Things To Do In Orlando
Orland is home to some of the most popular theme parks and resorts in the world. And while you should certainly spend some time at your favorite park, there are many other great attractions in the area as well.
To help you plan your trip, here are our top picks for the 15 best things to do in Orlando.
1. Walt Disney World Parks
Visiting the Disney World parks is one of the best things to do in Orlando, especially for families. There are four different parks available. Meet characters and explore six different lands in Magic Kingdom, the original resort, centered by Cinderella’s castle.
Be sure to ride Space Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Go around the world at Epcot Center. Get a glimpse into the world of movie magic at Hollywood Studios. See animals roam free at Animal Kingdoms. Disney Springs is an outdoor shopping, dining and entertainment complex.
There are also a variety of on-site hotels and resorts. Single park and multiple park tickets are available. You can also get a fast pass to cut down on waiting times. Or book a private tour for the ultimate experience.
2. Universal Orlando Resort
See some of your favorite movies and shows come to life at Universal Orlando Resort.
The resort features three different theme parks: Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay water park. Enjoy a range of fun and thrilling rides and theme areas from movies and franchises such as Marvel, Transformers and the Simpsons.
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is especially popular. The resort also includes the City Walk entertainment district, full of shops, restaurants, movie theater and other daytime and nighttime entertainment.
Single park and multiple park tickets are available. You can also get a fast pass to cut down on waiting times. Book a promotional ticket for extra savings.
Enjoy thrilling rides, and an array of aquatic animals at SeaWorld. This popular theme park is known for its large aquariums with plenty of marine creatures, touch pools, animal shows and thrilling rides.
Be dazzled at the whale and dolphin shows. Pet dolphins in the touch pool. Then get your heart pounding on rides such as the Mako hyper coaster and the Manta coaster. Cool off on a variety of water rides.
For an extra special experience, book a up-close tour with the animals, a tour of the dolphin nursery and manatee rehabilitation center or a behind-the-scenes tour of SeaWorld. Shopping and dining options are also available on-site.
4. ICON Park
Located along International Drive, ICON Park is a large entertainment complex.
Spanning 20 acres, the complex features more than 40 shops, restaurants, bars and tourist attractions. Enjoy incredible views on the Wheel at Icon Park. At 400 feet, it’s the biggest observation wheel on the east coast.
Book a skip-the-line ticket to save on waiting time. In addition to the wheel, other popular attractions include Arcade City, 7D Dark Ride Adventure, Pearl Express Train, SEA LIFE Orlando aquarium, Madame Tussauds Orlando wax museum and the Orlando StarFlyer, the world’s tallest swing ride.
A variety of ticket options are available, including money saving multi-attraction bundles.
5. International Drive
Chances are, you will end up spending some time on International Drive during your visit to Orlando. You can find just about everything you could possibly need along International Drive.
Located just south of downtown, I-Drive (as it’s commonly referred to) offers a wide selection of shopping, dining and entertainment options. Six theme parks, including Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld, Wet ‘n’ Wild, Aquatica and Discovery Cove, can all be found here.
In addition, I-Drive is home to the ICON Park entertainment complex, Pirate’s Cove, WonderWorks, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! and two outlet malls. There are also a number of great options for nightlife and live entertainment as well.
6. Kennedy Space Center
Although it’s located about an hour east of Orlando, the Kennedy Space Center is definitely worth a visit during your trip here.
Shuttles from many Orlando hotels make it easy to visit. Exhibits and highlights include the US Astronaut Hall of Fame, Heroes and Legends, Rocket Garden with rockets from previous space flights, the Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit, the Shuttle Launch Experience and Mock Astronaut Training.
You can take a tour around the facilities. Visit the massive Vertical Assembly Building and see where they build rockets. Or watch an IMAX movie. There’s much to do here, so be sure to leave yourself enough time. Guided tours from Orlando make it an easy day out.
7. Discovery Cove
Enjoy a relaxing day and the chance to swim with dolphins at Discovery Cove. Lounge on a sandy beach in Serenity Bay.
Float on the Wind-Away River. Snorkel with tropical fish at the Grand Reef. Feed exotic birds at their Explorer Aviary. Experience upgrades are available, and include swimming with dolphins or sharks, feeding stingrays and being a trainer for a day.
The exclusive all-inclusive resort limits the number of guests that can enter each day, so it’s best to book ahead. A variety of day packages are available. They all include food, drinks, use of snorkel, wet suits, towels and lockers.
Get up close to alligators and other animals at Gatorland, the “alligator capital of the world.” Spanning 110 acres, the preserve is home to alligators, crocodiles, snakes, turtles, birds, big cats and more.
There are exhibits and a range of live shows. Watch handlers wrestle alligators. Or watch alligators jump out of the water for meat. Don’t miss the White Gator Swamp, with the largest white alligators in the world.
See more than 20 species of birds take flight in the free-flight rookery. Other attractions, some of which cost extra, include a zipline over the gator ponds, off-road adventures and posing with an alligator.
9. Harry P. Leu Gardens
Enjoy nature and beautiful flowers at the Harry P. Leu Gardens. Spanning around 50 acres, the gardens offer pretty landscaped ground and lakes.
Walk along the trails shaded by 200-year-old oak trees. There are numerous gardens to explore, and a vast collection of tropical, subtropical and temperate plants and flowers. Highlights include a prized camellia collection with 2,000 plants, a rose garden with 650 plants, a butterfly garden, herb garden, bird garden and the tropical fruit groves.
Guided tours of the Leu House Museum are also available. The gardens also offer permanent and special art exhibits as well as horticulture classes.
10. Blue Spring State Park
See manatees in the wild at Blue Spring State Park, located about 30 miles north of Orlanda. Several hundred of these gentle giants, also known as “sea cows” can be found in the springs along the St. John River.
You can easily view them from a convenient boardwalk. Go hiking around the park on the Pine Island Trail. The waters here are at a constant 72 degrees, making it ideal for swimming, kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding.
You can even go scuba diving here. Gear rentals are available in the park. Guided tours are also available and will provide more insight into this incredible natural attraction.
11. Go Shopping
Orlando is a shopaholics paradise. There are several massive malls and designer outlets all located in the area.The Mall at Millenia offers many luxury brands as well as main street names.
While the Florida Mall is the largest shopping center, with more than 250 retail options. Find bargains galore at the Orlando International Premium Outlet, Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets, Orlando Outlets Marketplace and the Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores.
Some venues offer free shuttle buses to and from many Orlando hotels, making a day of shopping a hassle-free experience. And of course, nearly all the area resorts all offer shopping options as well.
Playing golf is one of the best things to do in Orlando. There are more than 150 golf courses in the area, with 26 centrally located and easily accessible.
The weather is always pleasant so you can play golf year-round. Many PGA pros live in Orlando and many of the courses here have been designed by famous names such as Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. Both Disney and Orlando have their own courses.
Some of the best courses here include Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge’s courses, Jack Nicklaus’ Grand Cypress Resort, Grande Lakes, and the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando.
13. Lake Eola Park
Enjoy the outdoors in a peaceful setting at Lake Eola Park, located near downtown Orlando. There’s a pretty 23 acre lake within the park, which is actually a sinkhole.
One of the most popular activities here is to rent a swan-shaped paddle boat and cruise around the lake. You’ll see real live swans as well. There’s also a 1-mile long shaded and paved sidewalk circling the lake that’s popular with walkers and runners.
Don’t miss the Centennial Fountain and its LED lights.The Walt Disney amphitheater can be found on the west shore of the lake. On Sundays, the park hosts the Orlando Farmers Market, featuring more than 50 local vendors.
Enjoy a day of learning and fun at WonderWorks, one of the best educational things to do in Orlando. Located in an “upside-down” secret laboratory on I-Drive, WonderWorks is an indoor amusement park for the mind.
It offers more than 100 interactive exhibits, a glow-in-the-dark ropes course, laser tag, a 4D motion ride, and more. WonderWorks is divided into six different wonder zones, such as Natural Disasters, Imagination Lab and Physical Challenge. Feel what it’s like to be in an earthquake.
Get blown away by hurricane force winds. Become a human lightning rod. Or blow a bubble larger than your body. The Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner is a great way to round out the experience.
15. Winter Park
Located only 5 miles north of Orlando, Winter Park is a lovely suburb with lots of do.
Originally a winter retreat for wealthy northerners, Winter Park has developed into a world class destination with plentiful outdoor spaces and great culture, shopping and dining. There are more than 70 parks, seven lakes and many canals in the area. A boat cruise is a great way to explore.
The city is also very walkable, especially along Park Avenue. Shop until you drop at more than 140 boutiques and shops. Refuel at one of the many excellent restaurants. Then for a bit of history and culture, check out the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art or the Winter Park History Museum.
Guided tours are available to help you experience the best of Winter Park.If you plan to visit several attractions, consider getting a multi-attraction pass, such as the Go Orlando pass or the Go Orlando Explorer pass. Guided sightseeing tours of Orlando are also available and take the hassle out of planning your trip.