Florida for Idiots: Summer 2010
Eating in Florida

Johny Rocket's Diner, Pointe OrlandoThere are some very high class shops to be had in Florida. The Outlet areas at the top and bottom of International Drive have a huge selection to choose from, at marked down prices and are very popular with both tourists and locals.

If you have real money to burn then try the Florida Mall or the new Mall at Millenia (which describes itself as "Beyond Upscale Shopping"). Both these Malls have shop window displays without any price tags. You know what they say: If you have to ask the price then you can't afford it. I can absolutely testify to that in these two places.

Of the two the Florida Mall is most affordable (a bit like Milton Keynes shopping centre) and it has a nice food court and many more outlets in the middle of the walkways which are more affordable. Worth a visit if you can get there (easy by car) but you don't have to cry if you can't get there. It's open from 10am until 9pm (Sunday 11am until 6pm).

It's mostly beyond my price bracket, and Macy's, Sak's 5th Avenue and Dillard's were worth barely more than a cursory glance. I came to Florida to have fun not spend a month's wages on a pair of shoes!

So, apart from true shopping-centre style Malls what else can you expect in and around International Drive?

Well, you can't count all the "gift shops" along International Drive (and along Route 192 in Kissimmee, incidentally), all offering varying quality clothes and gifts.

Some T-shirts are branded and sell for $20 and some are 5-for-$10. I'm sure you can work out which are the better quality. But, hey, kids ruin everything you buy them anyway so it makes sense to buy cheaper stuff sometimes.

In some ways it's better being in the north part of I-Drive because you can just walk out in the evening and explore! In the south you are more remote and may have fewer such opportunities. But that's what the I-Ride bus is for! The I-Ride map (small version) may make this clearer (opens in new window). The larger version of the I-Ride map is here. Both are in pdf (Adobe) format.

Prime OutletsAt the very top of I-Drive (north end) are the Orlando Prime Outlets. This is a very smart semi-covered shopping area selling branded goods are greatly marked down prices (at least 25% off, even 50%). You'll also find places to eat and drink too, of course. It's not totally covered though so make sure you're creamed up and are wearing a hat! If you haven't got a hat, there's a great shop here called "Lids" which is the colloquial name for a cap. Or buy one for a tenth of the price along I-Drive!

Halfway down I-Drive you'll find Wet 'N' Wild water park (entry for which you may already have paid for if you choose the Orlando Flex ticket). Across the lights at the junction of Sandlake road and past the Convention Center will get you to WonderWorks - an upside down house which is fun to visit, even more so if you have kids.

You an also try The Pointe Orlando (about half way down International Drive, I-Ride bus stop red 24 or green 12) although this is smaller but does have Johny Rocket's diner there. Hey Fonz, you there? Jukebox at Johny Rocket's DinerIt's an open-air mini shopping and outlet area that is better at night but seems to be struggling to get the customers during the day.

A great American diner is here, called Johny Rockets. If you have ever watched Happy Days (with The Fonz) then this is it! Each table even has a mini-jukebox from which you can request songs for a nickel (5 cents) - take plenty of change! Their milk shakes and malts are great!

At the bottom of the I-Ride stretch of I-Drive is Sea World and Aquatica water park. It's from here that you can pick up a Lynx bus (coach) number 50 that will take you to the Magic Kingdom (it goes all the way to Orlando International Airport in the other direction, so check with the driver that you've got on the right bus!). See more details of travelling around International Drive

After that the I-Ride continues south to Premium Outlets. That's as far as the I-Ride goes before turning round and heading back up International Drive, northwards.

Information

I-Ride small map (main route plus stops and other information)

I-Ride full map (all route information including locations of shopping areas, eating places and hotels)

Lynx bus route no 50 (Magic Kingdom / Downtown Disney to Sea World where you can pick up the I-Ride back to your hotel)

Lynx main web site

Orlando Tourist Information Bureau.com (organised trips including to the Florida Mall)

Prime Outlets (north International Drive) website

Premium Outlets (south International Drive) website

Florida Mall information

Mall at Millenia web site

Pointe Orlando web site

Golden Corral buffet restaurant website

Ponderosa buffet restaurant website

TGI restaurant web site

Things to do along International Drive

Look guys, these are just links to other people's web sites. I'm not responsible for any content you may (or may not) find there. I just supply them in good faith to increase your holiday enjoyment!