top businesses throughout the destination.
All visitors must use United States Dollars (USD) when paying in cash. Other cash currencies are not accepted. Visa and Mastercard ATM/debit cards/credit cards will work internationally. The easiest way to exchange foreign currency into USD is at the airport. However, when you exchange foreign currency at the airport, the rates are typically higher than other places. Your bank or financial institution may have information on where to find better rates.
Please note, some currency exchange booths at the airport may not exchange your foreign currency if your money is from a country that many travelers do not frequent. If you’re worried this might happen, then try to exchange your money back into another widely accepted currency, such as euros or Canadian dollars, before your flight to the U.S.
The United States Dollar is made up of 100 US cents. Coins are in denominations of 1 cent (penny), 5 cents (nickel), 10 cents (dime), 25 cents (quarter) Notes are in denominations $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100.
Tipping is voluntary but highly recommended. Tips range from 15% to 20% in restaurants, given that minimum wage is low, and tipping makes up for this. Before giving a tip, be sure to check that the tip wasn’t already included in the bill, especially if you’re dining with a party of 6 or more people.
Once you’ve reached Orlando, you can choose from a robust selection of public transportation, rental-car providers and even ride-share options such as Lyft and Uber, which can pick up and drop off at MCO, theme parks, attractions and everywhere else you’ll want to visit. You can also hop on the fun and affordable I-Ride Trolley, which runs on and around International Drive and costs a maximum of $2 per ride.
Area: 294.48 kilometers (113.7 square miles)
Population Density: 2,628 persons per square mile
GDP Per Capita: US $45,807