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Traveling makes me happy and exploring the world alone relieves my stress. What about you? What does travel mean to you? Most of the time, I have a solid plan before I travel around (but that doesn't mean I'm not down to try places recommended by you). Prior to traveling a new city, my first step is to research places to go, what to do, and where to eat. An extra step, I go on Google maps to see the distance between the places I will be going and then select a place to stay somewhere in the center. The best and easiest ways to divide what to do each day is probably going by the districts.
I stayed in Sheraton Vistana Resort Orlando in Lake Buena Vista. You are traveling solo in Orlando, why need a resort? Orlando is so popular with Disney and I wanted to see how the resort was set up. Also wanted to relax a bit away from the busy city. This resort is huge and since the area is so spread out, the places you go to won't be as crowded as you think. In case you are looking to stay in this resort, here are my tips:
Now, let's dive into the best 17 things to do when you are traveling solo to Orlando. To help even better, I separated by days as well. Here we go!
[ DAY 1: Arrived at Sheraton Vistana Resort Orlando around 6 pm, familiarized myself with the resort for an hour, and went to Disney Springs ]
1. Disney Springs
Funny, I planned several restaurants to go to and realized all of them were in Disney Springs. Disney Springs is an outdoor shopping complex with variety of restaurants. Their garages are named under fruits, like a strawberry garage, lime garage, orange garage, watermelon, grapefruit, and mango! Hah, easy to remember right? From the Sheraton Vistana Resort, Disney Springs is about 10 minutes drive. Can't forget, music to your ears with all the outdoor jazz concerts. There are over 100 stores here and it will take you about 4-5 hours if you look everywhere like me.
2. Morimoto Asia
This Asian fusion restaurant located in Disney Springs is appealing. From the very far, you can see their beautiful exterior. Impressed by their interior as well. Big groups need to make a reservation and if you go solo like me, you can sit by the bar on 1st or 2nd floor without waiting. I ordered some eel and avocado roll (6 pieces) and shumai which is warm dumpling with pork, mushroom, and shrimp. The eel roll was delicious and sweet. If you eat a lot, I don't necessarily recommend this place because their portions are small compared to the price point. But if not, it definitely makes a great place to grab a drink or enjoy dinner with friends and family.
3. Coca-Cola Store
This 3rd story building located in Disney Springs got me curious what is there to see. The first two stories have Coca-Cola merchandise. On the second floor, you can get a hug from the Coca-Cola bear (it was already closed when I got there around 10pm). The third floor is a rooftop beverage bar where you can chill with friends.
4. World of Disney
You need to check this store out! It's huge and has so many decorations, gifts, Disney products, and adorable stuffed animals waiting for you! Right across from World of Disney, there is a big dragon in the water made with legos. It's pretty impressive and you cannot miss this sculpture!
5. The Boathouse/The Edison/The Paddlefish
All these three restaurants have an awesome architecture. The boathouse is distinctive, the Edison has unique interior, and the paddlefish is a big cruise ship. You can go all the way to the top of The Paddlefish to take photos and view Lake Buena Vista. They also have conference rooms and rooftop bar areas. It's definitely a great place to see everything from the top.
[ DAY 2: Started my morning around 9 am ]
International Food and Wine Festival was going on this day. Quick tip, to enter, there are two separate lines: with baggage or without. If you want to skip the long line, just bring a small wallet like me. You can pass through without hassle.
Epcot has a lot of rides, film, showcases, but I focused mainly on exploring the 12 world showcases they had. You should definitely watch the Disney & Pixar 4D short film because gives you a good laugh. Behind the Journey Through Imagination, there is a cute wall you can take a photo for Disney's #ShareYourEars. It was Mickey's 90th anniversary!
Each country in the world showcase has severeal restaurants. I ate lunch in Boulangerie Patisserie Des Halles, France. This place has most delicious and dazzling desserts and delicious food. I got macarons, BLT sandwich, parfait fruits and sprite.
Featured countries were Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, America, Japan, Morocco, the United Kingdom, Canada, Greece, Thailand, many more. Each countries had their unique sculptures, themed restaurants, shops and stores!
If you wish to use any of the images in this post, please credit back to me.
7. ICON Orlando
ICON Orlando is one beautiful and vibrant setting where you can enjoy dining in restaurants and dessert cafe, experience all ages entertainment, and shop. Orlando Eye is a huge Ferris Wheel which is about 400 feet tall. Did you know this one is the largest observation wheel on the East Coast of the US? You can see downtown, the theme parks, and the Central Flordia landscape. Best time to go around is 5:30 pm so you can see the beautiful sunset and dusk throughout this 20 min ride.
There are other fun attractions in ICON Orlando like Orlando Aquarium, Skeletons: Museum of Osteology, Madame Tussauds Orlando, and Orlando Starflyer. Orlando Starflyer is the world's tallest swing ride at 450 feet. I challenged myself and got on this Starflyer. The ride is about 2 minutes and while it is not scary, it's windy and can make you dizzy. Please do not ride after eating.
If you are looking for a casual yet quality Italian restaurant, this gem is the place you need to go for. Affordable prices but super delicious. It's a 3 min walk from ICON Orlando. Friendly staffs and good service. Their chewy bread goes well with the balsamic vinegar and the linguine scogli with shrimp wowed and filled me up.
9. Millenia Mall
I had a huge expectation about this mall for some reason but it was like The Galleria Mall in Houston but a bit smaller. They still have variety of stores. There are many malls to shop in Orlando such as Premium Outlets, the Florida mall, Pointe Orlando, and Orlando Outlets.
[ DAY 3: Downtown. Started my day off around noon ]
10. Lake Eola Park
Whether you want to clear your thoughts, empty your mind, or catch up with your friends, Lake Eola Park is beautiful to stroll around. I walked all the way around and it took me about 15-20 minutes. The black and white swans and ducks are surprisingly friendly and are not scared of you! Just like when I went to Boston and the goose followed me around as if it wanted to be friends with me. But anyways, these swans will let you come as close to you. They are calm and relaxed. You will also see a rainbow bandshell that brightens up the lake view.
11. Harry P. Leu Gardens
Want to take a good 1-2 hours of stroll watching healthy flowers and plants in a well-preserved garden? A Ribbit Exhibit is going on in Harry P. Leu Gardens right now. Why is it called Ribbit Exhibit? Because you will find 26 whimsical copper frog sculptures working hard or posing throughout the garden. I found most of them! You will see the Leu House Museum which is still under construction. My favorites were the butterfly garden, arid garden, color garden, and white garden. There are so many more to see here! Admission is $10.
12. Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
This Tiffany glass exhibition is open to public. The museum itself is not big but you will definitely find art pieces you like. Unique glass designs are everywhere. My favorite was the lamp section because of the design and warmness. Admission is $6 and with student ID is $1. Fridays from 4-8 pm is free.
13. Winter Park
Winter Park is a district in Orlando Downtown where you can shop, eat, or look around. I spend about an hour here after the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum. I have at least spotted 5 new and existing dessert cafes and a lot of plant/home good stores around Winter Park.
14. The Sanctum
I wanted to try The Sanctum because of all the good reviews. They did not disappoint! They have several smoothies and I got #1: peanut butter, blueberry, banana, and cacao. The smoothie was so reefreshing especially after walking outside all day. For my main dish, I got the bibimbap bowl. It did not make me bloated at all but filled me up, which I knew they used all vegan-friendly ingredients. The owners at The Sanctum are opening up a new restaurant called Proper & Wild in Winter Park. I would definitely want to visit next time I go back to Orlando.
[ DAY 4: Lucky me, I've got a free admission ticket where I could hop around 3 Disney Theme Parks. With the late 8pm flight returning back to Houston, I was able to enjoy another whole day]
15. Universal Studios Orlando/Islands of Adventures
I've already been to Universal Studios in Los Angeles, California, but I was still so excited. The first place I went to is Hogwarts. Any Harry Potter fans here? As for rides, I was able to ride several main ones without waiting because I went to the single riders line. Some rides do not have them but most of them do, so if you don't mind riding alone, this is your chance. The creative designs and all the colors at the Islands of Adventures were so fun to see. They also have cool parades featuring superheroes and sponge bob. You also get to meet many characters from the movies and tv shows wondering around and can take photos with them. Going to Universal Studio alone wasn't as bad!
16. Universal City Walk/Toothsome Chocolate Emporium
If you don't feel like going to Disney but still want to roam around the area full of restaurants, shops, and movies, Universal City Walk is the place. It's totally free and great way to casually meet up with friends or have a date night.
Toothsome Chocolate Emporium is in Universal City Walk. It's a spacious sweet shop & restaurant with playful 19th-century steampunk theme! You need to try some desserts here because they have so many. Their menu is like a story book (actually has a script in the front). From salads, soups, burgers, pasta, steak, to desserts like milkshakes and sundaes, they have it all. You can view their extensive menu here.
17. World's Largest McDonalds
I don't even like fast food but when I heard they have the largest McDonalds here in Orlando, I knew I had to check it out! I got some fries and they were fresh and hot. From the outside, it doesn't look that big but the inside is definitely spacious. It was a new experience because you can order by yourself using the giant kiosks and electronic touch screens. You can get some pizza, pasta, sandwiches, and watch the staffs preparing them. The second floor is an arcade entertainment area. There is a playhouse and tunnels for kids and a mini version of Dave and Busters!
This unexpected solo traveling to Orlando was totally fun and memorable. I've noticed that Orlando has a lot of small lakes. If you ever go to Orlando with friends or alone, my best tip is to get a rental car because there is no way you are walking to all these places. I had to take Lyft all the time. Next time, I want to go to some nearest beaches and NASA.
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I am a Houston based blogger who loves trying new dishes, traveling beautiful destinations, capturing moments, and more! Blogging gives me a chance to share and talk all about these moments with you.
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