Where to Stay in Orlando (2020 • COOLEST Areas!)

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Planning your X vacation? Not sure where to stay in Orlando? This guide breaks down the best areas in Orlando FOR ALL BUDGETS!

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Adventure and animals, Mickey Mouse and Harry Potter; Orlando is a city brimming with fun, excitement, culture and sunshine.

But Orlando is a massive and sprawling city and choosing where to stay is super important.

Which is exactly why we put this list together of the best neighbourhoods in Orlando, Florida.

The Broke Backpacker’s guide for where to stay in Orlando is designed with one purpose – to help YOU find the best place to stay in the city based on your travel needs. So whether you’re looking to spend your time exploring theme parks, dancing in the club, or wandering through the heart of the city, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are our top picks for where to stay in Orlando, Florida.

 

Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Orlando

 

In a hurry? Here’s my top neighborhood for first timers:

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Southwest Orlando
Southwest Orlando is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. It’s where you’ll find a handful of world-famous theme parks, including Universal Studios, Epcot and Walt Disney World, and many others.
 
Places to Visit:
  • Learn all about bones at the SKELETONS: Museum Of Osteology
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop
  • See wax statues of your favourite celebrities at Madame Tussauds Orlando

 

Where to Stay in Orlando

Orlando is an integral stop on many Florida trips. Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Orlando.

 

Best Budget Accommodations in Orlando: AAE Clarion Universal

This property is one of the best budget options in central Orlando. Located near the Dr Phillips neighbourhood, it is close to Orlando’s top attractions, including Universal Studios and Disney World. It has cosy and comfortable rooms, free wifi, a great variety of amenities. There’s also a shuttle service to most theme parks!

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Best Airbnb in Orlando: Modern Private Apartment

Your typical Florida apartment awaits you smack dab in the middle of where all the shopping goes down. –That’s right. This home is right off of I-drive, where you can get the best deals in the country. Besides that, this home is brand new and modernly furnished from the kitchen to the bedroom. And whats a Florida holiday apartment without a balcony to catch the view of one the best theme parks around; Universal Studios. From what we know about Orlando, you don’t come here unless you’re ready to jump on some roller coasters, and the location of this living space is easily accessible to all of them.

Walking, bus, or car it’s a short distance and with plenty of restaurants to pick and choose from at your fingertips. When you’re ready to settle in for the night, grab the remote get comfy on the heavenly cloud-like bed and fall asleep to something on Netflix or Hulu.

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Best Hotel in Orlando: Aloft Orlando Downtown

With its convenient location, modern rooms, and a stunning outdoor pool, it’s no wonder this is our choice for the best hotel in Orlando. Set in the Thornton Park neighbourhood, this hotel is close to restaurants, bars and Orlando’s top attractions. There’s also an in-house restaurant and a stylish lounge bar.

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Orlando Neighborhood Guide

Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Orlando

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Southwest Orlando

  • Southwest Orlando is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. It’s where you’ll find a handful of world-famous theme parks, including Universal Studios, Epcot and Walt Disney World, and many others.
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Dr Phillips

  • Orlando’s Dr Phillips neighbourhood is one of the most sought-after areas in the city. Located outside of the city centre, Dr Phillips is where you can enjoy all the benefits of the suburbs while still being in close proximity to the city and its top attractions.
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Downtown Orlando

  • Downtown Orlando is the heart, soul and centre of the city. Packed with hotels, restaurants, diners and shopping, downtown Orlando is a bustling and vibrant place to stay.
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Thornton Park

  • Just east of downtown Orlando is Thornton Park. Far and away the coolest neighbourhood in the city, Thornton Park boasts a great mix of trendy boutiques, hip restaurants, and electric nightlife. Here you’ll also find a myriad of art galleries and art installations, best explored with a glass in hand on a monthly Wine and Art Walk.
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Celebration

  • Celebration is one of the most unique neighbourhoods in Florida. Located south of Orlando, Celebration was originally developed by the Walt Disney Company as the quintessential American neighbourhoods. The neighbourhood evokes feelings of the 1930s with its beautifully designed buildings and overall charm.
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Orlando is a large city located in Central Florida. Home to more than a dozen colourful and fun theme parks, exciting animal attractions and exhilarating outdoor adventures, Orlando is packed with fun for travellers of all ages, interests and budgets.

Divided into 125-plus diverse neighbourhoods, there’s plenty to see and do in Orlando. Which is why choosing where to stay is incredibly important.

In this guide, we’ll break down the top five neighbourhoods by interest.

Starting with downtown Orlando. At the heart of the city, downtown Orlando is bursting with culture and history, shopping, dining and entertainment. Here you’ll find plenty of after dark fun, from sporting events to discotheques and dancehalls.

Set to the east is Thornton Park. A lively and popular neighbourhood, Thornton Park is where you’ll find a myriad of hip hangouts and trendy boutiques.

Head south from the city centre to Southwest Orlando. Home to theme parks, aquariums, museums and galleries, this part of Orlando is a major tourist destination and packed with fun for the whole family.

Continue south to Dr Phillips. One of the most desirable neighbourhoods in Orlando, Dr Phillips is close to theme parks, but far enough away to enjoy a break from the crowds.

And finally, even further south, is Celebration. A quintessential American neighbourhood, Celebration is well connected to Orlando’s most famous tourist attractions and has a very unique charm and appeal.

Still not sure where to stay in Orlando? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

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Orlando’s 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in

Now, let’s take a look, in more detail, at the five best neighbourhoods to stay in Orlando. Each offers something unique to visitors, so be sure to pick the neighbourhood that’s the best fit for you.

 

1. Southwest Orlando – Where to stay in Orlando first time

Southwest Orlando is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city. It’s where you’ll find a handful of world-famous theme parks, including Universal Studios, Epcot and Walt Disney World, and many others. With so much fun and excitement packed into this one place, Southwest Orlando is our recommendation for where to stay if you’re visiting the city for the first time.

But, there’s more to do in Southwest Orlando than rides, characters, and sugary treats. Southwest Orlando is also home to museums and art galleries, delicious restaurants and cosy cafes. Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it in Southwest Orlando.

Southwest Orlando, Orlando

 

Things to See and Do in Southwest Orlando

– Cast a spell for fun at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

– Catch a performance at the Holy Land Experience, a religious-themed park.

– Eat an exceptional meal at Shula’s Steak House.

– Escape the normal and explore the absurd at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando.

– Explore a creative and imaginative world at Epcot.

– Learn all about bones at the SKELETONS: Museum Of Osteology.

– Meet Mickey, Minnie, Donald and more of your favourite characters at Walt Disney World.

– Play a round of golf at MetroWest Golf Club.

– Satisfy your sweet tooth at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop.

– See wax statues of your favourite celebrities at Madame Tussauds Orlando.

– Spend a day going on epic adventures with your favourite TV and film characters at Universal Studios.

 

Best Airbnb in Southwest Orlando: Modern Private Apartment

Your typical Florida apartment awaits you smack dab in the middle of where all the shopping goes down. –That’s right. This home is right off of I-drive, where you can get the best deals in the country. Besides that, this home is brand new and modernly furnished from the kitchen to the bedroom. And whats a Florida apartment without a balcony to catch the view of one the best theme parks around; Universal Studios. From what we know about Orlando, you don’t come here unless you’re ready to jump on some roller coasters, and the location of this living space is easily accessible to all of them. Walking, bus, or car it’s a short distance and with plenty of restaurants to pick and choose from at your fingertips. When you’re ready to settle in for the night, grab the remote get comfy on the heavenly cloud-like bed and fall asleep to something on Netflix or Hulu.

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Best Budget Accommodations in Southwest Orlando: Quality Inn & Suites Orlando

With its amazing location, this Inn is the perfect budget accommodation choice in Southwest Orlando. A short drive from the city’s most famous theme parks, this hotel is both at the centre of the action but away from the crowds. It has a gym, air-conditioned rooms, and an outdoor pool.

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Best Hotel in Southwest Orlando: Comfort Suites Orlando

This hotel is our recommendation for where to stay in Southwest Orlando. It has a Jacuzzi, a pool, a gym and a sun deck. Surrounded by dining and shopping options, everything you could possibly need is at your doorstep. The rooms are large, and each is outfitted with a great variety of modern amenities.

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Best Hotel in Southwest Orlando: Hampton Inn

The Hampton Inn is a comfortable and charming three-star hotel. Located at the heart of the neighbourhood, this hotel is close to Walt Disney World and a myriad of other theme parks and resorts. Guests can enjoy large rooms, free internet and a lovely outdoor swimming pool.

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2. Dr Phillips – Where to stay in Orlando on a budget

Orlando’s Dr Phillips neighbourhood is one of the most sought-after areas in the city. Located outside of the city centre, Dr Phillips is where you can enjoy all the benefits of the suburbs while still being in close proximity to the city and its top attractions. From Dr Phillips, you’re just a short drive from theme parks, lakes, golf clubs and nightclubs.

Dr Phillips is also where you’ll find a high concentration of budget accommodation options. Whether you’re looking for an inexpensive inn or a budget boutique hotel, you’ll be spoiled for choice in Dr Phillips.

Dr Phillips, Orlando

source: Jmoral12345 (Wikimedia Commons)

 

Things to See and Do in Dr Phillips

– Catch an incredible performance at Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

– Dine on incredible fondue at The Melting Pot.

– Dive deep into history at Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition.

– Eat great American fare at the Simpsons-themed Moe’s Southwest Grill.

– Enjoy thrilling carnival rides at Magical Midway.

– Get your heart racing by spending a thrilling day at Universal’s Volcano Bay, a water-themed park with rides, games, adventure and more.

– Ride the tallest observational wheel on the east coast at ICON Orlando.

– Savour fresh and tasty sushi, sashimi and more at Seito Sushi.

– See a variety of sea creatures and exotic animals at SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium.

– Snack on a delicious sandwich at Which Wich.

– Spend a day on the water at Big Sand Lake.

 

Best Budget Accommodations in Dr Phillips: AAE Clarion Universal

This is our recommendation for where to stay in Dr Phillips. It is close to Orlando’s top attractions, including Universal Studios and Disney World. It has cosy and comfortable rooms, free wifi, a great variety of amenities. There’s also a shuttle service to most theme parks!

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Best Airbnb in Dr Phillips: Adorable Room Minutes From Disney

You can’t get much better than this if you’re looking for a room to stay around Orlando on budget. This room is really cozy and bright. Classy too, with the floral wallpaper and everything, you will quickly understand the expression they say about Florida when you stay here! There are also shared spaces which allows you to meet new people while traveling. And the hostess and is one of the rare Airbnb-ers that takes the bed and “breakfast” seriously. She’ll make pancakes and brew coffee for breakfast along with a Brazilian treat. The home is in a safe neighborhood located just a few minutes from Disney.

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Best Hotel in Dr Phillips: Homewood Suites by Hilton Orlando

These great suites are an excellent choice for accommodations in Orlando. Reasonably priced and incredibly well located, this great home is an excellent base for your time in Orlando. It has large rooms, great amenities, and a myriad of features, including a pool, tennis courts and a delicious on-site restaurant.

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Best Hotel in Dr Phillips: Drury Inn & Suites Orlando

This hotel is ideally situated in Dr Phillips. Just ten minutes away from theme parks, aquariums and Orlando’s top attractions, this hotel is a great base for exploring the city. It has spacious rooms, a fitness centre and a delightful swimming pool. A delicious breakfast is also available.

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3. Downtown Orlando – Best area to stay in Orlando for nightlife

Downtown Orlando is the heart, soul and centre of the city. Packed with hotels, restaurants, diners and shopping, downtown Orlando is a bustling and vibrant place to stay.

This is our pick for where to stay for nightlife. Bars, clubs and pubs dot this part of town, particularly along South Orange Avenue. In downtown Orlando, you don’t need to walk very far to find a fun, social and exciting night out.

Not only is downtown Orlando a great destination for a night on the town, but it’s a fantastic place to do a little shopping. Here you’ll find a fantastic selection of local shops and independent boutiques, as well as shopping malls and high-street stores.

Downtown Orlando, Orlando

 

Things to See and Do in Downtown Orlando

– Catch the Orlando Magic NBA team in action at the Amway Center.

– Dance the night away at Aero Rooftop Bar.

– Down a pint at Lizzy McCormack’s Irish Pub.

– Enjoy carefully crafted cocktail at the Magnolia.

– Explore Church Street, the unofficial centre of the city.

– Get lost in the music and electric atmosphere at Tier Nightclub.

– Grab a drink at Hanson’s Shoe Repair, Orlando’s first speakeasy.

– Hunt for treasures at East End Market.

– Party all night long in Wall Street Plaza.

– Sample dapper cocktails at the Courtesy.

– Spend a night at kitschy and colourful The Lodge.

 

Best Airbnb in Downtown Orlando: Private Studio Downtown

This hidden gem is in the absolute prime location, just off of South St. Which is THE spot for nightlife, and there is literally always something going on. They are continually shutting streets down, but don’t worry. This home is in the top walkable areas of downtown. And Publix is right across the road if you wanna make use of the tiny kitchen the studio has, go right ahead. Suitable for single travelers and most couples. There’s a TV as well, so you can catch up on an episode of your favorite show before you make your rounds around all the pubs in clubs the area has to offer.

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Best Budget Accommodations in Downtown Orlando: Travelodge by Wyndham Orlando Downtown Centroplex

Based in bustling downtown Orlando, this hotel is your best bet for budget accommodations in the city centre. It is within walking distance of the city’s best bars, clubs and restaurant. Each room comes complete with air-conditioning, a private bathroom and a coffee maker.

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Best Hotel in Downtown Orlando: Crowne Plaza Orlando Downtown

Our top pick for where to stay in downtown Orlando, this fantastic four-star hotel is located at the heart of the city. Surrounded by bistros and bars, this hotel is well situated for shopping, sightseeing and enjoying the nightlife scene. It has spacious rooms, an outdoor pool, and free wifi throughout.

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Best Hotel in Downtown Orlando: Marriott Orlando Downtown

The Marriott Orlando is modern and stylish and has an attentive and helpful staff. It has an outdoor pool a beautiful terrace, and an incredible in-house dining option. Rooms at the Marriott come complete with a flat-screen TV, a fridge and a coffee maker.

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4. Thornton Park – Coolest place to stay in Orlando

Just east of downtown Orlando is Thornton Park. Far and away the coolest neighbourhood in the city, Thornton Park boasts a great mix of trendy boutiques, hip restaurants, and electric nightlife. Here you’ll also find a myriad of art galleries and art installations, best explored with a glass in hand on a monthly Wine and Art Walk.

Architecture aficionados will love exploring Thornton Park. This neighbourhood is characterized by the early-20th-century bungalows and towering brownstones that line its leafy downtown streets. Simply walk throughout the neighbourhood taking in the detail and design that make Thornton Park stand out amongst the rest.

 

Thornton Park, Orlando

source: Josh Hallett (Flickr)

 

Things to See and Do in Thornton Park

– Browse the stalls at the Sunday farmers market.

– Dance the night away under the stars at The Patio.

– Dine on gigantic burritos at Tijuana Flats.

– Eat fresh and delicious sushi at Shari Sushi Lounge.

– Enjoy southern cuisine with a modern take at Soco Restaurant.

– Explore three floors of permanent exhibits at The Orange County Regional History Center.

– Grab a drink at Saddle Up All American Bar.

– Laugh your head off at SAK Comedy Lab.

– Listen to excellent live music at The Social.

– See the largest collection of art galleries at CityArts.

– Sink your teeth into a succulent burger at Graffiti Junktion.

– Sip craft cocktails at The Courtesy Bar.

– Start your day with a great brunch at Dexter’s Thornton Park.

 

Best Airbnb in Thornton Park: Trendy Room Next To Lake Eola

In the historic neighborhood of Thornton Park is this fantastic smart home that is just 10 minutes from DT and a quick drive to all the tourist attractions you’re here for. This home is uniquely designed with the most lively and vibrant colors to keep your energy high. And we can’t forget to mention the outdoor patio. You’re not experiencing Florida unless you are staying somewhere with either a balcony or a terrace, and lucky for you, this home has one with the most lovely couches you can sit on outdoors in the garden featuring an umbrella to keep you cool on the hot, humid days you’re going to bear through. It’s worth it in the end.

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Best Budget Accommodations in Thornton Park: Travelodge by Wyndham Orlando Downtown Centroplex

This is the best option for budget accommodations near Thornton Park. Located in neighbouring downtown Orlando, this hotel is close to the city’s best bistros, bars, nightclubs and museums. It has a range of air-conditioned rooms that are outfitted with modern amenities. Also onsite you’ll find a restaurant, lounge and laundry facilities.

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Best Hotel in Thornton Park: Aloft Orlando Downtown

With its convenient location, modern rooms, and a stunning outdoor pool, it’s no wonder this hotel is our pick for where to stay in Thornton Park. This hotel is close to restaurants, bars and Orlando’s top attractions. There’s also an in-house restaurant and a stylish lounge bar.

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Best Hotel in Thornton Park: The Eo Inn – Downtown

Boasting a contemporary and casual elegance, the Eo Inn is a fantastic Thornton Park hotel. Located close to downtown, everything you could possibly want is a short walk away. This hotel has luxurious rooms and a stunning rooftop terrace. There’s also a gym, a Jacuzzi and a golf course.

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5. Celebration – Best neighbourhood in Orlando for families

Celebration is one of the most unique neighbourhoods in Florida. Located south of Orlando, Celebration was originally developed by the Walt Disney Company as the quintessential American neighbourhoods. The neighbourhood evokes feelings of the 1930s with its beautifully designed buildings and overall charm.

The best place to stay if you’re visiting Orlando with kids, every member of your family will be thrilled with Celebration. Not only does it have a storybook feel, but this delightful neighbourhood is bursting with shops, cafes, trails and parks, perfect for exploring and enjoying after a day at the theme parks.

Celebration, Orlando

 

Things to See and Do in Celebration

– Browse the stalls and grab a bite at the Celebration Farmer’s Market.

– Dine on delicious Mexican fare at Avocado Mexican Grill.

– Eat classic American dishes at Holler & Dash.

– Enjoy a sweet treat at Kilwins.

– Explore downtown Celebration.

– Get your heart pumping on the Old Town Sling Shot.

– Kickstart your day with a delicious breakfast at iconic IHOP.

– Rent bikes and explore the neighbourhood on two wheels.

– Savour a quick bite at Five Guys burgers.

– Spend a day playing games and riding exciting rollercoasters at Fun Sports America Theme Parks.

– Take a stroll through Celebration Lakeside Park.

– Wander along the Disney Boardwalk.

 

Best Airbnb in Celebration: Charming Mobile Home

This fairytale home is absolutely the perfect home for families. With the master room downtowns and the upstairs featuring 2 double beds, they can play while you’re far enough to enjoy some silence after a day at Disney. And for the price? It’s a steal. You even get your own espresso machine while you stay here — no need to be running to Starbucks when you just need an extra shot. And for the outside space, well Celebration truly is a magical place to stay. It was built for all the employees of Disney, so it’s designed to keep you happy from every corner you look.

Especially in this neighborhood with unique, bright homes like this one. And you have access to a couple of pools, (one kiddie pool) bar, fitness center, playground, kitchen, fishing, minigolf, self-service laundry, parking, ATM, basketball court, and volleyball court all on-site!

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Best Budget Accommodations in Celebration: Rodeway Inn Maingate

Low prices, spotless beds, and a good location are three of the things that make this a great budget pick for Celebration, Florida. It has 200 comfortable rooms with air conditioning and essential amenities. Guests can also enjoy a fitness centre and a lovely swimming pool.

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Best Hotel in Celebration: Melia Orlando Hotel

Located in charming and quirky Celebration, this hotel is surrounded by modern amenities, great restaurants and delightful shops. Guests of this four-star hotel can enjoy a Jacuzzi, a swimming pool, a sauna and a golf course. The elegant rooms come complete with air-conditioning, an iPod docking station and a kitchenette.

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Best Hotel in Celebration: Bohemian Hotel Celebration Autograph Collection

The Bohemian is a modern and stylish four-star hotel. It boasts incredible views, superb dining options and is ideally located for shopping. It has a number of wellness amenities, including a sauna, a Jacuzzi and an outdoor pool. Enjoy a relaxing and restful say in Celebration at the Bohemian Hotel.

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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Orlando

Orlando is a city packed with fun and exciting. Home to everything from magical theme parks and exciting attractions, to spectacular museums and delicious restaurants; no matter your interests or your budget, there’s something for everyone in Orlando.

In this guide, we’ve covered the best areas to stay in Orlando. While there aren’t many hostels in the city, we did our best to include affordable hotels and inexpensive motels.

If you’re still not sure where to stay in Orlando, here’s a quick recap.

AAE Clarion Universal is our recommendation for budget accommodations in Orlando. Located near the Dr Phillips neighbourhood, this hotel is close to top restaurants, attractions and interesting activities.

Another great option is Aloft Orlando Downtown with its modern rooms, stunning outdoor pool and convenient downtown location.

Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments below.

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