Where to Play and Stay in Orlando

An insider's guide to a fun, affordable Florida holiday.

Orlando is all about one-of-a-kind experiences. Perhaps you're a family of adrenaline junkies in search of the fastest and scariest ride at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure®. Or maybe dining alongside Cinderella in her Walt Disney World® castle is more your speed. Whether you're the type to swim with the dolphins at SeaWorld's Discovery Cove® Orlando or hit the outlet stores in search of bargains, Orlando provides a nonstop source of things to do.

Of course, just because there's 'round-the-clock activity doesn't mean you need to be in motion the entire time. In an area famous for sunny skies and warm temperatures, there's always the option of simply kicking back poolside at your resort.

Location, Location, Location

If your idea of a holiday means a getaway from the daily grind, the last thing you'll want to do is fight traffic and navigate a long commute each day. Metropolitan Orlando covers more than 4,000 miles, so if it's all new territory to you, make the process simple – ditch the street maps and stay someplace close to the action.

The Fountains resort on International Drive fits the bill for an affordable place to stay near all the hot spots. After a day of thrill rides, shopping or exploring the area, it's just minutes back to this world-class resort with sprawling rooms set on 54 acres of lakefront property. Plus, you'll find some unique perks you just won't find anyplace else in town.

Stay in Comfort

The first thing you'll notice about The Fountains is the size of the rooms. With 1,200 square feet, two spacious bedrooms, two bathrooms and a fully equipped kitchen, you'll feel as if you've never left home. Let me correct that: It's better than home – I only wish I had granite countertops and a Jacuzzi® tub (available in most units)!

Each villa also has its own washer and dryer, and even though appliances have never topped my list of vacation essentials, there's something wonderful about not having to wash my toddler's chocolate-stained shirts in the bathroom sink or decorate the living area in wet bathing suits and towels. And if little Danny wants to wear his Mickey Mouse shirt every day of the trip, well now you can let him.

Soak up the Sun

Once you start exploring the property at The Fountains, you'll find plenty of entertainment: an arcade, several playgrounds, a kids' indoor playroom, two enormous pools, a sauna, a fitness room, a walking trail, volleyball and basketball areas, a lake with flamingo-shaped paddleboats and a great spot for fishing where you can even rent poles.

But what makes this whole experience really over-the-top is Wakoola Springs – a 75,000-square-foot pool complex. "Sure," you say, "every hotel in Orlando has a pool." Yes, but this is like having a water park right on your doorstep, complete with cabanas to rent and poolside drink service. It's even got water slides – the enormous, spiral kind that will keep your kids busy for an entire afternoon while you soak up the rays and catch up on your favorite novel. From poolside crafts to karaoke and "dive-in movies," expect to make an entire day (and night) of it.

Chow Time

With all the terrific dining options at The Fountains, you'll never have to step foot off the property. Have a fresh muffin and a latte at Mug O' Joes, a burger and fries poolside at Wakoola Grill or an adult drink at H20, the water-themed bar that overlooks Lake Eve. If you're a culinary do-it-yourselfer, fire up an outdoor grill and create your own meals. In the evening, the fire pit, with a good old-fashioned sing-along, a bedtime story and s'mores, is the place to be.

My Kind of Deal

This is when you brace for the price. You start factoring in the water park and all the amenities and expect the worst. But a two-bedroom villa at The Fountains can cost as little as $120 in the off-season, and package deals can include theme-park tickets. One final hint: There's a free shuttle to Walt Disney World from the lobby, or you can jump on board the I-Ride Trolley – a cheap and easy way to get to and from all the sights on International Drive, including Sea World, Pointe Orlando and hundreds of outlet shops.

To plan your own family getaway to Orlando and The Fountains resort, call 1-561-443-8889 or 800-456-0009 and visit www.bluegreenrentals.com/uk_family.

Sponsored listings by VISIT FLORIDA Partners


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