35 Best Things to Do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks
Orlando Besides Theme Parks – When you think of “Orlando, Florida,” you think of Disney World, Seaworld, and Universal Studios.
During your visit, theme parks may seem like the obvious choice, but Orlando has so much more excitement and excitement, and it’s all outside of this theme park bubble.
Check out these things to do for a complete guide. Book one of the vacation apartments or hotels near the airports, buy a plane ticket and take that flight. Prepare to be amazed when you explore and discover what else Orlando has to offer.
- Rub shoulders with popular personalities at Madame Tussauds Orlando
Okay, you can’t rub shoulders with celebrities, but you get our point! As you probably already know, Madame Tussauds is the largest wax museum in the world.
The one in Orlando features more than 200 realistic models of popular personalities from various fields, including film and television actors, music icons, artists, sports stars, politicians, historical figures, world leaders, and more.
The most famous people featured here include Barack Obama, Oprah, Angelina Jolie, Shaquille O’Neal, and Tiger Woods.
Ride the Orlando Eye
One of the newest attractions in the city, and possibly one of the most fun things to do in Orlando, is to ride the Orlando Eye.
He is one of Florida’s foremost authorities regarding the panoramic majesty of downtown cityscapes.
A 120-meter Ferris wheel located in the heart of Orlando, the Orlando Eye is owned and operated by the same reputable organization behind the London Eye, the famous European attraction.
The build is the first in the world to employ a state-of-the-art suspension design, allowing for a smoother Ferris wheel ride.
The site also hosts several high-profile and domestic events, from local social functions to weddings and school visits.
During your ride on the Orlando Eye, you’ll enjoy time suspended above the ground in an enclosed, temperature-controlled capsule, perfect for visually reading the city from above.
On days when visibility is at its best, you can see Cape Canaveral to the east and the downtown Orlando skyline in your direct line of sight. While you’re there, you might be able to visit some of the destinations featured on our list of the best day trips from Orlando!
Beat the clock at The Escape Game Orlando
Join thousands of satisfied people who rave about the unparalleled thrills available exclusively at escape rooms when you experience Orlando’s most famous escape room site in size!
This site will provide the perfect excuse to bring out your inner detective – with a constantly rotating portfolio of exciting escape room situations; The Escape Room Orlando effectively capitalizes on your drive for an adventure like no other!
Now it’s your turn to apply your problem-solving skills for the betterment of humanity! The first step when it comes to The Escape Game Orlando is choosing the escape of your choice: The Heist, Mission: Mars, Gold Rush, Classified, or Prison Break, each of which has a unique feel but revolves around a solid core concept. : Escape before the time runs out!
The Escape Game Orlando is the perfect outlet for excitement if you’re looking for the perfect unorthodox date idea! Your actions and decisions while in-game contribute in real-time to the overall success of your group as you work together for group success.
- Feel the beat at House of Blues Orlando
I was wondering what to do in Orlando. For a unique taste of the local culture and an intimate immersion in the Orlando music scene, why not see House of Blues in Orlando, Florida?
Home to countless award-winning performances over the years, this premier venue regularly hosts some of the best blues musicians gracing the face of the planet today.
Its constantly updated online programming is always decorated by a unique variety of new and established musicians. These events always give locals and visitors the perfect excuse to listen to world-class music.
The House of Blues in Orlando is also home to a wonderful on-site restaurant and bar, so you can satisfy your dining and beverage needs without ever leaving the premises.
From its daily happy hour specials to its restaurant and bar-specific entertainment, House of Blues Restaurant and Bar is a place worth visiting, if only for the fabulous sensory experience of synthesizing wonderful food and music.
The Orlando House of Blues is also perfect for hosting your next event! Whether it’s a social gathering, birthday, or work function, the unique effect of music on the atmosphere will leave all event attendees relaxed and rejuvenated.
The venue is also famous for its Sunday Gospel Brunch, where every Sunday from 10:30 am to 1:00 pm, top local and international Gospel talent take the stage.
That, combined with an all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast, provides the perfect backdrop to enjoy the afternoon!
Explore Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
There’s nothing against the Walt Disney World Resort, but the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is more than four times its size!
At an impressive 140,000 acres (approximately 218 square miles), this preserve of some of Florida’s best native species truly allows visitors and locals a taste of authentic southern living.
Officially characterized as a US National Wildlife Refuge, one of 562 nationally protected areas within the United States dedicated to preserving America’s wildlife, vegetation, and fish, the Refuge Merritt Island National Wildlife Service is home to more organized life than you may have experienced.
Home to more than 1000 species of plants, which, together with 117 species of fish, 330 species of birds, 31 species of individualized mammals, and 68 species of reptiles and amphibians, make the visit truly unforgettable, the site itself captivates from the moment when you set foot on their land.
And there are so many ways to experience the refuge itself! One of Orlando’s best activities in this national refuge is the tour of its bioluminescent lagoon with A Day Away Kayak Tours.
Learn more about the typical life in the region at the Visitor Information Center. Glimpse the crystal clear waters of the Indian River.
From bald eagles to ospreys to alligators to loggerhead sea turtles, there’s plenty to see and experience outdoors at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge!
- Watch an Orlando City Soccer Club game
Who needs Disney when you can witness one of Orlando’s best recreation spots? Welcome to Orlando City Stadium, home of the Orlando City Soccer Club, one of the newest members of the MLS Eastern Conference.
Spearheaded at one point by former World Cup winner Kaká, Orlando City SC, the team is one of North America’s latest installments of the popular Major League Soccer organization.
Given the wonderfully mild weather conditions that characterize the immediate Orlando region during most of the football season, there’s never a reason you can’t get out there and support Orlando City.
As the 21st team allowed admission into MLS, Orlando City SC remains identifiable by its distinctive logo, the lion contained within a purple shield.
Led by forwarding Cyle Larin, whose 12 goals in 2017 ranked seventh among all active MLS players, Orlando City Soccer Club looks poised for a big year in its upcoming season.
The team recently acquired Sacha Kljestan, who ranked first in MLS in 2017 with 17 assists, and along with goalkeeper Joe Bendik, whose 118 saves ranked first among all goalkeepers; the team has seen big improvements.
Come out and support Orlando City, SC, the next time you’re near Orlando and get a commemorative purple jersey during your stay!
- Party late at The Beacham
The Beacham is a live music venue and nightclub in the heart of downtown Orlando. The building’s history dates back to the early 1920s when it promoted famous vaudeville acts.
Old is new again, with true-to-the-original renovations creating a historic yet cutting-edge place to see the hottest national tours. However, check the required dress code to have a night you’ll never forget.
Dine at the world’s largest McDonald’s
This McDonald’s is not like the others. Firstly, it’s shaped like a giant bag of chips, and secondly, it’s world-class.
To accommodate the crowds of people lining up for Happy Meals, it has a touchscreen ordering system that arguably makes fast food even faster.
For food, it’s not just McChickens and McWings; they also sell pasta and pizza! They also offer a full dessert bar, as if that wasn’t enough.
The restaurant has plenty of cheap arcade games to keep the kids entertained. This world-class McDonald’s is located on International Drive, a place with so much more to offer; it could take you a whole day to explore!
Bask in the glory of nature at Harry P. Leu Gardens
Beleaguered tourists often overlook botanic gardens, but in Orlando, it’s a shame to pass up the 50-acre (20-hectare) Harry P. Leu Gardens.
They are home to more than 1,000 rose bushes (in season from April to January) and the largest collection of camellias in North America (in bloom from November to March).
Located on Lake Ivanhoe near downtown, the gardens also feature a citrus orchard and butterfly garden.
Live the best experience in the largest permanent Ice Bar
The Ice Bar in Florida is the largest in the world and is there year-round. It is divided into two areas: the Ice Bar and the Fire Lounge.
Upon entering, you will be greeted by an Ice Princess who will provide you with thermal coats and gloves.
Upon entering Winter Wonderland, the fabulous frozen sculptures are the perfect setting for your photographic moments. When you feel like you want to heat things, slip into the Fire Lounge for a night of dancing. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Head to the birthplace of speed
Fun for race fans, friends, and families, Daytona Beach, is world-renowned for its resorts, the Daytona International Speedway, swimming, surfing, and all other fun beach activities.
But the Daytona Beach Pier is often a beautiful and underrated part of the beach. It is a historic attraction recently reopened after a $5 million restoration. Worth a visit! (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
See the complete collection of Tiffany stained glass windows at the Museum of American Art
One might assume that the world’s largest collection of Tiffany glass would be located in New York or Paris. Still, it’s here at Orlando’s Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in historic Winter Park.
The Morse has amassed some of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s most memorable lamps, leaded glass windows, jewelry, glass art, and ceramics.
Delight in the beauty of each piece of stained glass and learn a little more about how this art is made. Enjoy brunch at a nearby restaurant after your visit. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Take a swing for a hole-in-one at Hawk’s Landing Golf Club
Florida is known for its pristine golf courses and its premier golf course hotels. In particular, the Hawk’s Landing Golf Club at the Orlando World Center Marriott is a scenic blend of native Florida wildlife and tropical vegetation.
The course features the latest in modern architectural techniques and is fun and challenging, yet caters to all levels of play from beginner to expert. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Pamper yourself at a world-class spa
Whether enjoying a romantic weekend or a girlfriend’s getaway, take time to pamper yourself at one of Orlando’s world-class spas.
There are a plethora of options when it comes to spas in Florida, but here are three notable ones: the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Spa by Guerlain at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, the Ritz-Carlton Spa at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes (try the made-from-fresh Florida citrus!), and the Poseidon Spa at the Grand Bohemian Hotel, which offers a one-of-a-kind hot stone massage.
You are sure to feel revitalized and energized after a relaxing spa day. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Be amazed by space travel at the Kennedy Space Center
If you’re looking for other exciting things to do in Orlando, head to the Kennedy Space Center, just an hour’s drive from downtown Orlando.
This NASA visitor complex offers IMAX movies, interactive space flight simulators, the Shuttle Launch Experience, and the Astronaut Hall of Fame, just to name a few.
You will see where the rockets are built, how they move, and the launch area. The bus driver provides good information, and there are several short videos about the space program as they take you to the site.
Returning to the Center, numerous rockets and a replica of the Hubble telescope are displayed. The complex is dotted with monitors showing short movies about different NASA projects. There are many things that you would like to see, so be sure to release a whole
Shop till you drop at The Florida Mall
Shopping in Florida doesn’t just have to be Disneyland merchandise and Mickey Mouse ears. Orlando is home to two major shopping malls, the Mall at Millenia, which features a variety of luxury brands, and the Florida Mall, which is perfect for bargain hunters and shopaholics alike.
Located minutes from Orlando International Airport, Walt Disney World Resort, and popular area attractions, The Florida Mall is the largest shopping center in Central Florida. It spans more than 1.7 million square feet and welcomes more than 20 million visitors annually.
The mall features more than 250 shopping, dining, and entertainment options, all locals and international guests enjoy. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Dine and play at Dave and Buster’s
Dave & Buster’s is a great entertainment facility with everything you need for a fun time, arcade games, a full sports bar, and a great restaurant.
Dave and Buster’s is a great alternative to theme parks; here, you can have loads of fun without spending hours queuing for rides.
It’s where the fun goes all night, and you can eat, drink, play games and watch sports under one roof. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Stroll and marvel at the pristine beauty of the Tibet-Butler Nature Reserve
The Tibet-Butler Nature Reserve is Orlando’s small 440-acre (178-hectare) nature reserve that allows visitors a glimpse of Florida’s natural landscape.
This tranquil reserve will enable you to escape the crowds and the intense heat of the afternoon sun for a relaxing walk in the shade.
The lake offers peaceful views across beautiful wetlands, providing the perfect setting for relaxation and a place away from the noisy theme parks. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Spend an afternoon at Wekiwa Springs
Wekiwa Springs offers visitors the opportunity to relax in its beautiful surroundings, enjoy a picnic or swim in the cool spring.
Those adrenaline junkies can get their fix by participating in a wide variety of water activities, such as canoeing, kayaking, and snorkeling, as well as other activities, such as hiking and biking. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Head to downtown Sanford
If you feel you’re missing Florida’s cultural and arts scene, downtown Sanford is the place to be. It’s dotted with great art centers and museums, like Hollerbach’s Art Haus and Gallery on First.
This place also comes alive at night, with nightclubs lining every street. Several city tours available will provide you with historical information about Orlando. It’s also a great place to pick up some souvenirs to keep as souvenirs of the trip. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Catch a movie at the Plaza Cinema Café
If your legs ache after hours of queuing and walking around Disneyland, buy a movie ticket, grab some popcorn, and sit down for a special movie experience.
The Cine Plaza is a large movie theater with a high-quality sound system and oversized leather seats for added comfort.
The theater also serves alcoholic beverages, and the food is cheap and good. It is the perfect place to relax after a long day. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Watch a football game at “The Bouncehouse.”
Spectrum Stadium (formerly known as Bright House Networks Stadium) is an American football stadium and home to the UCF Knights football team.
Buy tickets and feel the phenomenal atmosphere of a live American football game. Why is it called The Bouncehouse, you ask?
Because the entire stadium flexes as fans jump with excitement. But don’t worry, the stadium is structurally sound, so join in the fun! (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Ride a swan boat on Lake Eola
Lake Eola is located in downtown Orlando and is a serene oasis away from city life. There are various activities here, from feeding the swans to seeing a show at the park’s Walt Disney Amphitheater.
But no trip to Lake Eola would be complete without a ride in the park’s iconic swan-shaped rowboats. Rent one for $15 per half hour and enjoy the surrounding scenery.
After you’ve worked up an appetite, grab a bite to eat at Relax Grill, a casual lakeside restaurant is serving lunch and dinner.
On top of that, every Sunday, the park features the best market in town, with fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade bread, a variety of local cuisines, beer, wine, and a variety of artwork and stellar entertainment.
Fancy spending more time on the water? Why not join a city tour that includes a boat ride through the whole Chain of Lakes? (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Take a look at what’s brewing at Orlando Brewing Company
There are nearly 20 seasonal ales, lagers, and craft beers on tap at Orlando Brewing Company, and here’s the best part: it’s all organic!
This USDA-certified brewery offers free tours to visitors Monday through Saturday at 6 pm. Get an inside look at how beer is made, and of course, enjoy a nice pint of your own in between.
The brewery also has live music at 9 pm on Friday and Saturday nights for a musical accompaniment to your craft beer. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Channel your inner Einstein at the Orlando Science Center
The Orlando Science Center is a private science museum in Orlando, Florida. See millions of stars in the domed planetarium and peer into its largest public refracting telescope for a breathtaking view of Florida’s night sky.
The Cinedome screens educational films in its state-of-the-art spherical theater. In addition to its permanent exhibits, the science center hosts several temporary exhibitions based on current trends, such as a Star Wars exhibit or a dinosaur exhibit. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Immerse yourself in music at Venue578
Housed in an old tire shop, this venue is now hailed as one of the “World’s Coolest Nightclubs” by Billboard Magazine and Rolling Stone.
Formerly known as Firestone Live, Venue578 is by far the most entertaining and energetic club in central Florida, with a great sound system and overall fantastic atmosphere guaranteed to feed your inner party animal.
It has more than 100 concerts yearly, with big names like Lil Wayne, Busta Rhymes, and Wiz Khalifa.
It also hosts outdoor music festivals and more than 175 weekly entertainment events, so your options are endless. There’s always something going on at Venue 578! (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Spend a day in the magical world of Wonder Works upside down
When you enter the building, you realize you are walking on the roof. This luxurious experience improves 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 ride and the zip line.
Interactive activities include a virtual roller coaster and a 4D movie. There’s a bed of nails to lay on and a test of the Tesla coil experience where you become a human lightning rod!
Adults find the exhibits engaging, while younger family members have a great time. If the weather is too hot or rainy, head there for lots of fun. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Watch the beauty of the day unfold on a hot air balloon ride
Soar above Florida for spectacular morning views in a hot air balloon. Fly quietly over lakes, forests, and swamps.
Look down from a bird’s eye view at places like Disney World or the famous Universal Studios. The impressive experience starts early in the morning, and you can see the balloon inflated. Step aboard for the exciting ride, ensuring you don’t forget your camera. Photo opportunities abound.
Return to land and join the millennial tradition of toasting the ride with champagne or mimosa. Enjoy some provided treats and compare photos for memories to last a lifetime. There is a small gift shop so bring your wallet for some souvenirs. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Explore the weird, the strange, and the different at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not
Ripley’s Believe It Or Not features a world of incredible exhibits. Do you remember the TV show? In Orlando, you can experience it for yourself.
This is a great place for family fun if you have a curious mind. Weird, weird, and strange things in the world captivate visitors.
The home opens between 9 am and midnight. This is an ideal attraction if you’re looking for a few hours to fill.
Find an interesting pool hall with illusions of balance and space, or examine the Berlin Wall. Some exhibits are almost unbelievable, and there is a lot of information. You certainly won’t be bored as there are so many amazing things to see. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Let the dancers entertain you during a three-course dinner at Mango’s Tropical Cafe Dinner & Show
Mango’s Tropical Cafe Dinner & Show offers incredible live dance performances and a three-course meal. The place is quickly becoming an Orlando must-see.
Live bands and dances like Brazilian samba and Cuban conga entertain you while you dine. The show is entertaining and popular as it is a tribute to Michael Jackson.
The amusement place is suitable for children in the segment from 7:30 pm to 10:00 pm. The atmosphere is bustling and enthusiastic.
Customers can reserve in advance to ensure the best tables to watch the show while enjoying their dinner. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Catch a professional basketball game at the Amway Center, home of the Orlando Magic
Amway Center is the home of the Orlando Magic, who plays in the Eastern Conference of the NBA. The stadium offers many concessions with food at a good price.
The atmosphere of the venue is enthusiastic as fans cheer on their team. Adults enjoy the outside bar with views of downtown while watching the game on outdoor television.
The place is ideally located if you stay at nearby resorts or hotels. Parking at the Geico Garage offers easy access via an elevated walkway.
Enjoy a professional basketball game in a comfortable environment. If it’s not basketball season, they often host other events. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Watch a comedy show while enjoying your dinner
Have you ever been on a comedy show? If not, then this is your chance. Relax and laugh out loud as you savor your hearty dinner.
The Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show, Orlando, is a fun option for a night out with friends or as a more casual dinner for a potential romance.
This 90-minute show will be a one-of-a-kind dining experience as you’ll be served pizza, popcorn, and unlimited wine, beer, or soft drinks.
You’ll also have the option to upgrade your tickets to take advantage of a more exciting laser tag match. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Paddle along the lake with a sunset view
For those looking for a more relaxing option, why not try booking this incredible Airbnb experience?
If you like water sports, this is definitely for you. Hosted by Jennifer, this unique adventure allows you to choose whether you’d like a morning, sunset, or even moonlight session; the latter is especially impressive during full moons!
Explore the beautiful and pristine lakes of South Florida and immerse yourself in nature. If you’re lucky, you might see some wildlife swimming, as turtles and otters naturally thrive in the lake’s waters.
All you need is good weather and an enthusiastic attitude, as your experienced host will provide all equipment and lessons. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Reconnect with nature in a hiking and painting experience
Get in touch with the nature lover in you. This wonderful Airbnb experience hosted by Glaucia will truly reconnect you with the great outdoors.
Explore the Everglades and appreciate the stunning lush greenery and enchanting wildlife. This 2.5-hour adventure involves a hike up Shingle Creek and a painting session once you reach the trail’s end.
Take advantage of your inner artist and try to interpret your surroundings. Perfect for those who just can’t get enough of the great outdoors, this trip is sure to be a worthwhile experience. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Get to know the flavors and stories at Orlando’s Little Vietnam
Experience a different side of Orlando and discover the diversity of this vibrant city. One of Orlando’s hidden gems is Little Vietnam.
One of the largest Asian communities in the city, it has been around for about 40 years. Alongside Little Vietnam’s ever-growing community is its rich history and culture, including food!
Ideal for foodies who love to explore new things, this 3.5-hour food tour is sure to tempt your palate with new flavors and modern twists on traditional Vietnamese and Asian cuisines. Be part of this delicious opportunity and never miss it if you are in Orlando. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
Create your wooden souvenir
Nothing is better than having a personalized souvenir to take home or give to your friends and loved ones.
Avoid clichéd gift shops and uncreative gifts like magnets or key chains. Why not make your wooden souvenir instead? With this workshop, you will impress others with your unique skills.
Try your hand at woodworking, and you can make something as basic as a bowl or maybe even a pen for those with a firmer hand and advanced skill set. Either way, this is certainly a special experience that you must try.
Who knows, you might discover a hidden talent for woodworking or just find a new (and very useful) hobby. (Orlando Besides Theme Parks)
There’s more to Orlando than theme parks for everyone
Once you’re done with the theme parks, there are plenty of activities to do in Orlando. Relax with a picnic near Lake Eola or party the night away at The Beacham – you’ll never be bored in Orlando with our list of things to do. You can even book a party house or hotel with a water park for non-stop fun in the city.
Things to do in Orlando besides the theme parks
Explore Orlando beyond the theme parks and be rewarded with a great time. There’s more to Orlando than meets the eye and endless activities to enjoy outside the theme parks.
Frequently Asked Questions about the best things to do in Orlando, Florida, besides the theme parks
- What are the main attractions to visit in Orlando?
Some of the top attractions in Orlando are the Orlando Eye, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Lake Eola, and WonderWorks. These unique attractions are a great alternative to the traditional Orlando theme parks.
What are the best outdoor activities in Orlando?
Explore the best outdoor activities and incredible nature in Orlando by exploring the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.
You can also get a bird’s-eye view of the city while riding in a hot air balloon or have a unique Airbnb experience like moonlight kayaking.
What are the most popular things to do with kids and family in Orlando?
Have fun with the kids and visit some of Orlando’s best places that aren’t theme parks. Take a ride on the Orlando Eye, learn more about space travel at the Kennedy Space Center, or just enjoy a relaxing day on a swan boat ride on Lake Eola.
We hope you like our article on 35 Best Things to Do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks.
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