Jeb Bush once said, “Florida is a place of unparalleled diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and vision. It makes our culture unique, but it can also make it difficult to define a common identity and create a sense of community that reaches beyond our neighborhoods to all corners of our state.” This uniqueness is the reason Florida is one of the most visited states.
What’s one of the best things about the state of Florida? The city of Orlando! It is famous around the world for its many theme parks, but there is a long list of other things to do while visiting there. You can experience nature and fine dining all in one day. It’s known as one of America’s best shopping cities, so you can go crazy in all of the boutiques surrounding you if that’s your thing.
Orlando attracts nearly 60 million tourists every year – that’s enough to prove that the city holds a lot of greatness. It is a perfect city for any age group. Many families spend their vacations here, knowing that their children are going to love all of the theme parks. Groups of adults come to this city to celebrate weddings, bachelor(ette) parties, or birthdays. Couples even make their way to Orlando for a romantic getaway. No matter where your interests lie, you are sure to find something in Orlando, Florida that meets your fancy, whether it’s coming face-to-face with alligators, riding the Orlando Eye, or making your own crayons. Since it is hot year-round, make sure to pack a bathing suit because you never know where the warm weather may take you!
10Visit the Walt Disney World Resort
Out of all of Orlando’s theme parks, Walt Disney World Resort is by far the most popular. The resort itself has many different hotels, such as the Animal Kingdom Lodge or the Grand Floridian, which let you be close to all of the action at any point of the day. On these grounds, you can also find a long list of restaurants where you can eat like kings and queens. You also get an exceptional shopping experience right in front of you so that you can get a new outfit for your night out with Disney characters.
Since Orlando has such a hot climate, you can spend your day getting cool at Walt Disney World Resort’s Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon. Taking a walk-through Pandora, the World of Avatar is one of the best decisions you can ever make. The detail that was put into creating this part of the resort can be seen from miles away. It is made up of floating mountains and thousands of plants.
If you’re looking for an extra thrill while visiting the Walt Disney World Resort, make your way to the Tower of Terror. Here, you get to experience a “fourth dimension” that some may never feel in their entire life. Another one of the main thrillers here is “Galaxy’s Edge” in Star Wars Land. Making your way through this part of the resort leaves you feeling like you are a character in one of the Star Wars movies. Your visit to the Walt Disney World Resort is not complete without taking a spin on the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride.
9Take A Walk in the Bok Tower Gardens
Bok Tower Gardens is one of the staples of Orlando. This unique spot has a remarkable history that keeps both locals and tourists coming back time and time again. The beautiful colors from all the different plants, flowers, and trees are sure to make your eyes light up.
Since its grand opening in 1929, the Bok Tower Gardens has welcomed over 23 million visitors. The gardens were created by Edward W. Bok, who immigrated to America when he was a young boy. As he grew up, he became a significant humanitarian, who worked in the name of world peace and respect for the Earth. He says his grandma was his inspiration for founding the Bok Tower Gardens. She told him that in his life he should “make the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it,” and he has chosen to live by these words his entire life.
Mr. Bok used to love spending his days walking up the “Iron Mountain,” where he would get the opportunity to see all the beautiful birds that were native to Florida. His deep love for this mountain and the nature surrounding it inspired him to buy the land and turn it into a bird sanctuary. He figured that doing so would protect all the birds from any potential harm in the future. Today, the Bok Tower Gardens remain a place for wildlife to call their homes, and visitors are lucky enough to be invited into their living space.
8Explore the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens
This site has existed since 1975. It began as a tiny zoo in Sanford during the 1940s and has now become one of the largest zoos in the United States. At the Central Florida Zoo, you can find over 100 different animals from around the world. While you’re there, you get the chance to see cheetahs, elephants, leopards, monkeys, and almost any other animal you can think of!
There are so many things to do at this zoo. You can jump next to the kangaroos or swing near the monkeys. Besides getting to be face-to-face with many different animals, you can also visit the splash grounds where cartoon animals are spraying water at you, and fake palm trees rain down on you – you begin to feel like you’re in a rainforest! This is great for when you are visiting the zoo on a hot day and need to cool down. This part of the Central Florida Zoo is always a hit with children, but adults are sure to have a good time splashing around as well.
If you thought that all this zoo had living there were animals, guess again! There is also a bug zoo where you can see all kinds of insects you’ve never seen before. If this sounds a little gross to you, there’s no need to worry because all of the bugs are behind glass walls – so they won’t be escaping any time soon. Before leaving, make sure to take time to visit the Botanical Gardens, which have all kinds of unique flowers and plants growing all around.
7Hang with Alligators in Gatorland
Gatorland is known for being the alligator capital of the world. It was first opened in 1949, making it one of Orlando’s oldest theme parks. As it has evolved, Gatorland has become much more than just a theme park filled with alligators. It is now home to a host of wildlife species, including exotic birds, wild cats, massive tortoises, and different types of reptiles.
While visiting Gatorland, you can explore its many exhibits and take a stroll in its various nature walks available. Doing so allows you to get up close and personal with all the different animals that live in Gatorland. This means you can spend your day feeding baby alligators, having conversations with parrots, and wave at some enormous birds. There is also an aviary, a petting zoo, and a breeding marsh. Another one of the many fascinating things you can do in Gatorland is to climb the observation tower. From the top of the tower, you get some fantastic views of the entire area.
Three main shows are put on at Gatorland. These three shows are “The Gator Wrestling Show,” where you can watch alligators battle one another, “The Gator Jumparoo,” where you see alligators jumping around, and “Up Close Encounters,” where you get as close as possible to alligators without it becoming a safety issue. These shows all happen many times during the day, so be sure not to miss them while you’re there. Gatorland’s main claim to fame is that the film “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” was filmed on its grounds.
6Hop-On an ATV At Revolution Off-Road
“Revolution Off-Road” is an off-road attraction park located 15 miles west of Disneyworld. As an off-road adventure park, they use ATVs (all-terrain vehicles) to take you around the grass and mud of their terrain. They have 220 acres of tracks and trails that you can ride around and get dirty in. There are all sorts of grounds to choose from, including sand, mud, water, and whatever else nature decides to impose during the time of your visit.
The ATVs they use are fully automatic 420 Hondas, which cater to all levels so that you don’t need any experience to ride one of them on your own. The only rule is that every individual must be 16 years of age to ride, and everyone needs to drive alone since there are no passenger seats on the ATVs. This adventure is a solid middle between fun and extreme. You get to ride at a pace best suited for your ability, so you decide how fast you go.
The typical experience at Revolution Off-Road lasts about two hours, which includes a safety briefing, getting equipment, a short practice session, and then about 70 minutes of your own riding time. You are given a guide at first, to make sure you are comfortable with driving an ATV. The company supplies you with helmets, goggles, and gloves – so your safety during this time is assured. If this adventure sounds like the one for you, make sure to pack some clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and closed in shoes!
5Make Your Own Dessert at the Chocolate Kingdom
Calling all chocolate lovers out there, the Factory Adventure Tour of Orlando’s Chocolate Kingdom is where you want to be! On their website, they explain their tour by saying “Chocolate Kingdom, the Factory Adventure Tour, is an interactive journey that uncovers how chocolate transforms from the bean into the creamy, dreamy chocolate bar. Our Personal Chocolate Tour Guide joins forces with a handsome Prince and his Dragon sidekick to take guests through a Cacao Tree Greenhouse, a one-of-a-kind Chocolate Museum, a Mystical River of Chocolate and a Micro Batch Bean-to-the-Bar Factory utilizing old world machinery.
The tour doesn’t last more than an hour of your time, and you get to learn all about the world of chocolate. If you’re traveling with a large group of people who all equally love chocolate, then you may want to take part in their “Hands-On Chocolate Making Experience.” During this, every guest has a chance to learn how to mold their chocolate into whatever shape they please, decorate a marshmallow or pretzel, and spell words out onto their chocolate creations. Once all of this is done, you also get the chance to eat all of this! For the wine lovers, you can also pair your chocolate experience with a wine tour – a dynamic duo.
The most important part of this chocolate extravaganza is getting to customize your own chocolate bar, where you get to choose from 16 different toppings to make cocoa treats perfectly suited to your taste buds.
4Get Colorful at the Crayola Experience
Okay, so the idea of spending part of your day playing with crayons may not sound like something an average adult would want to do, but you’re wrong. While the Crayola Experience is designed for families with children, anyone can have a good time at it. Who wouldn’t have fun living out their childhood dream of making their own crayons?
The Crayola Experience is located in the Florida Mall, which is approximately 20 minutes away from Disneyworld. When you first walk in, there is a wall showing the evolution of Crayola crayon boxes, which is fascinating for any generation to look at.
One of the many activities at the Crayola Experience is making your own crayon color, which you can then give a name to and have it turned into a real Crayola crayon. If you think that is cool, you can also make your own crown to wear around the venue. “Sensory Sundays” occur once a month and are a massive hit with children.
When planning your visit here, you should expect to spend at least 3 hours, making your way around the place. The weekends get quite packed, so if possible, plan to go during a weekday. General Admission is typically 25$, but Crayola often has sales going on where you can get cheaper tickets if you order them online beforehand. No matter what time of year you plan on heading to Orlando, the Crayola Experience is open for your convince, since it is open 365 days a year.
3Spend A Night at Kings Dining & Entertainment
Kings Dining & Entertainment has everything you need for a perfect night out all in one place. Here, you can have a gourmet meal where you choose from a wide variety of options from their food menu. While you eat, you can also taste some of their delicious cocktails to get your night started. Once your belly is nice and full, you can start playing one of the many games they have at the venue. Your options for things to play include bowling, ping pong, billiards, bocce ball, and much more! All game prices are lower before 6 pm, so if you’re aiming to experience Orlando on a budget, this is a great way to do so. On Friday and Saturday nights, this venue is open until 2 am so you can get your party on until the wee hours!
Something important to note about this venue is their dress code policies. To enter, you cannot be wearing very baggy clothing, bandanas, shirts with no sleeves, sunglasses, or any form of clothing that has profanity on it. Besides these easy rules to follow, you are free to have as much fun as you want!
At Kings Dining & Entertainment, you can also host your own private event. This is an excellent idea if you’re going to Orlando for someone’s birthday or a bachelor(ette) party. Many people even use the private rooms here to host children’s parties, in case you’re looking to bring your little ones with you.
2Feel the Music at the House of Blues Orlando
If you’re into music, the House of Blues in Orlando is where you should be spending your Thursday or Friday night. This is truly the spot to get a taste of real Orlando culture. Every week, this venue hosts performances by some of the most recognized Blues artists from around the globe. Even if you’re not the most prominent blues fan, you are sure to love any concerts that you get the chance to see here.
You can check out the online schedule on their website to buy tickets in advance. Besides concerts, House of Blues Orlando also has an excellent restaurant where some make your food of the best chefs in all of Florida. While eating, you can take advantage of their happy hour menu from 11 am to 5 pm every day and get delicious drinks to match your meal. They also have a second “happy hour” that goes from 10 pm to close, so you have tons of time to take advantage of their food and drinks deals.
Every Sunday, the venue holds their event called “Gospel Brunch.” During this time, you can dig into an all-you-can-eat buffet while listening to soulful performances. The House of Blues gives 1$ from every ticket purchased for the Gospel Brunch to the Music Forward Foundation. If you’re going to Orlando for a work trip, this is a great location to host any of your business meetings. The waiters are sure to cater to any of your needs during this time.
1Take a Ride on the Orlando Eye
This iconic Ferris Wheel is situated in ICON Park – what are the odds? An Orlando trip would never be complete without coming face-to-face with the Orlando Eye. This beautiful piece of work stands 400 feet over the city, and each capsule can hold up to 15 passengers on it – so you can do with your entire friend group! It is a relatively new creation, but now Orlando locals cannot image their city without it.
Its name comes from the infamous London Eye, as the two are operated and owned by the same company. Thanks to this fact, it feels like you’re getting a little piece of Europe while traveling in the United States. What more could you ask for?
The hard work and construction that went behind creating the Orlando Eye can be seen from miles away. Anyone who has ridden the Orlando Eye has claimed it to be one of the smoothest Ferris wheel rides they’ve ever experienced. During the trip, you get a beautiful view of the veins of Orlando. If you choose to ride it during the evening, you’ll have the privilege of seeing this beautiful city all lit up. On days when the sky is clear, you can see as far as Cape Canaveral!
ICON Park, where this Ferris wheel is located, hosts many high-profile events, which range from weddings to community social functions. So, no matter what time of year you decide to visit Orlando, you are sure to see some fun activities going on around the Orlando Eye.
This list is only 10 things that you should include in your itinerary for your trip to Orlando, but there are a ton of other things that you can do while there. If you’re a huge theme park fan, you’re definitely on your way to the right city. This list may have only mentioned Walt Disney World Resort, but you should also visit Universal Orlando Resort, Disney’s Hollywood Studio, SeaWorld Orlando, Legoland, and Discovery Cove if you’re up for an adventure.
If you’re looking to have a chill day, you can spend some time walking through one of the many shopping malls around the city. Or, you can lay in the sun all day at one of the beaches nearby. If you’re seeking to live like a local for your time in Orlando, downtown is where you want to be. This is where Orlando’s residents spend their time having fancy dinners and embracing the great nightlife that the city has to offer.
If there is any city in the world to embrace your inner child, it is Orlando. A lot of your options allow you to do what you always dreamed of doing as a child, including visiting one of Disney Worlds’ locations and making your own unique chocolate bars and crayons.
Planning your trip ahead of time leaves you the chance to find out what cultural events are going on during the time you decide to visit, such as festivals or dances. So, it’s time to get planning – Orlando awaits you!