Who hasn’t heard of Orlando? This is one of the most famous cities in America, not least because it is in the state of Florida, a popular destination for travellers from all over the world. Orlando also has a reputation for fun filled family attractions: from going gator crazy at Gatorland and experiencing the magic at Disneyland to exploring the nature at many of the national parks.
Written by: Mark Johnson / 16 September 2016
So if you want to see Orlando in August, be prepared to see the city and surrounding area at its brightest and most vibrant...
Orlando enjoys a subtropical climate, which basically means it’s hot most of the year and gets particularly humid in August. Occasional rain showers happen through the hotter seasons from May to September, but mostly you'll experience the kind of weather that’s in all the travel agent photographs: cloudless skies and brilliant sunshine. Those cloudless skies mean temperatures are likely to be thirty-five degrees on average – if it’s a humid twenty degrees, that’s cool by Orlando standards! While you’re out and about in the hot weather don’t forget to take an umbrella for shade, drink plenty of water, and pack a high factor sun cream.
Despite its urban attractions, Orlando has plenty of natural gems to explore in and around the city. If you’re looking for some greenery, get over to the Bok Tower Gardens near Lake Wales. Kids will enjoy exploring the Singing Tower and grownups can relax whilst listening to the carillon concerts put on twice a day. For the full city detox, make your way to Lake Louisa State Park – you wouldn’t believe that it’s only thirty minutes west of Walt Disney World! It’s the ideal place to get away from city life and immerse yourself in hikes along beautiful lakes. There are also plenty of activities to enjoy around the park, including horse riding, boating, fishing and cycling.
It may be a city, but you can still see a variety of wildlife when you visit Orlando. Ever seen a ten-foot-long alligator leaping out the water to snatch its food? Head to Gatorland where the clue is in the title! You can see the park from the air on the Screamin’ Gator Zip line. But, when it comes to seeing your favourite animals, nothing beats the Central Florida Zoo. The zoo holds over five hundred animals, from domestic animals to snakes and reptiles. Go on a weekend to catch the Keeper Chats where you can learn more about the different species and the conservation work being done for them. Alternatively, take a trip out to the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge which is only accessible by boat. You can take a canoe down the river and look out for the abundance of wildlife that can be spotted around the park. Species include turtles, alligators, wading birds and otters – and the occasional motor boat!
It will be hard to come away from Orlando without having learned something. There’s a wide choice of museums in the city and surrounding area as well as some more interactive options such as the Orlando Science Center. Exhibitions in the centre include Dino Digs which takes visitors up close to prehistoric creatures. The Our Planet exhibition is worth a visit, where you can learn about the forces and systems that make up Earth and other planets. If you’re a fan of literature, take a trip to the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts, which is dedicated to the memory of the author Zora Neale Hurston and contains exhibitions from African American artists. Or is history your cup of tea? Titanic; the Experience will take you back to 1912 and the time of the Titanic, complete with a full scale replica of the ship’s Grand Staircase. (There is technically no law against singing My Heart Will Go On).
There’s something for everyone in Orlando. If you’re wanting to chill out after a busy day, The Bok Gardens hosts a period of live music concerts every year. Live at the Gardens events take place in the evening and guests can have dinner in the Blue Palmetto Café before the concert. Or jump into festival fun with Florida Festival of Chariots on Jacksonville Beach. This festival originated in the ancient city of Jagannath Puri in India and is now celebrated across the globe: live music, classes and workshops for every level of ability. Alternatively, your family can test their nerve by playing The Escape Game. This is an experience guaranteed to bring the whole family together. Essentially, you go into a room with a given storyline: solve the clues and escape before time runs out! Of course, there’s still the big Disney elephant in the room that we haven’t mentioned…Walt Disney World. Yes, it had to be mentioned eventually! Cherished by just about every child in the world, Walt Disney World is one of the major attractions of Orlando; it’s an absolute must if you’re travelling with young children. There are countless events and attractions including regular Fireworks, parades and Character Dining.
Grabbing a bite
Foodie fans won’t be disappointed by what Orlando has to offer. For every type of cuisine, there’s a restaurant that cooks it. The inventive menu at KrungThep Tea Time makes Thai food with a funky twist and includes gra-prow chicken transformed into a grilled cheese sandwich with basil mayonnaise and mozzarella. Leave room for ‘brick toast’, a glorious tower of honey coated toast covered in everything from fruit, ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream or Nutella. Maybe don’t try this one if you’re going to a theme park! If you’re after a hearty meal, Market on South won’t disappoint with their good quality ingredients. Whether you’re in the mood for a Fried Green Tomato sandwich, or you feel up to the Carolina BBQ Pulled Jackfruit burger, make no mistake, this is the menu that will keep you going all day long. You can also find food events on your travels in Orlando. Look out for the World of Chocolate Museum; oh yes, we said world of chocolate. See it, smell it, taste it, learn about it. Also, don’t miss Orlando Taste of the Nation; a multi-city event sponsored by No Kid Hungry, and displaying the talents of local chefs with proceeds all going to help stop childhood hunger.
Things to pack...
You’re sure to get some glorious sunshine while visiting Orlando in August, so make sure you’re prepared for high temperatures and humidity. However, Orlando can be prone to rainy spells, so don’t get caught out with only your summer outfits to hand.
Plenty of water
Things to remember...
American Phrases: It’s American English, so remember that certain phrases differ from England. When in doubt, it’s elevator instead of lift and pants instead of trousers.
Tipping: Tipping is not negotiable; you always need to tip. General guidelines are to tip 10% for taxi drivers, 18% for restaurant service and 15% for bartenders.
Smoking: Smoking is not permitted in public areas, including shopping malls and restaurants.
Travel: If you want to get around downtown Orlando, the Lymmo is a free bus service. For most destinations around Orlando the I-Ride Trolley has a multiday pass eligible for up to 14 days.
Orlando is sometimes thought of as the place where dreams come true. But while the theme parks are among the major attractions, there’s so much more to see in and around Orlando. Go trekking through Lake Louisa State Park, learn about wildlife at Central Florida Zoo, or learn something amazing at Orlando Science Center. There’s plenty to do that the whole family can enjoy, whether it’s testing your teamwork playing The Escape Game, indulging in a visit to World of Chocolate Museum or relaxing at Bok Tower Gardens. So this August, get out to Orlando and enjoy the best of the city, and the best of the weather!
Blogger Profile - Mark Johnson
Mark is an avid traveller and loves to explore the world with all of its varied cultures. He is also an adventure sport enthusiast and has tried everything from Skydiving to Scuba Diving!