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Orlando is renowned as a mecca for theme park enthusiasts but it offers a whole lot more. While you’ll probably want to enjoy those big thrills, there are many culinary experiences, opportunities for wildlife encounters, museums, outdoor activities, and much more. As you put together an itinerary for your trip to Orlando, you’ll want to consider these top things to do.
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What Is It? A sunset kayaking tour with Get Up and Go Kayaking
Why Do It? While it can be fun for anyone, it’s an especially romantic excursion, paddling as the sun splashes glorious colors across the picturesque canals that link multiple lakes.
Good to Know: As you kayak your way through the narrow, Venetian-style canals, keep an eye out for some of the state’s best flora and fauna with swaying palms, grand cypress trees, lush ferns, subtropical flowers, and a wealth of birds, fish, turtles, and other wildlife.
What Is It? One of the most thrilling attractions in Orlando, the Wheel at ICON Park is a 400-foot-tall observation wheel. It’s the world’s fifth tallest, even taller than the Statue of Liberty.
Why Do It? On a clear day, the 20-minute “flight” provides riders with jaw-dropping views that stretch all the way to the Atlantic coast. While the capsules hold up to a dozen passengers, couples seeking a romantic experience can even book a private capsule.
Good to Know: If you bring a pair of binoculars, you can try to spot some of the area’s top attractions from a bird’s-eye point of view.
What Is It? A 30- or 60-minute airboat ride through the Everglades of Central Florida, traveling through protected rivers, marshes, and swamps in a 4,200-acre area, which also includes a visit to a tropical bird aviary and an alligator-handling show.
Why Do It? See a wide range of wildlife on this Everglades boat tour, including alligators, eagles, turkeys, wild boars, and wading birds. At the Wildlife Park, take a stroll to view over 200 different animals like sloths, lemurs, zebras, watusi cattle, bobcats, and other animals native to Australia, South America, and Africa.
Good to Know: The upgraded option includes a BBQ lunch at the Chomp House Grill and an alligator souvenir.
What Is It? The Escape Game will test your wit and skills. With 60 minutes on the clock, you and your team will have to find hidden passageways, decipher clues, and “escape” before the clock runs out. There are five different scenarios to choose from, all varying in level of difficulty. One option is Mission: Mars where you’ll have to repair the damages to your ship from landing before fatal cosmic radiation reaches the planet. Then, get it ready to launch in order to return to Earth.
Why Do It? It’s a fun and exciting experience that’s especially popular among gaming and puzzle enthusiasts.
Good to Know: You won’t actually be locked in the room, you can leave at any point if you need to.
What Is It? The University of Central Florida Arboretum houses over 600 plant species, including more than 100 bromeliads and at least eight unique ecosystems, including a swamp habitat.
Why Do It? The 80-acre area includes walking trails for viewing impressive native plant species, as well as the opportunity to play a round of disc golf or bike alongside the picturesque lake. It’s also a great place to fill your Instagram feed.
Good to Know: There is no admission fee to the arboretum and it’s open to the public from sunrise to sunset every day of the year.
What Is It? An institution that offers an entertaining and fun way to learn about science and technology and popular among kids and adults alike.
Why Do It? It’s a great museum experience for the whole family with the opportunity to get up close to reptiles in the NatureWorks area, check out prehistoric displays in the DinoDigs exhibition hall, and enjoy hands-on experiences, including the chance to use telescopes for galaxy gazing in the observatory.
Good to Know: The center also offers planetarium shows and a giant screen for 3-D films.
What Is It? iFly offers the rare opportunity to feel as if you’ve jumped from a plane without actually doing it. It’s a vertical wind tunnel providing the free-fall conditions you would get from actually skydiving.
Why Do It? If you’ve always wondered what skydiving would be like but really don’t want to jump out of a plane, you can enjoy the rush in a safe environment. It’s also a great rainy day activity.
Good to Know: Everyone as young as three to the 99-year-old kid-at-heart can enjoy the experience.
What Is It? Disney’s original Orlando theme park, Walt Disney World offers a wide range of entertainment, popular characters like Mickey and Minnie, and everything from rides that have been there since its opening in 1971, like “It’s a Small World” and “Haunted Mansion” to “Space Mountain” and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride.
Why Do It? It’s fun for all ages, but when it comes to family vacations, it’s hard to beat, as it’s one of the few places where babies, teens, parents, and grandparents can all have a good time together.
Good to Know: Visit during a non-peak time for an optimal experience without the thickest crowds of the year, which means avoiding spring break, the summer months, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.
What Is It? Just a short drive from Orlando in Titusville, the Kennedy Space Center offers space-related experiences kids and adults alike will love and that can’t be found anywhere else.
Why Do It? Learn all about space and the history of flight with a fascinating experience at this premier institution. The 90,000 square foot Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit includes a full-scale, 184-foot space shuttle stack as well as two solid rocket boosters and an external tank. The Visitor Center is practically an amusement park itself with a Rocket Garden, children’s playspace, an Early Space Exploration exhibit, a popular Angry Birds hands-on exhibit, 2 IMAX shows, an Astronaut Memorial, and the Astronaut Hall of Fame.
Good to Know: You can actually float beside spacewalking astronauts during the IMAX film Hubble 3D and there are also tours that will bring you to the rocket launch pads.
What Is It? Gatorland is referred to as the “Alligator Capital of the World,” ideal for those who want to safely see one of Florida’s most famous creatures. An alligator-themed wildlife preserve, it’s been entertaining its guests since 1949 and includes the world’s largest collection of giant white alligators It also offers a ziplining adventure and an observation tower overlooking the park.
Why Do It? You’re in Florida, so you’ve got to capture a close-up photo of an alligator while you’re visiting. Plus, when you’re riding the zipline over the park, you’ll get an aerial view of the alligator marsh.
Good to Know: In addition to viewing gators, there are jumping shows, gator wrestling, and training experiences.
What Is It? WonderWorks is a science-focused indoor amusement park. It combines entertainment and education through more than 100 hands-on exhibits, with something for all ages to enjoy.
Why Do It? It’s a must-visit interactive museum experience with the opportunity to do things like build your own roller coaster, play arcade-style games, make life-sized bubbles in the Bubble Lab, and feel the power of 84 mph hurricane-force winds in the Hurricane Shack. You’ll even see a building that looks like it was turned upside down in a mind-blowing tornado and get a better understanding of what the Titanic survivors faced after being tossed into the Atlantic’s icy waters.
Good to Know: There is also a Laser Tag Arena and ropes course.
What Is It? One of Orlando’s most popular theme parks, with its flagship attraction being the world-renowned Studio Tour where visitors can go behind the scenes of some of the busiest movie and television studios, as well as experience immersive thrill rides.
Why Do It? Over the years it’s gone from being a single park to multiple parks, hotels, and an entertainment complex. Experience everything from Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey to Fast & Furious: Supercharged and Skull Island: Reign of Kong that will put you in the heart of the action.
Good to Know: There are new rides every year along with special events like the popular Halloween Horror Nights with haunted houses.
What Is It? A zoo and botanical gardens, just a short drive north of Orlando in Sanford
Why Do It? There’s plenty to fill an entire day here with more than 500 animals and live animal encounters, a children’s zoo with animals that visitors can pet and feed, and an insect zoo and reptile house. The botanical gardens cover 23 acres and there are a wide range of demonstrations and educational opportunities.
Good to Know: Mix things up by cooling off at the splash playground, enjoying aerial adventures on the zipline, and riding a train.
What Is It? A ropes course with a series of aerial adventures that include trapeze swings, ziplines, cargo nets, swinging logs, and other obstacles.
Why Do It? It’s a fun and unique way to have an adventure, challenge yourself, and test your skills with the thrilling course hovering anywhere from 10 to 50 feet off the ground.
Good to Know: It’s a thrill that the entire family can enjoy, available to anyone ages seven or older. An orientation and safety demonstration is provided before each excursion.