First Time Buyers’ Guide

First Time Buyers' Guide

1. Start saving for a down payment early

It’s common to put 20% down, but many lenders now permit much less, and first-time home buyer programs allow as little as 3% down. But putting down less than 20% may mean higher costs and paying for private mortgage insurance, and even a small down payment can still be hefty. For example, a 5% down payment on a $200,000 home is $10,000. Play around with this down payment calculator to help you land on a goal amount. Some tips for saving for a down payment include setting aside tax refunds and work bonuses, setting up an automatic savings plan and using an app to track your progress.

2. Explore your down payment and mortgage options

There are lots of mortgage options out there, each with their own combination of pros and cons. If you’re struggling to come up with a down payment, check out:

Conventional mortgages

that conform to standards set by the government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and require as little as 3% down.

Federal Housing Administration loans

which permit down payments as low as 3.5%.

Veterans Affairs loans

which sometimes require no down payment at all.
The amount you put down also affects your monthly mortgage payment and interest rate. If you want the smallest mortgage payment possible, opt for a 30-year fixed mortgage. But if you can afford larger monthly payments, you can get a lower interest rate with a 20-year or 15-year fixed loan. Use our calculator to determine whether a 15-year or 30-year fixed mortgage is a better fit for you. Or you may prefer an adjustable-rate mortgage, which is riskier but guarantees a low interest rate for the first few years of your mortgage.

3. Research state and local assistance programs

In addition to federal programs, many states offer assistance programs for first-time home buyers with perks such as down payment assistance, closing cost assistance, tax credits and discounted interest rates. Your county or municipality may also have first-time home buyer programs.

4. Determine how much home you can afford

Before you start looking for your dream home, you need to know what’s actually within your price range. Use this home affordability calculator to determine how much you can safely afford to spend.

5. Check your credit and pause any new activity

When applying for a mortgage loan, your credit will be one of the key factors in whether you’re approved, and it will help determine your interest rate and possibly the loan terms.

So check your credit before you begin the home buying process. Dispute any errors that could be dragging down your credit score and look for opportunities to improve your credit, such as making a dent in any outstanding debts.

To keep your score from dipping after you apply for a mortgage, avoid opening any new credit accounts, like a credit card or auto loan, until your home loan closes.

6. Compare mortgage rates

Many home buyers get a rate quote from only one lender, but this often leaves money on the table. Comparing mortgage rates from at least three lenders can save you more than $3,500 over the first five years of your loan, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Get at least three quotes and compare both rates and fees.

As you’re comparing quotes, ask whether any of the lenders would allow you to buy discount points, which means you’d prepay interest up front to secure a lower interest rate on your loan. How long you plan to stay in the home and whether you have money on-hand to purchase the points are two key factors in determining whether buying points makes sense. You can use this calculator to decide whether it makes sense to buy points.

7. Get a pre-approval letter

You can get pre-qualified for a mortgage, which simply gives you an estimate of how much a lender may be willing to lend based on your income and debts. But as you get closer to buying a home, it’s smart to get a pre-approval, where the lender thoroughly examines your finances and confirms in writing how much it's willing to lend you, and under what terms. Having a pre-approval letter in hand makes you look much more serious to a seller and can give you an upper hand over buyers who haven’t taken this step.

8. Hire the right buyer's agent

You’ll be working closely with your real estate agent, so it’s essential that you find someone you get along with well. The right buyer's agent should be highly skilled, motivated and knowledgeable about the area.

9. Pick the right type of house and neighborhood

You may assume you’ll buy a single-family home, and that could be ideal if you want a big yard or a lot of room. But if you’re willing to sacrifice space for less maintenance and extra amenities, and you don’t mind paying a homeowners association fee, a condo or townhouse could be a better fit.

But even if the home is right, the neighborhood could be all wrong. So be sure to:

Research nearby schools, even if you don’t have kids, since they affect home value.
Look at local safety and crime statistics.
Map the nearest hospital, pharmacy, grocery store and other amenities you’ll use.
Drive through the neighborhood on various days and at different times to check out traffic, noise and activity levels.

10. Stick to your budget

Look at properties that cost less than the amount you were approved for. Although you can technically afford your pre-approval amount, it’s the ceiling — and it doesn’t account for other monthly expenses or problems like a broken dishwasher that arise during homeownership, especially right after you buy. Shopping with a firm budget in mind will also help when it comes time to make an offer.

In a competitive real estate market with limited inventory, it’s likely you’ll bid on houses that get multiple offers. When you find a home you love, it’s tempting to make a high-priced offer that’s sure to win. But don’t let your emotions take over. Shopping below your pre-approval amount creates some wiggle room for bidding. Stick to your budget to avoid a mortgage payment you can’t afford.

11. Make the most of open houses

When you're touring homes during open houses, pay close attention to the home’s overall condition, and be aware of any smells, stains or items in disrepair. Ask a lot of questions about the home, such as when it was built, when items were last replaced and how old key systems like the air conditioning and the heating are.

If other potential buyers are viewing the home at the same time as you, don’t hesitate to schedule a second or third visit to get a closer look and ask questions privately.

First-time home buyer mistakes to avoid
With so much to think about, it’s unsurprising that some first-time home buyers make mistakes they later regret. Here are a few of the most common pitfalls, along with tips to help you avoid a similar fate.

12. Not budgeting for closing costs

In addition to saving for a down payment, you’ll need to budget for the money required to close your mortgage, which can be significant. Closing costs generally run between 2% and 5% of your loan amount. You can shop around and compare prices for certain closing expenses, such as homeowners insurance, home inspections and title searches. You can also defray costs by asking the seller to pay for a portion of your closing costs or negotiating your real estate agent's commission. Calculate your expected closing costs to help you set your budget.

13. Not saving enough for after move-in expenses

Once you've saved for your down payment and budgeted for closing costs, you should also set aside a buffer to pay for what will go inside the house. This includes furnishings, appliances, rugs, updated fixtures, new paint and any improvements you may want to make after moving in.

14. Buying a home for today instead of tomorrow

It's easy to look at properties that meet your current needs. But if you plan to start or expand your family, it may be preferable to buy a larger home now that you can grow into. Consider your future needs and wants and whether the home you’re considering will suit them.

15. Passing up the chance to negotiate

A lot can be up for negotiation in the home buying process, which can result in major savings. Are there any major repairs you can get the seller to cover, either by fully handling them or by giving you a credit adjustment at closing? Is the seller willing to pay for any of the closing costs? If you’re in a buyer's market, you may find the seller will bargain with you to get the house off the market.

16. Not knowing the limits of a home inspection

After your offer is accepted, you’ll pay for a home inspection to examine the property’s condition inside and out, but the results will only tell you so much.

Not all inspections test for things like radon, mold or pests, so be sure you know what's included.
Make sure the inspector can access every part of the home, such as the roof and any crawl spaces.
Attend the inspection and pay close attention.
Don’t be afraid to ask your inspector to take a look — or a closer look — at something. And ask questions. No inspector will answer the question, “Should I buy this house?” so you’ll have to make this decision after reviewing the reports and seeing what the seller is willing to fix.

17. Not buying adequate homeowners insurance

Before you close on your new house, your lender will require you to buy homeowners insurance. Shop around and compare insurance rates to find the best price. Look closely at what’s covered in the policies; going with a less-expensive policy usually means fewer protections and more out-of-pocket expenses if you file a claim. Also, flood damage isn’t covered by homeowners insurance, so if your new home is in a flood-prone area, you may need to buy separate flood insurance.

VA Loan

VA Loan

Buying a home using your hard-earned VA loan benefits can be one of the most rewarding financial experiences of your life.

These government-backed mortgages have more flexible and forgiving requirements than other loan types. Significant benefits like $0 down payment and no mortgage insurance open the doors of homeownership to scores of veterans and service members who might otherwise be left out.

In fact, the VA backed an all-time record 630,000 loans last year. Still, not everyone who’s eligible for a VA loan will ultimately secure one. There are a host of reasons why, from credit scores and steady income to the property and your plans for it.

Understanding some basics about the VA loan process and what lenders are looking for can make a tremendous difference for prospective homebuyers.

Here’s a look at eight essential tips to help you get the most from this historic home loan benefit.

1. Start Without a COE

Don’t let the lack of paperwork be a barrier to entry. You don’t need your Certificate of Eligibility in hand to start the VA home loan process. Lenders will often get this for you during the preapproval process.

If you feel better having it at the outset, you can try the VA’s eBenefits portal online or contact your nearest VA Regional Loan Center for more information.

2. Know Your Credit Report

Your credit history will be front and center when it comes to applying for a home loan. You don’t need anything near perfect credit for a VA loan. In fact, the 620 score most VA lenders look for is considerably lower than what you’ll need for conventional or even FHA financing

A higher credit score can also help you lock in a lower interest rate.

While you won’t see your actual score, get free copies of your credit report from Annual Credit Report.com before you apply for a mortgage. Scour it for errors, bad accounts and other mistakes. About a quarter of all credit reports contain errors serious enough to result in a denial of credit.

3. Know the Acceptable Uses

The VA wants veterans using this program to purchase or refinance primary residences. That can be a single-family residence, a modular home, a manufactured home, a condominium or even a multiunit property (as long as you live in one of the units).

This isn’t a program for buying vacation homes, investment properties, working farms or other income-producing properties. Also, you should know going in that it can be difficult to find VA lenders willing to make construction loans or to lend on manufactured housing.

4. Understand Occupancy Requirements

To help underscore the VA’s focus on primary residences, VA loans also come with occupancy requirements. You’re expected to be living in the home as your primary residence within 60 days of closing.

Obviously, that can be a tall order for deployed service members or military contractors working overseas. There are exceptions to the occupancy requirement, the most common being a spouse’s ability to fulfill it on your behalf.

But this guideline can be a hurdle for single service members and others. Mention any potential occupancy issues to your loan officer as soon as possible.

5. Reliable Income is Key

Lenders want to see stable, reliable income that’s likely to continue. You’ll need to have an acceptable ratio of debt to income and meet the VA’s requirements for residual income, which is basically how much you have left over each month after paying major expenses.

The VA generally wants your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio at or below 41 percent, but it’s possible to go higher and still obtain a mortgage. Residual income guidelines vary by geography and family size.

Two years on the same job is the gold standard, but it’s tough to talk broadly about employment scenarios. One lender may view your employment situation differently than another. The only way to know where you stand is to talk with them. Understand going in that continuity is key.

6. Loan Pre-approval is a Must

Getting preapproved for a mortgage is important for several reasons. One, it gives you a clear sense of your purchasing power. There’s little sense in touring homes and wasting time on properties you can’t actually afford.

Preapproval also shows sellers and real estate agents you’re a serious buyer. Some listing agents may counsel clients to reject offers that come in without a copy of the buyer’s preapproval letter.

7. Get a VA-savvy Real Estate Agent

VA loans aren’t an everyday transaction for a lot of loan officers and mortgage brokers. This is a specialized loan program with unique rules and guidelines. The VA has its own set of property requirements that homes need to meet.

A real estate agent who truly knows this program can save you from potential headaches and hassles. For example, a VA-savvy agent can steer you away from properties that could pose significant problems for the VA appraisal process.

This is one of the biggest investments of your life. Find a real estate agent who understands this loan program and the unique needs of military homebuyers.

8. Keep Your Credit Clean

Be careful with your credit and finances once you’ve applied for a mortgage. Lenders will take a hard look at your bank statements and other documents during the preapproval and underwriting stages. Moving a bunch of money in or out of your accounts can raise red flags.

Don’t take on new credit during the loan process. Applying for it could affect your credit score and suddenly knock you out of qualifying range. Save the furniture-buying binge for after your loan has closed and funded.

These eight tips can go a long way to help you secure the VA home loan you deserve.

Pre-Qualifications/Approvals

Pre-Qualifications/Approvals

What You Need to Get Pre-Qualified (to buy or rent)?

Getting pre-qualified is to ensure an estimate of how much you can afford to spend on your home.

  1. Full name?
  2. Phone number?
  3. Email?
  4. Buyer or renter?
  5. How many people in household with ages?
  6. Felonies or misdemeanors? (to rent)
  7. Credit score?
  8. Evictions? (to rent)
  9. Bankruptcies?
  10. Pets? (to rent)
  11. When would you like to move in?
  12. Budget?
  13. How many bedrooms?
  14. How many bathrooms?
  15. Proof of household income?

What You Need to Get Pre-Approved

Assemble the information below to be ready for the pre-approval process.

1. Proof of Income

"No verification" or "no documentation" loans are a thing of the past, so you need to be prepared with W-2 statements from the past two years, recent pay stubs that show income as well as year-to-date income, proof of any additional income such as alimony or bonuses and your two most recent years of tax returns.

2. Proof of Assets

You will need to present bank statements and investment account statements to prove that you have funds for the down payment and closing costs, as well as cash reserves. Your down payment, expressed as a percentage of the selling price, varies by loan type. Most loans come with a requirement that you purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI) or pay a mortgage insurance premium (MIP) or a funding fee unless you put 20% (or more) down.

In addition to your down payment, pre-approval is also based on your FICO(credit) score, debt-to-income (DTI) ratio and certain other factors, based on loan type. All except jumbo loans are conforming, meaning they conform to GSE (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) guidelines. Some loans, such as Home Ready (Fannie Mae) and Home Possible (Freddie Mac), are designed for low- to moderate-income homebuyers or first-time buyers. VA loans, which require no money down, are for U.S. veterans, service members and not-remarried spouses. If you receive money from a friend or relative to assist with the down payment, you may need a gift letter to prove that the funds are not a loan.

3. Good Credit

Most lenders require a FICO score of 620 or above to approve a conventional loan and some even require that score for an FHA loan. Lenders typically reserve the lowest interest rates for customers with a credit score of 760 or above. FHA loan guidelines allow approved borrowers with a score of 580 or above to pay as little as 3.5% down. People who have lower scores must make a larger down payment. Lenders will often work with borrowers with a low or moderately low credit score and suggest ways they can improve their score.

4. Employment Verification

Your lender will not only want to see your pay stubs, but will likely call your employer to verify that you are still employed and to check on your salary. If you have recently changed jobs, a lender may want to contact your previous employer. Lenders want to make sure they are lending only to borrowers with stable employment. Self-employed borrowers will need to provide significant additional paperwork concerning their business and income.

5. Other Types of Documentation

Your lender will need to copy your driver's license and will need your Social Security number (SSN) and your signature allowing the lender to pull a credit report. Be prepared at the pre-approval session and later to provide (as quickly as possible) any additional paperwork requested by the lender. The more cooperative you are, the smoother the mortgage process will be.

Orlando’s Real Estate Growth

Orlando's Growth

Orlando, Florida Population 2018

Orlando is a city in Florida in the central part of the state. Known as "The City Beautiful" and "The Theme Park Capital of the World," Orlando gets more than 51 million tourists every year, including almost 4 million from outside the U.S. It's the most visited city in the country with attractions including Walt Disney World Resort, the Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld, Gatorland and Wet 'n Wild Water Park.

Orlando has an estimated population of 254,000, which ranks 77th in the United States and a population density of 2,327 people per square mile, or 899 per square kilometer. The urban area is the 32nd largest in the country with 1.5 million people, while the Greater Orlando metropolitan area has a population of 2.13 million, which is the 26th largest in the country, the 6th largest in the Southeastern U.S. and the 3rd largest in Florida. Orlando is the largest inland city in Florida and the 5th largest city in Florida.

Orlando Demographics

At the 2010 Census, the racial composition of Orlando was:

  • White: 57.6% (non-Hispanic: 41.3%)
  • Black or African American: 28.1%
  • Asian: 3.8%
  • Native American or Alaska Native: 0.4%
  • Pacific Islander: 0.1%
  • Two or more races: 3.4%
  • Other race: 6.6%
  • Hispanic or Latino of any race: 25.4%

Orlando has the largest Puerto Rican and fastest-growing population in Florida with a cultural impact similar to that of Cuban Americans in South Florida. The Hispanic population of the city has grown dramatically in the last few decades from just 4% in 1980 to 25% in 2010. There is also a large Caribbean and West Indian population in the city with many Tobagonians, Trinidadians and Jamaicans and a large Haitian community.

Orlando History

The Orlando area was sparsely populated by several Native American tribes before European settlers arrived in 1536. The name Orlando is believed to come from a soldier named Orlando Reeves who died in 1835, supposedly after a Native American attack in the area during the Second Seminole War, although there are many legends about the city's name and there are no military records of Orlando Reeves.

The Second Seminole War from 1835 to 1842 arose over disagreements between natives and early American settlers on issues including slaves and cattle. The natives eventually moved away and pioneers built a town around Fort Gatlin, which was constructed south of present-day Orlando city limits in 1838 to protect settlers from Indian attacks. A small town was built around the fort by 1840 and named Jernigan after cattleman Aaron Jernigan, the first permanent settler.

Orlando remained a rural area through the American Civil War but the Reconstruction Era brought a population boom and the city was incorporated in 1875. 1875 to 1895 was Orlando's Gilded Era as it became the hub for the state's massive citrus industry but a massive freeze shifted operations further south. Between the Spanish-American War and World War I, Orlando became a popular resort town.

Orlando was really put on the map when Walt Disney announced plans to construct Walt Disney World in 1965. He chose Orlando over Tampa or Miami to avoid the risk of hurricanes and the world-famous resort opened in 1971, exploding the economic growth and population of Orlando and making it one of the most visited cities in the country. Tourism remains a centerpiece of the region's economy.

Orlando Population Growth

Between 2010 and 2012, Orlando enjoyed the second-highest population growth in Florida, adding more than 7,100 residents in two years. Miami was the fastest growing, adding 15,000 people. Orlando is also the second-fastest growing metropolitan region in the United States in 2014 with a growth rate of more than 2% per year, losing to Austin, Texas but beating out Raleigh, North Carolina, Houston, Dallas and San Antonio.

Orlando Facts

  • In 2009, Orlando ranked as the 4th most popular U.S. city based on where people want to live.
  • Orlando's Wet 'n Wild water park is the first ever and it is one of few that remains open year-round.
  • Two Manhattans or all of San Francisco could fit in Orlando's Walt Disney World Resort.
  • If you ate breakfast, lunch and dinner at a different restaurant in the city every day, it would take five years to dine at every restaurant.
  • Orlando has the second largest number of hotel rooms in the United States behind Las Vegas.

Orlando Attractions

Orlando is best known around the world for its many popular attractions.

Walt Disney World is located just outside of Orlando and it's the most visited vacation resort in the world with more than 52 million visitors every year. The property covers 66 square miles with 4 theme parks, 24 themed resort hotels, 2 water parks and 4 golf courses.

Universal Orlando Resort is the largest property operated by Universal Parks & Resorts and the largest resort in Orlando with two theme parks: Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. Universal Orlando Resort, as of 1998, now includes Wet 'n Wild Water Park, the first water park in America. SeaWorld features marine animals like sea lions, orcas and dolphins with displays and shows. SeaWorld had the first birth of a killer whale in captivity and the first hatching of captive green sea turtles.

 

 

Orlando’s Hot Spots

"Even miracles take a little time." -Fairy Godmother (Cinderella)

TOP ​10 DINERS' CHOICE WINNERS

1.Lafayette's

photo of lafayette's - orlando restaurant
Excellent

80% Recommend

Creole / Cajun / SouthernI Drive / Sand Lake

2. The Edison

photo of the edison restaurant
Excellent

79% Recommend

American / Lake Buena Vista

3. Hard Rock Cafe

photo of hard rock cafe - orlando restaurant
Awesome

81% Recommend

American / I Drive / Sand Lake

4. Bongos Cuban Cafe Orlando

photo of bongos cuban cafe orlando restaurant
Awesome

88% Recommend

Cuban / Lake Buena Vista

5. Mango's Tropical Cafe

photo of mango's tropical cafe restaurant
Awesome

94% Recommend

InternationalI Drive / Sand Lake

6. Bahama Breeze

photo of bahama breeze - orlando - grand national restaurant
Awesome

100% Recommend

CaribbeanI Drive / Sand Lake

7. Raglan Road Irish Pub

photo of raglan road irish pub restaurant
Exceptional

93% Recommend

Irish / Lake Buena Vista

8. B.B. King's Blues Club 

photo of b.b. king's blues club - orlando restaurant
Exceptional

93% Recommend

AmericanI Drive / Sand Lake

9. Dexter's

photo of dexter's - lake mary restaurant
Exceptional

87% Recommend

Contemporary American / Lake Mary

10. The Vineyard Wine Bar & Bistro

photo of the vineyard wine bar & bistro - orlando restaurant
Exceptional

100% Recommend

Wine / BarDr. Phillips

TOP 10 ATTRACTIONS FOR FAMILIES

 

Wizarding World of Harry Potter

1. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

If your family is anything like mine, you love Harry Potter. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal's Islands of Adventure is an amazing recreation of J.K. Rowling's successful novels, which combines theme park thrills with a magical Harry-inspired world. Ollivanders, Zonko's Joke Shop, and Hogwarts Castle come alive and they are as good as your imagination would have made them out to be. The rides, particularly Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and the roller coasters are state-of-the-art thrilling for adults and kids alike. Also note, in the Islands of Adventure Park, younger children will enjoy the Cat in the Hat, where Dr. Seuss's books come to life.

 

Simpsons ride Universal Studios Orlando

2. Universal Studios Florida

Billed as the world's premier movie and TV-based theme park, Universal Studios Orlando has rides and movie-related attractions galore. From Barney to the Simpsons and Men In Black, and now including the new Despicable Me Minion Mayhem 3-D ride, Universal Studios will exhaust even the most hardy theme park veteran.

 

Kennedy Space Center

3. Kennedy Space Center

Space is the final frontier, and you can't get closer to it on earth than at the Kennedy Space Center. Just east of Orlando on the Space Coast, the Center offers a walk through history, the chance to dream of being an astronaut, and the potential to experience space flight. You can even view an actual launch if you time your visit right. It is remarkable to walk through the Rocket Garden and see the progress of rocket engine science, and tour the Apollo and Saturn V Center. The size and scope of the Saturn V rocket and engines are awe-inspiring. The KSC also offers Up-Close Launch Pad Tours and Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) Tours, in addition to regular admission.

Walt Disney World Resort

4. Walt Disney World Resort

Who can think of Orlando without Walt Disney and his vision to create a new world? Walt's Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, and the rest, as they say, is history. You really can't visit Orlando without going to at least one of the four theme parks that make up Walt Disney World Resort in Florida; Epcot, Magic Kingdom Park, Disney's Animal Kingdom Park, and Disney's Hollywood Studios. In fact, you could spend your entire Florida holiday at Disney World and still not experience everything, which explains why so many people return there year after year. Disney World offers rides, entertainment, a myriad of attractions, live shows, parades, fireworks, fine and casual dining options, and seasonal celebrations throughout the year. New in 2012 is the much anticipated New Fantasyland, offering a legendary hidden world within the Magic Kingdom Park. You can save money on your Orlando visit by purchasing attraction tickets in advance.

Disney Typhoon Lagoon

5. Disney Water Parks

Disney World's two water parks, Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, offer fantastic water play and much-needed cool down time from the hectic pace of theme park visiting. Parents can lounge in the sun or shade while the kids splash down waterslides or float along the lazy river. Ketchakiddee Creek in Disney's Typhoon Lagoon is the perfect place for children less than 48 inches tall, with ten different activity areas including fun water features and kid-sized slides.

Florida alligators at Gatorland

6. Alligators

Taking an airboat tour of Florida's Everglades wilderness to view the wildlife and spot these incredible creatures is a one-of-a-kind experience that rates highly on my list of must-dos in Orlando. It's also a nice change of pace from the fantasy and hectic nature of theme parks: to connect with nature and view Florida's wildlife in its natural environment, up close, but not too close.

Gatorland, a theme park and wildlife preserve that focuses on alligators and their crocodile cousins, also provides a safe and fun way to view these scaly creatures up close. Be sure to take in the star event, the Gator Jumperoo Show, to see these creatures “jump” for their dinner.

Legoland Florida waterski

7. LEGOLAND Florida

Visiting LEGOLAND Florida is a dream come true for any fan of the multicolored LEGO bricks. My children were crazy for LEGOS when they were younger. This theme park features areas such as Miniland USA, LEGO City and DUPLO village, which offer kid-sized attractions that make them feel right at home. LEGOLAND is dedicated to families with children between ages 2-12; the rides and attractions are age-appropriate and focused on fun and imagination. The new LEGOLAND Water Park opened in the summer of 2012, and includes a wave pool, waterslides, and the water-play structure DUPLO Safari.

 

Busch Gardens

8. Busch Gardens

Yes, it's technically in Tampa Bay, but in an hour's drive from Orlando you can experience one of the top zoos in North America, with more exotic and endangered animals than any destination in the world. Busch Gardensalso features several thrill rides and attractions. The new and amazing Cheetah Hunt roller coaster, simulating a cheetah's hunt for its prey and reaching nearly 60 miles per hour, is a must do.

 

SeaWorld Orlando

9. SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld Orlando aims to educate and entertain visitors about our vast oceans and the incredible life within them. There are one-on-one animal encounters, thrill rides, and aquatic shows. Kids get a chance to learn about our seas and the threats to their rich diversity that sustains our planet. Sister property, Aquatica Water Park with its waterslides aplenty, is located across the street from SeaWorld.

For big savings during your stay, the Orlando FlexTicket allows you unlimited access to five of these Orlando attractions for families!

 

Orlando trees and sunshine

10. Florida Sunshine

The value of sunshine and warm temperatures day after day can't be overstated. Visiting Orlando from any northern climate, the gorgeous sunshine that greeted us every new day was the perfect antidote to the miserable winter weather back home. Truly, the Florida sun ranks as one of Orlando's top attractions.

TOP 10 NIGHTLIFE SPOTS

 

1. EVE Nightclub

Opening Hours: Monday 10pm - 2am, Wednesday 9pm - 2am, Thursday - Saturday 10pm - 2:30am.  Sunday 5pm - 12am

Location: 110 S. Orange Ave (Downtown) Orlando, Fl 32801

Tel: +1 407 602 7462

2. Tier Nightclub

Opening Hours: 22:00-02:30 (closed Monday)

Location: 20 East Central Boulevard

Tel: +1 (407) 222-9732

3. The Attic Orlando

Opening Hours: 22:00-02:00 Thurs-Sun

Location: 68 E Pine St, Orlando, FL 32801, United States

Tel: +1 407-403-1161

4. The Beacham Orlando

Opening Hours: 20:00-late (varies on event)

Location: 46 North Orange Ave, Downtown Orlando, Florida 32801

Tel: +1 407-648-8363

5. Mango's Tropical Café

Opening Hours: 18:00 - late

Location: 8126 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819

Tel: +1 305 673 4422

6. Vyce Lounge

Opening Hours: 21:00-02:00

Location: 122 S Orange Avenue

Tel: +1 407-649-0000

7. Independent Bar

Opening Hours: Tue-Thu, Sun 21:00-02:30; Fri-Sat 22:00-02:30

Location: 68 North Orange Avenue, Orlando, Florida

Tel: 407.839.0457

8. Venue 578

Opening Hours: varies between event

Location: 578 North Orange Avenue

Tel: +1 407-872-0066

9. Cowboys

Opening Hours: 20:00-02:00

Location: 1108 S Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL 32805

Tel: +1 407-422-7115

10. Cuba Libre Rum Bar

Opening Hours: Dinner 17:00-22:00 daily/Late Night: 22:00-02:30 (Fri & Sat)

Location: Pointe Orlando, 9101 International Drive

Tel: +1 407.226.1600

Top 10 OVERALL

Cities Near the Disney Parks

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." -Walt Disney

Cities Near the Disney Parks

Cities Near the Disney Parks

Windermere is 6.89 miles/11.08 kms away
Intercession City is 8.9 miles/14.33 kms away
Gotha is 10.91 miles/17.55 kms away
Killarney is 12.59 miles/20.27 kms away
Ocoee is 13.21 miles/21.26 kms away
Montverde is 15.89 miles/25.57 kms away
Clarcona is 16.46 miles/26.49 kms away
Polk City is 18.27 miles/29.4 kms away
Apopka is 19.45 miles/31.3 kms away
Mid Florida is 21.19 miles/34.11 kms away
Altamonte Springs is 21.49 miles/34.58 kms away
Winter Park is 22.15 miles/35.64 kms away
Lake Alfred is 22.57 miles/36.32 kms away
Goldenrod is 23 miles/37.01 kms away
Lake Hamilton is 23.62 miles/38.01 kms away
Winter Garden is 7.77 miles/12.51 kms away
Loughman is 9.65 miles/15.53 kms away
Kissimmee is 12.01 miles/19.34 kms away
Oakland is 12.7 miles/20.44 kms away
Davenport is 13.42 miles/21.6 kms away
Clermont is 16.16 miles/26 kms away
Minneola is 17.33 miles/27.88 kms away
Ferndale is 18.64 miles/30 kms away
Maitland is 21.06 miles/33.89 kms away
Plymouth is 21.49 miles/34.58 kms away
Groveland is 21.77 miles/35.03 kms away
Haines City is 22.41 miles/36.07 kms away
Zellwood is 22.9 miles/36.86 kms away
Saint Cloud is 23.23 miles/37.39 kms away
Winter Haven is 23.75 miles/38.22 kms away