Sun-soaked Orlando is a year-round destination for all types of fun seekers, whether you’re traveling with friends or family (or solo). With an average high between 70 to 75 degrees from December through February, winter is prime time to experience all the exciting things to do in Orlando, including theme park hopping, exploring museums and cultural attractions, and enjoying seasonal events.
Orlando has some of the world’s best theme parks. The most well-known, Walt Disney World, encompasses four: Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios—all of which offer their own distinctive experiences. Mingle with storybook princesses at Cinderella’s castle at the Magic Kingdom; go nose to nose with African elephants on safari at Animal Kingdom and fly your own Millennium Falcon at Hollywood Studio’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge area. If you’re visiting from early November through early January, the parks are decked out in stunning holiday decor, a bucket-list sight that will delight both kids and adults. The parks also host an array of dazzling events, including the Epcot International Festival of the Holidays and Minnie’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
At Universal Studios Florida, heart-pounding attractions based on blockbuster films like Fast & Furious, Men in Black—and of course, the Harry Potter series attract movie buffs from near and far. Don’t miss riding the Hogwarts Express and finding your perfect wand at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Or spend a day (or two) at SeaWorld, which has entertained visitors with aquatic encounters and themed rides since 1973. Designed for youngsters age 2 to 12, Legoland Florida Resort also has over 50 rides, shows and attractions inspired by the colorful, interconnecting blocks.
Art, Culture, and History
While Orlando is known for its theme parks and entertainment centers, there’s a lot more to discover beyond these popular playlands, including a bevy of cultural activities. Visit the Orlando Museum of Art, which is known for its vast collection of works by artists from America and across the world. Don’t miss the Art of the Ancient Americas collection, an exhibit featuring more than 900 works and objects from more than two dozen Latino and Hispanic cultures. Or check out the small but mighty Wells’Built Museum of African American History and Culture, a space that houses the memorabilia of Orlando’s Black community and displays on the civil rights movement and African art.
With a bounty of shopping opportunities, Orlando is a paradise for those looking to upgrade their wardrobes or pick up souvenirs. Popular spots to spend include Orlando International Premium Outlets—the largest in Florida with shops like Armani, Coach and J. Crew Factory—and Disney Springs, home to a mix of Disney-centric retailers and luxury boutiques. To peruse locally owned collections, venture outside of the tourism district to streets in Ivanhoe Village or College Park for vintage, antique, and indie finds and Audubon Park for locally made goods and artisanal foods.
If strolling natural landscapes is more your speed, take in some fresh air at the Lake Apopka North Shore, a section of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. Because many winged beauties migrate south for the winter, central Florida is an excellent place for birding. In fact, over 300 of species of birds have been spotted in and around the picturesque wetlands area, including great blue herons, black-bellied whistling ducks and greater barn owls (also look for river otters and bobcats).
From celebrity-chef-led restaurants to family-owned joints, there is no shortage of spots to satiate your appetite in the city. Savor beautifully prepared sushi and sashimi at Seito Sushi Baldwin Park; tuck into swordfish, salmon, and other fresh-caught Florida seafood at the Osprey; or go for soul food favorites like braised oxtails, fried chicken, and meatloaf at Nikki’s Place. Or book at table at Jaleo by José Andrés in Disney Springs, a refined eatery that reflects Spain’s regional diversity via a selection of tapas, paella, and other polished fare.