Megan duBois is the Florida correspondent for Time Out. She covers everything from the best restaurants in cities around the state to what's new at the Florida theme parks. Follow Megan on social media for the latest Florida tips and travel tricks.
The 11 best beaches near Orlando
After a few days in the iconic theme parks and raging nightlife in Orlando, you'll start to consider a relaxing drive to the best beaches near Orlando. Even though the city is landlocked, it's just a few hours to some of the best sandy shores in the state. Almost all of the beaches in Florida are perfect for day trips with friends or long weekends away from the city with family. There’s a beach for every type of traveler and explorer from the quintessential pastel beach town of Indialantic and the laid-back old-school vibes of Vero Beach to the popular surf culture of Cocoa beach. While Orlando has a few manmade beaches at its thrilling water parks, nothing can compare to the real thing, where the ocean meets the sand. And par of the joy of getting out of the city is to see the lively beach culture and chow down on all of the incredible seafood. Remember to snap some fun photos for Instagram and shake out your sandals before packing up to go home, even if home is a vacation home or hotel in Orlando for the week. RECOMMENDED: The 15 best beaches in Florida
The 20 best things to do in Orlando right now
Orlando, Florida, is often filled with enthusiastic theme park fans looking to get their fix of thrills on the latest coaster openings. While you can definitely spend a week at the theme parks, there's more to the City Beautiful than theme parks. In fact, the city is full of culinary indulgences for the foodies, and offers tons of rivalries for sports fanatics, incredible art and science museums, wildlife encounters, and outdoor activities. While you might be tempted to spend the day at the pool since summer average temperatures are in the 90s, there is still plenty to do to cool off, including some incredible water parks. When the temperatures drop in late fall and through winter, be sure to hit the golf course or try out a swan boat ride at Lake Eola. Just be sure to take some time for yourself to relax in the city that never seems to sleep, and is constantly lit up by nightly fireworks. If you are looking to gather all of the best things to do in Orlando for the ultimate vacation or staycation, these are our top things to do right now.
The 25 best restaurants in Orlando
When people think of restaurants in Orlando they may think of an over-abundance of chain restaurants, character-clad meals, or cheap fast-food. Yes, Orlando does have those things, but if you're willing to look around a bit and drive outside of theme park zones and tourist districts you'll find that the City Beautiful is filled with everything from authentic Lao street food to fine dining. (That's not to say you can't find some great meals inside the theme parks, though!) Orlandos' culinary renaissance has led to restaurants expanding, adding new establishments to their portfolio, and even getting into prized kid-friendly theme park. This is exactly what happened to James and Julie Petrakis, who are the masterminds behind The Ravenous Pig, Cask & Larder, and their newest venture The Polite Pig at Disney Springs. Whether you're looking for slurpable ramen dishes, mouthwatering dry-aged steaks, or decadent crab nachos to share (or not share, we don't judge) with a table of friends and family before or after hitting the theme parks, these are our favorite places to eat in Orlando.
The best theme parks in Orlando
When most people think of Florida, one of the first things that come to mind is Orlando's theme parks – sprawling resorts filled with sugary treats, lovable characters, and iconic attractions. But we're here to tell you that there is more to Orlando's most iconic attractions than character-clad meals and long lines. Whether it’s your first time in Orlando or you live down the street from the storybook castles, it can be hard to decide which ones to visit because they are all so different. We’re breaking down the best theme parks that bring people to the area to help you decide where to go, what to do at each, what’s new or coming up (like the best events in Orlando), and even a few tips on how to do the parks like a pro. Relive the nostalgia of your childhood at Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World, experience animal encounters at SeaWorld Orlando, or fly high in the sky with E.T. at Universal Studios Florida – there is a theme park for everyone in Orlando. RECOMMENDED: Our guide to the best things to do in Orlando
The best things to do in Key Largo
If Key West is just a bit too far for a day trip or you’re looking for somewhere new to explore within the Florida Keys, you may want to consider Key Largo. With so many things to do in Key Largo, there’s no shortage of fun to be had. The beautiful island is home to some of Florida’s most exciting parks, including Everglades National Park, museums, and, of course, wildlife encounters. The best part about Key Largo is it’s a nice day trip from Miami at about two hours away or a fun weekend getaway from Orlando at about four and a half hours away. Once you make it to the island, you can sit back and relax as you enjoy sea breezes with a tropical drink in hand or get out and explore. No matter your vacation style, there’s always something new to see. These are the best things to do in Key Largo.
The best beaches in Key West
Key West. Those two words often bring about images of parties on Duval Street, incredible restaurants serving fresh seafood, and, of course, stunning beaches. The white sand that gives way to perfectly clear blue waters is the stuff that island dreams are made of. No matter where you are on the island, beaches in Key West are easily accessible by car, foot, or trolly, and each one offers something unique, from water sports to family-friendly national parks worth exploring. After hitting the bars and other best things to do in Key West, the beach is always the place to hang out. Many of the beaches in Key West boast incredible sunset views where people will gather each night to watch Mother Nature put on a show. After the sun sets, strolling along the moonlit beach can be a romantic way to end a great day in the southernmost city in the United States. These are the eight best beaches in Key West. RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Key West
The best amusement parks in the US
When people think of quintessential summer activities they likely think of going to the beach, a baseball game, or shooting off fireworks. Another must-do summer activity is hitting up the very best amusement parks in the US. While you might instantly be thinking of the big ones like Walt Disney World or Universal Studios, there are a few others around the country worth visiting as well. Many of the best amusement parks feature rollercoasters with heart-pounding drops and loops, a fried feast of food options and a small army of employees working to ensure you have a great day. Amusement parks can be found along the East Coast, in the heart of the country, and over on the West Coast, so no matter where you live there’s likely one nearby. When you’re ready for a day of thrills over a relaxing day at the beach be sure to hit the amusement parks. Just don’t forget to pack your sunscreen, you’ll definitely need it just like you do at the beach. These are the 20 best amusement parks in the US.
The best Gulf Coast beaches
When it comes to beach vacations there are plenty of places to choose from, like Daytona or Key West, but when it comes to truly stunning beaches that stretch for miles with glittering waters washing against the shore, the Gulf of Mexico is where you’ll want to be. But which Gulf Coast beach is the best? The beaches of the gulf coast stretch from the shores of Texas all the way across to the Florida panhandle and down to the Keys. These beaches often offer a sweet reprieve from the bustling beach towns filled with tourists since most of the locations are close to residential areas and smaller towns. But that doesn’t mean there’s still not plenty to do. At each of these beaches, you can set up your beach chairs and towels for the day, hang out near the edge of the water looking for shells, or even try your hand at some water sports like surfing or kiteboarding. For answers to all your questions, like what's the best Gulf Coast beach in Florida? Or Louisiana, for instance... check out our list of the best Gulf Coast beaches in the USA. Whichever one you choose to go to, the beach is waiting for you. RECOMMENDED: The best beaches in the USA in 2022
The best restaurants for outdoor dining in Orlando
Orlando is known for lots of things, from theme parks to impressive museums, but it’s also known for its impeccable year-round weather that allows people to enjoy the outdoors most of the time. When it’s time to grab a bite to eat in Orlando, and you’re looking for a spot to enjoy the bright Florida sunshine or the incredible sunset views, look no further than these restaurants with great outdoor options in Orlando. The restaurants are located all around town, from the theme parks and rooftop restaurants to lakeside picnic tables and a unique food and entertainment park made from old shipping containers. The cuisine served at these restaurants is also varied, with Mexican options, traditional Irish food, and a Spanish-inspired spot boasting gorgeous views of the nightly fireworks at Magic Kingdom Park. If you’re just looking for a great cocktail spot for happy hour, most of these places offer incredible drinks that go great with chatting with friends in the warm sunshine. No matter where you choose to dine, know that the food and the ambiance are always great. These are the best restaurants in Orlando that offer outdoor dining.
The best things to do in Cocoa Beach
Just about an hour’s drive outside of Orlando is Cocoa Beach. The capital of surf culture in Florida is known for its clear waters, decent-sized waves, and proximity to Kennedy Space Center. While enjoying the area, it’s easy to spend the entire time relaxing on the beach, but many of the best things to do in Cocoa Beach are just a few steps away from the sunny shoreline. The area is family-friendly, though couples and solo travelers looking for a vibrant beach town will also find plenty to do here. From eco-tours and water sports to golf and museums, there’s an abundance of activities in Cocoa Beach that will please any traveler or beach bunny. One great thing about Cocoa Beach is how affordable everything is. With big destinations like Daytona Beach and Miami Beach getting most of the buzz these days, you’ll find many of the same highlights but more budget-friendly at Cocoa Beach. Keep reading to learn about the nine best things to do in Cocoa Beach.
Where to find the best happy hour in Orlando
There are many reasons why you might find yourself in Orlando, Florida. Maybe you live nearby, or perhaps you're just passing through, but if you're reading this, then the chances are you've embarked on an exciting adventure in the Theme Park Capital of the World. Regardless of the how you ended up there, while you are there you owe it to yourself to enjoy that most time-honored of American traditions, happy hour. There are plenty of restaurants claiming to offer the best happy hour in Orlando, but let's face facts, some are just better than others. What we found was a delightful mix of restaurants ranging in cuisine style from coastal seafood and craft cocktails to perfectly cooked pizzas and pasta paired with inexpensive glasses of wine at one of Orlando’s most popular tourist destinations where mouse ears are found around every corner. These are the nine best happy hours in Orlando you’ll actually want to invite your friends to join you at.
9 best things to do in Daytona Beach
When someone mentions Daytona Beach you might think of wild spring break parties with throngs of students, after all the area has made a name for itself as an end of term-time destination for 20-somethings. Thankfully though, those college crowds only fill the beach for a few weeks out of the year. When the party is gone and the beach is clear there are still plenty of things to do in Daytona Beach. Whether you’re a NASCAR fan, a sun worshipper, or even a lighthouse aficionado, Daytona Beach really does have something for everyone. Mornings are mostly calm on the sand, with couples taking a stroll as the sun rises, but in the afternoon the city comes alive, buzzing with tourists and locals enjoying the scenic, coastal city. In the evening, folks gather to watch the sunset before heading off to dinner at one of the best restaurants in Daytona Beach, most of which serve a delightful mix of locally-caught seafood. No matter what you choose to do, or when you visit, Daytona Beach is out there waiting to be explored.
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The Wharf Fort Lauderdale
Miami favorite The Wharf's Fort Lauderdale location is right along New River, a lively addition to the spate of new businesses setting up shop in the historic Las Olas district. The Wharf Fort Lauderdale brings the Hamptons to Florida with its whitewash fencing, white-and-navy nautical decor, dog-friendly Astroturf, and boat parking along the 480-foot-long dock space. And the massive space parties just as hard. Within the expansive 1.25-acre event space are four bars and five food-court–style eateries helmed by local restaurants. Look out for noteworthy concepts including classic American fare from Lunchroom by be nice Restaurants (the group also responsible for local favorites Coconuts, Foxy Brown and Top Hat Delicatessen), Asian fusion spot Mrs. Balloo, pan-Asian cuisine from chef Timon Balloo and pizza from chef Jose Mendin’s The Piefather. During the day The Wharf is a casual eatery and hang-out spot for people of all ages, including families, but at night the 21+ crowd gets the place to themselves for drinking and dancing. Bar top seating encourages groups to sit and linger while they enjoy cocktails and outdoor games like cornhole, while seafaring elements make for perfect photo opps—not that we think this crowd needs the motivation to snap rosé selfies for the ’Gram. Those looking for a more traditional restaurant experience should pop next door to RIVERTAIL, run by James Beard-nominated chef José Mendín. The seafood-driven restaurant has an impressive raw bar menu
A Peppa Pig theme park is headed to Florida
We're willing to bet you know at least one kid who loves Peppa Pig. The British TV show has been enthralling youthful audiences around the world for almost two decades and has even generated a generation of American kids with fake British accents (seriously). Well, all those millions of young Peppa fans will soon have their own dedicated theme park in the United States that they can bug their parents to visit. Move over Disney World, Peppa Pig is headed to Florida. The new theme park is slated to open in Orlando, Florida in 2022 and will feature rides, attractions, a water play area and live shows all catering to preschool-age children and their families. Kids will have the opportunity to meet Peppa, George, Mummy Pig, Daddy Pig and the rest of the animal gang as you explore the adorable world that looks like it’s been dropped right out of your TV and into central Florida. Peppa fans will love rides such as Grandad Dog’s Pirate Boat Ride, where little piggies can hop aboard and set sail for Pirate Island, and Peppa Pig’s Balloon Ride, where you get to fly high above the park in one of Miss Rabbit’s hot air balloons. Other rides feature characters like Grampy Rabbit and Mr. Bull. The park will also feature two play zones: A splash pad where kids can mimic jumping in muddy puddles (Peppa's favorite pastime) filled with fountains, slides and interactive water features perfect for hot Florida summers and a Pirate Island where everyone in the family can look for buried treasur
Walt Disney World will debut two new firework shows for its 50th anniversary
After a year of being deprived of the special kind of magic that is Disney World fireworks, the theme parks are introducing two new shows this fall—just in time for the park’s 50th anniversary. The celebration begins October 1, and the resort-wide party is set to last a whopping 18 months and feature fun new attractions, destination-worthy new dishes and (drum roll, please) two brand-new firework shows at Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. At Magic Kingdom Park, the new ’Disney Enchantment’ show will light up the night with dazzling colors around Cinderella Castle and down Main Street, USA. The show will feature an all-new soundtrack, lighting, fireworks and projections—not just on the castle itself, but all the way down Main Street, too. Artist concept courtesy Disney Meanwhile, when the lights go down around World Showcase Lagoon at EPCOT, Mickey fans will be in awe of the highly anticipated new show, ’Harmonious.’ The fireworks display will be one of the largest ever presented at a Disney park, combining Disney music with pyrotechnics, actual moving fountains, and fantastic lighting. For the ’Harmonious’ soundtrack, classic Disney songs have been reinterpreted and re-recorded in more than a dozen languages by a group of 240 different artists from around the world. Can’t wait that long for some Disney magic? Disney World is currently open for business, and starting July 1, both Magic Kingdom Park and EPCOT will bring back their fireworks shows with the same nighttime spectacula