Orlando often conjures thoughts of Disney and Universal Studios. That makes sense, Disney World is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about Orlando – and I’ve been here several times! Believe it or not, however, Orlando has so many more fun things to offer.
Orlando is known as a city that has a little bit of everything. It hosts over 5.7 million tourists each year and ranks as the 4th most visited city in the nation. From activities for the whole family to museums, shopping, and foodie spots — there really is something that anyone will enjoy.
Whether you want to spend your time exploring world-famous theme parks like Walt Disney World or Universal Studios, discovering unique museums like the Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, ICON Park, or playing a round of golf at one of the many championship golf courses in the area, you’ll find plenty of things to do during your Orlando vacation.
On the Explore tour, you'll ride along with a knowledgeable space expert who will take you on an insider's tour of America's multi-user spaceport. You'll see iconic landmarks like the Vehicle Assembly Building and historic Launch Complex 39, and disembark at key points to get up-close views and photo opportunities. Plus, you'll visit the Apollo/Saturn V Center to learn more about the historic Apollo missions.
Snag a combo ticket and you can also enjoy the thrills of Aquatica Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa and Adventure Island. One of the park's most popular attractions is the Shamu show, One Ocean. Here, you can watch killer whales leap and dance in an unforgettable display of power and grace.
At Universal Studios Florida, cutting-edge attractions bring your favorite movies, television shows, and more to life. Then, next door at Universal's Islands of Adventure, you can step right into powerful stories, myths, and legends. And with the Park to Park Ticket w/ Easy Cancellation, you can come and go as you please between both parks on the same day!
Show Table of Contents
- Things to Do in Orlando, Florida
- 1. Sea Life Orlando Aquarium
- 2. Walt Disney World Resort
- 3. Universal Studios Florida
- 4. Kennedy Space Center
- 5. Icon Park
- 6. Orlando Science Center
- 7. Titanic Exhibition
- 8. World of Chocolate Museum & Cafe
- 9. Museum of Illusions – Orlando
- 10. Lake Eola Park
- 11. Kelly Park
- 12. Blue Spring State Park
- 13. Downtown Orlando
- 14. Orlando Museum of Art
- 15. Mennello Museum of American Art
- 16. Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
- 17. Rollins Museum of Art
- 18. Disney Springs
- 19. Bok Tower Gardens
- 20. Fun Spot America
- 21. Take an airboat tour
- 22. Clearwater Beach day trip
- 23. Tibet-Butler Reserve
- 24. Crayola Experience
- 25. Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts
- 26. Harry P. Leu Gardens
- 27. Safari Wilderness Ranch
- 28. Take a hot air balloon ride
- 29. Central Florida Zoo
- 30. Capone’s Dinner & Show
- Getting around Orlando, Florida
- What to pack for a trip to Orlando, Florida
- What are the best tourist attractions in Orlando, Florida?
- What is the best thing to do with kids in Orlando, Florida?
- What is there to do in Orlando, Florida at night?
- How can I spend 3 hours in Orlando?
- Most significant landmark – Walt Disney World Resort
- Best park – Kelly Park
- Best free activity – ICON Park
- Best activity for kids – Sea Life Orlando Aquarium
- Best activity for adults – My Beer Spa
- Best food – The Ravenous Pig
- Best nightlife – Downtown Orlando
- Best all-around accommodation – Castle Hotel
Things to Do in Orlando, Florida
1. Sea Life Orlando Aquarium
Address: 8449 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
A tour of Sea Life Orlando Aquarium is a must-visit for families and children in Orlando. The aquarium has over 5,000 sea creatures, including sharks, stingrays, and seahorses. Many interactive exhibits even allow visitors to touch and feed the animals! With over nine different areas to explore, you can easily spend a whole day here.
Visitors to Sea Life Orlando Aquarium can even watch live feedings and demonstrations done throughout the day by staff. The aquarium is located in the heart of Orlando’s International Drive, an area full of shops, restaurants, and other attractions to fill up your schedule.
Even as an adult, I love spending time in aquariums. It’s so peaceful. Especially if you’re headed to Orlando for amusement park adventures, spending time out of the Florida sun can be a much-needed rest. So why not spend some time with the fish?
See Related: Orlando CityPASS Review: Is It Worth It?
2. Walt Disney World Resort
Address: 1375 E Buena Vista Dr, Orlando, FL 32830
Of course, a trip to Orlando wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Walt Disney World. Walt Disney World Resort (WDW) is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and is one of the main attractions that brings so many visitors to Orlando each year.
Personally, I’m an Annual Passholder at Disney World, so I’m a little biased. I went for the first time at 20 years old and fell in love.
The massive resort comprises four theme parks: Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. There are also two water parks: Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, and several golf courses too.
In addition, there is an extensive shopping district and tons of dining at Disney Springs. And that’s not even including all of the hotels on-site! With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder that people often spend their entire vacation at Walt Disney World Resort.
What often surprises first-time Walt Disney World visitors is how different each park is and how much there is to do for adults with or without kiddos. Especially with seasonal festivals at EPCOT, even frequent park guests like myself have something new to experience every time we go. And if also like me, your body can’t handle rough adrenaline rides, Disney World has a range of options that we can ride — far more than any other amusement park I’ve ever been to.
Visiting the Most Magical Place on Earth is an experience you’ll never forget! There are rides and attractions for all ages, from very young children to adults who are young at heart.
You can also meet your favorite Disney characters, dine in world-famous restaurants, watch spectacular shows, and so much more. No matter your age, you will have a magical time at Disney World!
3. Universal Studios Florida
Address: 6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819
Another iconic Florida amusement park is Universal Orlando Resort. This park is famous for its movie-themed rides and attractions, as well as its annual Halloween Horror Nights events. Universal Orlando is made up of different areas based on popular movies and TV shows.
There’s the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, for example, where you can explore Hogwarts castle and ride the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride. Here is where you’ll find Diagon Alley, where you can shop at places like Ollivander’s Wand Shop. You can also grab some iconic butter beer while you’re here too.
Elsewhere you’ll discover Jurassic Park, where you can come face-to-face with dinosaurs. And The Simpsons area is complete with a 4D simulator ride that takes you on an adventure with Homer, Marge, Bart, and the rest of the Simpson family. Visiting on a hot day? Cool off at Volano Bay, Universal’s water park.
There are plenty of shows and other fun things to do at Universal Orlando Resort if you’re not big on rides. You can watch the WaterWorld stunt show, meet your favorite characters, or go on a behind-the-scenes studio tour. There’s also CityWalk, a dining and entertainment complex that’s adjacent to the park.
With so much to see and do, a trip to Universal Orlando Resort is a major adventure for movie buffs and not alike. Like Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this park brings movies to life in ever-changing ways.
4. Kennedy Space Center
Address: Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, FL 32953
Even if you don’t have fond memories of space camp advertising from childhood, The Kennedy Space Center is still an exciting stop. Visitors can take a tour of the launch pads, see rockets up close, check out the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit, and even meet an astronaut. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex also offers interactive exhibits, shows, and simulators.
One of the most popular things to do at the Kennedy Space Center is the Launch Control Center Tour. On this tour, you’ll get to see where astronauts prepared for their missions and even sit in the chair that was used by the commander of Apollo 11 and the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong.
Other popular tours include the Astronaut Training Experience, where you learn about being an astronaut. You’ll get a first-hand look at what astronauts eat and even how they use the bathroom while floating around in space. Even if you aren’t a big space nerd, Kennedy Space Center still feels like moonwalking through history.
5. Icon Park
Address: 8375 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
ICON Park is easy to miss if you’ve never been to Orlando before — though the wheel at ICON Park is anything but easy to miss. This 20-acre open-air entertainment district is home to over 50 restaurants, boutiques, and funky bars. And of course, the centerpiece of the park is the huge Ferris wheel called the Great Wheel at ICON Park, which stands 40 stories tall!
Take a ride on the Ferris wheel at ICON Park to enjoy panoramic views of the city. Whether you’re looking for a place to eat, drink, or just people-watch, ICON Park is the perfect spot, centrally located on International Drive. After enjoying some fun in the sun at ICON Park, you can walk over to the Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds Orlando, or Sea Life Aquarium.
6. Orlando Science Center
Address: 777 E. Princeton St., Orlando, FL 32803
A four-floor discovery extravaganza, the Orlando Science Center exemplifies the intersection of learning and fun. The center has been in operation since the 1960s and has continued to innovate ever since.
Their hands-on learning experiences are great for the whole family from the littlest kids enjoying KidsTown to older learners enjoying the science of planet Earth. There are ten distinct exhibit areas to enjoy which, like science, change over time.
If you need a break during your visit, there are two theaters with space to sit back and relax. The Dr. Phillips CineDome is IMAX-esque with a massive screen that shows video through a fish-eye lens projection — making you feel like you’re really there, whereas the Digital Adventure Theater is a more traditional movie theater setting that hosts live science-themed shows as well.
7. Titanic Exhibition
Address: 7324 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819
Not to be confused with the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tenessee, Titanic – The Artifact Exhibition is a roughly two-hour adventure. Inside visitors can see over 300 artifacts from the voyage, recreations of areas of the ship, and encounter performers.
The exhibition is even home to the second-largest piece of the ship ever recovered from the ocean. Dubbed the “Little Big Piece,” the portion of the Titanic’s hull now rests safely among other remnants of its fateful voyage.
If you want to heighten your exhibit experience, the space hosts a First Class Dinner Gala every weekend. This four-course dinner features actors portraying famed passengers like Margaret “Molly” Brown and even Captain Smith.
See Related: Best Museums in the US to Visit
8. World of Chocolate Museum & Cafe
Address: 11701 International Dr suite 400, Orlando, FL 32821
The World of Chocolate Museum & Cafe is the perfect place to go if you have a sweet tooth. This unique museum is dedicated to the history and science of chocolate. You’ll learn all about how it is made, where it comes from, and its cultural importance.
This museum also has a cafe where you can enjoy some delicious chocolatey treats. It offers a wide selection of chocolate desserts, drinks, and even savory dishes like its panini offerings.
After experiencing the museum, it would be hard to pass up some tasty offerings at the cafe. Learn all about chocolate and end the day with a delectable bowl of gelato? Yes, please!
World of Chocolate also offers chocolate-making classes for those who want to learn to make their own chocolate creations. The class includes a tour of the museum, a hands-on chocolate-making experience, and all the materials you’ll need to make your own chocolate creations.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Miami, Florida
9. Museum of Illusions – Orlando
Address: 8375 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819
Museum of Illusions locations can be found all over the world. While it may seem gimmicky to some, they’re actually a lot of fun. Like the other locations, the Museum of Illusions in Orlando offers some wacky photoshoot moments, incredible optical illusions, and maybe an opportunity to learn a thing or two.
Found within ICON Park, the museum features over 50 exhibits for visitors to enjoy. Some of the most iconic scenes from the museum seen all over social media are those from the Infinity Room, the Ames Room where you appear miniature, and the Reverse Room where guests appear to break the laws of gravity.
Don’t expect this Orlando attraction to take all day, though it is a fun spot to spend some time on an ICON Park day. You can easily plan an entire day by stopping at the various tourist attractions along International Drive. If you do, consider hitting this museum early or late in the day when it’s less crowded to really enjoy the different rooms.
See Related: Best Bars in Orlando, Florida
10. Lake Eola Park
Address: 512 E Washington St, Orlando, FL 32801
If you’re looking for ways to enjoy Orlando besides visiting theme parks, why not enjoy some of the natural parks in the area? First on that list should be Lake Eola Park. This park is located in the heart of downtown Orlando and is a great place to relax, take a walk, or go for a paddleboat ride.
Lake Eola also has a playground, splash pad, and an amphitheater where you can enjoy live music or movies. And if you get hungry, there are plenty of food options located around the park.
One of the most popular things to do in Lake Eola is to go for a paddleboat ride. You can rent a paddleboat from the boathouse located on the south side of the lake. The boats seat up to four people and are a great way to enjoy a sunny day in Orlando.
If you’re looking for things to do with kids, the playground at Lake Eola is a great option – kids love the slides and climbing structures. And when they’re done playing, they can cool off in the splash pad, which is located right next to the playground. Not only do you get a day off from the water parks, but the kiddos still get a little splash time.
See Related: Tips for Traveling with Toddlers and Kids
11. Kelly Park
Address: 400 E Kelly Park Rd, Apopka, FL 32712
Kelly Park is another great place to cool off on a hot day in Orlando that isn’t a water park. Located about 30 minutes outside of downtown Orlando in the town of Apopka, Kelly Park features a large spring-fed swimming area. The water at the park is always a comfortable 68 degrees all year round, making it perfect for a refreshing swim.
One of the most popular things to do at Kelly Park is to go tubing down Rock Springs. This is a natural, free-flowing lazy river that winds through the park. You can rent tubes from the park for a small fee, or you can bring your own from home.
Kelly Park also has a playground and hiking trails, making it a great option for the whole family. Plus you can camp inside the park with tents and RV options available. It’s a great budget option over the much more expensive camping locations at Walt Disney World.
See Related: Best Day Trips From Tampa, Florida
12. Blue Spring State Park
Address: 2100 W French Ave, Orange City, FL 32763
About 40 minutes outside of Orlando, you can get a taste of the authentic nature and landscape of Florida. At Blue Spring State Park, manatee watching is the must-do activity. Every year from November to March, hundreds of manatees congregate in the warm waters here, and you can take a Blue Spring boat tour to see them.
Be mindful that touching manatees is against the law. They’re very friendly, but that’s part of the reason why their species is still at risk of endangerment after being removed from the endangered species list in 2017.
In addition to manatees, this state park is also home to plenty of other wildlife, including alligators, turtles, and birds. The park has over 20 miles of hiking trails that wind through the different ecosystems of the park.
Blue Spring also has a playground and a swimming area. The refreshing blue-green waters are perfect for a dip or water activities like kayaking, canoeing, snorkeling, or paddle boarding.
See Related: Best Resorts in Key West, Florida
13. Downtown Orlando
Those visiting Orlando only for the parks may be surprised that the downtown area is quite lively. While it may not be as flashy or well-known as the parks, downtown Orlando has a lot to offer.
Visitors to Orlando’s downtown can take a stroll down Church Street and explore the iconic Railroad Depot, which was built in 1889 and has been repurposed into shops. The downtown area is also the starting point of many of the city’s most popular walking tours like the Ghosts and Terrors Haunted Orlando walking tour or an Urban Bike Tour.
Downtown Orlando is also home to tons of different restaurants, bars, and cafes. Visitors can enjoy everything from fine dining to casual eats here. The city features a vibrant nightlife scene; some of the most popular bars include Hanson’s Shoe Repair, a swanky 1920s-style speakeasy, and Imperial, a cozy wine bar.
Downtown is also one of the best places to stay when you visit Orlando. Because of its central location and distance from the theme parks, the prices are much more reasonable than elsewhere in the city. Two of the popular chain hotels in the area include the Embassy Suites and the Hilton Garden Inn.
14. Orlando Museum of Art
Address: 2416 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL 32803
Founded in 1924, the Orlando Museum of Art (OMART) is one of the oldest museums in the region. OMART coordinates its collection into five distinct categories: American Art, African Art, Art of the Ancient Americas, Contemporary Art Collection, and Contemporary Graphics. Visitors can expect to see everything from paintings and sculptures to photography and mixed-media installations.
Some of their featured works in the collection include Datura and Pedernal by Georgia O’Keeffe, Robin Rhode’s Scales, and Willie Cole’s Man Spirit Mask. OMART’s permanent collection remains on display year-round while other exhibitions come through the museum throughout the year.
Some of the past temporary exhibits have included Our Voice: Celebrating the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Awards, People and Places, and Zen Tales: The Art of Jon J Muth. The Orlando Museum of Art also offers events such as artist talks, film screenings, and workshops.
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15. Mennello Museum of American Art
Address: 900 E. Princeton St., Orlando, FL 32803
Unlike OMART, the Mennello Museum of American Art‘s focus is solely on American artists. What began as a way of preserving the paintings of Earl Cunningham in 1998 blossomed into a home for American artists of all specialties. Some of the museum’s collection highlights include Mary Proctor’s Train up a Child, Barbara Sorensen’s Hanging Boats, and Purvis Young’s Heads Above the Street.
Beyond the permanent collection, the museum also welcomes visiting exhibitions throughout the year. Some of their past showcases have included Construct: Our Orlando & American Youth: Cause, John Baker: Mind Wealth, Mira Lehr: High Water Mark, and Floating Beauty: Women in the Art of Ukiyo-e.
Outside the walls of the museum building, the Marilyn L. Mennello Sculpture Garden beckons visitors outdoors. Sculptures like the walking paths that converge into the Orlando Urban Trail.
In total, the Urban Trail includes over 4000 acres of nature and art together. The star of the garden, however, is the over 350-year-old, living oak tree nicknamed “The Mayor.” You’ll recognize it when you see a gargantuan tree adorned with flowing Spanish moss.
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16. Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
Address: 445 N Park Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789
Surprise! Another art museum! What makes the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum stand apart though is that it houses the most comprehensive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany works in the world (yes, Tiffany as in Tiffany glass). Now can you see why we had to include this spot on the list?
This Orlando museum is home to much of Tiffany’s jewelry, pottery, and paintings, plus his glass windows, lamps, and even the chapel made famous by the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. As the daughter of a stained glass artist, I cannot emphasize enough how vital Tiffany’s work was for glass artists.
Beyond Tiffany, the Morse also has tremendous collections of decorative art and sculpture, paintings, and graphic art pieces as well as some hodge-podge collections with European artists like William Morris. Their vast collections include works by Mary Cassatt, Edward Hopper, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Emile Gallé to name just a few.
17. Rollins Museum of Art
Address: 1000 Hold Ave., Winter Park, FL 32789
Also located in Winter Park, the Rollins Museum of Art lives on the campus of Rollins College. Formerly known as the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, the museum showcases art from ancient times to contemporary in a unique role as a teaching museum. Since it is part of a college, the central mission of the Rollins Museum is to help visitors connect and learn through art.
The Rollins may be the smallest of the museums, but I don’t think that indicates anything lesser about it. Here the collection spans over 700 paintings and 2,000 paper works spanning eight centuries. They house everything from a vast collection of Andy Warhol’s photographs to ancient stone artifacts.
One of the unique ways kids (aged six to 13) can experience the museum is through the free Art Explorers Club program. With Art Explorers, the kids and their families can go through the museum with creative missions focused on helping kids connect with the art.
18. Disney Springs
Address: 1486 Buena Vista Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
Disney Springs is an outdoor shopping, dining, and entertainment complex that is the perfect place to spend a day or evening. The massive shopping district on the Walt Disney World property has over 100 shops, 65+ dining spots, and two dozen attraction/entertainment venues. If you’re spending the day at Disney Springs, you’ll be doing a lot of walking, so make sure to pace yourself.
My biggest piece of advice is to not spend a rainy day at Disney Springs — because everyone else will too. Being there during rain is a no-brainer for tourists because there is so much to do inside, but the stores get uncomfortably crowded.
You’d be better off wearing a poncho and dealing with the rain in one of the Disney parks instead. At least then you won’t be elbow to elbow with a million other people inside a store.
There’s so much to do in Disney Springs that it’s almost laughable to try and summarize it. Some of my personal favorite highlights are Enzo’s Hideaway the speakeasy-style tunnel bar, finding incredible artwork at The Art of Disney, drooling over the Disney pieces at Kate Spade, or buying an absurd amount of Disney merch at World of Disney.
Going to Disney Springs is free and getting there is super easy. If you’re staying at any of Walt Disney World’s resorts, there is free transportation to Disney Springs. So, if you’re a resort guest and you drink, have a sidecar or two at Enzo’s for me.
See Related: Best Restaurants in Disney Springs
19. Bok Tower Gardens
Address: 1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales, FL 33853
Easily a 90-minute drive from Orlando, the Bok Tower Gardens are well worth the commute. The neo-Gothic and art deco tower the site is named for is unlike anything you’ll see in Orlando or even perhaps in all of Florida. Known as the Singing Tower, guests can hear 30-minute bell concerts ring out from the tower’s carillon (a percussion instrument operated as a keyboard but playing bells) at 1 pm and 3 pm every day.
The tower was built at the bequest of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edward W. Bok who wintered in Florida. Since 1929 the Singing Tower has mesmerized visitors. Guests are welcome to wander the 50+ acres of gardens and see Bok’s El Retiro estate. The author’s Mediterranean-style mansion is aptly named.
Named for the tower’s architect Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., Bok and Olmstead designed what is now known as Olmsted Garden. These gardens are filled with a wide range of seasonal blooms, giving new life to each area as each month or season comes around. It is a place to find relaxation and peace, perfect for a vacation.
20. Fun Spot America
Addresses: 5700 Fun Spot Way, Orlando, FL 32819
2850 Florida Plaza Blvd., Kissimmee, FL 34746
Fun Spot America is a group of theme parks that offer a mix of things to do for families and thrill-seekers alike. The parks are located in both Orlando and Kissimmee, so you can easily visit both if you want to during your trip.
Fun Spot America is a classic family-friendly theme park that is home to White Lightening, Orlando’s only wooden roller coaster! Or take a ride on the Freedom Flyer, a suspended steel coaster that sends you soaring through the air, or challenge yourself to one of the many arcade games.
Refuel after a day of fun in the sun with a snack or a meal from one of the many concessionaires. Fun Spot America is the perfect place to spend a day if you’re looking for fun things to do around Orlando that are both fun and affordable.
Similar to its Orlando sibling, over at Fun Spot America Kissimmee there is also a lot to do. This park is home to Mine Blower, the tallest roller coaster in Central Florida.
If that’s not enough to get your heart racing, take a ride on the Skyscraper, Central Florida’s only vertical free-fall attraction. Fun Spot America Kissimmee is clearly the perfect place to go for an adrenaline rush.
21. Take an airboat tour
Throughout the marshy areas of the Southern United States, there are tour companies running airboat tours. In the bizarre contraption of an airboat, you can see much of the wildlife and wetlands that they call home. With a company like Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures, you can see all kinds of critters from alligators to birds, turtles, and more on one of these airboat tour excursions.
What exactly is an airboat? It’s a flat-bottomed boat propelled by a giant fan or propeller. They suit the shallow waters of places like the Everglades well because they don’t drag on the floor.
Also, folks like me who get nauseous on boats might have an easier time on these. I haven’t been nauseous on an airboat before.
The biggest airboat company in the Orlando area is Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures. They’ve been in the business for decades showing visitors the ecological sights. Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures even offers sunset rides too.
Who says the marshland can’t be picturesque? One of the perks to a tour later in the day, besides the lovely views at dusk, is that the temperatures go down. Sometimes that means the animals will be out and about more.
See Related: Best Islands in Florida to Visit
22. Clearwater Beach day trip
Frequently named the nation’s #1 beach, Clearwater Beach is a must-visit while you’re in Orlando. This beautiful beach is located between 90 minutes to two hours outside of Orlando (depending on traffic, and your exact destination), but it is the perfect day trip spot to relax and soak up the Florida sun.
At Clearwater, you’ll find everything from white sand beaches and clear blue waters, to high-end seafood restaurants and casual bars lining the promenade.
Spend a day lounging on the beach, swimming in the Gulf of Mexico, or building sandcastles with the kids. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try some watersports, plenty of options are available, including parasailing, jet skiing, and stand-up paddleboarding.
Families love joining Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise for the chance to be among pirates. Or, if you’d prefer to stay on dry land, rent a bicycle and explore the area. Truly, there are so many things to do in Clearwater Beach that it’s hard to craft a list!
Should lounging become a little too relaxing, take a break with a walk down Clearwater Beach Boardwalk, browse the shops, and enjoy the restaurants. If you love sea life, the nearby Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a must-visit.
Admission to the beach is free, but parking spots near the beach are limited and metered. Hotels in the area offer shuttle service to and from the beach, so be sure to check with your hotel before heading out for the day.
If you would rather head to Florida’s Atlantic Coast, towns like Cape Canaveral, Palm Coast, and Daytona Beach make for good day trips, too. Decide if you want to visit the gulf or the ocean and then head out!
See Related: Best Islands in the US to Visit
23. Tibet-Butler Reserve
Address: 8777 Winter Garden Vineland Rd., Orlando, Fl 32836
Back in Orlando proper, the Tibet-Butler Reserve is a piece of ecological heaven within the city’s boundaries. Over three and a half miles of hiking trails make it easily explorable for adventurers of all ages. There are even hiking miles programs like the Trailblazer Hiking Program where, once you hike 20 miles, you get a free t-shirt!
At the reserve’s environmental center, families can learn more about local habitats or wildlife to help inform their hiking adventures for the day. The preserve also features a picnic area and butterfly garden too to make the day a fuller experience for everyone.
Many kinds of critters live out in the reserve. You’ve got the expected wildlife like turtles, small reptiles, and alligators, but you’ve also got over 100 kinds of birds, river otters and armadillos wandering around too! The Tibet-Butler Reserve is an especially great place for families to teach their kids about conservation and protecting environments by showcasing how many kinds of animals there are even in a small amount of land.
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24. Crayola Experience
Address: 8001 S Orange Blossom Trl, Orlando, FL 32809
For anyone visiting Orlando looking for an all-ages, hands-on activity, the Crayola Experience is a great option. This attraction is located at The Florida Mall, and it’s perfect for a rainy day or a break from amusement park time.
At the Crayola Experience, your kids will have the opportunity to explore their creative side. There are so many activities to do that it can take a few hours to get through them all. Families can make crayons, design t-shirts, or even star on coloring pages.
There are also plenty of photo opportunities throughout the attraction. Kids here will love exploring their creativity in fun and unique ways.
And when you’re done exploring, be sure to stop by the Crayola Store, where you can purchase souvenirs and gifts for the kids (and adults) back home. Admission to the Crayola Experience sells out fast, so be sure to book your spots in advance. Annual passes are also available for purchase.
25. Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts
Address: 344 E Kennedy Blvd., Eatonville, FL 32751
Just outside of Orlando in Eatonville, the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts is the only museum for 400 miles dedicated to preserving artists’ work in the African Diaspora. Named for the incredible Hurston who once called Eatonville home, The Hurston looks to honor the artwork of numerous Black artists throughout history.
Alongside its permanent collection, the museum also exhibits visiting work as well. Some of the artists that have been honored through the museum since it opened in 1990 have been Wilie Birch, Gwen Knight, William Pajaud, and Carrie Mae Weems among many others.
Fittingly, the museum is also a key part of the town’s annual Zora Festival held every January. The festival events, which begin on Hurtston’s birthday January 7, celebrate Eatonville’s history and culture– one of the first self-governing African American communities in the United States. Events take place all over the city throughout the month.
See Related: Most Famous Landmarks in the USA
26. Harry P. Leu Gardens
Address: 1920 N Forest Ave, Orlando, FL 32803
For those looking to get outdoors and enjoy a bit of fresh air, consider taking a trip to Harry P. Leu Gardens. This 50-acre botanical oasis is located just north of downtown Orlando and is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. Originally a plantation that harvested cotton, corn, and sugar cane back in 1858, the land was transformed into a beautiful garden spot in 1963.
Today, visitors can stroll through the gardens and admire the diverse plant life. There is also a butterfly garden where you can see these beautiful creatures up close.
If you’re lucky, you might even spot a peacock or two. The gardens feature several ponds and fountains, and the nearby house museum is a restored 19th-century home welcoming guests for a few hours each open day.
Looking to add a little romance to your trip? Consider attending one of the many concerts or sunset strolls at the gardens. These events make for a perfect date night, evening out with friends, or just an escape from the bustle of the city.
27. Safari Wilderness Ranch
Address: 10850 Moore Rd, Lakeland, FL 33809
Spread across 260 acres of vast Florida wilderness, Safari Wilderness Ranch is a one-of-a-kind safari experience just an hour outside of Orlando. Guests can take a leisurely ride through the ranch in an open-air vehicle and see animals in a sprawling habitat, including bison, antelope, zebra, and more.
This is not your typical zoo experience either. At Safari Wilderness Ranch, you’ll get an up-close and personal look at the animals. You might even see some of them roaming around your vehicle. Safari Wilderness Ranch also offers a variety of other activities, including kayaking, canoeing, and hiking.
You can feed their guinea pigs, lemurs, and some other critters too. Those kinds of hands-on activities are great for kids and adults alike. Safari Wilderness Ranch also has a camel expedition that’ll take you on a ride through the wilderness on a camel’s back.
See Related: Amazing Resorts & Hotels With Animals On-Site
28. Take a hot air balloon ride
Several companies around the Orlando area offer hot air balloon rides for an aerial view of Florida. Bob’s Hot Air Balloon Rides, for example, have locations in Orlando, Kissimmee, and Davenport. Can you imagine taking in a gorgeous sunset from the sky? You won’t have to imagine anymore!
Costs for the rides vary from company to company, especially if you’re doing a private tour. Keep in mind that balloon flights can be canceled if the weather is uncooperative. You don’t want to be flying in the air if a thunderstorm rolls through.
If you aren’t up for the cost or time commitment of an actual hot air balloon ride, you could always take up a ride with Aerophile. The 8-minute tethered balloon ride at Disney Springs is a more relaxed way to experience the balloon excursion.
Looking for a more modern way to take to the skies? You can book a helicopter tour over Orlando’s theme parks for a one-of-a-kind experience, too.
29. Central Florida Zoo
Address: 3755 W Seminole Blvd., Sanford, FL 32771
Roughly 20 minutes North of Orlando, the Central Florida Zoo offers visitors an all-day experience. For an average stay of about three hours, guests can see over 350 animals from over 100 species, and nearly two dozen acres of botanical gardens, and grab a bite to eat or play at the playground.
Huge mammals like the giraffe to little critters like the cotton-top tamarin await to beguile you with their antics. While the reptile residents would rather be sunbathing. Not to worry though, the Banyard Buddies at the petting zoo are always up for some guest interaction — in the hopes that you bought them some tasty snacks from the zoo.
Beyond the typical zoo experiences, the Central Florida Zoo also has special events like encounters with their resident rhinoceros and their zipline course the Seminole Aerial Adventures. No matter how you hang out at the zoo, you’re bound to have a roaring good time.
See Related: ViaTravelers Staff Picks: 10 Best Places For Travel
30. Capone’s Dinner & Show
Address: 4740 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy, Kissimmee, FL 34746
As a Chicagoan, I feel obligated to mention Capone’s Dinner and Show. Be transported back to 1930s Chicago when Capone and other mobsters ruled the city.
During this four-course dinner and entertainment show, you’ll see performers giving you a true speakeasy experience. Capone’s Dinner & Show tells the story of Al Capone and his rise to power. You’ll be entertained by musical numbers, comedy sketches, and more.
You might even get pulled up on stage to help out with the show, and at the end of the show, you’ll have the opportunity to win a prize during the gangster giveaway.
The dinner at Capone’s is served family-style, so you can try a little bit of everything. The food is delicious, and you’ll definitely leave satisfied. The best part? Drinks are unlimited and included in the price of your ticket!
Capone’s doesn’t charge extra for alcoholic drinks like most other dinner shows, so you can enjoy unlimited draft beers or your choice of select wines and cocktails. It makes sense that they’d have a generous booze policy, given Capone’s stance on Prohibition.
Getting around Orlando, Florida
Orlando is a fairly large city, but it’s easy to get around, thanks to the many transportation options available. The most popular way to get around is by car – there are several highways and roads that crisscross the city, making it easy to get from one place to another. Many visitors rent a car for their time in Orlando, as it gives you the most flexibility.
If you don’t want to rent a car, there are other options available. The Lynx bus system operates throughout Orlando and can take you to most of the major attractions. You can also use Uber or Lyft to get around – both are widely available in Orlando and are relatively affordable.
If you’re staying at a Disney resort, you can use their complimentary transportation system to get around. The buses run frequently and will take you anywhere on Disney property. Depending on the resort, there are also other transportation options like the Monorail, various boats, and the Skyliner.
Keep in mind that the former Magical Express, a complimentary bus system. that transported Disney World resort guests from the Orlando International Airport, no longer runs. So you’ll have to use one of the other bus systems like The Sunshine Flyer or take a taxi or rideshare if you didn’t rent a car.
Orlando is a great city to explore, and there are so many things to see and do. No matter how you get around, you’ll have no trouble getting to all of the city’s attractions or theme parks.
What to pack for a trip to Orlando, Florida
- Cooling towels: I will be the first to admit that I always thought cooling towels were just a gimmick. But these neat contraptions are now a must-have for my theme park day bag. Especially if you’re spending a day at a place like Magic Kingdom where there is very little shade, the whole family will be glad to have these towels.
All you have to do is wet them, wring them out, and put them around your neck to quickly cool off on a hot day. Once the water has evaporated off it and the towel is no longer cooling, just rewet it and repeat the process.
- Portable Charger: Most of my typical Orlando attractions are in the theme park genre, so a portable charger is also always on my packing list. Anytime I’m in Lake Buena Vista, my phone’s battery depletes so much faster than anywhere else in the city. If you don’t bring one with you, many of the major attractions do have portable battery exchange programs through FuelRod.
These particular chargers are great because they’re compact, don’t require any extra cables, and keep me from suffering from dead phone syndrome. Just be sure to bring the charger in a bag or protective carrier if you are going to a water park. You don’t want it to get wet and die on you.
- Water bottle with a filter: Theme park locations like Magic Kingdom and Universal have plenty of water fountains to refill your water bottle, but the water can taste skunky — especially if you aren’t used to Florida water. Bringing my Brita water bottle with a straw filter helps keep the water tasty.
You’ll be glad to have your water bottle to combat the Florida heat! Keep in mind that many attractions may offer free tap or iced water, so it never hurts to ask.
- Dramamine: If you plan on riding a wooden roller coaster or the world’s tallest swing ride while you’re in Orlando, it might be a good idea to bring some Dramamine along. It really works wonders for motion sickness. Even if you don’t normally suffer from it, sometimes the hot weather can exacerbate nausea.
Should you forget it and need it, theme park first aid stations tend to carry it for guests. You can usually ask for some and they’ll give it to you free of charge. Be sure when you purchase it that you’re buying the non-drowsy formula. You’ll only make that mistake once — I can personally guarantee that.
What are the best tourist attractions in Orlando, Florida?
The most popular Orlando attractions include Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and ICON Park. The Orlando area also has many other attractions like the Central Florida Zoo, the Orlando Science Center, and Lake Eola Park.
What is the best thing to do with kids in Orlando, Florida?
Pretty much everything in Orlando is fun for children. Beyond the Disney attractions, science-minded kids will enjoy the Kennedy Space Center, a trip to Legoland, or a day splashing around one of the area’s water parks.
What is there to do in Orlando, Florida at night?
Orlando has a vibrant nightlife scene, with many bars, clubs, and restaurants to choose from. You can also catch a show at one of the city’s several theaters or go on a ghost tour to learn about Orlando’s spooky history.
How can I spend 3 hours in Orlando?
Got a layover in Orlando? Well, 3-4 hours in Orlando is the perfect amount of time to enjoy attractions like SEALIFE Orlando, the Central Florida Zoo, or the Orlando Science Center. It’s also the perfect amount of time to take in one of the larger art museums like OMART or bundle a couple of smaller ones like Rollins and the Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts.
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Amanda is a Chicago-based queer travel, arts, and lifestyle writer who is passionate about exploring the world. Her work has been featured in Newcity Stage, The Chicago Reader, HuffPo, and Yahoo, as well as the November 2022 book, “Chicago Like a Local.” Amanda’s favorite destinations include Costa Rica, Prague, Dublin, Hong Kong, and every Disney park she’s visited.