No one loves Orlando theme parks more than we do, and yes, we have extensive video evidence of our obsession.
Since we were itty bitty, you’ve seen us frolicking at Disney and Universal. It’s a part of who we are. But we’re also native Floridians and the truth of the matter is, if all you know about Orlando is mouse ears and magic wands, you are missing out! You’re in for a treat with The Jet Sisters Episode 2 where we show you 6 fun things to do with 48 hours in Orlando.
Things to Do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks
Surprise, surprise, the Theme Park Capital of the World has so much more to offer than roller coasters and character breakfasts. Orlando Metro is home to more than 2 million people, and on a busy day, it seems like they’re all at the theme parks. Once you get outside the main tourist areas, you can really see the wide open spaces that drew pioneers like Walt Disney to Central Florida decades ago.
If you haven’t seen it yet, start here first and then make your way back to this post for the specifics of our activities, accommodations and dining options for 48 hours in Orlando.
Rachel received her degree from the University of Central Florida, and as you’ll see in the video, she loved Orlando so much she never left. It’s a perfect system for all of us. She’s far enough away to have independence but close enough that we often meet halfway for meetings in Daytona Beach and it’s no sweat to pop back and forth between our home offices when we need to get together. And I visit her often for “work” – which if you follow our Snapchats and Instagram stories, usually ends up with us blowing off steam and dancing like fools at Universal’s CityWalk. (I shudder to think of the security cam footage that much surely exist of our antics!)
PIN ME FOR LATER
Not every activity we’ve chosen is in Orlando proper. Much like Florida’s other large cities Jacksonville and Miami, Orlando is a sprawling metropolis. Orlando Metro crosses four counties and includes the cities of Kissimmee, Sanford, Winter Springs, Winter Park and Winter Garden. (Do you get the idea that this is a great place to be in the winter?!) And it’s really easy to get to from just about anywhere. Check out flights to MCO and the bus from Tampa to Orlando.
So instead of holding ourselves to some arbitrary rules about borders and county lines, we wanted to give you a fun look at the destination overall. If you fly into MCO, and 40 million+ people a year do, it’s all fair game.
The Jet Sisters Way
A little bit flush or a little bit broke? Either way, we’re on a mission to show you how to see the world – big budget or a small!
We’re sisters on either end of the Millennial spectrum, so we designed our 48 hour Orlando itinerary on what we would like to see, do and eat. The good news is that our itineraries work for any age group. Like fun? Then you’re going to enjoy The Jet Sisters series. Just set a budget and pick and choose accordingly! Together, we’ll help you decide where to splurge and where to save when you visit Orlando.
Can you handle 48 hours in Orlando with The Jet Sisters?
Angie curates an itinerary featuring upscale accommodations, unique experiential dining opportunities and incredible activities. Expect to spend anywhere from $500-$1,500 for two for Angie’s picks.
Rachel shares quirky, budget friendly accommodations, must-try eateries and top-notch activities that provide lots of bang for the buck. Expect to spend anywhere from $100-$500 per day.
Follow our adventures on Instagram
Rachel’s Budget Friendly Orlando Itinerary
Where to Stay in Orlando
Orlando has 125,000+ hotel rooms, just behind Las Vegas if you can believe it, so the toughest part about choosing where to stay is just that… choosing. No sooner does one hotel with all snazzy new amenities open than another one down the street announces construction with even bigger, even better amenities.
On a budget, your options for magic decrease a good bit, so you definitely want to consider two things when choosing budget friendly Orlando accommodations: proximity and pool. Ten months out of the year, Orlando can be sweltering hot, so you definitely want a pool where you can kick your shoes off and relax when you’re not out exploring. It’s up to you if you need a lazy river, water slides, fountains and pool service, but naturally, every swanky amenity adds more to the bottom line. If you’re not going to be spending a ton of time in the hotel, you can streamline, and we found a great pick for that – the Castle Hotel on International Drive.
If you’re going to be checking out multiple theme parks (vs. just doing Disney, Universal or SeaWorld, in which case staying on site is ideal), the Autograph Collection’s Castle Hotel is in the middle of it all, 10-20 minutes to all the parks, walking distance to the ICON 360 complex, the Convention Center and more. It doesn’t get more central when it comes to the theme parks, and bonus: the hotel is adorable!
You’d never know from the T-shirt shops and neon signs touting outlet malls that such a cute little boutique exists in the heart of it all. There are multiple restaurants onsite if you want to grab a quick bite without fighting the I-Drive hordes, a rooftop for events and a quiet oasis of a pool. There’s no lazy river or organized games, but if this is the kind of hotel you choose for a trip to Orlando, something tells me you don’t need all those frills. The decor is magical without being over the top or overtly branded. Gaston doesn’t live here, but you get the idea his nicer, classier cousin could.
8629 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
What to Do in Orlando
What drew developers to Central Florida in the first place? Spend a day at Wekiva Island and you will soon find out. Wekiva Island is an outdoor hangout on the Wekiva River, about a 45-minute kayak from Wekiwa State Park, where the spring bubbles up from the Florida aquifer. You can hang out at the waterfront restaurant and bar for peanuts if you are on a budget. Even day rentals for kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle boards are reasonably priced, anywhere from $30-$50 for the whole day. You can even rent a cabana if you have a group or just want to plus up the experience. It’s Central Florida’s version of the beach, or the OG water park.
1014 Miami Springs Dr, Longwood, FL 32779
Other fun attractions in Orlando that aren’t theme park-focused: Andretti Indoor Karting, Drive Shack, I-Drive NASCAR, Hot Air Ballooning
What to Eat in Orlando
Beth’s Burger Bar is one of our favorite local joints. Entrepreneurial Beth envisioned her burger diner as a place where grown ups could go for gourmet grub, craft brews and board games. And it’s a local spot – all the fun of Orlando with none of the tourists. There are three locations in town and almost every time Angie visits, we take Sheba (Beth’s is pet friendly!) and load up on burgers and tots. You can basically build your own juicy burger and then smother it in peanut butter or pineapple jalapeño sauce. And any place that has frickles (fried pickles) is alright by us.
Be sure to snap a selfie with the cutout of Beth and if you’re feeling hungry, take the Double D challenge. For $13.99, you get a 4-patty burger with 8 slices of bacon, 5 kinds of cheese and all the toppings. And if you eat it all, you win a T-shirt. Good luck getting a free T-shirt and a ginormous cheeseburger anywhere else in town for that price.
9938 Universal Blvd #120, Orlando, FL 32819
Total Cost for Rachel’s Orlando Itinerary: $200
Angie’s Upscale Orlando Itinerary
Where to Stay in Orlando
The Grand Bohemian is situated on a busy corner downtown, right in the heart of Orlando’s top entertainment venues like the Dr. Phillips Center and the Amway Center. It’s the perfect place to stay if you’re coming in for a concert, show or Orlando Magic game.
And if you’re an art aficionado, the Grand Bohemian is the place for you, because there are literally hundreds of paintings, sculptures and installations scattered throughout. There’s a luxe spa with a rooftop pool, and a rare piano you should probably not touch.
325 S Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801
What to Do in Orlando
What a rush! I don’t know how we went our whole Floridian lives without going on an airboat ride. You have a couple options at Boggy Creek Airboats – group rides, private tours, etc. For the video, I went for the most exclusive thing on the menu – the “You Drive” experience. Like the title says, YOU get to drive the boat up to 40 mph around Lake Tohopekaliga and the headwaters of the Florida Everglades. Did you know the Everglades start here in Central Florida?
Our boat captain Ryan explained the rules – basically, push on the lever and go as fast as you want. WHAT?! The biggest surprise of the experience was how smoothly the airboat flew over not just flat water, but grassy areas, reeds, everything! Lake Toho (as its known colloquially) is 42 miles around and more than 20,000 acres, so there’s plenty of wildlife to keep you entertained. If seeing an alligator on your visit to Florida is on your bucket list, experts say there are 6,000 in this lake alone, so this is the most epic way to do it.
Boggy Creek Airboats is located in Kissimmee near Walt Disney World, but long before mice and magicians ruled Central Florida, native tribes survived in these swamps. When you wrap up your adrenaline rush on the airboat, you can meet Little Big Mountain, the onsite storyteller and weapons master of the Native American Village. This is a guy who can make a sweet knife out of an alligator jawbone or an outfit out of a dead squirrel. If the zombie apocalypse every comes to pass, we are heading straight for Boggy Creek so Little Big Mountain can teach us how to survive in the wild!
*Use discount code JET10 or JETSISTERS for 10% off the YOU DRIVE Experience or on the 1 hour daytime airboat tour. Valid Feb. 1 – Dec. 20, 2019. To use the code, make a reservation by calling 407-344-9550.*
2001 E Southport Rd, Kissimmee, FL 34746
What to Eat in Orlando
Orlando has every imaginable cuisine from every country and magical realm, so it was a real challenge to choose just one spot for Episode 2. Ultimately, I decided on a DIY progressive dinner party at the ICON 360, or the Orlando Eye. There are several restaurants, bars and entertainment venues, so it’s fun to check them all out in one night. We had appetizers and live music at Tin Roof, our main course (ok, and queso) at Uncle Julio’s, dessert at Sugar Factory and a nightcap at Yard House.
Is it a touristy spot? 100%. But you’ll probably end up here anyway, so you might as well make a night of it. Plus, if you only have 48 hours in Orlando, this is a great way to taste a lot in one spot.
The Eye itself is a bit of a snooze. If you’ve done the London Eye, this won’t compare, unless you plus it up with either the bar car or maybe a special occasion sunset swing around the wheel. Book a package with all the attractions at the ICON 360 complex to jazz up your evening.
8401 International Dr #100, Orlando, FL 32819
Total cost for Angie’s Orlando Itinerary: around $900
By all means, when you visit Orlando, go to the theme parks! But don’t forget to set aside some time to explore the great outdoors, too. You will never run out of things to do in Orlando, so you better get started!
And what’s better than an actual put-together video? Check out the bloopers!
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