It may be best known as the home of Mickey Mouse, Elsa, and Cinderella, but Orlando also happens to be one of the top spots for business conventions in the United States. And it’s no wonder why Cvent has ranked the Floridian city as the No. 1 meetings destination in the country four out of the five years that the meetings management company has been compiling its Top 50 list.
Boasting the second-largest concentration of hotel rooms of any U.S. city and one of the biggest convention centers in the country — not to mention, its 5,000 restaurants, 170 golf courses, and easy access to an international airport — sunny Orlando seems like the perfect place to do business.
Orlando is a very drivable city, so you may consider renting a car…or not.
The truth is, unless you expect to venture far off the beaten International Drive path, we see no reason to do so. Many of the hotels offer free shuttle service to and from the airport.
Zipcar is available in the city, so those with an account can get their own wheels, temporarily.
There also is the I-RIDE Trolley, which cruises, albeit slowly, down International Drive and is merely two bucks a ride—as well as the free Lymmo service. Just don’t expect a black car pulling up and offering red-carpet service. Lymmo is the city’s bus system.
Eat where the locals do
Or, in this first instance, where the local chefs do. Designed to look like an inviting country inn, Le Coq au Vin is said to be the restaurant of choice for those in the culinary world on their nights off. For fine French food, attentive service, and a great ambiance, it’s a wonderful place to go.
And one that all the travel guides can’t stop raving about is The Ravenous Pig, whose owners were just named James Beard Award semifinalists. Serving locally sourced fare, including lots of fresh Florida fish, this Winter Park gastropub puts down an expertly prepared plate of fresh food, cooked to perfection. If the timing is right, check out its monthly pig roast, which draws a big local crowd.
If you’ve got a few hours to kill…
A ride on Walt Disney World’s Space Mountain can be the ultimate stress buster. Of course, if you want to avoid the hordes of hyperactive kids at the theme parks, Orlando has plenty of adult-friendly options, too.
To really disconnect from it all, take a kayaking eco-tour or do some stand-up paddleboarding in Shingle Creek, the northernmost headwaters to the Everglades, where you can spot alligators, turtles, and bald eagles.
Not into that kind of outdoorsy adventure? You still can listen to the call of nature while getting a “zero gravity” massage—performed outside as you sway gently in a hammock—at one of Orlando’s most luxurious spas at the Ritz-Carlton, Orlando, Grande Lakes.
Or, you can do a little retail therapy. Go totally upscale at The Mall at Millennia, which has Burberry, Gucci, and Jimmy Choo among its luxury lineup. Or seriously shop ‘til you drop at the 1.7-million-square-foot Florida Mall, home to Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, and 250 other retailers and restaurants.
When arriving in the airport, we suggest not taking too long in the main terminal’s gift shop picking out a Mickey Mouse plush for your little niece.