Orlando, Florida is considered to be the mecca of theme and amusement parks. It is home to famous attractions such as Walt Disney World, Universal’s Island of Adventure, ICON Park, SeaWorld, Sea Life Aquarium and Legoland.
Although theme parks are enjoyable and exhilarating, they can be a little pricey and off the budget. It is already a given to visit these theme parks when traveling with kids. However, if children are too young to enjoy the rides, paying for the amusement park fee may not be worth it.
Amusement parks are not everyone’s “cup of tea.” Fortunately, there are tons of activities, attractions & places to go to Orlando besides Disney and other amusement parks. If you are looking for a relaxing nature trip, an educational trip, a visit to art galleries and museums, beach trips, biking or hiking trails, food trip, shopping, golf or even enjoying the city life, Orlando has it all.
Here is a list of activities people may want to try when visiting Orlando
1. Nature Trip
Orlando has enough space to accommodate different kinds of people, from the jet-setter, adventure lover, travel photographer, to soul searchers searching for the perfect retreat. For people who want to relax and enjoy nature, Orlando has numerous parks, and nature preserves open to visit.
Lake Eola Park, Winter Park of Chain, and Kelly Park are some of the places which offer water activities, such as paddle boating, kayaking, and speed boat rides. In Winter Park of Chain, people can enjoy a one-hour scenic boat ride and observe the wildlife of Orlando. People who visit Kelly Park can experience swimming, camping, hiking, and rock climbing.
These parks could be crowded on weekends and holidays. For those who are looking for a peaceful and quiet surrounding, they should try visiting the Leu Gardens or the Green Mountains Byway. For people who want to observe and take pictures of wildlife and animals, they can go to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, UCF Arboretum or Orlando Wetlands Park for some bird watching.
2. Beach and Spring Trip
When visiting Orlando during the summer, people should not miss the beauty of the nearby springs and beaches. It is nice to have a dip in the cool and refreshing springs and lakes of Florida on hot days.
Wekiwa Springs and Blue Springs State Park are approximately 30 minutes away from Orlando. People can visit these places before heading out to tour the city of Orlando. These destinations are famous for their clear and blue water springs. Activities offered include swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and canoeing. The state parks are equipped with lifeguards and guides that are available if you need help with your travel and activities.
For people who are looking for the sea breeze and salty water, they could opt to go to nearby beaches like Daytona Beach, Cocoa Beach, and New Smyrna Beach. These beaches are only an hour away from Orlando. Activities including surfing, kayaking, and paddle boating can be enjoyed in these destinations. When visiting Daytona Beach, you can plan ahead to enjoy NASCAR racing.
3. Food Trip
Restaurant hopping and food trip is also a one-of-a-kind experience in Orlando. There are various themed restaurants in the area which offers different cuisines.
For a diverse eating experience, Disney Springs is the place for you. Here, you’ll find different themed food establishments like T-Rex restaurant for the dinosaur-obsessed friend. Capone’s Dinner and Show is a 1930s themed restaurant. For a Mediterranean experience visit Mythos Restaurants, Island of Adventure.
An interactive meal can be experienced at The Cirque Magique, where magicians do a show that will entertain your children. People who like Mexican food can visit the Antojitos Authentic Mexican food. For people who are looking to experience medieval times, the Medieval Time Dinner Tournament offers a meal served inside the walls of an 11th century-styled castle.
When traveling, people usually spend some time going shopping. Buying memorabilia and souvenirs is a must-do for any kind of tour. The Mall at Millenia, which is close to Universal Orlando Resort is an indoor shopping mall, has collections of many luxurious boutiques and famous brands. Another indoor shopping mall is the Florida Mall, which also has an indoor play place for kids.
If you are buying items for family and friends, it is best to pack things made locally in Orlando. Orlando is famous for its locally produced wine from Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards and candies and sweets from the Chocolate Kingdom. Items from these stores will surely be a great gift for your friends and family. Disney Springs is also an excellent spot to shop. Here, people can choose fashionable items and of course, a lot of Disney goods.
5. Art or Museum Tours
There are other places to go in Orlando besides Disney. It is home to beautiful art pieces and museums. There are many undiscovered places in Orlando that house impressive art collection. For example, The Alfond Inn has a contemporary art collection people can see, and every Sunday they have a guided tour.
Every third week of the month, there are numerous art tours in the city. Every third Saturday, there is an organized Sanford Art Walk, which features tour and insider information about the unique galleries in Orlando. There is also the 3rd Thursday Gallery Hop where you can view some of downtown Orlando’s galleries such as SNAP-Orlando, CityArts Factory, and The Gallery at Avalon Island.
For a self-guided tour, people can go to the Morse Museum after a relaxing picnic at Winter Park and observe the comprehensive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany glass or a walking tour at the Mills 50 district where people can discover colorful wall murals.
6. Orlando Nightlife
After a long day of adventures with family and friends, a nice bottle of wine or cocktails would be a perfect nightcap. Visitors who want to relax after a long day of tours, the Hard Rock Café is the place to chill and enjoy drinks and watch a show.
For adventurous millennials who still have the energy to party, the Wall Street Plaza is a mix of laidback restaurants, night clubs with EDM DJ’s, and lively bars which showcase the local scene of Orlando. Other nightclubs can also be found near Lake Eola. For music lovers, the House of Blue’s offers an impressive line-up of famous local and international bands.
There are also various comedy bars in Orlando that people could visit for a good laugh. These include the Orlando Improv Comedy Club and Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar which offers free shows every Friday and Saturday.
7. City Tour
There are many ways to enjoy the city of Orlando. After spending the whole day in Lake Eola, or cruising Winter Park, people can spend their late afternoons at The Wheel at ICON Park, a 400 feet observation wheel that offers a scenic view of the skyline of Orlando. There are also numerous activities in the area including fun rides, arcades, and restaurants that serve up delicious food.
From the International Drive Area, riding a helicopter to see an aerial view of the city is also an option. Passengers can choose the destinations and see SeaWorld, Universal Studios, Disneyland from above. Another basic city tour in Orlando is the City Tour with Gospel Brunch which offers a brunch and live gospel music while touring around the city.
8. Educational Trips
There are many other places to go in Orlando besides Disney, even when traveling with children. Choose some attractions that are both educational and engaging. Besides seeing the varied attractions and interactive plays, Orlando offers many educational tours.
One of these educational destinations is the Kennedy Space Center which offers ‘Mission Zones’ for the visitors. Children can experience the chronological tour from the beginning of space explorations to the current and ongoing projects in space. Kids can also talk to astronauts and learn from their experiences in space. When planning a visit to the space center, it is best to check out their schedule to get a chance to witness a rocket launch.
Other educational museums and attractions include the Wonder Works, housed in an upturned structure which features more than a hundred science exhibits including a 6D motion ride. Ripley’s Believe It or Not houses a collection of oddities and rare items.
If you’ve never seen a shrunken head or an authentic vampire killing kit, this is the place for you. For history lovers or Titanic fans, the Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition is a must-see attraction. The exhibit has interactive tours where actors play the parts of the actual passengers and crew. In this exhibit, people can see artifacts from the ship recovered from the Atlantic Ocean.
There are numerous ways to enjoy your visit to Orlando. Disney World and Universal Studios are the usual places to visit in the city. However, there are many places to go in Orlando besides Disney. These are often located in less crowded areas and cheaper activities could also offer the same kind of fun and exhilarating moments. When traveling, enjoy every moment and don’t get stressed when things don’t go the way they are planned. Traveling is best experienced when people visit undiscovered and not too famous places, activities, and views.