When you think ‘Orlando, Florida’ you think Disney World, Seaworld and Universal Studios. While visiting theme parks in Orlando might seem to be the obvious option, there is actually so much more excitement and thrill that Orlando has to offer, and they are all out of this theme park bubble. For a general guide on things to do in Orlando, check out this article, while night owls can find out about their various night activities from this link. Prepare to be amazed when you explore and discover what else Orlando has to offer.
One of Orlando’s newest attractions, the Orlando Eye is one of Florida’s foremost authorities when it comes to the panoramic majesty of downtown cityscapes. A four hundred foot Ferris Wheel set in the heart of Orlando, the Orlando Eye is both owned and operated by the same reputable organization behind the London Eye, the famed European attraction.
The construction itself is the world’s first to employ a cutting-edge suspension design, allowing for as smooth a Ferris wheel ride as has ever existed. The site itself also plays host to a number of domestic and high-profile events, from local social functions to weddings to school visits. During your ride on the Orlando Eye, you will enjoy time suspended above the ground in an enclosed, temperature controlled capsule, perfect for a visual perusal of the city from above. On days when visibility is at a maximum, you can catch views of Cape Canaveral to the east, and the downtown Orlando skyline in your immediate line of sight! While you are up there, maybe you can catch some of the destinations highlighted in our list of the best day trips from Orlando!
2. Beat the clock at The Escape Game Orlando
Join thousands of satisfied individuals who rave about the unparalleled thrills available exclusively at escape rooms, when you try Orlando’s most renowned escape room site on for size! This site will provide for you the perfect excuse to get your inner sleuth on - with a constantly rotating portfolio of exciting escape room situations, The Escape Room Orlando effectively capitalizes on your drive for unparalleled adventure!
Now, it’s your turn to apply your problem-solving skills for the betterment of mankind! The first step when it comes to The Escape Game Orlando is to choose your escape of choice - The Heist, Mission: Mars, Gold Rush, Classified, or Prison Break - each of which sports a unique feel, but revolves around the sound foundational concept: escape before the time is up! The Escape Game Orlando is the perfect outlet for thrill, if you’re looking for a unique way to bond with your family and friends, or if you’re in search of the ideal, unorthodox date idea! Your actions and your decisions while in-game contribute in real time to the overall success of your group, as together you work toward group success, in one of the only environments of its kind!
The Escape Game Orlando
Address: 8145 International Dr #511, Orlando, FL 32819, USA
Admission: $31.99 USD per person (all ages)
Opening hours: 9am - 11:45pm, See website for full game schedule
Website: The Escape Game Orlando
For a unique taste of the local culture, together with an intimate immersion into the Orlando music scene, come check out the House of Blues in Orlando, Florida! Home to countless award-winning performances over the years, this top-tier venue regularly plays host to some of the top blues musicians to grace the face of the planet today. Their constantly updated online schedule is always decorated by a unique assortment of new and renowned musicians, events which always provide locals and visitors alike with the perfect excuse to hear world-class music.
The House of Blues in Orlando also plays host to a wonderful onsite restaurant and bar, so you can satisfy all of your culinary and beverage needs without ever leaving the premises! From their daily happy hour specials to their restaurant and bar-specific entertainment, the House of Blues Restaurant and Bar is, in itself, a site worth the experience, if only for the fabulous sensory experience that is the synthesis of wonderful food and music alike.
The Orlando House of Blues is also the perfect location at which to host your next event! Whether it’s a social gathering, a birthday, or a work function, the music’s unique effect on the atmosphere will leave all event attendants relaxed and rejuvenated. The location itself is also renowned for its Sunday Gospel Brunch, where every Sunday from 10:30 a.m. until 1 in the afternoon, the finest in local and international Gospel talent takes the stage. That, combined with an all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet, provides the perfect backdrop for early afternoon enjoyment!
Nothing against the Walt Disney World Resort, but the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is more than four times its size! At a stunning 140,000 acres (roughly 218 square miles), this preservation of some of Florida’s finest indigenous species truly allows visitors and locals alike to taste authentic southern life, at its absolute finest.
Officially characterized as a U.S. National Wildlife Refuge, one of 562 nationally protected spaces within the United States dedicated to the continued preservation of America’s wildlife, vegetation, and fish, the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge hosts more organized life than perhaps you’ve ever experienced. Home to over 1,000 plant species, which together with 117 species of fish, 330 birds species, 31 individualized mammal species and 68 reptile and amphibian species make for a truly unforgettable visit, the site itself is captivating from the moment you set foot upon its lands.
And there are so many ways to experience the refuge itself! Take a tour of its bioluminescent lagoon, with A Day Away Kayak Tours. Learn more about the life that typifies the region at the Visitor Information Center. Glimpse crystal clear waters at the Indian River. From bald eagles to osprey, American alligators to Loggerhead sea turtles, there’s so much to see and to experience in the great outdoors, at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge!
Who needs Disney when you get the chance to witness one of Orlando’s finest recreational outlets? Welcome to Orlando City Stadium, home to the Orlando City Soccer Club, one of the newest members of the Eastern Conference of the MLS. Headlined at one time by former World Cup winner Kaká, Orlando City SC, the team exists as one of the more recent installments of the wildly popular Major League Soccer organization in North America.
Given the wonderfully mild climatic conditions which typify the immediate Orlando region for the majority of the soccer season, there’s never a reason why you can’t come out and support Orlando City. As the twenty-first team allowed admittance into the MLS, Orlando City SC remains identifiable by their distinct logo, the lion contained with a purple shield.
Led by forward Cyle Larin, whose twelve goals in 2017 ranked seventh among all active MLS players, the Orlando City Soccer Club looks poised for a breakout year in their upcoming season. The team recently acquired the Sacha Kljestan, who ranked first in the MLS in 2017 with 17 assists, and paired with goalkeeper Joe Bendik, whose 118 saves ranked first among all goalkeepers, the team has seen vast improvements.
Come out and support Orlando City SC the next time you’re anywhere near Orlando, and pick up a commemorative purple jersey during your stay!
6. Party till after-hours at The Beacham
7. Dine at the world’s largest McDonald's
8. Bask in the glory of nature at the Harry P. Leu Gardens
9. Have the coolest experience at the largest permanent Ice Bar
10. Drive out to the birthplace of speed
11. Appreciate the world’s most comprehensive collection of Tiffany stained glass at the Museum of American Art
12. Swing for a hole-in-one at the Hawk’s Landing Golf Club
13. Pamper yourself at a world-class spa
The Kennedy Space Center is just an hour’s drive away from Central Orlando. This NASA visitors’ complex offers IMAX movies, interactive space-flight simulators, the Shuttle Launch Experience, Astronaut Hall of Fame, just to name a few. You will get to see where the rockets are built, how they are moved and the launch area. The bus driver provides good information and there are several short videos about the space program while they drive you to the area. Upon returning to the Center, there are numerous rockets on display along with a replica of the Hubble telescope. The complex is scattered with monitors that screen short movies about different NASA ventures. There is a lot you’d want to see, so be sure to free an entire day for this extraordinary place.
Kennedy Space Center Day Trip with Transport from Orlando
Duration: Approximately 11 hours
Price: From 54.99 USD
15. Shop till you drop at The Florida Mall
16. Dine and play at Dave and Buster’s
17. Stroll and marvel at the untainted beauty of the Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve
18. Spend an afternoon at the Wekiwa Springs
19. Head downtown to Sanford
20. Watch a movie at the Plaza Cinema Cafe
21. Watch a football match at "The Bouncehouse"
Lake Eola is located in downtown Orlando, and is a serene oasis away from city life. There are several activities to do here, from feeding the swans, to watching a show at the park’s Walt Disney Amphitheatre. But no trip to Lake Eola would be complete without a ride on the park’s iconic swan paddle boats. Rent one for 15 USD per half hour and revel in the surrounding scenery. After you’ve worked up an appetite, grab a bite at Relax Grill, a casual lakeside eatery that serves lunch and dinner. On top of that, every Sunday, the park boasts the city’s best market, featuring fruits and vegetables, home-made breads, an assortment of local cuisines, beer, wine and a variety of artwork and stellar entertainment.
Fancy some additional time on the water? Why not join a city tour that includes a boat ride through the exclusive Chain of Lakes.
City Tour of Orlando
Duration: 6.5 hours
Price: From 69 USD
23. Check out what’s brewing at the Orlando Brewing Company
24. Channel your inner Einstein at the Orlando Science Center
Admission prices are 14 USD for kids and 20 USD for adults.
Set in an old tire store, this venue is now hailed as one of the “freshest nightclubs in the world” by Billboard Magazine and The Rolling Stone. Formerly known as Firestone Live, Venue578 is by far the most entertaining and energetic club in Downtown Florida, with an awesome sound system and generally, a fantastic atmosphere that is guaranteed to fuel the party animal in you.
It boasts over 100 concerts annually, featuring big names like Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes, and Wiz Khalifa. It also hosts outdoor music festivals and over 175 weekly entertainment driven events, so your options are endless. There’s always something happening at Venue 578!
26. Spend a day in the magical world of upside down WonderWorks
When you step into the building, you realize you’re walking on the ceiling. This wacky experience gets better as there are so many things to do with the family. A cross between entertainment and education, you can experience what it feels like to be in an earthquake. Enjoy the rope walk and the zip line.
Interactive activities include a virtual rollercoaster and a 4D movie. There’s a bed of nails to lie on, and a test the Tesla coil experience where you become a human lightning rod! Adults find the exhibits engaging, while younger family members have a thoroughly good time. If the weather’s too hot or rainy, head there for a lot of fun.
Address: 9067 International Dr, Pointe Orlando, Orlando, FL 32819-9316
27. Watch the beauty of the day unfold on a hot air balloon rideRise high above Florida for spectacular morning views in a hot air balloon. Fly quietly over lakes, forests, and swampland. Look down from a bird’s eye view at places like Disney World or the famous Universal Studios. The breathtaking experience begins early in the morning, and you get to watch the balloon being inflated. Climb aboard for the thrilling ride, making sure not to forget your camera. Photo opportunities abound.
Return to land and join the age-old tradition of toasting the ride with some champagne nor a mimosa. Snack on some goodies provided and compare photos of memories to last a lifetime. There’s a small gift shop, so take along your wallet for some mementos.
Orlando Sunrise Hot-Air Balloon Ride
Price: from 162 USD
Duration: 3 hours
Number of Reviews: 81
28. Explore the odd, the strange and the different at Ripley's Believe It Or Not
Find an interesting pool room with illusions of balance and space, or examine the Berlin Wall. Some exhibits are almost unbelievable and there’s a lot of information. Certainly, you won’t be bored as there are so many incredible things to look at.
Ripley's Believe It Or Not
Address: 8201 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819-9326
Website: Ripley’s Believe It Or Not
29. Let the dancers entertain you over a three-course dinner at Mango's Tropical Cafe Dinner & Show
Mango’s Tropical Cafe Dinner & Show serves up incredible live dance performances along with a three-course meal. The venue’s fast becoming a popular must-do in Orlando. Live bands along with dances like the Brazilian Samba and the Cuban Conga entertain while you dine. The show is entertaining and a popular one is a tribute to Micheal Jackson.
The fun venue is suitable for children in the segment from 7.30 pm to 10.00 pm. The atmosphere is one of buzz and enthusiasm. Patrons may book ahead to ensure the best tables to view the show while they enjoy their dinner.
Mango's Tropical Cafe Dinner & Show Tickets
Price: from 50 USD
Rating: 3.0 / 5
Number of Reviews: 2
30. Take in a professional basketball game at Amway Center, the home of the Orlando Magic
Amway Center is the home of the Orlando Magic who play in the Eastern Conference of the NBA. The stadium offers lots of concessions with well-priced food. The vibe of the place is enthusiastic as fans cheer on their team. Adults enjoy the outside bar with views of downtown while watching the game on TV in the fresh air.
The venue’s ideally situated if you stay at one of the nearby resorts or hotels. Parking at the Geico Garage offers easy access via a skywalk. Enjoy a professional basketball game in a comfortable environment. If it’s not basketball season, they often host other events.
Amway Center Home of the Magic
Address: 400 W Church St #200, Orlando, FL 32801
Website: Amway Center
There's more to Orlando than theme parks for everyoneOnce you are done with the theme parks, there are numerous activities while you are in Orlando. Wind down with a picnic near Lake Eola, or party the night away at The Beacham, you will never be bored in Orlando with our list of the top things to do.
This article was updated by John Gallagher. Check out the rest of his works here.
Venture out of Orlando's theme parks
Explore Orlando beyond the theme parks and be rewarded with a good time. There is more to Orlando than meets they eye, and endless activities to enjoy outside of the theme parks.
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