International Drive, Orlando Travel Guide
International Drive Summary
- Short, 15-minute drive from Orlando's airport
- Plentiful restaurant and nightlife options
- Fun water parks
- Lots of outlet and mall shopping
- Great selection of quality hotels
- Home to SeaWorld and the Orange County Convention Center
- Short drive to the Universal Studios theme parks
- Traffic backups and gridlock are common.
- Renting a car is a necessity.
- 15-minute drive to Disney, assuming you beat the traffic
- Proximity to convention center can wreak havoc on room rates.
What It's Like
Running roughly parallel to Orlando's Interstate 4, the four-lane International Drive connects SeaWorld, the Universal Orlando Resort, the enormous Orange County Convention Center, and a huge collection of hotels. Other draws on I-Drive include outlet shopping malls, water parks and swimming with dolphins at Discovery Cove, and dining and nightlife options to suit just about any budget and taste.
While there are some buses that trawl I-Drive, this area, like most of Central Florida, is built for cars; there are dozens of rental agencies at the airport, a 15-minute trip from the southern end of International Drive. Traffic can grind to a crawl during busy times but the good news is that parking is plentiful both in the area and at Disney. If you stay closer to the parks, though, shuttles, ferries, and even a monorail will spare you anguish behind the wheel.
Where to Stay
In general, name brand is the name of the game. Crowne Plaza, Wyndham, Residence Inn, and more all appear along International Drive. These places are, for the most part, clean and affordable, though they certainly lack the elaborate cartoony themes and extended hours to access the theme parks that you'll find at the Disney properties.
But there are some standout hotels. The Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott golf resorts at Grande Lakes, just off International Drive, are some of the most luxurious hotels in all of Orlando. Or, to be closer to the Convention Center, try the elegant Peabody Hotel just across the street.