Best Things to Do in Orlando Besides Disney
If you're heading to Florida and want to expand your experience beyond Disney theme parks, you are in the right place! There are hundreds of great things to do in Orlando besides Disney. Disney brings the magic like no other company in the world, and everyone should visit once or twice, or even annually. The theme parks have evolved into rich attractions that offer something for everyone.
It's not unusual to see seniors, couples without children or singles, and even groups of millennials enjoying all the architecture, the wonder, and the world-class entertainment that Walt Disney World offers. The Disney Resorts are attractions worthy of a tour themselves, and the nightlife offered by Disney is fantastic.
But if you are looking for something different, we get it! No Shame. And you're in luck. Orlando is a destination that can serve up lots more than Disney. Orlando and the surrounding areas are a mecca for any visitor. There are other theme parks, attractions galore, museums and galleries, fantastic shopping, a rich culinary scene, nature and wildlife, and world-class live entertainment.
Since you'll be in the Sunshine State, hop in the car and explore Central Florida. Where else can you visit gorgeous sugar sand beaches, Kennedy Space Center, the Florida Everglades, and incredible natural parks, all within an hour or two of your resort? Read on to find our top things to do in Orlando besides Disney.
Don't Overlook the Other Theme Parks
Universal Orlando - For the adrenaline junkies who want to ride the mega-coasters, you'll want to book some time at Universal Orlando Resort and take a hair-raising spin on some of the world's top roller coasters. For a truly thrilling ride, Universal Islands of Adventure brings you the brand new Jurassic World VelociCoaster, where you'll speed through the jungle and make a high-speed race through the park's raptor paddock, as you face off against the predators.
Don't miss the Incredible Hulk Coaster, and experience Doctor Doom's Fearfall and Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls. There is lots more to do, and the Harry Potter fans will insist upon The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
On a sunny today, get the best of Florida with a visit to Volcano Bay, where you take an exciting ride on Krakatau Aqua Coaster, the Ohya and Ohno Drop Slides, or take the Ko'okini Body Plunge.
If you want to get a look behind the scenes at the movies, check out Universal Studios for a studio tour, journey to Ancient Egypt, or join the minions from Despicable Me. Visit Diagon Alley and take TRANSFORMERS: The Ride - 3D.
To experience the flavor and excitement without visiting a theme park, check out Universal CityWalk at Universal Orlando. This outdoor entertainment, dining, and shopping complex offer a range of excellent dining venues, plenty of entertainment, and epic shopping.
LEGOLAND Florida Resort - The kids will make unforgettable memories with a visit to LEGOLAND. They offer thrilling rides, a water park, super creative play areas, and lots of fun. They comprise 14 distinct lands with over 50 attractions. Real LEGO fans will not want to miss MINILAND, USA, where more than 32 million LEGO bricks recreate famous cities.
Ride a virtual reality-enhanced coaster in the Great LEGO Race, blast fireballs and lightning against your friends and family at LEGO NINJAGO The Ride. The Family-friendly waterpark is a fun way to beat the heat and get some thrills and one of the best things to do in Orlando besides Disney World.
SeaWorld Orlando - SeaWorld offers something for everyone. Established over 50 years ago, they provide a fantastic chance to get to know the ocean and its creatures up close, ride world-class roller coasters, and other unique rides. The Kraken Roller Coaster takes you on a trip through the jungle to a lost civilization. Ride The Mako hyper-coaster and the Manta but get ready to get wet on your journey to Atlantis.
Play at Sesame Street land, where the little ones will love the parade and the attractions. Book "Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin” for a crazy ride and a visit with the penguins. Hit the top of the 400-foot Sky Tower for a fantastic view of Orlando or grab a Flamingo Paddle Boat and take it for a spin. Dolphin Cove, Shark Encounters, the Sea Aquarium, and more await. SeaWorld brings tons of fun and is different from any other theme park.
Check out Discovery Cove. This all-inclusive day resort offers guests the chance to swim with the dolphins, snorkel with thousands of tropical fish and rays, feed exotic birds, and hang out on a beautiful sand beach. Breakfast, lunch, snacks, and beverages are included. Add a cabana for a quiet and peaceful day, take a snorkel, or create your own adventure in the park.
Exciting and Affordable Attractions
Orlando and Central Florida offer an amazingly wide range of both indoor and outdoor attractions. Here are some of our top outdoor attractions. Zip across the Florida Everglades in a six-passenger airboat to view a wide range of wildlife at Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures. Amp up the thrills with a night expedition.
Fun Spot America Theme Parks with a location on International Drive and another near Walt Disney World will please those looking for thrills, with a multi-level go-kart experience, Orlando's only wooden roller coaster, or an indoor arcade with plenty of lights and sound. One of Orlando's oldest attractions is Gatorland which brings plenty of affordable family fun. You'll view thousands of alligators, crocodiles, Florida panthers, a petting zoo, and a splash pad for the little ones to cool off in.
Winter Park Scenic Boat Tours is another secret gem. Just 15 minutes north of downtown Orlando, Winter Park is a lovely historic neighborhood with lots of charm, dining, art galleries, and boutique shopping. Take a ride up and include a narrated one-hour tour through the beautiful Winter Park Waterways from where you'll see Rollins College, Kraft Azalea Gardens, multi-million dollar mansions, and lots of wildlife.
Lake Eola Swan Boat Rentals let you get out and paddle in these unique boats that hold up to five people. Lake Eola is located in the middle of downtown Orlando and is the home of five species of swans. Just take a walk around the lake trail and find a tree to picnic under for something free.
If the weather has you looking for indoor attractions and indoor amusements, here are some you can't go wrong with. How about a friendly challenge at Andretti Indoor Karting and Games? This exciting 15,000-square-foot facility features multi-level indoor karting, 12 lanes of boutique bowling, over 120 arcade games, laser tag, six virtual reality racing simulators, a motion theatre, and an extreme ropes course with a curved zip-line. Let's go!
The Crayola Experience gives you a full day of creative play with dozens of hands-on activities. This 2-story attraction lets you name and wrap your own crayon, learn how crayons are made, and sculpt your own creation at the Crayola Model Magic compound. Your digital art will come alive on a massive interactive wall.
Escapology, one of Orlando's top escape rooms, located on International Drive, lets you race against time to find clues and solve puzzles so you and your party can escape within 60 minutes. Some of the scenarios you may encounter include Budapest Express, Cuban Crisis, Mansion Murder, and 7 Deadly Sins. Good luck!
Kings Dining & Entertainment is another spot offering great fun for the entire family or you and your best buds! Located on International Drive, it is comfy and luxurious and offers 22 bowling lanes, ping pong, bocce ball, and lots more. Their two premium bars offer exciting cocktails, and the food is a chef-designed American menu.
Get Outdoors and Get Active
Up, up and away! Soar above the city and parks with Orlando Balloon Rides for a ride and a view you won't soon forget. Orlando Tree Trek Adventures in nearby Kissimmee should top the list of challenges with its rock climbing for all skill level climbers, rope swings, nets, and trapezes. They have 97 different challenges! Just put on your safety cable, and the trained instructors will help with the rest. This is a great activity for the entire family.
Explore the Tibet-Butler Nature Park, which is just minutes from Disney. This country park has a nature center, butterfly garden, picnic area, and 3.4 miles of trails and spurs for excellent family exploration. Get away from the crowds, see some nature and stretch your legs.
Learn how to wakeboard at Orlando Watersports Complex. This is one of the largest cable wakeboard parks in the country. The cable hangs overhead, and the park offers private one-on-one lessons on how to get up and even offers a get-up guarantee.
You haven't kayaked until you've taken a Florida Bioluminescent Kayak Tour at BK Adventures. Enjoy a magical time on the water while the water lights up and the luminous sea life surrounds your kayak. Paddle the warm waters of the Indian River Lagoon, which is glowing with algae. You can do this year-round. In warmer weather, you'll see glowing plankton, and in colder months, you'll see comb jellies. You may even see both.
Orlando After Dark
Orlando has a vibrant nightlife with plenty of bars and clubs. Visit Downtown Orlando to do Orlando after dark like a local. You'll find dance clubs, wine bars, live entertainment, and an eclectic collection of speakeasies. Click for more on Orlando Nightlife and our Guide to Downtown Orlando
Some other unique things to do - check out the craft beer scene.
Grab an Ale Trail passport available from most breweries and explore Orlando Brewing, Rockpit Brewing, Dead Lizard Brewing, Ten10 Brewing, and many more.
Have a comedy night at Sak Comedy Lab, or check out Mama's Comedy Show at Sleuths Mystery Dinner Show every Friday night. If stand-up is your thing, you'll want to visit Bonkerz Comedy Club for some great acts.
Orlando is known as home to many good dinner shows. Visit Capone's Dinner and Show, where you'll knock three times to enter the era of mobsters and prohibition at this speakeasy and cabaret. Mango's Tropical Cafe on International Drive offers a lavish dinner and show with a spectacular Vegas-style review. The dancing and costumes are breathtaking. For vintage Orlando, visit Medieval Times, which is housed in a castle and will take you back to the time of knights and sword fights.
Head over to ICON Park Orlando and take your special someone or the entire family for a ride on the iconic Wheel at ICON Park. You'll soar 400 feet above the city in your private capsule on this unique observation tower as it gives the ground below a light show with thousands of LEDs. This is a fantastic way to view Orlando and the theme parks below you.
Orlando is centrally located with excellent air service and makes a great jumping-off point or home base for your Florida trip. Lodging options in all price ranges and styles abound, from budget-friendly to 5-star.
Take a ride east and spend a day at Kennedy Space Center to explore the past, present, and future of space travel. View the Space Shuttle Atlantis and Saturn V moon rocket. See how the astronauts live in space.
Head south from there to Cocoa Beach for a look at one of Florida's most famous beaches. Be sure to visit the iconic Ron Jon Surf Shop for fantastic shopping and a great look at the world of surfing. Grab a surf lesson while you're there.
Head west and visit the sugar sand beaches lining the Gulf of Mexico, including Clearwater Beach, St Pete, and Sonesta Key. History buffs will want to hit the road for less than 2 hours and head to St. Augustine to explore early US history, the time of pirates, and an iconic lighthouse.
What are your top things to do in Orlando besides Disney World?
When you are ready to hit Orlando, think beyond the theme parks. They are unique and should not be missed. But there are hundreds of things to do at this exciting destination that you'll have a tough time setting your priorities! Our list of the top things to do in Orlando besides Disney has only scratched the surface.
Universal Resort Orlando is one of the top entertainment destinations in the world. The parks are amongst the highest visited globally and their entertainment is top caliber.
Magic Kingdom also houses many classic attractions that so many of us hold in our childhood memories.