(Pictured above: Castle Hotel Autograph Collection by Marriott)
by F. Andrew Taylor
The OCCC boasts seven food courts and 43 permanent retail locations as well as many mobile, “quick eats” setups, so you won’t lack for convenience or variety on site. Choices range from Pita Hut Greek to the Cubans Cafe to Center Garden to Ezra’s Southern Style BBQ…and really, what’s better than Ezra’s? BB King’s Blues Club, 9101 I-Dr., offers comfort food and live music just about a half mile from the OCCC. Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, 9150 I-Dr., has two floors with private dining rooms, two bars and a picturesque patio. They also have in-house sommeliers and a dress code, if you’re going upscale.
Four hotels are connected to the OCCC by pedestrian bridges or skywalks, so they are the obvious choices for convenience. They are the Hyatt Regency Orlando, Rosen Centre Hotel, Rosen Plaza and Hilton Orlando. On the less business-y end of the scale is Avanti International Resort, 8378 I-Dr., which is essentially a giant pool with a waterfall with a hotel wrapped around it. it advertises itself as “kid-friendly,” so you’ve been warned. On the other end of the scale is Castle Hotel Autograph Collection by Marriott, which promises it’s guests will be “immersed in art, music, cuisine and culture within its Bavarian-inspired walls, providing an oasis to travelers with uncommon taste.”
This is Orlando. What can’t you do? Air Florida Helicopter, 8990 I-Dr., offers tours over local theme parks and other attractions. Another option for spectacular views is the Wheel at ICON Park, 8375 I-Dr., a 400-ft. observation wheel surrounded by bars and other nightspots. If you’re in a more educational mood, there are several museums nearby, including Ripley’s Believe it Or Not, 8201 I-Dr. There are also a few theme parks in the area if you’ve brought your family.