As the most visited city in Florida, Orlando has more than enough things to do to keep you entertained throughout your stay. While most people head to Orlando to visit the several fantastic theme parks, there’s more to Orlando than just the parks worth looking into.
15 of the Best Things to Do in Orlando
As you plan your trip to the Sunshine State, here are 15 of the best things you can do while you’re in Orlando.
1. Spend Time at Disney World
We can’t talk about things to do in Orlando without mentioning Walt Disney World. This is arguably the top attraction in the area for people of all ages. The Walt Disney World Resort encompasses four theme parks that you can choose from.
Many people opt for a park hopper pass to visit multiple parks during their stay. The resort complex offers visitors everything they need for a magical vacation. The resorts are all themed, stunning, and offer something for almost every budget.
The hotels are an attraction on their own in most cases, with luxurious pools and other activities. When booking your Disney activity, the four parks you can choose from are:
- The Magic Kingdom
- Animal Kingdom
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios
You can’t miss taking a photo in front of the iconic Magic Kingdom castle, experiencing cuisines worldwide at Epcot, watching shows at Hollywood Studios, and seeing all the animals at Animal Kingdom. Even if you can visit only one or two parks, you won’t regret it.
2. Experience All the Rides at Universal and Islands of Adventure
Universal Orlando Resort needs to be on your list for those who aren’t interested in going to Disney or want to experience the other major theme parks in Orlando.
The major resort complex features two theme parks, Universal and Islands of Adventure, and several excellent hotels to stay at. These theme parks are ideal for those who prefer thrilling rides like the Hulk roller coaster.
Although there are more thrill rides at these two parks, there are still plenty of rides and attractions for people of all ages. One of the biggest attractions at Universal is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Potterheads will adore this park area, and even people who aren’t huge fans will still have a blast. In addition, if you’re thinking of going to both or either park, staying at one of the Universal resorts grants you an express pass to skip regular lines in the park!
3. Wander Around Disney Springs
One of the best things to do in Orlando when you want to do something low-key is to head to Disney Springs. Formerly known as Downtown Disney, this area of Orlando features shopping, dining, and entertainment.
Many of the stores are classic stores in shopping malls, but they also have a handful of stores that feature Disney items. The LEGO Store is a popular spot to admire the incredible things people have built with LEGOs.
The dining options at Disney Springs are lovely. They have a little bit of everything. You can find quick-service spots and elegant sit-down restaurants. A favorite amongst visitors is the Rainforest Cafe.
The area is a great date night spot where you can bar hop for drinks and other tasty appetizers without driving around.
You can head to Splitsville to bowl, shoot hoops at the NBA Experience, and walk around the waterfront. Disney Springs is a great place to wind down after a long day at the theme parks and grab souvenirs to bring home.
4. Go Shopping at the Orlando Premium Outlets
Orlando has its fair share of shopping options, and one of the best options is the Orlando Premium Outlets. This large outdoor shopping mall features all your favorite stores like MAC, Forever 21, Ralph Lauren, and more with discounted clothing and accessories.
Whether you’re trying to redo your wardrobe or simply enjoying shopping for a great deal, the outlets are a great place to spend a few hours. They also have a food court with plenty of dining options when you need a break and something to fill your stomach.
5. Cool Off at One of the Several Water Parks
Florida has some beautiful weather almost year-round, but it can get unbearing hot in the summer. If you’re looking for a great way to beat the heat in Orlando, you can visit one of the several fantastic water parks in the area.
Many of these are part of the Disney World and Universal Resort complexes, but some aren’t. Each water park offers a fun theme, plenty of water slides, wave pools, and places to soak up the sun. The best water parks in the area include:
There are a handful of smaller water parks in the area too, but these three are the top ones to visit. They have something for people of all ages. Kids can frolic around playing in the water while the adults float down lazy rivers and sip tropical drinks.
6. See Shamu at SeaWorld
SeaWorld is another popular attraction in Orlando. They’ve upgraded their park to include various animal encounters and exhibits and several rides to draw more visitors in the past few years.
For those who love roller coasters, you’ll love the Manta. This thrilling coaster is fast, tall, and leaves you feeling exhilarated. The adrenaline junkies will love that you ride face down at certain parts.
Mako and Ice Breaker are two other popular roller coasters in the park. You can’t go to SeaWorld without catching a show with the famous orca, Shamu.
The show features several whales performing with trained professionals. If you sit in the splash zone, the whales will soak you with water. During your visit here, other things to do are view the stingrays, penguins, seals, and walruses.
If you want a truly memorable experience, you can sign up to dine with the orcas! You’ll enjoy a great meal with the whales swimming nearby.
7. Grab Dinner at Universal CityWalk
Similar to how Disney World has Disney Springs, Universal has CityWalk. This exciting area is right outside the major theme parks and is perfect for grabbing a bite to eat when theme park food just won’t suffice.
They have several restaurants to choose from, like Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, the Hard Rock, Pat O’Brien’s, and more. The best part is that there are casual spots and elegant ones when you want to dress up a bit during your trip.
They often have live music playing where you can dance, plenty of shops to explore, and host events in CityWalk. Their Mardi Gras event is very popular. Be sure to grab a doughnut at Voodoo Doughnut before you leave since it’s the only one in the state.
8. Go Indoor Skydiving at iFly
For those who’ve ever dreamed of skydiving but aren’t 100% sold on jumping out of a plane, you can experience a similar sensation at iFly Orlando. This is an indoor skydiving facility where you can go skydiving without traveling into the sky.
You’ll need to book your flight online and in advance, but it’s easy to do with their user-friendly website. When you arrive for your skydiving experience, staff will provide you with all the gear necessary and give you an informational talk about what you’re about to experience.
They’ll let you know what you can do to make the most of your iFly experience. Qualified staff will be in the tunnel with you at all times to keep you safe and having fun.
You’ll enter their state-of-the-art vertical air tunnels, which simulate the same wind speed you’d experience if you jumped out of a plane. The entire experience should take roughly 45 minutes total, and it’s worth every minute.
9. Meet the Alligators at Gatorland
Gatorland is probably one of the most “Florida” attractions in Orlando. Florida is known for having alligators throughout the waters, and now you can head to these attractions to see them up close but safely.
This is a small roadside attraction that has grown in popularity. Gatorland lets you learn all about these creatures. You can see staff performing with the gators, feeling them, and listening to them educate you on these animals’ power and why you do not want to encounter one in the waters.
The shows are the best part of Gatorland. You can see the Gator Jumparoo Show, which is what initially put this attraction on the map.
You’ll get to see how high these animals can jump, and it’s surprising. You can also go zip lining over an alligator-filled marsh if you feel adventurous. Before you leave, you need to check out the albino alligator.
It’s one of the only ones in the world and very unique. The alligator is so white that you may not even believe it’s real until it moves.
10. Take a Walk Around Lake Eola
Not everything to do in Orlando has to do with the theme parks or other smaller attractions like those on International Drive. If you want to enjoy the fresh air around one of the most beautiful areas, you need to visit Lake Eola in downtown Orlando.
The lake is the heart of downtown and offers you stunning views of the Orlando skyline. The path around the lake is paved and provides you with an easy walking trail. Many people use the course for jogging early in the mornings to catch the sunrise.
Walking around Lake Eola is also a great evening activity because they light the massive fountain up with different colors. It’s a pleasant show to watch regardless of your age. As you walk around the lake, you may be able to see swans swimming with their chicks.
11. Go Swimming With Dolphins at Discovery Cove
Visiting Discovery Cove and swimming with the dolphins is one of the most memorable things you can do in Orlando. Although it is a little pricey, you won’t regret this fantastic experience.
You can book sessions to swim with the dolphins, and they’ll provide you with all the gear necessary. You’ll get to take stunning photos with the dolphins too. Besides swimming with the dolphin, this all-inclusive resort and waterpark offer a fun, relaxing, and educational experience.
You can swim in their small pools, go snorkeling with beautiful fish, and learn about a variety of marine life. Throughout your day at Discovery Cove, you’ll have all your food and drinks included.
This means you can grab a bite to eat after every activity if you want to. Many experiences are included in your ticket price, like the river, fresh and salt waters, snorkeling tanks, a bird sanctuary, and a serenity bay.
12. Tour Madame Tussauds
We have all dreamed of meeting our celebrity crush or other notable figures at least once in our lives. At the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum, you can get up close and personal with lifelike wax figures of celebrities and other famous, influential people.
As you walk through the museum, you’ll see dozens of realistic wax figures of current and past celebrities and historical figures like Ryan Reynolds, Abraham Lincoln, etc. They even have sections that feature your favorite superheroes and fictional characters like Spiderman.
While you don’t want to forget your camera for anything you do in Orlando, this is one you’ll be upset with yourself if you do. The photo opportunities are ample, and you can have a lot of fun posing with your favorite figures.
This is a great last-minute activity to do because you’re not required to purchase tickets beforehand. As with most things, if you can do so, that will make getting into the museum more seamless.
13. Tour the Sea Life Orlando Aquarium
The perfect indoor activity for adults and children in Orlando is the SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium. It’s in an odd location, nestled near the shops and restaurants on International Drive, and it’s worth checking out while you’re in Orlando.
It’s an especially great activity when you want to stay out of the Florida heat or rain. There are more than 5,000 species of marine life at this aquarium which is pretty substantial for the location and size.
Some of the animals you can see here are various shark species, stingrays, sea horses, and turtles, and soon you’ll be able to see guitarfish. Unlike some aquariums around the country, this one offers children-height viewing glasses, so they don’t need to struggle to see their favorite underwater animals.
One of the best parts about this aquarium is the 360-degree tunnel where you can watch sharks and fish swimming all around you. It’s the only one in Florida!
14. Taste Chocolate at the World of Chocolate Museum
Who doesn’t love the sweet taste of chocolate? While you can quickly stop at a convenience store and grab a chocolate bar, why not visit the World of Chocolate Museum and Candy Shop in Orlando?
As you walk through the museum, you’ll learn how chocolate is made, starting from the rainforests where cacao grows. Before venturing into the sculpture area, you’ll learn all about the process, from the cacao plant to your favorite chocolate bars.
There are over 20 chocolate sculptures for you to admire, and the tour should last about 45 minutes. Now, the best part. You move to the tasting room, where you can taste some of the best chocolate in the world.
After your tasting, you can head to the chocolate shop, where you can purchase as many or as few chocolate bars as you want. You should buy your tickets online and in advance to avoid lines.
15. Enjoy Dinner and a Show at Pirate’s Dinner Adventure
If you enjoy being entertained when eating dinner, you can’t miss catching a show at the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure. Adults and kids can enjoy a delicious meal while watching pirates perform on stage and even on the 18th-century reconstructed pirate ship.
The actors and actresses here perform stunts and acrobatics throughout this drama-filled performance. Not only are there pirates in the show, but there are mermaids and other vital characters that bring some magic and entertainment to your meal.
Anyone dining here gets an appetizer of tomato soup or a Ceasar salad. After that, you can choose which entrée you prefer. Their classics include a chicken, pork, or vegetarian pasta meal.
There are several upgrades if you like steak or seafood, and then there are chicken nuggets and mac and cheese for the kids. Children can sip on juice and soda throughout the performance, but the bar menu has something for everyone if you’re over 21 and prefer an alcoholic drink.
Things to Consider
Whenever you’re planning on going anywhere new, there are things you’ll want to consider before arriving. The main thing to consider when you visit Orlando is if you’re going to visit any of the theme parks.
If you are, you need to book your tickets in advance. Purchasing them ahead of time eliminates excess lines and denial of entry into the parks. Other things to think about for your trip to Orlando include:
- Whether you’ll stay at one of the many resorts or in a vacation rental
- How much time you’ll spend at each theme park
- Pack plenty of sunscreen for outdoor activities
Frequently Asked Questions
There’s a lot to learn about Orlando before packing your bags for your vacation. Here are the most frequently asked questions about Orlando.
How many theme parks does Orlando have?
There are three main Orlando theme parks, Disney World Resort, Universal Resort, and SeaWorld. Under all three of these significant parks are 12 other parks you can visit.
When is the rainiest month in Orlando?
Florida gets more than enough rain, and it can quickly ruin a vacation. If you want to avoid the rainy season in Orlando, the rainiest months tend to be June, July, August, and September. Usually, the weather passes quickly and happens in the afternoon.
How popular is Orlando?
Orlando is very popular and often sees over ten million visitors annually.
Is Orlando expensive to visit?
Orlando can get expensive quickly if you visit the theme parks and stay at their respective resorts. You can do Orlando on a budget, though. How expensive it will be, depends on how you want to spend your time there.
When is the best time to visit Orlando?
Most people say the best time to visit is between March and May. The rainy season hasn’t started, and temperatures are more comfortable than the rest of the year. Be warned that other visitors flock to the city at this time too, making it more crowded than usual.
So, What Are the Best Things to Do in Orlando?
Orlando is a beautiful central Florida city and theme park capital of the world. Whether you’re a huge Disney fan or prefer to spend your days at Universal, you can do that here. Even if you need a break from the parks, there are plenty of fun activities for people of all ages to enjoy.