Travel: Park the rain in magical Orlando

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I am planning a winter sun holiday with my husband and two children to Orlando. We are hoping to relax and chill out but also have the children entertained and see some of the sites. Could you recommend some places to visit and things to do during our trip?

I am planning a winter sun holiday with my husband and two children to Orlando. We are hoping to relax and chill out but also have the children entertained and see some of the sites. Could you recommend some places to visit and things to do during our trip?

Getting away from the wind and rain is a wonderful idea during these long winter months. Orlando is a perfect destination as you are almost guaranteed good weather and can spend your days exploring the city and having fun with your family.

The city is full of attractions which will keep the whole family entertained. Orlando is known for its many theme parks, with numerous parks located a short distance from the centre of the city. Universal Studios is a brilliant place to spend a day and will transport you into the action of some of your favourite movies and TV shows with rides and attractions to suit all ages. The extremely popular Universal Islands of Adventure is also located at Universal Studios Plaza and is home to the magical Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

SeaWorld Orlando is another of the city’s wondrous parks and will allow you to get up close and personal with an array of underwater dwellers. The One Ocean show is one of the park’s most attended exhibits and is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. If your children are a little older you may wish to take the plunge at Discovery Cove. Here visitors have the exciting opportunity to swim with dolphins, rays and tropical fish and hand-feed exotic birds. Reservations are generally required.

For the history buffs in the family, the CPL. Larry E. Smedley National Vietnam War Museum on Tanner Road is a great place to spend an afternoon. The museum is home to a vast collection of artefacts, equipment and displays documenting the Vietnam and subsequent wars affecting the USA.

For contemporary art in Orlando, the Jai Gallery located in the Church Street Exchange building in downtown Orlando is a beautiful place to visit and exhibits a range of contemporary works and also offers visitors the chance to purchase pieces of work. The gallery hosts a number of special events throughout the calendar year on music, fashion, photography and performance art.

For an afternoon of retail therapy, The Florida Mall is central Florida’s largest shopping destination with over 250 stores including Saks Fifth Avenue, Hollister Co, MAC and Victoria’s Secret. The mall also has an extensive range of dining options if you need to recharge your batteries.

Orlando is a melting pot of cuisines with so many restaurants drawing inspiration from around the globe dotted throughout the city. Hemingway’s on Grand Cypress Boulevard is one of Orlando’s best seafood restaurants. The restaurant pays homage to Key West’s most famous resident with sepia photos of the author and his fishing trophies lining the walls. With a fresh grill and wine bar, Seasons 52 is another of Orlando’s great dining options.

Where to Stay

Waldorf Astoria Orlando (*****)

Prices start from €180 per room per night on Hotels.com

*Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking.

The luxury Waldorf Astoria, located in downtown Orlando, is a family-friendly resort close to many of the city’s attractions including Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park. The hotel features a full-service spa and four outdoor swimming pools. The Waldorf Astoria also features 12 onsite restaurants for guests to enjoy along with a coffee shop. All guest rooms are fully air-conditioned with LCD TV’s with DVD players.

The Villas of Grand Cypress (****)

Prices start from €160 per room per night on Hotels.com

*Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking.

Located a short distance from a number of Orlando’s attractions including Universal Studios and SeaWorld, The Villas of Grand Cypress features a 45-hole golf course with premium clubs available for guests. Two heated swimming pools, spa tubs, heated waterfalls and water slides also feature to enhance your stay. The hotel offers a number of dining options including the continental Nine18 restaurant for evening dining and the club restaurant with a more relaxed sports bar atmosphere. The villas themselves feature private patios and entrances. Villas also include complimentary wireless and TV internet access and iPod docking stations.

The Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa (****)

Prices start from €90 per room per night on Hotels.com

*Prices are subject to availability at the time of booking.

The Buena Vista Palace Hotel and Spa is located on the Walt Disney World Resort property in Lake Buena Vista. The hotel features three heated pools, hot tub, sauna, lighted tennis court, basketball court and sand volleyball court. The Buena Vista also is home to the Kay Casperson Lifestyle Spa & Boutique which offers numerous treatments including massage and hair styling. Guestrooms include refrigerators and coffeemakers. Rooms are equipped with flat-screen televisions and complimentary high-speed wired and wireless internet access.

For more information and travel tips on planning your holiday visit www.Hotels.com or call 1800 55 3338 to wake up happy on your holiday!