As an Orlando native, I often hear the question: What is there to do in Orlando that isn’t Disney? For many people, Disney isn’t affordable. This question makes so much sense once you realize that a single-day Disney ticket can easily cost over $100 per person, and that’s just the price to get into the park! Orlando is a tourist destination, and there is so much more to this city than a mouse. As an Orlando-based blogger, I feel the need to point out some of the other amazing vacation options. Here is my list of things to do in Orlando that aren’t Disney World.
1.Get Your Science On At Wonder Works
WonderWorks is an amazing educational theme park in Orlando that is located close to Disney and Universal. If you are looking for something to do with your kids that is not Disney, then WonderWorks is the right place! This place has everything: Laser tag, natural disaster simulations, indoor ropes courses, and other cool interactive science exhibits!
When I was young, I went to WonderWorks on a field trip with my school. I remember that there were so many interesting, amazing, and educational things that were there! The best part about this amazing upside-down building is that it is indoors in the air conditioning, which, in Florida, is the most important quality in a place.
2.Visit the Famous Old Town
Going Old Town Orlando is like taking a step back in time. This outdoor theme park has more of a Carnival or Fair vibe to it. While there are rides, shops, games, and food, the most unique that Old Town does is its classic car show. Almost every weekend, Old Town hosts this amazing car show where classic cars parade down the streets.
My brother and I used to LOVE seeing the old cars all cleaned up and shining in the lights of the rides. I would highly recommend checking out their website to find out when the show is taking place so that you don’t miss it!
Read More: Interview with a Disney Insider: Tips and Stories You Don’t Want to Miss
3. Have a Blast at the Water Parks
Looking for a way to cool off from the Florida sun? Orlando has got you covered. Floridians are well aware of the effect that heat has on visitors to our beautiful city, so it comes equipped with more water parks than necessary. If you want to take your children out for a fun day of slides, water, and pool action, these water parks are the perfect choice for you.
There is Volcano Bay (Owned by Universal), Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon (Owned by Disney), and Aquatica (Owned by Sea World). There are more as well, but these would be my top picks! They are definitely worth checking out while you are in Orlando.
Make sure that you check out the Complete Florida Vacation Packing List to be sure that you don’t forget anything for your trip!
4. Enjoy the Shopping
For those of you that want a break from the kid-related adventures, Orlando has something to offer you as well. Most people think of only Disney-related shopping when they think of Orlando. However, there are things to do in Orlando that aren’t Disney shops as well! Orlando has both the Prime and Premium Outlet Malls as well as the Mall of Millenia. All three of these amazing shopping centers are located close to Disney and Universal.
In the Prime and Premium Outlets (really they are the same thing with two different names) you will find everything from a Kate Spade Outlet to a Nike Outlet and everything in between. The whole family will be able to find a shop to enjoy here. Beware though: Traffic at the Prime and Premiere Outlets can be intense. Plan extra time to find parking or take an Uber there.
5. Visit the Beautiful Winter Park
Winter Park is the upscale area right to the North of Downtown Orlando. What I love about Winter Park is that it has everything you could want in a town. You can go Paddle Boarding or on a boat tour. You can take a walk down Park Avenue and see the beautiful homes and quaint shops and restaurants. You can go to the Saturday Farmer’s Market. It really has something for everything. If you are looking to get away from the crowds that Orlando tourist attractions tend to have, I would recommend heading over to Winter Park and take a walk in the BEAUTIFUL Harry Leu Gardens or checking out the vintage records at Park Ave CDs. Winter Park is truly a place to unwind.
This has actually inspired me to write a whole post about Winter Park. Follow the blog and stay tuned for that!
Read More: Traveling with a Toddler: An Interview with an Adventurous Mom
6. Ride the Orlando Eye
Orlando has recently opened this London-esque attraction called the “Orlando Eye” or by the lesser-known name of “Icon Orlando.” The Orlando Eye is Orlando’s version of the London Eye, a giant Ferris wheel that overlooks the whole city. If you are looking for a romantic place to cuddle up or a place where your children are locked into their seats and you are a whole Ferris wheel section away from them, the Orlando Eye is your ideal destination. Be warned, however, it is not for those who are afraid of heights.
This Ferris wheel is located in Icon Park near I-Drive. Its prime location makes it close to mini-golf, multiple escape rooms, tons of restaurants, Andretti Thrill Park, Universal Studios, and Top Golf! If you plan on going to the Orlando Eye, it is easy to make a day out of all of the activities around.
7. Go to a Dinner Show
Growing up, my family and I used to always go to a dinner show in Orlando during the summers. We did them ALL. We did Pirates Dinner Adventure, Medieval Times, the Dolly Parton one (before it closed), and the Sea World Luau. We always had the best time. Even as an adult, my parents loved them. If you are looking for a unique dinner experience, I would suggest looking into the dinner theatre shows around Orlando, there are plenty of them!
One of the things that makes Orlando unique is that everything feels like a show, even dinner! Do yourself a favor and make dinner into something special.
8. See the Weird at Ripley’s Museum on I-Drive
Similar to Wonder Works, Ripley’s Believe It or Not is a more educational experience. Ripley’s lives up to its name very quickly as you enter the building. Some of the exhibits you just simply cannot believe are real. The whole place is self-guided so you can take as much or as little time at each exhibit as you would like. You and your children will both be fascinated by the oddities that Ripley’s has to offer. It is definitely an interesting place to visit.
Ripley’s Museum makes for a great indoor activity if it is raining or simply too hot to be outside. After a day or two of walking the parks, your feet will thank you for going to a museum where you don’t have to walk 10 miles to get to the attractions. Ripley’s makes the perfect place to go if you want your kids to get some hands-on learning for way cheaper than a day at Disney.
9. Get Outside and Play Some Golf
Believe it or not, Orlando is actually a golf-lovers paradise. There are multiple different types of golf for people of every skill level. If you want regular golf on an amazing golf course, you can go play on courses like Champion’s Gate where pros like Tiger Woods like to golf in their free time. You can also find amazing golf courses at the Ritz-Carlton and Rosen Shingle Creek hotels.
For those in your family who don’t want to play “real” golf, there are a ton of amazing mini-golf courses all over Orlando. You can find mini-golf courses with live alligators, pirate-themed courses, and many more. Mini-golf is incredibly popular in Orlando, and areas like International Drive by Universal Studios have a bunch of options to choose from.
If you are looking for something even more interesting, you can try out Top Golf! I like to describe Top Golf as a mix of bowling, golf, and target practice. You and your friends are given a “lane” like bowling where you can sit and relax as each person takes their turn. You can also order from a full menu and bar while you are hanging out under the cooling fans.
When it is your turn to golf, you choose a club and place your ball on the small green area. Your goal is to aim and hit one of the many targets in the area. It’s almost like a giant batting cage for golf. It is a great way to enjoy golf with friends, especially if you aren’t very good. For people like me, I like it because a previous mistake won’t impact my next shot. Each shot is a new chance to be better.
Love the list Shannon. The dinner shows sound right tup my alley 🙂