Planning a trip to Orlando and looking for interesting places in the region? You came to the right place! Surely, if this is your destination, you already know it’s one of the most visited vacation spots in the USA. Of course, it’s no surprise that the theme parks are the main attraction, but Orlando has much more than that to offer. So, let’s take a look at our picks for the Top 10 activities and attractions.
⦿ To watch our video version of this article, visit our YouTube channel HERE and be sure to use the highest quality playback settings. Or, keep reading for valuable information and photos.
- Theme Parks
Since theme parks are the biggest draw in Orlando, we’re listing them together as the top pick. Why? Because it’s impossible to say that one is better than the other since each park has its own unique atmosphere and attractions, and each offers a different experience. Therefore, picking favorites is a matter of individual preferences and expectations.
Over the years, each park has grown to include a subsection of parks and attractions that can be visited separately with a single park ticket or can be bundled together with a Park Hopper option. Therefore, planning your experience depends on the amount of time and money you are prepared to spend:
Disney World Resort includes the Magic Kingdom, which is the original park with classic rides. Epcot features an exploration of global cultures, the sea, and space, Animal Kingdom is the zoological park, and Hollywood Studios contains movie-based rides and thrill rides. Disney also has two waterparks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. On the property, though not a theme park, is Disney Springs, an entertainment complex with shopping and dining.
Universal Orlando is the original park featuring movie and TV-based rides and attractions. A secondary park called Islands of Adventure features fantasy and thrill rides. The third is an extensive waterpark with a tropical island theme, called Volcano Bay. Also on the property, though not a theme park, is Universal CityWalk with a variety of restaurants, shops, and family shows.
SeaWorld Orlando offers the main park that features marine life, shows, and rides. It also offers a waterpark called Aquatica. They can be visited separately or bundled together.
Discovery Cove has a paradise-like setting with beaches and interactive marine-life experiences. Although it is owned by Sea World, it is much different. Here you can swim with dolphins, snorkel with rays and tropical fish, play with otters, and feed exotic parrots and toucans. Tickets can be bundled with Sea World and Aquatica.
LEGOLAND is an interactive theme park for kids 2-12, with more than 50 rides, shows, and attractions inspired by LEGO® brands and characters. There is also a LEGOLAND Water Park
- Wekiwa Springs State Park
Moderately priced and just minutes from downtown Orlando, this unique state park is perfect for hiking, biking, camping, horseback riding, kayaking, and fishing. Thanks to the turquoise waters from the springs that feed the Wekiwa River, it’s also ideal for swimming or relaxing on a float on a hot day.
If you’re looking for wildlife, Wekiwa Springs is a great place to find it, especially while walking the trails or paddling the river. Stay on the lookout for black bears, bobcats, coyotes, armadillos, alligators, turtles, and many bird species.
- Kennedy Space Center
Located on Merritt Island, approximately 45 minutes from Orlando, The John F. Kennedy Space Center is one of NASA’s ten field centers. The complex features historic missions in space and looks ahead to the future of space flight.
With high-tech interactive exhibits, such as an astronaut training simulator, visitors get a practical sense of life in space. Meet an astronaut and marvel at the rockets that have taken them to space. Spend time with the Space Shuttle Atlantis, which hangs from the ceiling as though in mid-flight, and embark on the Shuttle Launch Experience.
- Icon Park and The Wheel
Located on International Drive, Icon Park is an entertainment complex with fun and games for the whole family.
Visitors will find more than 40 restaurants and bars, shops, and rides. The most popular is The Wheel, formerly known as the Orlando Eye. This observation wheel is 400 feet tall and features 30 temperature-controlled gondolas, each of which can hold 15 people. The Wheel gives riders a superb view of Orlando during a smooth 22-minute rotation.
Did a trip to Florida actually happen if you didn’t see an alligator? Luckily, you can see plenty at Gatorland, a park-like wildlife preserve known as the ‘The Alligator Capital of the World.’ Other animals on-site include crocodiles, snakes, Florida panthers and bobcats, tortoises, and an assortment of birds. There is also a petting zoo and animal shows.
Gatorland provides add-on experiences with zipline adventures over the crocs and gators, a Trainer-for-a-Day program, and the Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure where visitors can climb aboard a 12-foot-high monster truck for a thrill ride through Florida’s swamp country.
- Shingle Creek Regional Park and Trail
Located approximately 20 minutes south of Orlando’s attractions, visitors will find Shingle Creek Regional Park. This waterfront area is perfect for nature lovers. The park covers 1,000 acres and runs alongside the headwaters of the Florida Everglades, so the area is ideal for fishing and kayaking. It’s also fantastic for mountain biking.
A 12-foot-wide scenic trail provides a beautiful place to walk, with viewing areas and benches along the way where visitors can take a break and birdwatch. Airboat rides are also available to explore more of the cypress-covered waterways.
- Winter Park Scenic Boat Ride
Departing hourly from Lake Osceola, this is a leisurely cruise on an 18-passenger pontoon boat that will take visitors through the Winter Park chain of lakes and canals.
During the tour, the guide will point out lavish properties on the shores, regional plant life including cypress trees, and wildlife. This might even include alligators on a riverbank.
This cruise is available from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm daily except for Christmas. For more information, hours and pricing, visit the Scenic Boat Ride website HERE.
Many golf legends and renowned designers have built gorgeous and challenging courses in the area.
It might surprise you to know they’re more than 200 courses in Orlando and the surrounding region, with a mixture of public, municipal, and private courses. This encompasses a vast variety that ranges from moderately priced family-friendly courses to lush courses on the grounds of pricey 5-star resorts. So, there’s something to fit every budget.
- Lake Eola Park
For visitors looking for time away from amusement parks and crowds, consider spending a few hours at Lake Eola Park. Beautiful city views can be had from a quiet setting around a tranquil lake and swan paddle boats are available for those who want a peaceful glide across the water.
It’s a great place for a picnic or a mile-long walk around the lake. Plus, the park contains a playground for kids and the Walt Disney Amphitheater for live entertainment and occasional movie screenings.
- Side Trip to the Coast
Thanks to Interstate 4 and Orlando’s central location in Florida, a state that is only 160 miles wide, a side trip to the coast is easy. Visitors to Orlando that want a beach day can choose between the Atlantic Coast to the east or the Gulf Coast to the west.
To the east, Daytona Beach is only an hour’s drive time, with hard-packed sand due to the ability to drive on the beach in marked areas. Visitors can play in the surf, check out the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, the Boardwalk and Pier, or hike the Monument and Statue Trail. There’s also parasailing, jet skis, and fishing in the area. For racing fans, take a tour of Daytona International Speedway.
For travelers looking for nicer beaches, fewer crowds, more shells, and wildlife sightings consider visiting Canaveral National Seashore. An hour’s drive from Orlando, these pristine beaches are located south of the Kennedy Space Center. Visitors can enjoy beautiful hiking trails, fishing, bird watching, and witness NASA rocket launches from Space Center. There is also a clothing-optional beach called Playalinda.
For turquoise waters, soft white sands, and plenty of dolphins, cruises, and seafood, consider Clearwater Beach on the Gulf Coast. This is a longer drive at approximately 2 hours, but the scenic area is well worth it. Visit the Clearwater Aquarium, or enjoy watersports such as parasailing, jet-skiing, and paddleboarding. Segway tours, rollerblading, and cycling are also popular. Or take one of many boat excursions to enjoy the dolphins or sunset.
Lead — Disney World’s Magic Kingdom — Wallpaper Cave
Theme Parks — Universal Orlando — WallpaperSafari
Wekiwa Springs — Wikimedia by Bart Everson, License Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
Kennedy Space Center, Rocket Garden — Pixabay
Icon Park / The Wheel — Icon Park Media Assets
Gatorland — Pixabay
Shingle Creek Regional Park — Expedia
Winter Park Scenic Boat Ride — Scenic Boat Tours
Golf (Reunion Resort Golf Course) — Experience Kissimmee
Lake Eola Park — Pixabay
Sidetrips (Daytona Beach) — Pixabay