When most people think about family vacations, fun and sunshine, the words “Orlando, Florida” are probably not far behind.
Famous for its extensive list of theme parks, the paradise, fun-for-the-whole-family city is also packed with exciting things to do- that don’t include Mickey Mouse (not that we don’t love Mickey… we love Mickey!)
Orlando, Florida isn’t only the perfect place to bring the little ones; it also has its fair share of activities for the adventurers at heart.
The only question is, how do you make the most of your time there?
How do you do the theme parks best and how do you pivot past the theme parks to take advantage of the other thrills Orlando has to offer?
Look no further. Read on. From me to you, here’s a list of spots where Florida natives and travelers alike let out their wild side.
1. Disney World & Universal Studio
Let’s dive right in with the number one draw that Orlando has: it’s plentiful, crazy-making theme parks!
You could spend an entire week in this city and only scratch the surface of what these incredible parks has to offer.
The two big ones are, of course, Disney World and Universal City.
Disney is the biggest, as it includes SIX other major parks.
They are: Magic Kingdom, an animal lover’s dream come true, Epcot, for the adrenalin junkies, Hollywood Studios, for the Star Wars fans, and Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, for those who prefer their adventures with a side of water.
Universal Studios, on the other hand, is more compact but still packs a punch!
Go behind the scenes of your favorite movies; 😊 Islands of Adventure, where the magical world of Harry Potter comes to life, and Volcano Bay, for those who want to balance their trip with a faux tropical island getaway.
You really can’t go wrong with either of the parks. They each offer an immersive, excited experience that you really can get into at any age.More Info (click to expand)
2. Explore the famous adventures at Seaworld
I’m happy to announce that Seaworld has stopped it’s Orca circus show in favor of more educational and… humane… entertainment, meaning you can hit this incredibly inspiring park GUILT-FREE!
Seaworld will always hold a special place in my heart because it’s the first time in my life I had the opportunity to get up close and personal with all my favorite sea creatures, thus inspiring a lifelong passion the ocean wildlife.
In addition to thrilling rides, Seaworld offers experiences.
You can go book a tour to go behind the scenes and hang with the trainers while they show you a thing or two about the work they do with their sea life.
From dolphin shows, to heading underneath a shark tank, Seaworld will make you feel like you’re in the middle of the ocean, in the best way possible.More Info (click to expand)
3. Speak easy at a speakeasy
One thing that Orlando is not so known for is its night life; however, that in no way means it’s non-existent.
Really, all it means is that you have to be in the know. Especially when it comes to Mathers, which is a hidden gem (quite literally.)
This speakeasy resides on the third floor of an old vintage furniture store from the 1800’s.
It’s a great place to spot the Floridians dressed in their finest (meaning they do have a dress code) and they encourage their customers to stay classy while they sip their “giggle water.”
Although Mathers hosts a social scene, it’s well off the beaten track of the typical out-of-towners.More Info (click to expand)
4. Let your mind wander at Kennedy Space Center
Another childhood favorite of mine, Kennedy Space Center provokes curiosity and wonder in all who enter it.
This tantalizing and educational experience alone is worth the trip to Orlando, especially if you can catch an actual Rocket launch!
Head to the astronaut’s hall of fame, take a (really) close look at actual space shuttles, like the Atlantis.
See what it takes to train like an astronaut! Or, visit one of their three Imax theatres for a so-real-you-can-almost-touch-it look at outer space.
Don’t leave until you’ve stocked up on “astronaut ice cream,” delicious freeze-dried treats that stay good, nay, GREAT, for a loooonnnggggggg time. In other words, I suggest buying 100.More Info (click to expand)
5. Milk The Milk District
This quaint neighborhood is home to a thriving community, packed full of activities, eats and drinks for people of all ages, at any time of day or night.
They have juice bars and work out studios for those who like to maintain their health in between binging their fried dough.
Or, you can let off some steam from the day with a stiff one at Whiskey Lou’s and have a dance party at Southern Nights.
If you’re dying for international cuisine, then this is the place to indulge, especially in their array of Vietnamese restaurants dotting the strip.More Info (click to expand)
6. Hit the antiques at Renningers
In the midst of 117 acres of land in Lake County is Renninger’s Twin Markets.
With plenty of open-air shops, let the breeze brush your face as you shop the produce stands or clothing shops, or take part in one of the many special events they have to offer.
This spot is particularly great for antique enthusiasts.
On an average day you can find high-end vintage steals, hit up their indoor Antique Center on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays, or indulge in antique-fair extravaganza!More Info (click to expand)
7. Fly at I Fly
Are you adventurous, but like, not so adventurous that you’d want to actually jump out of an actual plane from 12,000 or so feet in the air?
Then you’re in luck!
A little known secret is that Orlando Florida is home the I Fly, an indoor skydiving experience that’s both thrilling and, you know, 100% non-life-threatening. In fact, the recommended age for participants is between 3 and 103.
Do you fall in that age limit?
I thought so.
Go on and get suited up.
You’re indoor sky-diving expert will show you the ropes and soon, you’ll be (not) free falling in one of their man made, high tech wind tunnels!More Info (click to expand)
8. Rediscover the Titanic
We’ve all seen the heart-wrenching, first-of-its-kind 3-hour film.
We’ve all imagined a world where Jack and Rose could have ended up together.
At the Titanic Artifact Exhibit you can pretty much live out that fantasy, walking through the full-scale recreations of the grand hallway, the first class cabins and the café.
The interactive museum will transport you to a different time (again, in a much safer setting than the real deal).
With over 400 artifacts, including a 3-ton section of the ship’s hull, the Titanic Artifact Exhibition is a place where reality meets imagination.More Info (click to expand)
9. Day Trip To Crystal River
Get your favorite road trip music ready, because the 1.30 hour drive from Orlando to Crystal River is worth. it.
The astoundingly beautiful waterway that stretches for six miles is fed by about 30 springs, and if I’m doing the math right, that makes one heck of a good experience.
You can participate in several activities, from boating to waterskiing, to kayaking to just floating along.
If your trip to Seaworld inspired you to interact with local wildlife, head to Kings Bay where the river begins and hang out with the manatees that are known to reside there during cooler months.
Once you’re tuckered out from your day on the water, head to downtown Crystal River and refuel at their delightful restaurants and festive bars set among historical family homes.More Info (click to expand)
10. Explore An Urban Park
Lake Eola in Downtown Orlando is the perfect place to spend a day. You can rent a swan and peddle your way around the lake, or feed the swans (and whatever other bird species fly by for lunch that day).
If you’re in the area on a Sunday, take advantage of the Green Market where you can shop for fresh fruits and veggies, or local handmade goods.
After you finished, feel free to picnic among the many flowerbeds with a view of the city skyline.
For thirstier parties, head to Beer World for happy hour and enjoy a craft beer while you watch the sunset over the city.More Info (click to expand)
11. Escape from an escape room
For the more advanced thrill seekers spend an evening trying to escape from the clutches of an Orlando escape room.
Orlando is home to the most immersive attractions pretty much on the planet, so it’s no surprise that when it comes to escape rooms, it’s on top of its game.
With different themes and skill levels, your party will be locked in a room, and work together to uncover various clues that will help you escape… or else!
You can choose to become a criminal trying to rig your getaway, or a space crew desperately trying to leave Mars at The Escape Game Orlando, conveniently located on International Drive, or find a secret passageway out at Escape Artists Orlando.
Or for a creepier mission, try and flee the Asylum at America’s Escape Game.More Info (click to expand)
12. Discover something new at the Science Center
The epitome of learning AND having fun, awaken your inner scientist at the Orlando Science Center.
These four floors of interactive exhibit halls will spark curiosity in all who visit.
Participate in a daily workshop to bring to life your own experiments.
Soak in the Nature Works exhibit and learn all about the ecosystems that are scattered about South Florida.
Catch a light show at one of the center’s two theaters. Pet an alligator!
That’s right, folks… PET an ACTUAL alligator.
Don’t forget to become a tree hugger when you stop to admire the tree that grows three stories tall INSIDE the building.More Info (click to expand)
13. Get your nature on at Wekiwa Springs
One of Florida’s many natural wonders, the Emerald Springs that feed this State Park contribute to its sparkling water, so clear you can see your toes wiggle.
You’d never guess you’re only minutes from Downtown Orlando when you’re laid back in one of the lush hammocks, surrounded by tropical scenery and playing “I Spy” with the various animals roaming around.
Although I highly recommend relaxing in the water or in said hammock, I must also make it known that walking one of the 25 miles of trails is not to be overlooked.
It’s a great way to get your nature fix in between hitting up the parks.
For the more advanced nature freaks, look into camping for a couple of nights, go mountain biking, fishing or even horseback riding!More Info (click to expand)
14. De-mystify Wonder Works & Ripley’s
Both weird, both mind boggling, both create an experience you will never forget.
Right there on International Drive sits these two iconic attractions will stimulate the mind.
The upside down Wonder Works was allegedly a top secret lab that existed in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle… that is, until a faulty experiment carried it all the way to Orlando, somehow managing to remain in good condition so that we can all enjoy its, well, wonders.
Ripley’s is equally as mysterious, dubbed an “odditorium,” and if the shrunken heads are any indication, I’d say it lives up to its reputation.
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not put’s the Freak in Freak Show and the show in… freak show. And yes, it’s quite… unbelievable.More Info (click to expand)
15. Slurp up Soupa Saiyan
For foodies and anime fans alike, if you’re in desperate need to dodge the chaos, make your way to a little, unsuspecting strip mall where you will find Soupa Saiyan.
The “build you own Vietnamese noodle soup,” hole in the wall is highly respected among the locals, and what better way to find comfort in the midst of your vacay than a hearty bowl of soup?
With décor and TV paying tribute to authentic Japanese Anime, take a quiet moment to indulge in deliciousness, and slurp up your soup like it’s going out of style.More Info (click to expand)
16. Roam Harry P. Leu Gardens
A stunning, 50-acre garden that you would never guess is just minutes away form theme parks and major attractions.
The Harry P. Leu Gardens is on the right side of history, as its overall objective is to educate and inspire appreciation towards plants of all kinds.
The climate in Florida allows the garden to naturally grow a diverse range of flowers, trees and plants, making it a colorful and peaceful place to explore.
Additionally, Mr. P Leu and his wife used to travel around and buy exotic plants for their beloved property, which also still dotted throughout.
On the grounds sits the Lue House Museum, a historical, turn of the century home which was donated after the Leu’s passing to become the iconic garden it is today.More Info (click to expand)
17. Enjoy the show at Dr. Philips Center of Performing Arts
While Orlando might not have the same “theater scene” reputation as say, New York City, the performing arts center is home to many amazing shows and concerts, including Broadway!
The center is comprised of three different theaters, the largest being the Walt Disney Theater, where the Broadway shows take place.
However, the smaller theaters, including Bob Carr Theater and Alexis and Jim Pugh Theater also host an array of magical shows of the theatrical and musical kind.
From comedy to flamenco to the biggest Broadway hits, you get a taste of arts and culture when you visit Dr. Philips Center of the Performing Arts.More Info (click to expand)
18. Hit Up A Brewery
It’s almost as if the beer gods know how stressful it can be to deal with shepherding your crew to and from a seemingly infinite number of theme parks and attraction, and said “Let there be beer!”
As luck would have it, Orlando is teeming with local brews and festive (don’t worry, not too festive) breweries to enjoy them in.
Among the favorites is the Orlando Brewing Company, bringing you organic brews (just in case you’re really into organic beers;) Crooked Can, located in charming downtown Winter Park, with a big old patio and brewery tours; and Hourglass Brewery, which showcases works from local artists, so you have some eye candy while you sip your booze!More Info (click to expand)
19. Snuggle an exotic animal
So! You’ve seen the orcas and you’ve swam with the manatees (or not.)
Still have room left for animal CUDDLES?!
Exotic Animal Experience has many animals, from sloths to deer to zebras, but here, you don’t merely look at them while they graze behind bars, oh no.
Here, the animals are raised since infantry, meaning they are totally adapted to being around humans, meaning you get to pet and interact and snuggle up with all of the animals they have!!!
Learn about dozens of furry friends as you make your way through the 7-acres of non-stop fun.More Info (click to expand)
20. Congo River Golf
This is more than just the most fun and adventurous mini-golf adventure you’ve ever been on.
Congo River Golf offers several games and experiences, including mining for gems and arrowheads, and basketball courts!
The quirky golf course consists of waterfalls and bridges and big ole trees (oh my!) You can even stop to feed the gators, because after all, this is Florida, where we like our gators with a little bit of golf!More Info (click to expand)
21. Visit and have Fun at Legoland
You can’t visit Orlando without visiting the international hit that’s been sweeping the globe, that is Legoland!
This colorful and iconic place is chockfull of stimulating activities for the little ones.
Including rides, workshops and live shows, Legoland can keep the family busy for the entire day, or if you just need a half-day pick-me-up until the next big adventure.
Legoland is an indoor experience that’s great for when Florida has one of its inevitable rainy days.More Info (click to expand)
There are events and parties on every single night and in summer there are festivals pretty much weekly, you cannot get bored in this city that also never seems to be sleeping.
What are your thoughts about Orlando? Do you have any questions or anything cool still to add on? We love to discuss travel so go ahead and fire away, there are no wrong comments!
Also, please let us know how your trip went and what was the most exciting part about it.