Will this be the year you make it to Orlando, Florida with your kids? Earlier this summer, Chicago created an itinerary for a mega road trip that winds through the South. After cruising through Nashville, Atlanta, and Sea Island, Georgia, you can drive four hours more to reach Orlando. Whether you drive or fly, here are new reasons to go next month:
1. Hotels Rates in Orlando Dip in Late August
In June, hotel rates spike as families flock to the Magic Kingdom and other Orlando theme parks. But in August, rates dip slightly during the weekend before Labor Day. The difference is only $12 less a night when you compare this cheapest weekend in August with the most expensive weekend in June (the last weekend of the month). But if you compare rates at a three-star hotel, the mainstream option for budget-conscious travelers, the price difference is $22 less a night. Dealnews has more.
2. Take a Ride with Harry Potter and the Seven Dwarfs
Hop aboard the Hogwarts Express for a wild ride to Diagon Alley, the newest attraction in the sprawling Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida. You’ll sip butterbeer, shop under a fire-breathing dragon, and speed through the Gringotts vaults on the new Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts ride. At Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, check out the twisty Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, which opened this spring in Fantasyland.
3. You Can Stay in the Park—and Escape It, Too
If you love the convenience of staying on the grounds at Disney but don’t want a completely Mouse-themed vacation, book a room the new 444-room Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort (from $545, with a third night free with this offer). Opening on August 3, the hotel will be the first stand-alone luxury brand to put a flag down on Disney property. This way, you don’t have to choose between staying in the heart of the action and leaving it behind: The Four Seasons even has an 18-hole golf course on its grounds. If you want a similar experience sooner, try the 582-room Ritz Carlton Orlando at Grande Lakes (from $279), which is just a 10-minute drive from Universal Studios—close enough to watch the Disney fireworks from your balcony but positioned so that you can kayak from the resort’s backyard to the headwaters of the Florida Everglades.
4. Orlando’s Surprising Dining Scene Is Reason Alone
Stop by the two-story, locavore-focused East End Market for a parents’ night out event (August 22 from 6 to 9 p.m.); the event will hold children’s cooking classes with two onsite chefs so parents can dine alone. One of Florida’s best craft breweries, Cask & Larder, 20 minutes away in Winter Park, offers seasonal suds (try the oyster stout and a sour Berliner Roggen) and a menu from two James Beard–nominated chefs.
Boingo Launches Hotspots at O’Hare and Midway
Both of Chicago’s major airports are among 23 airports to launch Hotspot 2.0, an automatic Wi-Fi connection operated by Boingo Wireless. In a testing phase with Boingo customers only, the Hotspots authenticate and connect subscribers instantly, securely, and automatically via a cloud, eliminating the need to search for and login to Wi-Fi networks. Boingo’s mobile plan starts at $7.95 a month.
Go to Europe to Drink Beer with Friends
According to a new beer infographic, the cheapest beer can be had in Vietnam and the Ukraine (both offer bottles for just 59 cents) and more people drink beer in Europe than anywhere else in the world. See “The Price of Beer Around the World” for more travel inspiration.
Memphis for Sweet Pies and Elvis
Make the pilgrimage to Memphis this August for Elvis Week (August 9 to 17): In addition to joining in the candlelit vigil at Graceland and toe-tapping along to a cappella and competitive tribute contests, you should make a point of sampling the city’s pies. “After a quick and gluttonous lunch at Hog & Hominy restaurant in Memphis I swore I had just eaten the best pie of my life: the Beauregarde, named for Roald Dahl’s gum-chewing brat, a certain Violet whose nasty habit led to her expanding into a giant piece of fruit,” writes Charlotte Druckman. Read her full account at The New York Times.