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8 Ways to Fall in Love with Central Florida

It’s time for Orlando residents to fall in love with their city all over again. How do you do this? Spend a weekend at a local hotel, play at the fun attractions that we’re lucky enough to live near and savor a meal at some of the area’s top restaurants.

Welcome Home

Home is where the heart is, but it’s also fun to spend a night or two away. You can do just that without going too far by planning a staycation right here in Orlando.

Wyndham Grand Orlando Bonnet Creek: Just a short drive to the Walt Disney World Resort, Wyndham Grand Orlando Bonnet Creek offers a luxurious staycation experience. Pamper yourself with a treatment at the Blue Harmony Spa, which is open Wednesday through Sunday; relax in the pool; play miniature golf or shuffleboard; stroll along the walking path along the lake; and have a special meal at one of the on-site restaurants. It’s recommended that guests call ahead for availability.

Summer Bay Orlando Resort: From the moment you check in, you can relax and indulge in your vacation. Once settled into your room, unwind with an adult beverage at one of three pool bars, swim in one of six heated swimming pools, play a game of miniature golf and more. While the proximity to local attractions makes this an ideal staycation location, so, too, do the on-site dining options. From poolside treats to dine-in restaurants, you can plan a meal out without going too far. The resort’s one-, two- and three-bedroom accommodations also include a fully equipped kitchen so you can prepare meals as a family in the comfort of your room.

Margaritaville Resort Orlando: This mega-resort destination in Kissimmee offers guests two accommodation options to choose from – the Margaritaville Hotel, which features upscale amenities and balconies in each of 186 guestrooms or the Margaritaville Cottages, private residences that offer the comforts of home. Both options provide a premium experience and friendly, genuine island-inspired service. Once you’re settled, the soothing spa, beach club and kids club provide something for everyone. Afterward, head to Sunset Walk to shop, dine and be entertained at the Promenade or dive into adventure at Island H2O Live!

Encore Resort at Reunion: Encore Resort at Reunion is a master-planned vacation rental community that is located only seven miles from Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort and other local theme parks, attractions and shopping destinations. Encore offers larger groups and families all of the services and amenities of a luxury resort with the comforts and privacy of a home. On-site amenities for a serene family escape include gourmet restaurants, outdoor sports facilities, three championship golf courses, in-home spa services, fitness center, water park and more.

Be a Tourist in Your Own Backyard

No matter where you look, you will find fun for the whole family across the Central Florida area. From theme parks to educational attractions, you’ll be entertained while supporting local businesses.

ICON Park: This 20-acre, walkable entertainment destination in the heart of Orlando’s International Drive. A perfect place to ride, dine, drink and explore, ICON Park has more than 40 restaurants, funky bars, boutique shops and can’t-miss attractions, all anchored by The Wheel, which stands 400 feet — 40 stories — in the air. Guests at ICON Park can visit SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, Madame Tussauds Orlando, Arcade City, 7D Dark Ride Adventure and StarFlyer Orlando, the world’s tallest swing ride. ICON Park is now offering an all-access Play Pass that is full of family fun at their attractions and that offers discounts at some restaurant and retail spaces.

Gatorland: A 110-acre theme park that combines Old Florida charm with exciting experiences, Gatorland features a variety of exciting exhibits and entertainment. The park also features thousands of alligators and crocodiles, a breeding marsh with observation tower, a free-flight aviary, nature walk, a petting zoo, educational wildlife programs and one-of-a-kind shows including Gator Jumparoo, Alligators-Legends of the Swamp and Up-close Encounters. Popular adventure experiences inside the park include the Screamin’ Gator Zipline and Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure. A new character, the Social Distancing Skunk Ape, is on hand to remind guests to stay 6 feet apart and wash their hands.

Orlando Science Center: This Orlando favorite reopened recently with new hours so local kids can learn and play in exhibit halls such as NatureWorks, DinoDigs and KidsTown. The museum will be open Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday from 12-5 p.m., and it will be closed each Wednesday for deep cleaning. While all programming is currently still being offered, staff will be present in all exhibit halls to facilitate the experience and to sanitize between guests. The Orlando Science Center encourages visitors to purchase tickets online, as limited capacity could lead to certain days to fill up.

There’s so much fun to be had right here at home, and this is the perfect season to fall in love with Florida – and your hometown – once again.

Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month Extended

Visit Orlando recently announced that its Magical dining promotion will be extended through Oct. 31. That means you have more time to enjoy a three-course meal at some of Orlando’s best restaurants for only $35. One dollar from each meal will benefit Feed the Need Florida, a program assists individuals struggling to access healthy food during the COVID-19 crisis.

From Winter Park to Orlando’s tourism areas, you will find Magical Dining menus that feature each restaurant’s top dishes. Some of the best bang-for-your-buck options include Jaleo at Disney Springs, Del Friscos’ Double Eagle Steak House on International Drive and Sharks Underwater Grill at SeaWorld (you can even enter the park after your meal). Also enjoy local favorites from the Ravenous Pig in Winter Park, Soco in Thornton Park and more.

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Written by Lyndsay Fogarty

Lyndsay Fogarty has had many roles at Central Florida Lifestyle, working her way from intern to contributing writer to managing editor. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication where she earned her degree in journalism. Along the way, she has learned that teamwork and dedication to your craft will get you far, and a positive outlook on the present will get you even farther.

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