Whether you've just arrived in Orlando or are about to depart, sometimes due to a delay or some time before a flight you need a short stay in an airport hotel or day room. If you're looking for fun activities to pass the time, there are still plenty of things to do near the Orlando airport. This guide describes the airport facilities, dining options, attractions near MCO, and hotels with pools at Orlando Airport.
The "Theme Park Capital of the World" has much more to offer than just theme parks! There are plenty of opportunities for fun in the Florida sun throughout the city.
If you're flying into Orlando, you'll most likely arrive at Orlando International Airport, more commonly known as MCO. MCO is the busiest airport in all of Florida and most tourists choose it for its proximity to many of the city's highlights. Whether you have some free time the day you land or have an extra day before your return, you'll be glad to know there are plenty of things to do near the Orlando airport.
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Find things to do near the Orlando airport when inbound flights are delayed
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Recently my mother came to Orlando for a short visit. Instead of taking an Uber from the airport to us, we decided it would be much nicer to go to the airport and pick her up. I left just before dinner with my kids to pick her up thinking we would meet her at baggage claim and go to a restaurant for dinner.
During the 25 minute drive to MCO, my kids and I witnessed some of the most incredible thunderstorms we've ever seen. However, due to the amazing spectacle of nature, my mother's flight was stuck on the runway for about an hour. No departing flights meant no terminal was open to unload his plane. So we found a parking space on site at short notice and decided to head over to MCO to rummage.
Things to do at the Orlando airport itself
The Orlando airport has recently undergone a pretty incredible transformation (at the time of writing another wing/terminal is under construction with plans to open at the end of 2022) and we could have easily spent a few hours enjoying ourselves. .
First of all, we did everything for the security check. On the check-in and security floor, the airport has two Disney stores (possibly the only ones still open in the country outside of the Disney parks), twoUniversal studiesgift shops and a Sea World gift shopplenty of other shops you would find in any decent mall.
There is also a large food court with everything from Dunkin Donuts to Panda Express. According to the website, there are more than 150 shops and restaurants at the airport; this includes everything before security and in each of the terminals.
Things to do at the Hyatt Regency MCO hotel
Connected to all this in a central courtyard, is theMCO Airport Hotel operated by Hyatt Regency. The welcome area is just that: welcoming! It is open to anyone passing through the airport. All within the general area of the airport before security, travelers will find benches, green areas and fountains to enjoy.
Hethe hotel has a rooftop pool, gym, laundry service, on-site restaurant separate from the airport food court, and the hotel is even pet friendly. The best part is that they offer "day use rooms"; families can spend as little or as much time as needed in these rooms to freshen up and recharge between flights.
Family attractions near Orlando airport
If there's enough time between flights, there are plenty of places to while away a few hours within a 30-minute drive of the airport grounds (most parks and attractions have an entry fee, but some parks are free).
gatorlandiaIt is one of those places that is quite close to MCO and easy to get to. It's about a 20 minute drive from the airport and there's plenty to do for all ages. Get ready for all things gator-related at Orlando's very own theme park and wildlife refuge for - you guessed it, alligators!
Obviously you can see alligators and crocodiles and even have the opportunity to feed them, but there is also a train that takes you through the park to see other animals such as cows, bulls, emus and deer.
There's a zipline course, a 15-minute "off-road" adventure where you board a custom-built monster truck that takes you through swamps inhabited by alligators, a splash pad, a petting zoo and a stand-up aviary close to some spectacular birds.
Get ready for all things gator-related at Orlando's very own theme park and wildlife refuge for - you guessed it, alligators! Founded in 1945, Gatorland is a 15-minute drive from Orlando International Airport and is a fantastic experience for the NatGeo enthusiast in your group. Between ziplines that take you through pools of alligators and swamps where you can get up close and feed them, you're sure to lose track of time at this exotic reptile center.
Things to do near Orlando Airport: The Florida Mall
the Florida mall, which is also about a 20 minute drive from MCO, is a great indoor option. The mall is not only a great place to stroll, shop and grab a bite to eat in the well-stocked food court, but is also home to theCrayola experience.
The Crayola Experience
Lovers and connoisseurs take note! Welcome to the most colorful place (literally) in all of Orlando. The Crayola Experience is an interactive play zone where families can spend hours doing crazy activities like coloring pictures and taking pictures with a life-sized crayon! Spanning over 70,000 square feet, this fun home is just eight miles from the MCO and is packed with hands-on, interactive experiences.
Kids can see some of Crayola's new products and art innovations; learn how crayons are made; Create custom coloring pictures and names with crayons and even take a break from creativity and hit the indoor jungle gym.
Feast your eyes on Bluetiful, the world's largest Crayola crayon weighing over 1,300 pounds and reaching a staggering 15 feet tall, or take a fun tour of how a Crayola crayon is made. Make your own superhero costume or become a princess; The possibilities here are only limited by your imagination. If you have budding artists among you or are a doodler at heart, the Crayola Experience is definitely a must-see stop.
For babies up to 12 years old,KiddifferentIt's another great place indoors to spend some time and get those kinks out. One fee covers the whole day, so kids can play as long as they want.
There are activities for everyone. Parents are encouraged to play but can also take a break in their lounge areas with free Wi-Fi connections if needed. Attractions include a toddler's play area, jungle gym, interactive arcade, ninja warrior course, and rock climbing walls.
Aquatic thrill seekers fear not, there are places for you too! orlandowater sports complexit is about 15 minutes west of the airport. ThiswaterparkIt features a boating lake, beach, wake boarding, water park and a harbor grill.
They have lockers available for storage (although I don't think they're big enough to store bags), as well as a pro shop with everything you need to rent or buy.
Tired of so much walking? How about wakeboarding? Ocean lovers and daredevils alike are guaranteed an adventurous time at Orlando's water sports complex. Whether it's cable wakeboarding or being pulled across the lake on tubes, there's something here for every member of the family.
If you're in the mood for something a little more toddler-friendly, head to the Aquapark for family fun. Complete with its own beach and playground with slides, climbing wall corners and more, the floating park resembles a mini "Wipeout". obstacle course. Located just 12 minutes from the Orlando International Airport, the Orlando Watersports Complex is the perfect fun alternative to an air-conditioned hotel room on a hot summer afternoon.
Ninth Adventure Park
Slightly closer and on the south side of the airportNinth Adventure Park. Like the Orlando Sports Complex, Nona Adventure Park has wakeboarding, a water park, and a bistro. This park also has a climbing tower and a ropes course for those who want to stay dry.
Isn't it enough to see your favorite mammals from a distance? How about a place where you can immerse yourself in them? Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive day resort, so you can get up close and personal with your favorite marine life and even swim with them.
The resort is a haven for many dolphins, exotic fish and birds, which guests can freely interact with during their visit. Take a dip in Dolphin Lagoon as you swim with bottlenose dolphins, snorkel with stingrays, and take the opportunity to feed the resort's winged friends. For the most daring and extravagant, there is a pool where you can swim with sharks and take part in an amazing underwater walk. Put on a diving helmet and take a walk with the fish!
Discovery Cove is only 13 miles from the airport and is a unique experience to spend a day off with the most adorable creatures on the planet.
Fans of the 1997 movie "Titanic" should check out this amazing exhibit, complete with real artifacts and wreckage recovered from the "Ship Of Dreams" crash site. With entire rooms themed around the ship, costumed actors and props to match, the exhibition takes you into the world of Jack and Rose and lets you experience the class and elegance of more than a century ago.
The 2-hour exhibition includes guided tours for adults and special tours for children. You'll be taken on an interactive walk through the exhibit of artifacts and wreckage, and hear true stories aboard the RMS Titanic. If you can't get enough of elegance, consider opting for fine dining. Titanic's Gala Dinner is a four-course meal (separately for children) held with some of the ship's first-class passengers, allowing you to experience the events of that night first hand.
Walt Disney World Resort
The world's largest entertainment complex and a destination that needs no introduction, Disney World is where dreams come true. Walt Disney World Resort is home to a wonderful array of theme parks, resorts, attractions and more, and is only 20 minutes from MCO.
Spread over 50 square miles, Disney World consists of four theme parks, namely Magic Kingdom Park, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT. Stroll through the parks and meet your favorite Disney characters, ready in their iconic poses for snapshots. The park is designed to provide visitors with the most comfortable and exciting experience of their lives. Movie experiences, haunted attractions, movie-themed restaurants, jungle safaris and fireworks displays - there's more than enough to keep you returning to the most magical place on earth.
Orlando universal tourism center
Universal Orlando is the second largest titan in the theme park industry and is 17 miles from the MCO. It has three on-site theme parks, Volcano Bay, a tropical water park complete with a lava-flowing volcano; Universal Studios, where the roles are real, and Islands of Adventure, the park's show.
Say hello to Spider-Man, Optimus Prime and your favorite Minions, and hug your little one when you meet the T-Rex in Jurassic Park. Potterheads are sure to go crazy in Wizarding World, where you can taste Butterbeer and pick up a wand in Diagon Alley. Keep your eyes peeled for the larger than life real fire-breathing dragon at Gringotts!
Free things to do near the Orlando airport
Aside from the various things to do at the airport, there isn't much near MCO that is free. However, there are two parks not far away that travelers can take advantage of to stretch out and get some fresh air.
Lakes Park airport
Lakes Park airportit is an open-air area with free entry, about 30 minutes by bus from the airport or a 20-minute drive. It is accessible by any of three buses on the Orlando Bus System (Lynx) that board directly at the MCO.
There are hiking trails, areas to play soccer or throw a Frisbee, a boardwalk, fishing spots, and bike paths.
Southport Municipal Park
Southport Municipal ParkIt is about a 10 minute drive from the airport and is open to the public. It is a 52 hectare park that used to be a marinarecreation area.
It has hiking trails, baseball diamond and softball fields, picnic areas and playgrounds. There are public restrooms that are well maintained and easily accessible to park visitors.
Family restaurants in and near the Orlando airport
In addition to the food court I mentioned above, MCO has more than a handful of restaurants before security and in each terminal. Including the food court before security, there is also McCoy's Bar and Grill at the Hyatt Regency, Romano's Macaroni Grill and Chili's Grill and Bar.
In each of the four terminals, travelers can choose from several food courts and several sit-down restaurants, including but not limited to; Outback Steakhouse, On the Boarder Mexican Grill & Cantina, Bahama Breeze, Bonefish Grill and Urban Crave.
Bringing food is an easy option if travelers choose to explore any of the discussed areas around MCO, but as mentioned above, some parks and attractions have their own bistros/restaurants.
Best kid-friendly places to eat near Orlando airport
Collect the loudest roar you can get and head to one of the most popular and kid-friendly restaurants in town. With interior elements inspired by a prehistoric cave (including life-sized dinosaur models!), the restaurant serves an incredible variety of dishes. Indulge yourself with burgers, pastas, soups and desserts made to please you and the little ones. There's even a gluten-sensitive menu, so inquire if this applies to your group.
When you're done eating, visit the joint's in-house gift shop to pick up some dinosaur-themed merchandise. From delicious food and photos to T-shirts and toys, this popular restaurant is sure to leave you and your family with the most wonderful memories. The T-Rex Cafe is located in Disney Springs in the Bay Lake area near Disney World, so plan accordingly to save yourself another trip.
Dixie Belle's Cafe
Dixie Belle's Cafe is run by a couple who love serving great food to families! The restaurant offers vibrant options for you to choose from, including homemade Southern favorites, American classics, and some Mexican delights.
Sit back and enjoy the atmosphere and charm of a classic diner with fresh hot soup, scrambled eggs, toast and meatloaf. The signature sweet potato cakes are everyone's favorite and even the pickiest of people will love the pancakes and waffles at this warm eatery.
If you have a furry friend with you on vacation, Dixie Belle's Cafe is pet-friendly and entertains dogs on the porch, where you can sit with your family while your hospitable staff tends to you. It is a 9 minute drive from the airport and is only open during certain hours so be sure to check before visiting.
If fine dining isn't your thing, how about a street-style dining experience with live music and some beach volleyball to whet your appetite? With lawn games and a playground to keep everyone entertained, Boxi Park serves food prepared by chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants.
Boxi Park serves seafood, chicken sandwiches, dishes specially made for kids, as well as crispy tacos, juicy burgers and Japanese sandwiches for those who want to get their hands dirty. In addition to cool drinks and tropical juices, the store also serves ice cream at a soft serve bar! Choose your favorite flavor and go wild with your toppings in this truly unique experience, just ten minutes from the MCO.
How about a burger and fries by the lake? The Waterfront is a trendy eatery on the edge of Jennie Jewell Lake, known for the most picturesque setting for your meals.
The restaurant serves classic American fare, from burgers and sandwiches to delicious seafood appetizers such as crab cakes, fish nuggets, fried shrimp, and more. There's also a separate brunch menu, and the kids will love their breakfast burrito, filled with cheese, sausage, and eggs. For dessert, check out the signature Red Velvet Donuts, or choose from the variety of desserts, including desserts and cakes. Adults will appreciate trying things off the drink menu such as craft beer, house wines and cocktails, some of them bottomless!
Freddy's Frozen Custard en Burgers
The popular fast food chain is making its way to Florida, serving some of the city's tastiest meals and desserts. Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers in Orlando is a little further from the airport than the rest of the places on this list, but it's also one of the best kid-friendly places in town.
The classic dishes include a wide variety of delicacies enjoyed by young and old, such as burgers, chicken fingers and hot dogs, as well as a wonderful dessert menu. Swap out the conventional ice cream for some frozen custard of your favorite flavor. Chocolate, fudge, Oreo, or the classic kid favorite, Dirt 'n' Worms Sundae, topped with cookie crumbs and gummy worms!
Best airport hotels with pool near Orlando Airport
Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport
Hyatt Regencyit is located in the airport's main terminal and offers some of the best amenities and room service you will receive in all of Florida. Swim in the heated outdoor pool, hit the gym or give your family a relaxing massage this vacation, all without leaving the comfort of your hotel facilities.
Being inside the airport has its pros and cons. The constant buzz of a busy airport means you're trading the quiet of a lonely resort for a fantastic view of the airport. You and the kids can enjoy the view of the planes in the sky all day long.
Marriott Lakeside Orlando Airport
Located just a mile away from the MCO, theMarriott Lakeside Orlando AirportIt is one of the best accommodations around. It includes free shuttle services to and from the airport, excellent rooms with comfortable beds and four restaurants. If you plan to spend most of your time here, consider taking part in some of the hotel's outdoor activities, such as swimming in the heated indoor and outdoor pools, or hiking and canoeing for an additional charge. .
Embassy Suites Orlando
Embassy suitesIt is another popular option for tourists on vacation, mainly because of the privacy the hotel offers. Free shuttles, spacious rooms, incredible service, top-notch amenities, and a friendly, approachable staff: Embassy Suites has it all when it comes to the best airport hotels with pools near Orlando Airport. The hotel is just over a 2 mile drive from the airport and also offers parking if you bring your own rental car.
Choose from their incredible list of suites depending on what your family needs. With in-room microwaves and refrigerators, you can provide for your baby's basic needs from the comfort of your room. As for the adults, there are a handful of dining options within walking distance of the hotel, including an Outback Steakhouse. Guests at Embassy Suites say the free breakfast is commendable, so be sure to make time for a hearty meal in the morning.
Orlando Renaissance Airport
With a great reputation for excellent service,Orlando Renaissance Airportit is just over 3 miles from the airport and still offers free shuttle services. Among the four room options, even large families can find comfortable accommodation here. For those who want to spend their days in the sun and away from their room, comfortable sun loungers are available by the pool to relax. In addition to the swimming pool and gym, Renaissance also has a Jacuzzi for its guests. With its own cafeteria and a restaurant serving buffet and à la carte meals, the hotel is perfect for relaxing and recharging your batteries after a tiring day.
Ramada by Wyndham Suites Orlando Airport
With a coffee maker, microwave, refrigerator, iron and television in your room,Ramada Orlando Airportit gives you the most homely environment you could ask for while in Orlando, and best of all, apart from the cost of the room, everything is free! From Studio Suites to King Studio Suites, there's plenty of room for everyone in the group to kick back and relax.
If the first-class facilities aren't enough to impress you, the hotel's atmosphere certainly will. Set amid swaying palm trees and complete with an outdoor pool, the outside view is as peaceful and serene as the hotel's interior and furnishings. Daily cleaning rounds take place to ensure clean and hygienic indoor areas, and dining with the kids becomes an easy task for parents with a kid-friendly buffet and even a handy snack bar.
By Kelila Green for VOWK