Dubbed as the Disney capital of the world, Orlando is the culmination of everything great Central Florida has to offer. From the plethora of theme parks to enjoy and the crazy nightlife to experience, Orlando definitely lands the top of my list when it comes to the liveliest cities in the world. In this blog, I will be recommending accommodation and neighborhoods where to stay in Orlando according to your budget and area of interest. Whether it be luxury hotels or Airbnbs, I’ve got you covered!
Orlando, FL, is the central hub of iconic international theme parks such as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, but there is so much more to it than just that. It is also one of the world’s most-visited cities by tourists – and for a good reason! Orlando offers something for everyone, so don’t worry if theme parks are not your jig. It’s a city filled with fun, life, and fellow tourists like you after all!
Let’s find out more about Orlando and my hand-picked recommendations for places to stay during your escape to the City Beautiful.
- If you are in a hurry
- 1. Southwest Orlando – where to stay for first-timers
- 2. Downtown – where to stay in Orlando for nightlife
- 3. Celebration – where to stay in Orlando for Disney World
- 4. Kissimmee – where to stay in Orlando for budget travelers
- 5. Thornton Park – the coolest neighborhood in Orlando
- Frequently asked questions about Orlando
If you are in a hurry
If you are in a rush to choose where to stay in Orlando, then this list will be your best friend. All of these properties are located in the city center, which will give you easy access to the most beautiful places to see in Orlando:
Grand Bohemian Hotel
Best luxury hotel
Bright Modern Apartment
An Airbnb with amazing reviews
Courtyard by Marriott
Best value for money
Fairfield Inn & Suites
Best affordable accommodation in the center
Since Orlando is such a spread out city, here is a map to help you visualize the 5 great neighborhoods that I will be talking about in this post!
1. Southwest Orlando – where to stay for first-timers
When you think of Orlando, the first thing that comes to mind is its iconic theme parks, beautiful beach resorts, and never-ending choices for entertainment and excitement. If it is your first time visiting Orlando, Florida, then the Southwest is going to the best location if you want to be near everything it has to offer as it encompasses the area, which is home to Florida’s world-famous theme parks. From Universal Studios to Walt Disney World Resort, it goes without saying that this area has a lot of fun imbued in it.
After just a 20-minute drive from the downtown area, you will find this magical land filled with hotels, resorts, and other attractions. That’s right, even if you don’t feel like visiting a different theme park every day, there are plenty of other shops, parks, and restaurants for you to enjoy during your time in Southwest Orlando.
Being one of the most prominent entertainment destinations in the United States, of course, there are a lot of hotels for you to choose from. If you want to stay inside Walt Disney World, the Four Seasons is absolutely your best choice. Otherwise, here are the best ones for each price range.
This luxury 4-star hotel will give you possibly the best eagle’s eye view of the magnificent theme park fireworks at night. If that’s not enough, the resort is located on 500 lush tropical acres of land featuring countless pools, fountains, lounge areas, and even a lazy river giving you a real beach resort feel. Wyndham grand also offers daily Disney Theme Park Shuttle Service, but do you really even need to leave with everything the hotel has to offer?
Other accommodation options in Southwest Orlando
Things to do in Southwest Orlando
- Experience the aquatic world at Seaworld Orlando just a little further south
- Live your magical fantasies at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- Dine-in at one of the hundreds of restaurants within the parks along International Drive
- Relax and chill while you play at the MetroWest Golf Course
- Complete your day with a fireworks show at Walt Disney World Resort in Celebration
- Explore the attractions at Universal Studios Orlando
- Make the trip to Icon Park
- Ride some water slides at Universal’s Volcano Bay
2. Downtown – where to stay in Orlando for nightlife
Downtown Orlando is strategically located in the heart of the city. As the city center, it is the perfect place to stay to unwind with lively music, great entertainment venues bustling with friendly Orlandoans (people who live in Orlando).
Though it is somewhat far from the main attractions of Southwest and celebration (20-30 mins drive), you will still be overwhelmed with things to do and see Downtown. If you are the type who wants to party with the locals and experience real-life fun in Orlando, then this neighborhood is perfect for you. Needless to say, it’s filled with good bars, clubs, and restaurants as well as the usual shopping and business district.
Of course, Downtown Orlando is not only for fun and parties! Here you can enjoy the city’s art and theatre scene as well as the beautiful nature of Lake Eola. Lastly, don’t miss an afternoon stroll down the historic Church Street to really capture the city’s downtown vibe.
A stunning 4* hotel with a spacious swimming pool, bar, and a fitness center. Located in the arts district just south of the beautiful Lake Eola, this elegant hotel has everything you need for a superb stay in Downtown Orlando
Other accommodation options in Orlando Downtown
Things to do in Downtown Orlando
- Take a stroll and digest the city’s beauty, starting at Church Street
- Be one with the music and nightlife at EVE Orlando and Wall Street Plaza
- Take a swan boat around Lake Eola
- Travel through time at the Orange County Regional History Center
- Snap a picture with the street art in the Mills 50 District
- Check out CityArts
- Catch a show at the SAK Comedy Lab
- Finish the night with a drink at Lizzy McCormack’s Irish Pub
3. Celebration – where to stay in Orlando for Disney World
With a name like ‘Celebration,’ it isn’t that hard to guess that it’s a place to stay if you want to have fun – especially with your family! Celebration encompasses everything fun and family-friendly there is to Orlando. This area was initially developed by the Walt Disney Company, so it’s located just 5 miles south of the park (a 5-minute drive). Since 1930, it has been the go-to place for anyone who wants to be charmed by the magic of Florida’s theme parks.
This is definitely my best pick if you want to travel to Orlando (or maybe even Florida at this point) if you have kids! Every single member of your family will appreciate its cheerful vibe and soft tones. It is also ideally placed beside Walt Disney World and Epcot, making it super convenient if this is the main reason for your visit to Orlando. Not only that, but it is also sprawling with cafes, golf clubs, restaurants, and shops for you to enjoy after a thrilling experience at the parks.
P.S. I recommend checking out this post if you are looking for things to do in Orlando with kids.
Sitting at the edge of Lake Rianhard, this beauty of a hotel achieves a luxurious look with its decadent facade, deluxe room, outdoor pool, shuttle service, and free wifi. With design features from another century and rooms with balconies overlooking the neighborhood, it is a perfect hotel in Orlando for you and your family
Other accommodation options in Celebration
Things to do in Celebration
- Check out all the abundance of neighboring theme parks and resorts
- Browse the variety of shops, boutiques, parks, and many more
- Soak up the small-town atmosphere in Old Town
- Take your family to another realm at the Disney Boardwalk
- Close the day with a boom while watching the fireworks at Walt Disney World
- Catch an event as ESPN
- Try your skill at the Celebration Golf Course
- Head north to check out Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
4. Kissimmee – where to stay in Orlando for budget travelers
The Kissimmee neighborhood is found just east of Celebration, a 20-25 minute drive to Walt Disney World and 30 mins drive to downtown. It’s the perfect destination for those who want to be within reach of Universal Studios and the other theme parks of Orlando while not necessarily partaking in the noisy lifestyle of Orlando Downtown every day. It’s also a good option for budget travelers looking for accommodation that offers the most bang for your buck.
In Kissimmee, you will find many hotels and resorts that offer more space and amenities for comparably lower prices to the other areas mentioned above. Here you will also find several resorts that offer the chance to relax by the pool without the constant Disney hype, something you won’t find in Celebration or Downtown Orlando, Florida.
While it’s easy to see Kissimmee as a mere access point for the notable locations of Orlando, Kissimme is actually its own city and not officially part of Orlando. This town has its own charms, like the beautiful Kissimmee Lakefront Park.
This modern luxury hotel offers guests a delicious daily breakfast along with comfortable rooms, a relaxing outdoor pool, and lakeside views. Enjoy the breeze from your balcony or enjoy the clean bathrooms after a long day of exploring the surrounding attractions
Other accommodation options in Kissimmee
Things to do in Kissimmee
- If you’re into cozy stops in the morning, then Susan’s Courtside Cafe is the perfect start
- Take a look at what Kissimmee has to offer with its variety of lakes and parks
- See the evolution of aviation at Kissimmee Air Museum
- Get out and travel to Orlando Downtown
- Spend the entire day at an Orlando theme park
- Visit Gator land to learn about reptiles
- Check out the Kissimmee Air Museum
- Snap a picture of the Monument Of States
- Explore the Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek
- Go ice skating at the Ice Factory of Central Florida
5. Thornton Park – the coolest neighborhood in Orlando
Less than a mile east of Downtown Orlando sits Thornton Park – a residential neighborhood perfect for those who aren’t really into theme parks or the clubs and just want to relax for their whole stay. This is one of the most trendy areas in Orlando and is full of chic boutiques, great brunch cafes, and Florida’s typical bungalows with oak-lined streets.
Make sure to spend a day people-watching on Washington Street, the heart and soul of Thornton Park, before taking a relaxing afternoon stroll around one of the many large lakes in the area.
You don’t have to sacrifice accessibility to escape the sprawling life of Orlando; you just have to be in the right location. Thornton Park charms its guests by having a myriad of boutiques, stylish restaurants, and a nightlife that still competes with the city center’s. Its main attractions are its early 20th-century architecture and structure that give off this historical vibe. With that said, the park itself also has beautiful views, with Lake Olive and Lake Lawsona being the prime appeal.
Since this is a residential area, there aren’t many hotels in the neighborhood, so you will be looking at vacation homes if you want to stay here. If you think that’s more your style, make sure to check out my post on the most unique Airbnbs in Florida, there are some incredible ones located in Orlando on that list!
This deluxe two bedroom condo is in a perfect location within walking distance to all the surrounding areas. Featuring an airy design and modern facilities you can enjoy homely features in a hotel quality apartment
Other accommodation options in Thornton Park
Things to do in Thornton Park
- Start the morning with a walk at Constitution Green
- See the lakes in their calming state of beauty
- Have a picnic in Dickson Azalea Park
- Check out the Downtown area and indulge yourself in the crazy nightlife
- Get a taste of contemporary Southern cuisine at Soco Restaurant
- Relax and destress at Lake Eola Park, one of Orlando’s biggest lakes
- Experience the atmosphere at Orlando’s farmers market held every Sunday
Frequently asked questions about Orlando
🎢 Where should I stay when visiting Orlando theme parks?
Staying anywhere along International Drive will keep you close to the parks and attractions. Celebration is where to stay for Disney, whereas for Universal Studios, Volcano Bay, or the Harry Potter world, Southwest Orlando is one of the best areas for you
💏 Where should adults stay in Orlando?
If you will visit the theme parks but don’t want Disney in your face every day, avoid International Drive. Kissimmee is where to find relaxing, private options in close proximity to the theme parks. If you have no interest in Disneyland, then Downtown is the best choice.
🏡 What is the best area to stay in Florida?
Southwest Orlando and International Drive is the area that best suits most people who travel to Florida for the first time. It is a large area located around halfway between Downtown and the theme parks, perfect for many different types of visitors.
That wraps up my guide for where to stay in Orlando, Florida. I’ve covered the best neighborhoods for every budget and interest! Orlando is one of those cities that will be hard to forget due to its diverse nature and iconic parks.
If you’re into the nightlife, then Downtown Orlando is the spot for you. However, if you’re into the iconic parks and a flashy resort, then Southwest Orlando is the place to look for. For those traveling with their kids, then follow International Drive south to the Celebration area. And finally, for budget travelers, set your eyes to Kissimmee as this neighborhood offers you the most space for your money.
Make sure to book at least 6 months in advance if you want to snag a room in the best hotels, as these definitely book out fast! (Especially the ones near Universal Studios and Disney World). If you’re finding it hard to choose, here are two great options again:
- Wyndham Grand Orlando – A 4-star hotel located on 500 lush tropical acres, with an incredible eagle’s eye view of the magnificent theme park fireworks at night
- Courtyard by Marriott – Cosy hotel with outdoor pool, fitness center, and onsite restaurant in a good central location
I highly recommend you visit Orlando, Florida, to experience a city filled with nightlife wonders, lakes, and international theme parks that take you to another world. I promise you won’t be disappointed with your daring escape to one of Florida’s City Beautiful!
Let me know what you think of Orlando, this guide, or anything under the sun below in the comments.
Have fun and safe travels!