4836 W. Irlo Bronson Hwy.
Price We Found: $29.32 (Travelocity) to $32.50 (Travelweb).
Details: Lounge at this HoJo's long square pool, which overlooks a lake buzzing with birds, bugs and Jet Skis, and you won't feel so landlocked. Though the front-door views are of a shopping center and a busy highway, the back door leads to a full water entertainment center. Complementing the pool is a whirlpool, kiddie pool and covered picnic area with barbecue grills and a dock. Among the 131 rooms are 42 suites with Jacuzzis and full kitchens (but no microwaves); "home office" rooms come with fridges, microwaves and coffee makers -- but little else (at least cooking wise). A simple continental breakfast is included, but there's no real dining area, minus a picnic table in the parking lot and that outdoor pavilion with water views.
The Red Horse Inn's Southwestern motif includes a saddle in the lobby.
(Anne Mcdonough -- The Washington Post)
Info: 407-396-4762, www.howardjohnson.com.
11 LA QUINTA INN LAKESIDE
7769 W. Irlo Bronson Hwy.
Price We Found: $56 (Hotels.com) to $59 (Expedia).
Details: Don't let the strip-mall location fool you. Though it sits behind a Walgreens, La Quinta is more beach resort than budget motel. The 651 rooms, housed in 15 two-story buildings, cluster around two main frolic centers that include pools (kiddie and all-ages) with on-deck food/beverage service, palm tree-shaded paths, a fitness center and wood picnic tables with conical roofs. The hotel offers an array of dining choices: a well-stocked mini-mart with deli and a Pizza Hut Express, a hops-happy bar and grill called Hurricane Sam's and a sit-down restaurant where guests can get $1.50 off the $6.95 breakfast buffet (kids 10 and under eat for free, including Pizza Hut). Rooms don't have microwaves, but the general store has one you can use. Our fave feature: the 18-hole mini-golf course that sits by the lake.
Info: 407-396-2222, www.laquintainnlakeside.com.
12 LA QUINTA ORLANDO
8300 Jamaican Ct.
Price We Found: $48 (SideStep).
Details: Tucked away on a cul-de-sac of sorts, this quiet, 200-room hotel is a lovely respite from the theme park atmosphere. There are few suites, but rooms come with a sleeper sofa, kitchenette and large bathrooms. The zig-zag pool lends itself more to floating than laps, but you're not here for the exercise, right? There's also a hot tub, kiddie pool and mini putting green. There's no restaurant on-site, but Pizzeria Uno is just across the courtyard, and International Drive is mere steps away.
Info: 407-351-1660, www.lq.com.
13 * PARC CORNICHE
CONDO SUITE HOTEL
6300 Parc Corniche at International Drive
Price We Found: $59 (Expedia).
Details: Jump on this deal if you see it. At Parc Corniche, there's no need to cram the whole family into one room with a mini-fridge when you can rent a condo with a full kitchen. To ensure that the cook also gets a vacation, there's room service, plus a pub and restaurant in a small reception building. Condos on the ground floor have small patios; others have balconies -- the better to look out over the bucolic surroundings that are a far cry (yet less than a half-mile) from SeaWorld. Stays at this 210-unit property include a discount at the adjacent Mariott golf course.
Info: 800-446-2721, www.parccorniche.com.
14 QUALITY INN AND SUITES EASTGATE
4960 W. Irlo Bronson Hwy.
Price We Found: $40 (SideStep).
Details: Before heading to the parks, guests can catch some rays on a beach. Okay, it's more like a large spoonful of sand -- but still, it's yellowish and abuts a lake. Prefer chlorination? Then try the pool -- long, wide, clear blue, cool -- or the adjacent whirlpool. The 176 rooms look fresh and newly refurbished, with bold striped bedspreads, light wood furniture and fingerprint-less black microwaves and fridges. The kids' suites have bunk beds and Nintendo, and mom and dad are safely tucked away behind another door. For breakfast, guests can eat indoors or take it outside, to mosaic-tiled tables near that sliver of beach.
Info: 407-396-1376, www.qualityinn.com.
15 QUALITY INN AT