Where to Stay in Orlando – Neighborhoods & Area Guide

Orlando is a city that features high on the bucket list of young travelers and Disney obsessed children. Home to one of the highest concentrations of amusement parks in the world, Orlando is one of the most outright fun cities in the world.

Away from the big, flashy amusement parks, however, Orlando as a city is not to be overlooked. Surrounded by lakes and streams, there is a natural feel to this built-up city and travelers are never short of a place to picnic.

One great thing about Orlando is the giant international airport. It is one of the most accessible airports in the state. With flights heading to over 34 different destinations globally each week, there are no excuses not to visit Orlando once in every lifetime. Orlando is also very well connected by road. Take Highway 4 westbound, for example, and travelers would be in famous Tampa in less than an hour and a half.

Attracting so many visitors each and every week, it is important to be prepared for a trip to Orlando. Although there are countless hotel and accommodation options available, the best of the best get snapped up quick.

Let’s explore where to stay in Orlando.

Downtown Orlando

Downtown Orlando

Source: Sean Pavone / shutterstock

Downtown Orlando

When it comes to visiting a major city, it is a safe bet to use the Downtown neighborhood for a base. This is also true of Orlando. With a great selection of hotels, dozens of diners and plenty of shopping opportunities, Downtown Orlando ticks all the right boxes for a whistle-stop traveler to Orlando.

What makes Downtown Orlando so perfect is that it sits just a 20-minute drive from the heart of the city’s amusement parks. For travelers wishing to experience authentic Orlando and have a couple of days to visit the amusement parks, Downtown Orlando is a perfect place to stay.

Downtown Orlando is just a stone’s throw away from the ever popular Orlando Science Centre. The center is very well respected for its approach to education and sharing the sciences with young minds. There is an incredible planetarium with multiple giant screens showcasing documentaries and mini-lessons.

The SAK Comedy Lab in Downtown Orlando is a great place for a giggle-fuelled night out.

Good For: Active Travelers, Art Lovers, Budding Historians, City Slickers, Couples, Culture Vultures, First Time Visitors, Families, Foodies, Sightseers, Shopaholics, Whistle-Stop Travelers

Neighbourhood Highlights: Orlando Science Centre, SAK Comedy Lab, Cobb Plaza Cinema Café 12, Mad Cow Theatre, Orange County Regional History Center, City Arts Factory, Amway Center – Home of NBA’s Orlando Magic, Replica, Statue of Liberty, Lake Ivanhoe Park, Harry P Leu Gardens, The Mennello Museum of American Art, Orlando Fire Museum

Hotel Recommendations:

  • DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando Downtown – DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando Downtown is a very good hotel offering everything travelers could ask for. All the rooms have a private ensuite bathroom featuring complimentary toiletries and soft white towels. All rooms have air conditioning and access to free WiFi. There is a swimming pool and a fitness center.
  • Courtyard by Marriott Orlando Downtown – Courtyard by Marriott Orlando Downtown is set in the heart of the Downtown neighborhood and is a top pick in Orlando. There is an outdoor swimming pool for guests to use as they please and a decent fitness center too. Guests have access to on-site laundry facilities and there is free WiFi throughout the hotel.
  • Residence Inn by Marriott Orlando Downtown – Residence Inn by Marriott Orlando Downtown is an ideal choice for travelers who want a bit more space. The suites are generous in size and all feature a kitchenette, a living room space, a private bathroom and of course a bedroom too. The staff are fantastically accommodating and will help guests where they can.

South West Orlando – Universal

Universal Studios

Source: Kamira / shutterstock

Universal Studios

Universal studios is often the main reason why many travellers visit Orlando. The city was made world-famous when Walt Disney Studios created their theme park complex there decades ago and now South West Orlando is awash with theme parks and amusement parks aplenty.

From must-visit Universal Studios and Epcot to slightly more niche The Holy Land Experience there is something for one and for all to enjoy in South West Orlando. Travelers could spend the entirety of their vacation within the neighborhood and still have rides and shows left to experience.

Universal Studios is the most popular of the parks in South West Orlando but there are other parks that are not to be overlooked. Fun Spot America offers good old-fashioned fun in the form of bumper cars, arcade games, and go-karts.

Another must-visit is The Escape Game Orlando, great fun for all the family it tests groups to the limit.

Good For: Active Travelers, City Slickers, Couples, First Time Visitors, Families, Foodies, Sightseers, Shopaholics, Theme Park Enthusiasts, Whistle-Stop Travelers, Once in a Lifetime Trippers

Neighborhood Highlights: Universal Studios. Walt Disney World, Epcot Disney World, The Holy Land Experience, Zombie Outbreak, Gator Golf Adventure Park, Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, Lost Caverns Adventure Golf, Universal’s Volcano Bay, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando, Madame Tussauds Orlando, SKELETONS: Museum Of Osteology, Sleuths Mystery Dinner Shows, Orange County Convention Center, WonderWorks Orlando, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, Fun Spot America

Hotel Recommendations:

  • The Point Hotel & Suites Universal – The Point Hotel & Suites Universal is a fabulous hotel in South West Orlando. The whole hotel is modern and has a newly renovated feel. The suites offer a kitchenette and a living room space, in addition to a bedroom and ensuite bathroom. There is a fitness room within the hotel and guests are free to use the hot tub.
  • Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort – Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort is a top pick in South West Orlando. The whole hotel is stylish and caters to the needs of holidaymakers completely. There is nothing travelers could need during their stay that would be too much to ask. There is a bowling alley within the hotel too.
  • staySky Suites I-Drive Orlando Near Universal – staySky Suites I-Drive Orlando Near Universal is a popular choice in South West Orlando. There is a swimming pool and a fitness center that guests can use as they please. There is both a restaurant and a bar on-site and room service is available. There are family rooms, and suites, available catering to every budget.

South Eola

Lake Eola

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Lake Eola

The tiny neighborhood of South Eola is the perfect place to stay for travelers who want to experience Orlando but not get caught up in the constant buzz of the theme park district. Home to a couple of cute cafes, a few craft brew pubs and a gorgeous park with a lake, South Eola is an oasis in Orlando.

South Eola Park is a wonderful little spot to escape the business of the city. There are dozens of walking trails to follow around the lake, some more shaded than others. Travelers can enjoy a picnic, sunbathe or even head out on to the lake itself. There are paddleboats and pedalos for hire. Many people enjoy feeding the swans too.

The Abbey is the focal point for nightlife in the South Eola neighborhood. The theatre-come-lounge is loved by locals and sought after by travelers. Showcasing everything from comedy to cabaret there is always fun to be had at The Abbey.

Good For: Active Travelers, Art Lovers, City Slickers, Couples, Coffee Connoisseurs, Culture Vultures, Like a Local Travellers, Low-Key Travellers, Urban Photographers, Off the Beaten Track Travellers

Neighborhood Highlights: Lake Eola, Lake Eola Park, Simon Bolivar Statue, The Abbey, World of Beer Bar & Grill, Soundbar Orlando, The Social – Event Venue, Downtown Orlando Info Center, Orange County Regional History Center, Dexter’s Thornton Park New American Restaurant, Greenwood Urban Wetlands, Dickson Azalea Park

Hotel Recommendations:

  • The Eo Inn – The Eo Inn is a very good hotel in South Eola. With a boutique feel and attention to detail, The Eo Inn is a great choice. All rooms offer a private bathroom with a walk in shower unit and complimentary toiletries. There is a hairdryer in every room in addition to a flat-screen TV. There is free coffee daily.
  • Travelodge by Wyndham Orlando Downtown Centroplex – Travelodge by Wyndham Orlando Downtown Centroplex is an affordable accommodation option in South Eola and offers easy access to Downtown Orlando. The rooms are compact but offer everything guests could need including free WiFi access. All ensuite bathrooms feature a bathtub. There is an outdoor terrace complete with swimming pool.
  • Embassy Suites Orlando – Downtown – Embassy Suites Orlando – Downtown is a top pick in South Eola. A large hotel with plenty of rooming options, there is a room or suite to suit every budget. The larger suites can sleep up to six guests per night and most room rates include a very good breakfast.

Lake Cherokee

Lake Cherokee

Sitting to the south of South Eola and east of the theme park district, Lake Cherokee is a quiet and peaceful place to stay in Orlando. Much like South Eola, for travelers seeking a low-key and authentic place to stay in Orlando, Lake Cherokee is a great option.

Being a little more residential than the bustling downtown, there is a community feel and a family-friendly nature to Lake Cherokee that makes visitors feel instantly at ease. There are a number of cute parks in the Lake Cherokee neighborhood that provide a refreshing change of pace from the frenetic theme parks of South West Orlando.

Cherokee Park and Lake Cherokee itself are the focal points of the neighborhood and are the perfect place to meet locals and make new friends on the road.

Lake Cherokee is conveniently close to the must-visit tourist destinations of Orlando. Universal Studios is a 20-minute drive away and the Orlando Science Center just 10 minutes away. Lake Cherokee offers the best of both worlds.

Good For: Active Travelers, Art Lovers, City Slickers, Couples, Coffee Connoisseurs, Culture Vultures, Like a Local Travellers, Low-Key Travellers, Urban Photographers, Off the Beaten Track Travellers

Neighborhood Highlights: Cherokee Park, Lake Cherokee, Universal Studios, Al Coith Park, Delaney Park, Lake Davis Park, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Dr. Phillips House, Sodo Shopping Center, Downtown Orlando Info Center, Orange County Regional History Center

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Hampton Inn & Suites Orlando/Downtown South – Medical Center – Hampton Inn & Suites Orlando/Downtown South – Medical Center is a very well located hotel in Lake Cherokee. Guests have access to a year-round heated outdoor swimming pool and a well-equipped fitness center. There is a flat-screen TV in every room and access to free WiFi throughout.
  • Aloft Orlando Downtown – Aloft Orlando Downtown is a luxury hotel within the Lake Cherokee neighborhood. Chic and stylish in design, Aloft is a top pick in central Orlando. The rooms offer everything travelers could need including access to WiFi, coffee making facilities, and cable TV. Many rooms offer a lake view, some a view of the outdoor swimming pool.
  • The Courtyard at Lake Lucerne – The Courtyard at Lake Lucerne is a cute hotel run by a team of locals. There is both free parking and free WiFi available. There is a real homely feel to The Courtyard at Lake Lucerne and this is in part due to the fact that it is a bed and breakfast. It is far more personable than a big chain hotel. The cooked breakfast is not to be missed.

Kissimmee

Kissimmee, Florida

Source: Javier Cruz Acosta / shutterstock

Kissimmee

Kissimmee is a small city that sits to the south of Orlando. With great transport links to both Downtown Orlando and South West Orlando where the amusement parks are suited, Kissimmee is a great option for budget travelers. Being a slight distance from the heart of Orlando, hotel prices in Kissimmee are generally more reasonable. In the high summer season when top Orlando hotels are fully booked, top picks in Kissimmee have rooms to spare for last minute bookings.

Kissimmee is a great place to stay for travelers seeking affordable accommodation and easy access to Orlando’s theme parks; Walt Disney World is just a short drive away.

Kissimmee sits on the shores of Lake Tohopekaliga that is known locally as Lake Toho. There are plenty of grassy spots to enjoy around the lake and more than enough picnic tables to go around.

Old Town Kissimmee is a great place to visit in the city. There is a shopping complex, a few old-fashioned fairground rides and live entertainment is put on on a weekly basis.

Good For: Active Travelers, Art Lovers, City Slickers, Couples, Coffee Connoisseurs, Culture Vultures, Like a Local Travellers, Low-Key Travellers, Urban Photographers, Off the Beaten Track Travellers

Neighborhood Highlights: Old Town Kissimmee, Walt Disney World, Epcot, Orlando Balloon Rides, Kissimmee Swamp Tours, Topgold Orlando, Crayola Experience, America’s Escape Game, ICON Orlando, Andretti Indoor Karting and Games, The Great Magic Hall, Arcade City Orlando, Airheads Trampoline Arena, i-drive NASCAR

Hotel Recommendations:

  • Champions World Resort – Champions World Resort is a good hotel in Kissimmee that if family friendly. There are a number of rooming option available all of which are budget-friendly too. The is a flat-screen TV in every room and a coffee machine too. There is a fitness center and swimming pool on site.
  • Seasons Florida Resort – Seasons Florida Resort is a top pick hotel in Kissimmee. The rooms are compact but offer everything travelers could possibly need including wardrobe space, an ensuite bathroom, and air conditioning for those sweltering Florida summer days. A very good breakfast is included in the room rate. There is free parking.
  • GreenPoint Hotel Kissimmee – GreenPoint Hotel Kissimmee is a fabulous hotel offering environmentally friendly and affordable accommodation. The rooms are modern, with a whitewashed, minimalist theme. There is a good fitness center that is free to use and there is free parking too. There is air conditioning throughout the hotel.
Where to stay: Best Hotels in Orlando, Florida (FL)
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List of Image Sources

Where to Stay in Orlando – Neighborhoods & Area Guide:

Downtown Orlando

  • Downtown Orlando: Sean Pavone / shutterstock
  • Universal Studios: Kamira / shutterstock
  • Lake Eola: aphotostory / shutterstock
  • Lake Cherokee: kellyv / Flickr
  • Kissimmee: Javier Cruz Acosta / shutterstock