Greater Orlando is a region of Inland Florida surrounding the city of Orlando. It's famous for amusement parks such as Disney World and Universal Studios, though it's not far from Cape Canaveral in the Space Coast to the east, and therefore attracts tourists from within the United States as well as other countries.
- 1 Apopka — large suburb on the western side
- 2 Christmas — small town east of Orlando
- 3 Lake Buena Vista — home to Walt Disney World
- 4 Maitland — modern suburb north of Winter Park
- 5 Orlando — the largest and most important city in the region, and the location of the main airport
- 6 Winter Garden — suburb on the shore of Lake Apopka, with downtown and shopping
- 7 Winter Park — upscale suburb with downtown and Rollins College campus
- 8 Altamonte Springs — urban extension of Orlando City to the north
- 9 Casselberry — extensive suburb, mostly residential
- 10 Lake Mary — mostly residential area between Sanford and Casselberry
- 11 Oviedo — mostly residential area on the eastern edge of Orlando
- 12 Sanford — the location of a second airport in the region, on the south shore of Lake Monroe
- 13 Celebration — Disney-inspired planned community, designed to be "perfect" and looks like a town out of a 1950s TV show
- 14 Kissimmee — large suburb on the south side of Orlando, with much of Orlando's Hispanic/Latino community
- 15 St. Cloud — Kissimmee's little brother, or sister.
- 1 Universal Orlando — closer to central Orlando, Universal is the other major amusement park in the region
- 2 Walt Disney World — the location of EPCOT and other theme parks, which function like city districts of the broader Disney World
The region is the location of three counties: Orange County, the location of the city of Orlando itself; Osceola County, the suburbs to the south; and Seminole County, the suburbs in the north. Seminole County is between Orlando City to the south and Volusia County, and specifically the Deltona-DeLand area, to the north. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated in 2019 that the population was 472,000. Its county seat is Sanford. Orange County is the core of the Orlando metropolitan area, with its seat at Orlando. It is one of Florida's most populous counties with a population of approximately 1.4 million in 2019. Osceola County is south of Orange County, and its county seat is Kissimmee. Its population is the least of the three, but still substantial at 376,000 in 2019.
The Greater Orlando area is diverse, and integration is high among the three ethnic groups that comprise almost all of the population: white, Black, and Hispanic/Latino. The southern part of the city is primary Latino, but as a whole the city's culture doesn't have Miami's prevalence of Latin-American culture. Cities such as Sanford, where there is fairly equal population of these three ethnic groups, is a good example of the city's "melting pot" culture, despite its notoriety for the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
Contrary to what some may assume, Metro Orlando's economy isn't dominated by theme parks. The theme parks are concentrated in the southwest, and they're not important to the northern side of the city. The economy of the north is mixed, but on the whole prosperous, with high levels of "gentrification" in Winter Park and to a lesser extent, Sanford. Farther from downtown, the north becomes less diverse and less cosmopolitan, and traditionally, more Republican, although on the whole the Orlando Metro Area is one of the most liberal cities in Florida. In this northern region, white-collar jobs such as Advent Health's headquarters are an important economic contributor, as is construction due to the increasing population.
There are college campuses throughout Orlando, even if it's not called a "college town." University of Central Florida (UCF) is a large public college offering a wide range of degrees, while there are some more focused colleges, such as Full Sail University for video and music production, and the wealthy Rollins College, a liberal arts college.
The west side of Orlando, the location of a major part of the city's Black community, is mostly suburban and has some nice town center areas, such as Winter Garden near Lake Apopka, which has emerged along with Apopka as one of Greater Orlando's most important suburbs. However, as the city is diverse and integrated, there are communities of ethnic minorities throughout the city, and finding African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and whites all dining in a Middle Eastern restaurant in Maitland or Winter Park is a common sight.
Unfortunately, Orlando's massive area, scattered feel, and in places, lack of character, make the metro area disjointed. There's a little of everything, from beautiful neighborhoods with fine dining, to non-descript residential areas, to major highway routes where poverty and crime (and dangerous driving) are common. Much of metro Orlando feels as though urban planning was nonexistent when it was built, and consequently US highways even in the nicest towns are unattractive. You have to know where the best restaurants and tourist attractions are before you visit, or else they'll be hard to spot, because they're hidden away from the main roads.
US Hwy 17-92 run concurrent with each other, through Greater Orlando, between DeLand in Volusia County and Lake Alfred in Polk County. From DeLand US 17 continues north towards Jacksonville while US 92 continues east towards Daytona Beach in Volusia County. From Lake Alfred US 17 continues south towards Punta Gorda through Wauchua and Arcadia, while US 92 continues west towards Tampa via Lakeland.
The Florida Turnpike connects southeastern Florida with Orlando's theme parks.
SR 50 goes across the state from US 1 south of Titusville, in Brevard County, to Wiki Wachee State Park at US 19, north of Spring Hill in Hernando County. It passes through Clermont, Groveland, and Mascotte in Lake County, west of Orlando.
1 Orlando International Airport (MCO IATA) is the largest and most important local airport. 2 Orlando-Sanford International Airport (SFB IATA) is southeast of Sanford and east of Lake Mary, on the northern edge of the city.
- Main article: Rail travel in the United States
Amtrak operates trains between New York City and Miami with stops in Greater Orlando with the Silver Star and Silver Meteor lines. Journey times are about 23 hours from New York and five hours from Miami. While trains are comfortable and includes both seating and sleeper options, delays are quite common. The Silver Star detours from Kissimmee toward Tampa via Lakeland from Kissimmee while the Silver Meteor continues south from Kissimmee to the next stop in Sebring. In Greater Orlando Amtrak trains stop only in DeLand, Winter Park, Orlando Health Station, and Kissimmee. Cross platform transfers with the local SunRail commuter trains are only in Winter Park, Orlando Health, and Kissimmee which also offer connections with Lynx buses (local public transportation).
Sanford serves as the southern terminus of the Auto Train which carries passengers and automobiles between Sanford and Lorton, Virginia, effectively serving as a car-rail link from Orlando to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The train runs daily with no intermediate stops and takes 17½ hours one way.
- See also: Orlando#Get around for a detailed description of the following options:
US Hwy 17-92 run concurrent with each other between DeLand in Volusia County and Lake Alfred in Polk County. It goes from the south of Sanford to downtown Orlando as Orlando Ave. It follows Colonial Dr (SR-50) from Orlando Ave to Orange Blossom Trail (OBT) where it continues south on OBT, concurrent with US Hwy 441, towards Kissimmee.
SR 60 runs east-west through the southern half of Osceola County. S.R. 60 leads from the Tampa and Brandon areas in the west through Mulberry, Bartow, and Lake Wales after which it runs for 80 mi (130 km) through rural areas before reaching Vero Beach on the East coast, also intersecting with the Florida's Turnpike halfway. About 20 mi (32 km) east of Lake Wales, it is reduced to two lanes with occasional passing lanes and can be a little hectic between tailgaters and slow drivers (speed limit is 60 mph (97 km/h), but the average is a bit higher). The 25 mi (40 km) between Yeehaw Junction and Interstate 95 has little traffic and a 65 mph (105 km/h) speed limit. This offers a lower cost alternative to travelling on the Florida Turnpike between Yeehaw Junction and South Florida.
& serves as a tolled 'beltway' around the greater Orlando Metropolitan area. State Road (SR) 417 goes around the east side of town from I-4 in Fours Seasons/Celebration through the Kissimmee, Oviedo and ends at I-4 south of Sanford. SR 429 traverses some of the highest elevations in Orange County and is often within a few miles of the Lake Wales Ridge. It runs along the west side of Greater Orlando. The road peaks at Mile Marker 13 where on clear days it is possible to see the skyline of downtown Orlando to the northeast and various portions of Walt Disney World Resort to the southeast.
- Sun Rail, ☏ . M-F 5AM-11:30PM. Sun Rail is a north-south train on weekdays through Sanford, Orlando, and Kissimmee, from Poinciana at its southern end, to DeBary at its the northern end. Bus connection is provided from Orlando International Airport to the Sand Lake Road Station by Links 11, 42 and 111; and from Orlando-Sanford International Airport to the Sanford station by Link 46E. Cross platform connections to Amtrak trains are only in Kissimmee, Orlando Health/Amtrak Station, and Winter Park. $2-5 one way, with discounts for round-trip tickets, and 50% off for seniors 65 and over, and youth between the ages of 7-18.
- See also: Orlando#By bus lists the intercity bus companies serving the Orlando Metropolitan area from all parts of the state.
- LYNX - Public transportation by Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority. With the main hub centered on Orlando, bus service provided in Osceola, Orange, and Seminole Counties. Some buses link to neighboring counties. Service to Disney World is available.
- Beep operates smaller autonomous mobile (driverless) mini-buses to serve as public transportation in Lake Nona and in Altamonte Springs. In Lake Nona they operate between residential areas to shopping centers, parks, and medical care facilities on (5) different routes while the one in Altamonte Springs operates between Altamonte Mall, AMC Theatre, Cranes Roost, and the Renaisance Centre next door on a single route with plans to expand.
- Disney Resort Transportation Disney Resorts operate their own transportation network of buses, monorail, gandolas, boats and mini-vans to transport guests and cast members (employees) between the theme parks, hotels, resorts, parking lots, and connections to Lynx buses (numbered in 300s) in their expansive resort grounds (Reedy Creek District).
- I-Ride Trolley - If you're looking to ride up and down International drive this is one of the best offers! The busses offer many stops up and down International drive, especially if you plan on visiting Sea World! For about $2.00 for adults, $1.00 for kids and only $0.25 for seniors its extremely affordable, especially if you don't plan on renting a car. However, keep in mind, that the trollies only run until 10:30PM, so if you're a late bird be sure to plan!
The following are public transportation from neighboring counties outside the Lynx service area. Unlike in other major cities they do not operate commuter express buses into downtown Orlando, Disney or any of the major employment centers, but rather to the peripherals of the Lynx Service area (of Orange, Osceola and/or Seminole Counties) or to the nearest SunRail Station:
- LakeXpress operates public transportation between Eustis, Mount Dora, Tavares, Altoona in Lake County and in Four Corners, in the southeastern part of Lake County. Inter-county connections to Lynx in Orange and Osceola Counties are with the following:
- 4 Altoona - Eustis - Mount Dora - Zellwood. Bus goes around Mount Dora on US 441 on its way from Eustis to the Anthony House in Zellwood. Going North it goes up to Altoona via Umatilla and Dona Vista on SR-19 from Eustis. Link 44 continues from Zellwood to Apopka on US Hwy 441.
- 50 Mascotte - Clermont - Winter Garden (Winter Garden Shopping Center) on FL-Hwy 50. Link 105 continues east from Winter Garden into Orlando Lynx Central Station in downtown Orlando.
- 55 Short route between Orlando Health South Lake Hospital and Legacy Blvd on US Hwy 192 in Four Corners. Link 55 continues east on US Hwy 192 in Four Corners towards Kissimmee via Disney.
- South Lake Express Clermont - Orlando Health South Lake Hospital in Four Corners (Cagan Ridge Blvd & Cagan View Rd) via US Hwy 27. Connects with Link 55 and Citrus Connector 18x in Four Corners.
- Votran operates public transportation in Deltaona, DeLand and from DeLand to Daytona Beach (Rt 60) in Volusia County. Nearest transfer point to Seminole County in Greater Orlando is the DeBary Sunrail Station (northern terminus of Sunrail) with the following routes:
- Citrus Connector operates public transportation in Haines City, Psner Park, southwestern Poiciana, Lakeland, etc in Polk County. Nearest transfer points to Osceola County in Greater Orlando are the Poiciana Sunrail Station (southern terminus of Sunrail); Poiciana Wal-Mart, and Four Corners with the following routes:
- 16x Haines City - Poinciana Walmart. Connect to Link 26, 306, 426 and Citrus Connector #603.
- 18x Continues on US HWy 27 from Four Corners to Posner Park. Connects with Link 55 and LakeXpress' South Lake Express in Four Corners
- 19x Posner Park - Poinciana Sunrail. Connect with Sunrail, Link 306, NeighborLink 604.
- 603 Poiciana Walmart to Southwest Poinciana in Polk County.
- Greyhound & Flixbus, (bus station) 555 N John Young Pkwy (Check tickets and schedules for additional Flixbus stops as not all stop at the Greyhound Bus Station.). Greyhound and Flixbus travel along I-4 between Tampa (Hillsborough County), Lakeland (Polk County), Orlando, and Daytona Beach (Volusia County) for going across the Greater Orlando Area. They have buses going from Orlando to Titusville in Brevard County and from Orlando to Kissimmee (Osceola County) while going towards South Florida. They cost more but also go further and faster. Link 25 connects the Greyhound Station to Orlando Lynx Central Station in downtown Orlando via John Young Pkwy and Washington Ave.
The amusement parks, Universal Orlando and Disney World, are the main points of interest for travelers, though local parks and forests are also popular with some. Others use Orlando International Airport as a starting point for tourism in Central Florida. Cirque Du Soleil: La Nouba is a breath-taking theatrical performance in Lake Buena Vista.
As a modern urban area, Greater Orlando does not have many historic sites, compared to some of Florida's older towns. Some cities in parts of Inland Florida surrounding Orlando, such as Lake County on Orlando's eastern and northeastern fringes, have historic houses dating to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, while St. Augustine some distance away is Florida's primary historical travel attraction for early North American colonization.
- Visit Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista
- Get splashed by Shamu at SeaWorld in Orlando
- Ride your favorite movies at Universal Studios in Universal Orlando
- Visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure in Universal Orlando. If you are in the area this is a must see. This attraction is like no other! Keep in mind that it is a narrow part of the part, so they limit crowding during peak months and strollers, wheelchairs or walkers may be difficult to navigate. None of the rides in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter allows bags or carry-ons however; each ride provides free lockers outside of the attractions for the duration of your ride. If you don't mind not sitting with your party or going on a ride alone, use the single rider line, the wait is always shorter. Don't forget to try a Butterbeer, it's the only section of the both parks that offers the refreshing frozen or non-frozen treat.
Cuisine in metro Orlando is more diverse than that of neighboring regions, where seafood and American cuisine dominate. In a few neighborhoods such as downtown Winter Park, cuisines from around the world can be found on the same street. In less prosperous and less diverse suburban areas, there are fewer or even no restaurants serving cuisines other than American. You can, and should, avoid statewide or larger restaurant chains because there are more upscale standalone dining establishments placed within the nicest parts of the city. Restaurants serving foreign cuisines are typically better than their American counterparts. This is not to say that there aren't good restaurants in the American style, but most are aiming at the budget and medium-range categories, while foreign cuisines tend to be advertised at only somewhat higher prices while offering more cosmopolitan atmosphere.
- The Space Coast to the east is the location of the famous Cape Canaveral region.
- Lake County to the west connects Orlando to North Central Florida
- Polk County (Florida) to the southwest leads into West Central Florida
- Volusia County or the "Fun Coast" to the northeast includes some cities on the edge of Greater Orlando, including Deltona