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Orlando FL

Orlando, FL

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For the sheer number of people walking around in giant, cartoon-like heads 365 days a year, no other city can compare with Orlando. But this popular vacation destination in the Sunshine State is more than just a playground for children (and adults) who hum ditties between bites of fluorescent cotton candy.

When the sun is shining, Orlando is alive with locals and travelers mingling at a number of world-famous theme parks. But the city outside park gates has plenty to offer on its own. Orlando’s downtown arts district marks the spot where visual and performance arts intersect. The area teems with galleries, and provides year-round entertainment with storytelling, gallery hops and block parties.

Orlando attractions continue in the self-indulgence scene, with a number of spas, nearly 200 golf courses and countless opportunities for shopping. The Mall at Millenia is a luxury experience, with available valet parking and concierge-driven retail nirvana, complete with personal shoppers. For less commercial pursuits, Orlando delivers with a number of museums and public parks, including the Lake Eola Park—most popular among locals with young children.

When night falls, Orlando nightlife lights up. For dinner, consider Ocean Prime, a back-to-basics, seafood-and-steak restaurant framed in a swanky 1930s atmosphere. Poised yet approachable staff serve up cocktails originally made for the likes of Bing Crosby, Errol Flynn and Billie Holiday; don’t miss the Black Orchid, a mix that pairs Belvedere Black Raspberry Vodka and St. Germaine Elderflower Liqueur. Another of Orlando’s hot restaurants, Hue, perfects American progressive cuisine. All the standard dishes are there, with a creative twist. Start with the mussels Rockefeller or golden lobster bisque before moving on to the lamb lollipop. Save room for Hue’s signature red velvet cheesecake.

Dreams of sipping spirits while chilling out on a massive block of ice? Make that wish come true at Orlando’s ICEBAR. Dubbed the "coolest bar in the USA," ICEBAR is the largest venue of its kind in the world. More than 50 tons of carved ice went into the construction. The bar is kept at a brisk 27 degrees, and patrons are allowed to enter during just six periods each day to keep out the heat and humidity. (To maintain the required temperature, ICEBAR prohibits mouse-ercising, too.)

When guests are sufficiently chilled, they can venture next door for a quick warm-up in the Fire Lounge. This music and dance club pays homage to the fiery side of life, with hot DJs and entertainers, exclusive VIP areas and private bottle service.

With cool blue and hot red already covered, it is only patriotic to add a splash of white to your journey through Orlando nightlife. The Fifth, a V Group company, is both elegant and eclectic. The decor features polished white-rock walls accented by a sleek onyx bar. The Fifth offers an assortment of signature cocktails, and doubles as a well-stocked retail liquor store.

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