Florida is an extremely popular tourist destination, with holidaymakers from the UK landing at Sanford International Airport in Orlando all year round — and before you arrive, it’s a good idea to book car hire in Orlando. Hiring a car from Stress Free Car Rental is a convenient, hassle-free way to explore Orlando and get more out of your holiday.
But before we get into that, let’s talk about the car hire at Sanford Airport. After all, it’s the first place you’ll see when you get to Florida, and making the most of your time there is a great way to kickstart your holiday.
We’ll cover everything you need to know, including airport facilities, nearby attractions you can visit and how to hire a car.
We’ll cover everything you need to know, including airport facilities, the nearby attractions and incredible theme parks you can visit, and how to hire the perfect Orlando holiday car.
When you arrive at Sanford Airport, you might find yourself with some time on your hands. Maybe it’s not quite time to pick up your hire car from the rental company, or maybe you just want to walk around and stretch your legs after a long flight. Once you’ve collected your luggage, why not take some time to explore the airport?
Sanford Airport has all the facilities you’d expect, including shops, restaurants and bars. These are split over two levels, so there’s a lot of space to move around, making Sanford a welcome alternative to crowded, busy airports. There’s also free WiFi available throughout, so you can get online and catch up with friends and family to let them know you’ve arrived in Orlando, or that you’ve made it to the airport and are waiting for your flight home. Sanford International Airport is located around 45 minutes from the most popular hotels and resort accommodation in Orlando and also provides easy access to places to stay in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
The best restaurants at Orlando Sanford Airport
If you’ve just stepped off the plane after a long flight, you’re probably going to be hungry. Or, if you’re heading home and have arrived early to the airport, you’ll need to find somewhere to have lunch or dinner before you catch your plane. Orlando has long been a byword for good, tasty food and the good news is that Sanford Airport is no exception! You’ll find a number of restaurants and cafes, all offering different kinds of food, so there are plenty of options available whether you’re looking for a coffee and a snack or a full meal.
But with so much on offer, where should you go to eat? It all depends on what you’re in the mood for. Some venues offer table service, while others let you grab what you want and go. Cinnabon is a good choice if you’re after something sweet.
As the name suggests, they specialise in all things cinnamon flavoured. They do iced cinnamon buns in several different sizes and flavours, and if you need a drink to wash it down, there are a number of hot and cold options available. The drinks menu includes lemonade in various flavours, cold brew iced coffees (and yes, one of them is cinnamon-flavoured!), hot coffee and hot chocolate.
If you’d prefer something savoury, Cheeburger Cheeburger is open from 5 am to 12 am every day, so you’ll be able to eat there even if you have a very late or particularly early flight. This restaurant serves a range of burgers in different sizes and with a variety of fillings, with gluten-free options available upon request.
You’ll also be able to order freshly cooked French fries and onion rings, and salads with your choice of ingredients and dressings. If you’re feeling thirsty after all that, you can choose between milkshakes, juices and fizzy drinks. There’s even a children’s menu, so this restaurant is a good option if you’re travelling as a family.
Then there’s the Zaza cafe, which serves Cuban food and is open seven days a week. They do a range of hot and cold food, such as sandwiches, soups, salads and rice bowls, including vegetarian options. It’s also a great place to get a coffee. You can choose from their range of espressos, lattes and decaffeinated drinks, or, if you’re after something cold, they also serve refreshing, freshly-squeezed orange juice.
If you’ve arrived at the airport in time for breakfast, head to Jetaway Cafe, where the menu includes a number of breakfast dishes. A little later in the day, there are several different salads and sandwiches to choose from, or you could opt for the Weekly Lunch Special.
There’s also American Grill, where you can find a variety of hot food, from burgers to spaghetti, and side dishes such as vegetables and onion rings.
Go on a shopping spree at the airport’s luxury outlets
There are lots of seriously good places to shop in Orlando and the Sanford Airport offers you the chance to kickstart your shopping spree the moment you land! There are clothes shops, so you can start your time in Florida with a whole new outfit — which is particularly helpful if you realise you’ve forgotten to pack something, like swimsuits for your trip to the beach or something warmer to wear in the evening. Sanford Airport is home to a range of shops many of which are duty-free for international travellers. You could also grab some souvenirs to take home for your friends, or get something for yourself. If you’re on your way home, the airport shops are a great place to pick up a book or magazine to pass the time on the plane.
In general, the shops are all open throughout the day, though you might want to check opening hours before visiting.
There are clothes shops, so you can start your time in Florida with a whole new outfit — which is particularly helpful if you realise you’ve forgotten to pack something, like swimsuits for your trip to the beach or something warmer to wear in the evening.
You could also grab some souvenirs to take home for your friends, or get something for yourself! If you’re on your way home, the airport shops are a great place to pick up a book or magazine to pass the time on the plane.
Prepare for your flight in one of the airport bars
When heading home after a holiday, lots of people like to get to the airport early in order to get check-in out of the way. The only problem is that once that’s done, you’re left at a loose end. With several hours to kill before your flight, you need some way to fill the time, so why not check out one of the airport’s bars?
Open from 11:30 am to 10 pm during the week, and from 11 am to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, the Budweiser Tap Room is a great place to get a drink, sit down and relax while you wait for your flight. If you’re hungry, you can also order food, from bar snacks to hot dishes. Port Paradise provides a similar menu, and there’s also a bar in Zaza, separate from the cafe, where you can order alcoholic drinks.
Hiring a car at Sanford Airport is one of the best ways to see Florida’s many must-see sights and attractions, from the raw wild beauty of the wildlife-rich national parks to its 1,200 world-class golf courses, theme parks and gorgeous beaches. Florida has over 800 miles of pristine coastline and its white, gold and translucent sands are visited by 19-million holidaymakers each year.
So, how do you rent a car at Sanford Airport? With Stress Free Car Rental, it couldn’t be simpler. We make the car hire process straightforward and can explain everything you need to know. By comparing cars from different rental companies, we’ll help you to get the best deal possible. Plus, when you book with us, you can rest assured that there are no hidden fees — all costs are clearly laid out, so you’ll know exactly what you’re paying and why. It’s the same process should you decide to book a vehicle through us for collection from Orlando International Airport, the city’s main facility, or choose to fly into Melbourne Airport instead, not far from Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
If you’re ready to rent a car for your trip to Florida, all you need to do is book via our website. Once you land, follow the signs to the hire car desks, where you can collect your vehicle. There, you’ll find a range of well-known rental companies, including Enterprise, Hertz, Budget, Dollar, Alamo, National and Avis — when you book through us, you’ll only be shown companies you know you can trust.
Another reason to book a hire car through us is that we offer a price match guarantee. If you find a car at a lower price than the one shown on our website, we’ll match it. That’s how you know that with us, you’re getting the best possible deal. This means you’ve more money to spend on your holiday, enjoying ice-cold beers and Orlando hospitality in the buzzing bars and restaurants along International Drive.
We help you to find the lowest available prices for car hire, and that includes ways to lower your security deposit. When you choose Premium Cover, you’ll be able to pay a deposit that only covers the fuel — and as long as you return the car to the rental company with a full tank, you’ll get your deposit back. Security deposits can cost up to £2,300, while a full tank of fuel is normally under £100, so this is a significant saving.
You can also customise your search for a rental car based on how often and how far you intend to drive. If you don’t think you’ll be doing much driving, you could go for a car with limited mileage. You will have a daily mileage allowance, which means you’ll be liable to pay extra if you exceed it. But as long as you stick within the limit, this could be a cheaper way to hire a car.
But when you’re visiting Orlando, you want to be able to drive as much as possible. With so many destinations to visit and explore, having to stick to a mileage limit will make it difficult to see everything you want to. In this case, it’s a good idea to focus your search on rental cars with unlimited mileage. This means you can drive everywhere you want to go, without having to pay anything extra - and this opens up the possibility of enjoying a Florida road-trip adventure!
Then there’s our free cancellation policy. We understand that sometimes, plans change, so any car booked through our website can be cancelled up to forty-eight hours before the pickup time, and you’ll receive a full refund. This will be processed within twenty-four hours, and it’ll be back in your bank in seven days.
Once you’ve collected your hire car, it couldn’t be easier to drive it around Orlando and see the sights Florida has to offer. Cars are a major factor in Orlando’s design and layout, so you should have no difficulty finding somewhere to park.
You won’t have to worry about finding your way around. Many hire cars come equipped with GPS, and for the ones that don’t, the rental company will provide you with a map when you collect your car. You should also be able to find free maps online, or you could buy a more detailed one at a petrol station.
While you might be feeling unsure about driving in an unfamiliar country, the roads are generally even and well-lit unless you venture into rural areas. Plus, Orlando, like many American roads, follows a grid system, so it’s relatively easy to navigate. The only issue you might have is getting used to driving on the right side of the road, the opposite side of the UK. But it shouldn’t be a problem, as most people get the hang of it quickly.
All hire cars at Sanford Airport come with Collision Damage Waiver, a type of insurance that protects you against things like accidents and theft. This isn’t an extra charge, though: we don’t do hidden fees, so the Collision Damage Waiver is included in the car’s hire price.
Our car hire options in Orlando
You know you’re going to need a car and you’re ready to book, but which vehicle is right for you? With so many options, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Luckily, we’re on hand to help. Here, you can learn all about the cars available to book through our website, so you can make the right choice for your visit to Florida.
To work out what kind of car is best for you, think about what you need from it. For example, if you’re travelling with a big group of friends, a standard five-seater car is not going to be adequate. Instead, you could consider hiring a minibus, which should have room for everyone. Or, if you’re bringing your whole family, have a look at a multi seater car, which provides space for everyone and their luggage.
On the other hand, you might be heading off for a solo adventure in Florida, or perhaps it’s just you and your partner. In this case, you might want to look at the compact cars that are available for hire.
Some people think the car itself should be part of the holiday experience, and luxury is their top priority. If this sounds like you, why not hire a sports car and really enjoy every drive?
A key benefit of a rental car is that you can tailor the car hire experience to suit your needs. Some of the rental companies at Sanford Airport will allow you to pay with a debit card, so if you don’t have a credit card or just don’t want to use one, it’s not a problem. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that if you are using a debit card, it’s a good idea to purchase Premium Cover, which you can find out more about here.
Some features you might already know you want in a hire car come as standard. For example, you might be concerned about driving long distances in Florida’s warm climate, but all hire cars in Orlando are equipped with air conditioning, so you can stay cool wherever you’re headed.
Let’s look at your car hire options in more detail:
Multi seater car hire
Sometimes, you just need more space, and that’s where multi seater cars come in. On our website, you can find people carriers and cars with up to fifteen seats, so there’s room for everybody. The right car for you will largely depend on exactly how many people you’re travelling with, but there are other factors to take into account, such as your budget and how much luggage you’ve brought along.
Whether your priority is practicality or comfort, you can search for the perfect multi seater for your holiday. If you’re struggling to find exactly what you’re looking for, or if you have questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
For a slightly larger group, you might decide to go for a fifteen-seater, in which case you should keep an eye out for special discounts on our website for extra drivers. When there are so many people in your group, it makes sense to let someone else share the driving, but adding an extra driver can be expensive, which means those discounts can save you a lot of money.
Worried there are too many people in your group to hire a car? Think again! When you rent a minibus, there’s room for everybody, so you can drive out to visit Florida’s numerous tourist attractions together.
A highlight of hiring a minibus in the USA is that when you book through us, you’ll find that there’s no excess insurance to pay, and the security deposit is usually low.
Hire a sports car for the ultimate luxury experience
Hiring a sports car for your holiday will allow you to drive around Orlando in comfort and style. There’s a wide range available, including convertibles, so you can search for and find exactly what you want. Search for sports cars on our website and you’ll be sure to find one that provides the luxurious driving experience you’re looking for.
Compact cars for solo travellers and couples
If you’re travelling by yourself or as part of a couple, you probably won’t want or need a big car. If all you’re looking for is something to drive yourself and one other person around in — with room to store your suitcases — have a look at the economy cars available to book through Stress Free Car Rental. These cars are designed for fewer passengers than the average car, and their small size makes them ideal for navigating narrow roads — plus, they’re easy to park.
Sanford Airport is within driving distance of some fantastic tourist attractions, so once you’ve collected your hire car, why not take a drive out and see what Florida has to offer? Whether you’d prefer to relax on the beach, visit a world-class attraction like Universal, or get to know some amazing animals at the zoo, this area really does have something for everyone.
With so much to do in Florida, it would be impossible to cover everything, but there are some things you just can’t miss out on, such as Daytona Beach and Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Both are a reasonably short drive from the airport, so you could choose to visit one the day you arrive! Both of these destinations are great days out for the whole family.
There’s one tourist attraction in Orlando that you’ve almost definitely heard of: Disney World! It’s less than an hour by car from Sanford Airport and loved by children and adults alike. While Disney enthusiasts will obviously want to visit, there’s so much to enjoy, whether you’re a devoted Disney fan or you’re just curious to discover what all the feverish Mouse Eared excitement is about!
In just one section of the resort, the Animal Kingdom, you can test your nerve on thrilling rides such as the Dinosaur or the Kali River Rapids. If fast rides aren’t your thing, you could take a relaxing walk around the Gorilla Falls Forest Exploration Trail, where you’ll encounter meerkats, zebras, and of course gorillas! If you love animals, you should also pay a visit to Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens — skip ahead to this guide’s detailed section on the zoo to find out more.
After an adventure through Disney World, you’ll probably be hungry, so it’s a good thing Orlando is full of delicious restaurants. While there are places to eat back at the airport, there are plenty of restaurants in the surrounding area. These include Brick and Fire Pizza and the Stubborn Mule Restaurant, but there are almost too great places to eat to count!
Situated about an hour’s drive from Sanford Airport, Daytona Beach is the go-to location when it comes to taking advantage of Florida’s warm weather. The coast gets around 300 days of sunshine per year, so you can escape to the beach and soak up some sun even during the winter. In fact, the beach’s coldest days, which typically fall in the middle of January, can see temperatures of around 20 c, comparable to the height of summer in the UK! In summer, temperatures can reach up to 33 c during the day, which makes it the perfect time of year to take a refreshing dip in the sea.
Daytona Beach is a 23-mile stretch of soft white sand, so you’re sure to find a spot to sunbathe even on busy days. But if chilling out on the sand isn’t your thing, Daytona Beach has much more to offer. Along the boardwalk and pier, you’ll find a number of shops, cafes and restaurants. If you fancy getting your adrenaline going, visit Screamer’s Park, an amusement park known for its fast rides – it’s the perfect destination for thrill seekers!
If you want to make the most of Florida’s weather, there’s a multitude of outdoor activities to enjoy around Daytona Beach. If you feel like getting active, there are a number of places to rent bicycles from, so you can cycle along the coastline or around a famous route known as the Loop, which gives you the opportunity to view the area’s acres of stunning wildlife as you travel along a road canopied by trees.
There are also miles of trails that you can cycle or hike through and take in the beauty of nature. It’s recommended, however, that you bring along enough water, sunscreen and insect repellant to stay comfortable while you explore! Whether you’re biking or walking, you could also take some time to visit one of the many scenic local parks.
After all that exercise, relax by booking some time at one of Daytona Beach’s spas. There are several to choose from, and it’s the best way to unwind after a long day.
Holidays are the perfect time to try something new, so if you’re looking for some excitement, you’ll definitely want to check out the variety of water activities on offer in Daytona Beach. You can see the world beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean by scuba diving or snorkelling, and discover the artificial reefs that have been created to help conserve marine life.
For a more fast-paced activity, why not try jet skiing? You can hire a jet ski for an adventure on the ocean or discover the backwater estuaries. If you’re lucky, you might spot some dolphins or manatees out at sea! There are also many other ways to have fun on the water, including boat trips, parasailing, surfing and kayaking. Florida is also home to some of the best water parks in the world!
Daytona Beach is a great place to visit if you’re a history enthusiast. With so many historic sites to visit, you could spend all day learning about the area’s past! While you’re there, you could also visit the Museum of Arts and Sciences. There, you can see their extensive collection of art and artefacts from all around the world — over thirty thousand objects in total. The museum houses the Cuban Foundation Museum, which features one of the USA’s largest collections of Cuban art.
The Museum of Arts and Sciences provides an opportunity to learn not just about Florida’s history, but its prehistory. In the Prehistory of Florida gallery, you can see the skeleton of a Giant Ground Sloth, which roamed Florida during the late Miocene era, around nine million years ago, and stood at a startling height of over three metres! The skeleton was unearthed in the Daytona region in 1975 and has remained there ever since.
As you progress through the museum, you’ll encounter the planetarium. Opened in 2014, the state-of-the-art facility lets you take in the wonders of the night sky and learn all about space, from the planets with which we share our solar system to stars and galaxies light years beyond the Milky Way.
Stretched out over sixty-two acres around the museum is the Tuscawilla Preserve, which provides a haven for endangered animals and plant species. The entire preserve is a special kind of habitat known as a hydric hammock. It’s a bit like a swamp, but instead of pools of water, you’re more likely to find extremely wet ground. This makes it the perfect environment for certain species of tree, which thrive on saturated earth. There are nature trails throughout the preserve, so you can take your time looking around and immersing yourself in the wildlife.
Beyond the museum, there are countless shops to visit. In fact, Daytona Beach is becoming increasingly well-known as a shopping destination for tourists and locals alike. There are individual shops and a number of shopping malls, the largest of which is the Volusia Mall. From clothes to books to jewellery and much more, the mall contains so many shops that it’s easy to spend all day going from one to the next. There are also plenty of restaurants and cafes, so you can take a break and grab some lunch before your shopping spree continues!
If you’re someone who enjoys supporting small businesses and shopping at small, locally-run spots, the Riverfront Shops of Daytona Beach are a must-visit! Located on Beach Street, this assortment of over sixty shops, restaurants and other venues provides a unique shopping experience. It’s a historic area, and walking through it allows you to absorb a little bit of Daytona Beach’s history and culture. On Saturdays, you can visit the Farmer’s Market, where you can buy locally grown organic vegetables and homemade food.
The Riverfront is home to much more than just shops, though. There’s also a live performance theatre, where theatrical and musical events are frequently held. Then there’s the Angell and Phelps Chocolate Factory, founded in 1925, where you can take a tour and watch the chocolate being made!
From Tuesday to Saturday of every week, the Riverfront’s Cinematique Theater plays host to two shows per day, including live music and comedy shows, independent films, opera and ballet.
A number of events take place at Daytona Beach throughout the year, so check the calendar to see what’s on during your visit.
If you’re still planning your visit and you’re looking for somewhere to stay, there are a number of hotels and other types of accommodation in Daytona Beach. If you want to be right in the heart of a vibrant area and only a short distance from the sea, staying in Daytona Beach is the ideal solution. Plus, it’s not far from the airport, so you’ll have no problem getting there in time to catch your flight home.
As well as hotels, there are holiday cottages, bed and breakfasts, and even camping sites. You can choose where to stay based on what the rest of your holiday is going to look like — you might just want somewhere to sleep after a long day, or you might want to enjoy a luxury hotel experience. With so much variety among the accommodation available in Daytona Beach, it’s up to you!
Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens
If you love animals and nature, Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens need to be top of your list of places to visit. The zoo is home to more than 100 species, with over 350 animals altogether, so you’ll never run out of things to see.
Under the name of Sanford Zoo, the zoo was established in 1923, with a single animal: a rhesus monkey. It’s grown quite a bit since then! It focuses heavily on conservation, which involves educating visitors about the animals it provides a home for, so if you’re interested in learning more about wildlife and endangered species, in particular, this is the best place in Florida to do so.
The variety of animals you can see at the zoo is truly astonishing. Smaller creatures include monkeys such as the cotton-top tamarin, a squirrel-sized monkey with a distinctive tuft of white hair. On the other end of the scale is the one-horned rhinoceros, which can reach up to 6 feet in height and 12 feet in length, and weighs between 4,000 and 6,000 pounds! Also known as the Indian rhino, this species is endangered, with a conservation status of ‘vulnerable’, so it’s definitely worth visiting the zoo to see their resident rhinoceros.
The zoo is also home to some more unusual animals, such as the tiger salamander, a lizard-like amphibian found throughout North America and named for its distinctive black and yellow patterns. You might also encounter the fossa, a creature you might never have seen before as, in the wild, it’s found only in Madagascar. Although it looks like a cat, its closest relative is actually the mongoose!
Then there are the zoo’s birds. Some might be familiar to you, such as the bald eagle, and parrots like the blue and yellow macaw. Others are a bit more unusual, like the tawny frogmouth. Although not endangered, it’s strange to see one in this part of the world, as they’re native to Australia.
Another distinctive bird that can be found at Central Florida Zoo is the hyacinth macaw. With their eye-catching blue feathers, they’re definitely worth seeing. The same can be said of the zoo’s three bald eagles, and, of course, the other species of brightly-coloured parrots.
The zoo provides opportunities to really get to know some of its animals – you can even feed a giraffe! There’s also a petting zoo, where you can get to know some of the smaller animals.
Twice a day, the zoo holds Keeper Chats, where you can learn more about the animals straight from the experts. Times and locations vary, so be sure to check when you visit!
Don’t forget to make time to visit the Botanical Gardens. Located at certain points throughout the zoo, there are a number of different gardens for you to visit. These include the Butterfly Garden, where every plant has been carefully selected to draw in not only butterflies but other pollinators such as hummingbirds!
Then there’s the Health and Wellness Garden, where you can see and learn about the plants that are often used in food and medicine. There’s also the Spines, Thorns and Prickles Garden, home to a variety of prickly plants, as well as several other gardens for you to enjoy.
If you’re looking for an exciting challenge, the zoo offers zipline courses, which give you the opportunity to see everything from high up in the treetops and traverse the skyline on a series of rope bridges and zips. As the ziplines are very popular with visitors, it’s recommended that you book in advance, though there’s still a chance there will be space for you if you show up on the day.
You’ll almost certainly want a memento of your day at the zoo, so sure to stop by the gift shop before leaving!
If you’re ready to start planning your visit, a map of the zoo is available on their website.
Renting a car for your trip to Florida gives you the freedom to travel and explore. When you’re visiting another country, it’s all too easy to find yourself stuck in one place for the duration of your time there – but you might be hesitant to hire a car because you’ve heard the process is long and complicated.
That’s where Stress Free Car Rental comes in.
When you book a car through us, your experience will be stress-free and simple. We compare cars from a range of trusted companies to ensure you get the best deal possible.
We understand how important it is for you to know what you’re paying before you commit to anything, which is why our booking process is completely transparent. With us, there are no hidden fees or unexpected costs, just straightforward, affordable car hire.
Not only that, but we offer a choice of insurance for almost all the cars you can find on our website, so it’s up to you whether you’d prefer Essential Cover or Premium Cover.
If you have any questions, we’re here to help. Contact us or explore our website and start your car rental journey today.