20 Things To Do In Orlando

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Orlando is most famous for being the resort and theme park capital of the world, however, dare to spend a day or two away from the large crowds and long queues of Disney’s and Universal’s popular theme parks and be prepared to be amazed by how much more the city of Orlando has in store. Situated right in the heart of central Florida, Orlando is just a short drive from the Kennedy Space Center, where Apollo and Space Shuttle launches were tested and perfected, opening up the skies for further human exploration.

The city made famous by Walt Disney also boasts plenty of outdoor venues to escape to when theme parks just aren’t cutting it for you anymore, with Gatorland and the marshlands near downtown Orlando ideal destinations to spot alligators up close. No matter if you’re here to try out Epcot’s different cuisines and cultures, ride rollercoasters at SeaWorld Orlando, experience what it was like aboard the Titanic or witness a rocket launch live from Cape Canaveral, Orlando will leave visitors’ every whim and desire satisfied with the city’s natural beauty, world-class attractions and unique places to visit.

Things To Do In Orlando

Top Tours

Walt Disney World

1- See Cinderella’s Castle At Magic Kingdom Park

Visiting Magic Kingdom Park is one of the best things to do in Orlando for kids.

First opened back in 1971, Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park is arguably the most famous theme park in Orlando and is home to Disney’s world-famous Cinderella Castle, the park’s signature attraction.

Magic Kingdom continually ranks as the most popular Disney theme park of them all and attracts a whopping 17 million visitors on average every year, which makes Magic Kingdom the most visited theme park in the world.

Bound to delight visitors of all ages who grew up watching Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck, Magic Kingdom has become an ingrained part of American pop culture and is an obvious first place to begin your Orlando theme park vacation.

Skip the lines and book your tickets here.


2- Experience The Different Flavours Of The World At Epcot

Light In Sunset Epcot, Disney World
Exploring the Epcot Center is one of the fun things to do in Orlando with kids.

For a theme park adventure like no other, be sure to plan a trip to Disney’s Epcot, a sprawling 305-acre (123 ha) theme park designed to resemble some of the world’s most famous cities and regions.

Epcot is as much a theme park as it is a haven for foodies, with some of the best restaurants in the Disney resorts empire located within Epcot’s borders, as well as world-class live entertainment options and themed festivals year-round.

Marketing itself as a “permanent world’s fair”, Epcot is more than your typical Orlando theme park and dedicates itself to celebrating global cultures, impressive human achievements and major technological advancements.

3- Go On A Safari At Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Perhaps one of the most unique theme parks in Orlando, the zoological-themed Disney Animal Kingdom is great for visitors who prefer animals and nature over Disney princesses and fairytale castles.

Animal Kingdom opened its doors back in 1998 and has since developed into one of Orlando’s most visited theme parks, attracting more than 9 million people through its gates every year.

Among Animal Kingdom’s laundry list of must-visit attractions are its “Kilimanjaro Safaris” and newly launched “Pandora – The World of Avatar” areas, guaranteeing many great adventures for future Animal Kingdom visitors.

4- Go Shopping At Disney Springs

More shopping-focused than Disney’s other more popular Orlando destinations, Disney Springs is a large outdoor dining, entertainment and shopping district in Lake Buena Vista near Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

More of a busy shopping hub than an adrenaline-thumping theme park, Disney Springs offers visitors all sorts of unique shops and live entertainment to explore and enjoy while taking a much-needed break from the crowds and queues of the Disney parks nearby.

Be sure to pop into any of Disney Springs’ 150 eateries and speciality stores when visiting this unique part of the Disney Orlando theme park megaplex for a uniquely Disney retail experience that’s not found anywhere else.

5- Experience The Magic Of Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Opened to much fanfare and excitement back in 1989, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a bustling 135-acre (55 ha) theme park where the magical and fantastical worlds of Disney films, musicals, TV series and theatre productions are brought to life.

The park became the third Disney-associated theme park in Orlando when it opened and boasts several iconic features of Disney for visitors to experience, including the Sorcerer’s Hat from Fantasia and Hollywood’s storied Chinese Theatre.

One of the most visited theme parks in Orlando, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is chocked full of worthwhile sights to take in, including the themed areas of “Toy Story Land”, “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge”, and the “Animation Courtyard”.

6- Cool Off Or Heat Up At Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon

For vacationers seeking to cool off from the humid Floridian, summers be sure to swing by Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon, a themed waterpark in Orlando where visitors can participate in all sorts of aquatic fun.

Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon became the second waterpark to open in Orlando when it officially welcomed its first visitors back in 1989 before being joined by the addition of Disney’s Blizzard Beach in 1995.

Both waterparks combine to offer visitors year-round aquatic fun no matter the weather conditions, with Disney’s Blizzard Beach a great place to kick back and relax during wintertime thanks to the heated pools and frosty decorations of the waterpark.

Book your tickets here.

Universal Orlando Resort

7- Spend A Weekend Exploring Universal Studios Florida

The biggest rival to Disney’s Orlando theme park dominance is Universal Studios Florida, a jaw-dropping adventure destination which became the first theme park addition to Universal Orlando Resort when it opened its doors in 1990.

Owned and operated by NBCUniversal, the park boasts an extensive collection of thrill rides, nine themed spaces and all sorts of interesting attractions such as “The Blues Brothers Show”, the Hogwarts Express from Harry Potter and the Universal Music Plaza Stage.

Dedicated to bringing Universal films and TV shows such as The Simpsons, Fast & Furious and Transformers to life, the theme park is every bit as exciting and bucket list-worthy as Disney’s popular Orlando theme parks.

Skip the lines and reserve your tickets to Universal Orlando here.

8- See Your Favourite Films Come To Life At Universal Islands Of Adventure

A unique venue where mythical beasts, creatures and heroes come alive, Universal Islands of Adventure is an adrenaline-racing theme park boasting dramatic rollercoasters and seven uniquely themed spaces.

Designed to transport visitors to their favourite films and TV shows, Adventure Island is a must-visit Orlando park for fans of classics such as Harry Potter, King Kong, Jurassic Park and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Earning the catchy slogan “Vacation like you mean it” in 2013, Universal Islands of Adventure has developed into one of the most popular theme parks in the world with something for all ages and interests to do.

9- Stop By Universal CityWalk

Much like rival Disney Springs, Universal CityWalk was opened during the late 1990s to bring a wide selection of shops, culinary flavours and live entertainment to Universal resort guests in Orlando.

The first Universal CityWalk opened in Hollywood, California in 1993 and expanded to Orlando following its success in Tinseltown, bringing with it a large assortment of dining options and unique shops to make that Universal Orlando resort experience so much more memorable.

Among the places visitors can expect to find at Universal CityWalk in Orlando are the popular Universal Legacy Store, the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen and Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville or have a meal at the Hardrock Cafe.

Other Theme Parks

10- Spend A Day Exploring SeaWorld Orlando

Orca Whale
Spending the day at SeaWorld Orlando is one of the fun things to do in Orlando.

Perhaps the most popular theme park in Orlando not beginning with Disney or Universal is SeaWorld Orlando, a 200-acre (81 ha) attraction treating visitors to thrilling rollercoasters and marine animal exhibits.

The park is famous for boasting more rollercoasters than any other theme park in Orlando and, as proven by other SeaWorld theme parks worldwide, is among the best places to visit for travelling families looking to combine fun and excitement with a bit of education on marine lifeforms too.

SeaWorld Orlando’s most popular attractions include the park’s Manta Aquarium and Shark Encounter exhibits, as well as menacing-looking thrill rides such as the Kraken and the Manta.

Skip the lines and reserve your tickets to SeaWorld Orlando here.

11- Get Creative At LEGOLAND Florida

A tried and tested attraction in every city it calls home, LEGOLAND Florida brings the same Lego fun and adventure to the Orlando-Tampa area of central Florida in all sorts of shapes and colours.

Opened in 2011, the entire LEGOLAND Florida attraction is spread out across more than 150 acres (60 ha) and is just a 50-minute drive from either downtown Orlando or downtown Tampa.

Complete with three on-site accommodation options, a water park, interactive areas and multiple rollercoasters, this is one Orlando theme park you definitely wouldn’t want to miss.

Skip the lines and reserve your entry tickets to LEGOLAND Florida here.

12- Plan A Trip To ICON Park

ICON Park is an intimate 20-acre (8 ha) theme park/entertainment space situated just 10 miles (16 km) outside downtown Orlando that’s home to a broad collection of fun attractions and amusement rides to explore.

Serving as the home for Orlando’s very own Madam Tussaud’s Wax Museum, ICON Park was opened in 2015 to provide the city with an affordable alternative to the busy Disney and Universal resorts, and features everything from amusement rides to bars and restaurants for visitors to experience.

The park’s signature attraction is its 400-foot-tall (122 m) observation wheel, which treats passengers to 360-degree, unobstructed views across central Florida stretching as far as the eye can see.

Skip the lines and book your tickets here.

13- Learn More About Florida’s Wildlife At Gatorland

Alligator With Mouth Open
Seeing the animals in Gatorland is one of the things to do in Orlando.

For those seeking a whole different kind of thrill in Orlando, be sure to head on over to Gatorland, a 110-acre (45 ha) wildlife preserve and theme park rolled into one where visitors get to see and interact with some of Florida’s unique wildlife.

As the name suggests, the venue’s star attraction is its alligator population, which numbers more than 2,000 and includes gators of all shapes, sizes, colours and ages.

Dubbed the “Alligator Capital of the World”, Gatorland has even starred in “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” and boasts a wide selection of activities to experience, including zip lining, watching alligator wrestling displays and witnessing an alligator feeding session.

Skip the lines and book your Gatorland tickets here.

Museums and Galleries

14- Step Back In Time At Titanic: The Artefact Exhibit

A Replica Of The Titanic Crashing Against A Large Iceberg
Visiting Titanic: The Artefact Exhibit is one of the fun things to do in Orlando Florida.

Fans of the 1997 James Cameron classic “Titanic” starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio are bound to enjoy a visit to this one-of-a-kind Orlando attraction, which provides visitors the opportunity to experience what it was like aboard the Titanic during its fateful 1912 voyage.

Titanic: The Artefact Exhibit uses a collection of actors and props such as replica boarding passes and some 300 Titanic artefacts to whisk visitors on a chronological timeline of the events leading up to the ship striking an iceberg and sinking to its watery grave.

Full-scale room recreations and lavish gala dinners are just some of the authentic Titanic experiences visitors can expect to partake in at this eye-opening attraction, with the entire spectacle lasting about two hours.

Skip the line and secure your tickets here.

15- Watch A Rocket Launch At The Kennedy Space Center

Saturn V Rocket Exhaust
Learning something new at the Kennedy Space Center is one of the best indoor things to do in Orlando.

Situated on Merritt Island roughly 46 miles (74 km) outside downtown Orlando is the Kennedy Space Center, a major role player in NASA space missions since the 1960s.

The Kennedy Space Center has been the primary launching site for manned NASA missions since 1968 and has taken part in Apollo, Space Shuttle and Skylab programs, not to mention dozens of additional research and spaceflight projects.

One of the best ways of experiencing this iconic destination is by planning a trip to see a launch first-hand or by touring the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex to learn more about the centre’s history through a collection of historic artefacts.

Skip the lines and book your tickets here.

16- Explore The Orlando Science Center

One of the most popular and exciting educational spaces in Orlando is the Orlando Science Center, a state-of-the-art exhibition venue where visitors of all ages are encouraged to learn more about topics such as engineering, nature, technology, energy and so much more.

The museum dates back to 1955 when it was known as the Central Florida Museum and has been expanded and renovated several times throughout its existence to keep the venue modern and up to date.

Managing to attract more than 500,000 visitors every year in a city more famous for its resorts and theme parks, the Orlando Science Center is a great place to explore for curious minds or those just looking for a break from Universal and Disney.

17- Tour The Orlando Museum Of Art

Established as early as 1924, the Orlando Museum of Art is the undisputed capital of visual art in the city, showcasing an ever-growing collection of art mediums that include paintings, sculptures and photographs.

The museum is among the oldest and most prestigious in the ventral Florida region and specialises in a broad array of art styles, displayed to the public through a range of permanent and rotating exhibitions throughout the year.

Among the museum’s permanent collections include contemporary art, 18th-century American art, African art and art of the Ancient Americas, which is touted as one of the finest collections of its kind in the Southeastern US.

Nature and Outdoors

18- Spend An Afternoon Inside Lake Eola Park

Colorful Sunset Above Lake Eola And City Skyline
Wandering around Lake Eola Park is one of the things to do in downtown Orlando.

A well-known landmark among Orlando residents due to its beautiful fountain, Lake Eola and the Lake Eola Park is a small and peaceful outdoor destination in central Florida promising visitors a break from the city’s busy theme parks.

Created as a result of a sinkhole, the lake forms the centrepiece of a beloved outdoor space boasting a playground, a Chinese pagoda and the Walt Disney Amphitheater, which hosts open-air concerts and community events year-round.

The lake gets lit up at night in a dazzling display of colours and features an easy-to-use pathway running around the entire freshwater lake, making Lake Eola Park ideal for a morning stroll or enjoying an afternoon picnic.

19- Stroll Through The Harry P. Leu Gardens

The Harry P. Leu Gardens are a visually stunning, 50-acre (20 ha) outdoor botanical attraction near downtown Orlando which is home to beautiful assortments of plants and flowers which thrive in Florida’s tropical climate.

Established by the Leu family in 1936, the gardens are especially renowned for their collection of camellias and oak trees, some of which are more than 200 years old.

Among the gardens’ myriad of attractions is the Mizell-Leu House, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1994, making the Harry P. Leu Gardens as much a scenic outdoor space as a historic part of Orlando.

20- Hop Aboard An Airboat Tour

Airboat Tour At Mangrove Forest In Everglades Swamp
Going on an airboat tour is one of the cool things to do near Orlando.

Surrounded by swamps and slow-moving waterways, Central Florida is a great place to explore via airboat, with several reputable airboat tour operators setting off from Orlando.

Airboats are the preferred navigation method around central Florida’s boggy marshes and swamps since they can cross shallower water by essentially floating atop the water’s surface instead of in the water itself.

Airboat tours are popular attractions in Orlando, especially tours involving alligator spotting, with airboat tours the best and safest way to witness these ancient Floridian monsters in their native habitat.

21- Cool Off At The Wekiwa Springs State Park

Wekiwa Springs In Florida
Relaxing in Wekiwa Springs State Park is one of the free things to do in Orlando.

Shimmering brightly in the sun with its emerald colour, the Wekiwa Springs in the Wekiwa Springs State Park are a pretty unique Orlando natural landmark situated mere minutes from the city’s busy downtown district.

Spread out across more than 7,000 acres (2,833 ha) of the pristine central Floridian outdoors, the state park attracts thousands of visitors every year looking to bask in the springs’ relaxing waters on warm and humid summer days.

An abundance of wildlife and scenic nature trails cap off the state park’s world-class outdoor attractions, with swimming permitted in the springs’ shallow, crystal-clear waters.

Plan Your Trip

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Mark Westwood
Mark Westwood is a Seattle-based writer who writes for various online blogs and travel websites. In 2017, he went on a 12-month road trip across the USA visiting many iconic landmarks and small towns along the way. Having explored over 20 countries, his favourite places to date are along the west coast of the USA but he is happiest anywhere where there are mountains and ocean.