You’re never short of things to do in Orlando, whether you’re looking to explore the great outdoors, work up a sweat by getting active, take a day off in the spa, or just give in to the endless supply of family-friendly theme parks.
Naturally, Disney’s and Universal’s never-ending supply of rollercoasters, themed rides, shows, and parades make up most of the most popular activities in Orlando. However, if you can drag yourself (and perhaps more challengingly, the kids) away from the parks, the city and surrounding central Florida region has plenty to see and do.
- Gatorland Admission
- Sleuths Mystery Dinner Show
- Eat and Play Card – 1 Card for 4 Travelers
- Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition
- Crayola Experience Admission
- Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament
- Blue Man Group
- Walt Disney World® Resort Magic Your Way Ticket
- Chocolate Kingdom Factory Tour
- SeaWorld Florida Tickets - Choose Your Adventure
Standalone theme parks, theme parks within theme parks, theme parks next to other theme parks, water parks, nature parks… the list goes on and on. With so many to choose from and a seemingly infinite amount of ticket combinations, getting your head around Orlando’s mega-lineup of theme parks can be a bit confusing. Let us give you a quick debrief: the two main parks here are Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. Walt Disney World has four separate theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s
Hitting a waterpark is one of the most popular ways of escaping the heat during Orlando’s long, hot summers (May-Oct sees average daily temperatures of above 75°F (25°C). Just like the theme parks, the city and surrounding metropolitan area is in no short supply of places to cool off while sliding down flumes, riding the rapids, or taking a dip in the wave pools. Wet ‘n’ Wild (6200 International Drive) is perhaps the most famous, having been open since 1977 (although apparently it’s set to close in 2016). The variety of flumes and slides here is still pretty good thanks to plenty of refurbishments over the years. However, the slightly more expensive Aquatica (next to SeaWorld) is more impressive with its Dolphin Plunge and oblivion-style drop slides, while Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach offer some less traditional waterpark experiences such as snorkeling with sharks and melted snow-capped mountains to surf down. Read More...
Another popular activity in Orlando is golfing… and guess what? Disney have four courses of their very own! Aside from the Mickey Mouse-shaped bunkers and branded flags, these are the real deal; find both 9 and 18-hole courses at Magnolia, Lake Buena Vista, Palm, and Oak Trail. Away from Disney, other popular Orlando golf courses include Bay Hill Club & Lounge (9000 Bay Hill Blvd, 2x18-hole course); Grand Cypress Resort (1 N Jacaranda St, 4x18-hole courses); and the highly-rated Waldorf Astoria course, among dozens of others. A single round generally starts at the $50 mark per person, with equipment normally available for hire.
Experience a live show
A hugely popular after-dark activity in Orlando is to catch some live theater or music, with the city and surrounding metropolis promising dozens of state-of-the-art event venues and concert halls. On the music front, pretty much anybody who’s anyone comes to Orlando at some point in their career, from pop acts like Bieber and Gaga to international dance DJs selling out 10,000+ capacity venues. For rock music, keep an eye out for the ever-changing lineup at Hard Rock Live and House of Blues (both at Universal), while Downtown’s huge Amway Center hosts
Escape to a spa
With so many luxury hotels – plus the combined stress of running around theme parks with the kids all day long – it’s no wonder Orlando is home to a long list of spas for that much needed ‘me time’. Many of the best places to ease away the aches, pains and tired limbs from sightseeing are located in the city’s top hotels, such as at the Ritz Carlton, Hilton, Four Seasons, Waldorf and Orlando World Center Marriot. For dedicated, standalone spa complexes, our recommendations are The Spa LLC (2626 Edgewater Drive), Woodhouse Day Spa (Via Dellagio Way) and Spa Orlando (23 N. Summerlin Ave).
One glance at a map of central/south Florida and it’s clear to see the region boasts a diverse terrain, formed in many parts of the vast, swampy and often reptile-infested Everglades. There’s no better way to experience what the locals claim to be ‘real Florida’ than by taking to the water on an exhilarating airboat ride. The Florida Everglades actually begin around the Orlando area at the Kissimmee River, with the extended watershed encompassing much of the southern tip of the state. For those staying in and around the Orlando region, top spots for airboat rides and Everglade safari tours are at Boggy Creek, Shingle Creek, Lake Kissimmee and Lake Toho. Thirty minutes of zipping across the water generally costs between $25-45. Read More...
Race in a NASCAR
Ever wondered what is would be like to ride in an actual 600 horsepower NASCAR, going over 150mph around a track? At Disney’s Richard Petty Driving Experience you can do exactly that, strapping yourself into the front seat with an experienced driver for a ride along, or taking to the wheel yourself for 8-50 laps ($109-$1,299). The package includes all safety gear, insurance and an orientation. Riders must be at least 14 years old and drivers at least 18 carrying a full driving license. For some slightly more family-friendly driving fun, head to the popular I-Drive NASCAR – an indoor go-kart track just off International Drive (5228 Vanguard St). Races cost $25
- Address: I-Drive NASCAR: 5228 Vanguard St. Orlando, FL 32819
- Tel: +1 407 581 9644
As well as being the go-to venue for big-name singers, bands and DJs, the huge Amway Center on Church Street is also a three-in-one home to Orlando’s main basketball, football and ice hockey teams: the Orlando Magic of the NBA, the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League, the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL. Events here follow in line with the changing sports seasons, so it’s best to check their schedule online before your next visit (http://www.amwaycenter.com/events). You can book tickets online or get them in advance at the venue’s own box office. Read More...
- Address: 400 West Church Street, Suite 200 Orlando, Florida 32801
- Tel: +1 407-440-7000
You’ve always dreamt about jumping head first out of a plane, proudly ticking ‘skydiving’ off your bucket list as you swoop safely back onto Earth. Then you think about it a little more – the training, the costs, the dangers involved – and it’s eventually put-off for ‘maybe next time’. iFly is the next best thing, and the closest you’ll come to experience the thrills of skydiving without having to get into a plane. The 1,000 horse-power vertical wind tunnel here creates a cushion of air to float on, mimicking freefall conditions – except you don’t need a parachute. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 10:30 – 22:30
- Address: 6805 Visitors Cir, Orlando, FL 32819, USA
- Tel: +1 407-903-1150
- Price Range: Two session package start at $60 per person.
Taking to the skies over Orlando is a memorable way of seeing the city from a different perspective. Companies like Orlandoballoonrides.com, Orlandobaloonadventures.com and Bobsbaloons.com operate out of the suburbs, with customizable flights taking you over the best of what Orlando has to offer in terms of natural scenery – as well as drifting past some of the big theme parks for a bird’s-eye-view. Flights normally depart in the early morning or evening when weather conditions are most suitable, with rates per person normally starting at around $150 up. Read More...