Universal Studios City Walk in Orlando, FloridaLiving in Orlando is like enjoying a daily vacation. The Orlando area is jam packed with theme parks, outdoor recreation, sparkling natural springs, decadent dining, relaxing spas, and activities most Americans only dream of, mere moments away from the doorstep of your Orlando home.

Are you ready to get your staycation on? Here are six tips to maximize your enjoyment of living in Orlando and make sure that every weekend is filled with fun and excitement.

Tip 1: Know the Freebies

Beautiful vistas of the Orlando skyline from Lake Eola Park in Orlando, FLThe first step to being a local in Central Florida is knowing about all of the free attractions and events in the area! Greater Orlando residents will love visiting Universal’s City Walk or the newly-renovated Disney Springs for shopping, dining, clubs, movies, live music, rap battles, food trucks, or just a relaxing stroll. If you’re interested in hanging out closer to Downtown Orlando, visit Lake Eola Park where you can feed the birds, or watch the sun set over the city’s skyline.

Just west of Orlando, and very convenient to our East Polk County and Davenport new homes, visit Old Town, a local amusement park, outdoor shopping mall, and dining strip. The best free attractions here are the weekend car show featuring classic cars and the nightly street parties with live music.

Tip 2: Watch for Discounts, Deals, and Coupons

Groupon can be a lifesaver for Central Florida residents looking to save a few dollars on everyday tourist attractions. You can find deals on restaurants, discounts on helicopter rides, cheap admission to mini-golf courses, and up to 50 percent off at luxury spa resorts! A lot of restaurants and attractions will also give discounts depending on where you work or simply because you are a Florida resident. Disney fans will love the Disney Parks Blog meet-ups where, if you time it right, you can watch a Disney movie premiere, be the first to experience new cuisine, and get handouts for absolutely free.

Tip 3: Make Friends in the Best Places

Knowing someone who works in a theme park or resort can be a lifesaver on your pockets as they can get you and your family discounts on annual passes, tickets, food, merchandise, or, depending on how close you are, get you free admission into a park or resort.

Florida residents also have the advantage to work seasonally at Orlando theme parks, resorts and attractions and will enjoy the perks, as well as a fun part or full-time job. Most people living in the Greater Orlando area have worked for a theme park at one point or another and enjoyed the benefits such as free park admission, discounts on friends and family tickets, and resort and food discounts. I know I have!

Tip 4: Get an Annual Pass with Discounted Florida Resident Rates

The castle at Disney's Magic Kingdom near Orlando, FLThere’s a plethora of discounted annual pass opportunities for Florida residents with most theme parks and attractions offering exclusive resident prices. Considering that these theme parks are always expanding, and as an avid theme park fan and season pass owner, I can say it is well worth the weekend experiences and spontaneous mid-week adventures!

  • Walt Disney World Parks – If you’re like me and want to be immersed in the fun and fancy of Walt Disney World Resorts all of the time, then you’ll want to take a look at their flexible annual pass options. Disney makes it easy to budget out your fun by splitting your payments into monthly installments and enjoy all four parks for as low as $25 per month.
  • Universal Studios – Love high-speed roller coasters and live entertainment? Universal is home to all of your favorites from movies like Despicable Me, King Kong, Jurassic Park and Harry Potter! Universal Studios is also opening a brand new water park, Volcano Bay, as soon as Summer of 2017. Get yourself an annual pass to Universal Studios for as low as $12 a month!
  • LEGOLAND Florida – Who said LEGOLAND is just for kids? LEGOLAND Florida has three package deals all at individual price points. The Awesomer Pass not only gets you unlimited access to LEGOLAND Florida and Water Park, it also gives you access to the SEA LIFE aquarium, the Orlando Eye Ferris wheel, and the renowned Madame Tussauds Wax Museum.

Tip 5: Indulge in Fine Dining

Orlando is home to some of the best restaurants in the nation both inside and outside of the theme park limits. If you’re at the Disney parks, visit Disney’s Beauty and the Beast themed Be Our Guest Restaurant at Magic Kingdom for gourmet French food. Or, enjoy a dining experience at the No. 1 rated theme park restaurant, Mythos, serving Mediterranean and Asian cuisine in Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure.

Outside of the theme parks, the top Zagat-rated Orlando cuisine lies within Chatham’s Place in Dr. Phillips offering delicious and sustainable American cuisine, or try out Chef’s Table at the Edgewater for gourmet farm-to-table American foods.

For inexpensive food with expensive flavor, try Paramount Fine Foods on I-Drive serving Halal Lebanese and Middle Eastern cuisine, or Seito Sushi on Turkey Lake Road for Japanese fare. Food trucks are also a big go-to in Orlando! Try out the cuisine from the traveling Food Truck Bazaar, reaching different parts of Orlando weekly and serving ethnic and familiar delicacies. Disney Springs even has their own Fantasy Fare food truck haven featuring items from Disney Parks around the world.

Tip 6: Enjoy Outdoor Recreation

Wekiwa Springs in Apopka is one of over 900 springs in FloridaSome of the most inexpensive and enjoyable things to do in Central Florida involve spending time in nature! If you’re looking to have some water fun, there are over 900 natural springs in Florida to choose from. The beautiful waters at Wekiwa Springs, Rock Springs, Blue Springs and more have admission as little as $2 per person and make for an enjoyable afternoon or weekend getaway.

Greater Orlando is also full of fishing and boating excursions like the famous Kissimmee Chain of Lakes and Alligator Chain of Lakes. If you’re looking to have fun on land, check out the wide-variety of parks, walking trails and nature preserves located all throughout Greater Orlando.

Orlando is home to many golf celebrities because of the extensive number of golf courses, resorts and clubs. The rolling hills at Champion’s Gate, Celebration Golf Club, Reunion Resort, and even Walt Disney World offer world-class golfing with breathtaking views. If you’re intimidated by the big golf courses, enjoy one of the many mini-golf courses like Congo River Golf, Pirates Cove Mini Golf, or the Hollywood Drive-In Golf at Universal’s City Walk!

Looking for a new home near all of these enjoyable activities? Highland Homes builds new homes in Greater Orlando and East Polk County, with a variety of homes designed for your life and priced from the mid $100’s to $300’s. To learn more about us and our communities, browse home plans, and find your new home, visit the Highland Homes website and call the Orlando New Home Specialists at (863) 797-4999.