Destination of the day: Orlando’s I-Drive

Hilton Orlando Poolside

When we told the kids we were attending a conference and would be staying on International Drive in Orlando for a few days, they cheered.

As a rule, the children think our conferences are boring. They’re filled with boring meetings where they’re expected to be “good.” Did we mention they think it’s all boring?

Unless, of course, it’s happening in the middle of their favorite part of Orlando.

If you’ve been there you probably have your own stories to tell.

If not, International Drive — which locals call “I-Drive” — is home to the enormous Orange County Convention Center. But on one end, you’ll find Universal Studios and on the other end, there’s Seaworld.

Iden at Orange County Convention Center

And in between? Every imaginable hotel, restaurant and amusement. There’s even a helicopter pad for sightseeing tours.

A few years back we actually lived on I-Drive for more than a week while the purchase of our home was finalized. Can you imagine that? Our moving van sat in the parking lot of the Hilton Garden Inn for a week. I remember taking Aren, who was just a toddler, to Gatorland and then furniture-shopping on the way back. (We had only one baby back then.)

We now live in the suburbs of Orlando, so our kids have been to Wet ‘n Wild and The Fun Spot, both of which are popular day-trips during summer camp and I-Drive fixtures.

Crossroads of I DRive and Convention Way with Lynx

Thank goodness. Those parks don’t really appeal to most adults. I prefer trying out the mini golf like Pirate’s Cove, which has plenty of shade and misters to keep the players cool in the fierce Florida sun.

I’m super-competitive and it bugs me that the kids always beat me. The victorious children get ice pops at the end of the game, as a reward for their golfing prowess. The adults accept the ice cream cones as consolation prizes.

Kids in pool at Hilton Orlando

For our conference we stayed at the Hilton Orlando and believe it or not we almost never left the property. The kids wanted to spend their time at the cleverly-designed pools. Iden must have climbed the water-slide at least 50 times. He slept well every night. Tucked in a quiet corner was a lazy river complete with waterfalls, water cannons and bubbles. That’s where I floated with Erysse. Fun!

Ever been to I-Drive? What’s your favorite memory?

Kari Haugeto

Kari is a serial entrepreneur with an education addiction and a profound curiosity that, more often then not, fuels some pretty incredible adventures. Currently her attention is focused on social and digital media technology and she is developing a project with her family of five and a variety of sponsors to share their cross-country adventures online in an interactive, socially responsible, educational and authentic manner.


  • http://twitter.com/vacationkids Sally Black

    By far, my very favorite-est thing to do on I-drive is to watch the Duck March at the Peabody Hotel.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGnP_Pr1_fo

    I always make it a point, whenever I attend a convention to take a break in the action and visit the ducks because they ALWAYS put a smile on my face!

    • http://www.facebook.com/haugeto Kari Astrid Haugeto

      Sally that’s the only other thing we did! We went on a morning walk to the Peabody but were too early to see them in the lobby. They come down at 11:00 am now. We went up to their private palace to say “hi.” Chris brought the kids back later to see them frolicking on the fountain.

    • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

      We tried to make if for the duck march. But we missed it!

  • Mark Orwoll

    My favorite place on I-Drive is the Ron-Jon Surf Shop. Love the casual surfer and skater wear, the surfboards, the laid-back decor, and the overall vibe. Reminds me of growing up in Southern California in the ’60s and ’70s!

    • http://www.facebook.com/haugeto Kari Astrid Haugeto

      Gnarly, dude. It’s hard to get the kids out of Ron-Jons without a surfboard on the roof!