Florida Adventure - My Guide to Orlando Part 209:14
So here is part 2 of my Florida guide. I may be droning on here, but I just bloody love this place so much...
Pirate Miniature Golf, Int. Drive
Probably the most important bit. But no, seriously. You're in America now. You will eat, sleep and breathe chips and burgers. But I don't think I'm doing it justice here. It's not fatty and crappy food. It's amazing. Food is pretty expensive in Orlando, especially in the touristy areas like International Drive and the Parks. But it's worth it. From seafood to McDonalds, I honestly had some of the best food here. Here are some places I recommend going:
Bubba Gump Shrimp - This is in Universal City Walk which you can enter for free. I had the most amazing Shrimp pasta here. God I dream about this place. I just love Shrimp. As Bubba says, Shrimp is the fruit of the sea...
Mannys Chop House Haines City - We drove down to Haines City as I had visited Manny's previously and it was just as good if not better than last time. I challenge you to find a better burger. And we had starters (the worlds largest chicken wings), mains, their legendary salad bowl (this might sound daft but if you know, you know) all for less than $40. This was impossible on International Drive. And happy hour drinks every night. If you have a car, it's definitely worth going.
Rainforest Cafe, Disney Springs - This is a very popular restaurant with families so it gets super busy, but I had the BEST surf and turf there. Definitely worth the wait.
Other great places we ate were Yard House, which has the biggest beer collection in the world which is super cool, Chuy's Mexican & Maggiano's Little Italy. I even had a McPasta from McDonalds!! Plus, if you go to Disney Springs, you need to visit the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM.
Sprinkles Cupcake ATM, Disney Springs
We stayed in International Drive so we decided to use the iTrolley system to get around whilst we were there rather than getting a car (originally). The iTrolley is one of the best things about International Drive; it costs about $18 for a two week pass which is nothing! I mean, its $2 for one ride. We used it most days to get to restaurants and just to explore. It goes to SeaWorld and Aquatica too and it arrives approx. every 15 minutes (but it's usually a lot less). You can't use the iTrolley for Universal/Disney, but our hotel had daily shuttles. If you're a hardcore shopper like me, you can even visit both outlet villages at either end of the iTrolley route in one day...
Even though we had this, we knew we wanted to hire a car at some point. It was between a Mustang and a pick up. And I am so glad we went with the pick up, a 5 litre Chevrolet Silverado truck. We were both very depressed after this went back after the two days. If we went again, we would definitely want a car for some of the time. We went to Haines City, got to see the crazy world of Walmart, went to downtown Orlando and went across to Daytona. We even ended up down some back alley next to the prison surrounded by Bail Bond shacks (still don't really know what these are...)
We used Uber instead of cabs at night because you're crazy if you want to pay the cab prices. A $9 Uber trip cost us $35 in a cab. No joke. The Uber's are everywhere and as long as you have plenty of data, you will be fine.
What to Pack
K so I don't want to teach you how to suck eggs, but I made some good and bad packing choices so here are my tips:
Trainers - you will LIVE in these. We walked 16,500 steps some days! Walking around those parks and up and down International Drive and general exploring requires comfy shoes. This and a pair of sandals is all you need. But still take a choice; I only took 2 pairs and I wish I had taken another pair to give my feet a break from Converse and Vans as they got a bit harsh on my feet after two weeks.
Comfy Clothes - I took lots of denim shorts and skirts. And whilst I lived in them, they weren't ideal for the parks for one reason; wet denim. You will get wet, whether it's the rain or the water rides. And wet denim shorts makes for a long, cold and chafy day. I did an emergency H&M basics trip whilst I was there. Do not dress up to walk round the parks, you will only get hot, sweaty and uncomfortable.
Waterproofs- Whilst I went in November and saw no rain, we were both prepared with our pac a macs because it rained every single day when I went in July. Only for an hour or so, but I was nice and prepared this time. I only ended up using my coat for the water rides but it's handy to have.
Heels - I took two pairs and all they did was take up room in the case and in the room. I also took boots, big no no. Again, trainers for day, sandals for night.
Fancy Clothes - Day to day I ended up living in t shirts, shorts and skirts. Day dresses are ideal so take plenty of these, but leave the blazers and sequins at home. At night, I wore either jeans and a nice top or some kind of floral/casual dress.
Bags - As usual, I took too many. Like, a stupid amount. I used a Louis Vuitton holdall almost every day and probably needed one or two cross body bags for night.
Pasta at McDonalds (!)
Rainforest Cafe, Disney Springs
We stayed at the Rosen Inn at Pointe, which was great. It was in a perfect location and was a lovely basic hotel with an amazing 24 hour shop for everything we needed, there was an iTrolley stop right outside the hotel and they had free shuttles to the parks which was ideal. The beds were the comfiest beds in the world and it was lovely and clean. It was so ideal for us. We went in November (a nice quiet park times bar Thanksgiving Week and lovely weather, around 25 most days) and booked our holiday with Virgin Holidays. I got my tickets from Orlando Attraction Tickets, they were the cheapest by far and came free next day delivery!
So there we have it! Some tips and lots of hopefully useful information for anyone planning or getting ready for an Orlando vacation. It really is the trip of a lifetime and I would recommend it to anyone, no matter what age.