This article was originally published in July of 2021 and then underwent extensive updates and editing in September of 2023 to remain current and relevant.
If you are looking for picturesque views, phenomenal dining options, pools that will transport you and your family to full vacation mode, and oh yeah some Universal Orlando Resort theme park perks, too? Well, you’re in luck because half the fun of a Universal Orlando vacation can be found at the eight unique and impeccably-themed hotels throughout the resort.
Since I’m such a fan of all of our hotels, I thought I’d gather up ten of my favorite things to do at each Universal Orlando Resort hotel (Universal’s Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites or Surfside Inn and Suites, Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal’s Aventura Hotel, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Hard Rock Hotel, and Loews Portofino Bay Hotel).
With eight hotels that all offer something different, it was no small feat for me to narrow this list down to ten! I say explore as many of our hotel offerings as possible during your visit, but for now…
1. Embark on a Rum-Tasting Journey at Strong Water Tavern.
This experience at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort is an educational blast — you’ll be paired with a Rum Captain (coolest job title ever) who will host a tasting of several different rums and teach you about their flavor nuances. Even if you’re not a rum-fan, I recommend trying this out or just sitting at the bar and enjoying one of the other great signature cocktails.
2. Bowl a strike at Galaxy Bowl.
Well, at least try to bowl a strike. How many hotels have a literal bowling alley in them? Let alone one as cool as you’ll find at Cabana Bay Beach Resort. Whether you’re staying at this hotel or not you should definitely plan a bowling excursion during your Universal trip.
3. Make a splash at your hotel pool.
What’s a vacation to Florida without a day spent at the pool? Each of the hotels deliver their own great pool experience (Cabana Bay Beach Resort even has a lazy river)! Be sure to check out our guide to the pools here and don’t forget your sunscreen.
4. Get adventurous with the sushi at Orchid Court Lounge & Sushi Bar.
Sushi with a view is the most succinct way I can articulate the magic that is this restaurant in Loews Royal Pacific Resort. The sushi menu is vibrant and inventive, the cocktail offerings are one-of-a-kind, and you’ll be enjoying it all with a view worthy of the word “paradise” as the restaurant overlooks the lush and tropical vibes at Royal Pacific..
5. Attempt the Kitchen Sink Challenge at The Kitchen in Hard Rock Hotel.
Think you have what it takes to eat a burger, side of fries, one fried pickle, and a giant slice of The Kitchen Sink Cake in thirty minutes? Even if you can’t, I can bet it’ll be a delicious experience trying.
6. Enjoy gelato on the harbor.
Get yourself a cup of gelato from the Gelateria and soak in the relaxing ambience of the harbor at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. You may even end up having to pinch yourself to come back to reality and remind yourself you’re not actually in Italy.
7. Grab a rooftop drink and bite to eat at Bar 17 Bistro.
Take in one of the best views throughout all of Universal Orlando Resort at Bar 17 Bistro, located at the top of Aventura Hotel. Sipping on a Volcano View with a view of Volcano Bay is an unmatched experience.
8. Level up your vacation with one of our themed kids’ suites.
Whether the kids in your group are into dinosaurs, Minions, or music, there’s a kids-suite for them! The different kids’ suites throughout Universal hotels will really have you sleeping where the action is with the Future Rock Star Suites at Hard Rock Hotel, Despicable Me Kids Suites at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, and Jurassic World Kids Suites at Royal Pacific Resort.
9. Sample all of the exclusive drinks the hotels have to offer.
If you’re at Universal Orlando Resort’s newest hotel, Dockside Inn and Suites, grab some of the Wet n’ Wild-inspired specialty cocktails by the pool. More of a beer drinker? Enjoy the specialty craft beers at Sunset Lounge in Dockside or head to Jake’s American Bar at Royal Pacific Resort to try out their menu of specialty beers. Pro-tip for your time at Jake’s — all of the Team Members have made-up names there! Be sure to ask your server why they picked theirs.
10. Treat yourself to some pampering at Mandara Spa.
You deserve it! This spa at Loews Portofino Bay Hotel has a ton of options for you to relax and bring your vacation to another level of pure joy and bliss. Besides, after all that roller coaster riding you’ve been doing in the theme parks, you’ve earned yourself a massage.
OK, now I’m at 10 and I knew I’d have to fight the urge to make this list longer! Let me know in the comments below your favorite Universal hotel activities.