Located in central Florida, Orlando is a spectacular city. As a matter of fact, I would even say that if there is one fun spot in America that would it!
There are a lot of cheap flights to Orlando International so it’s always worth considering a visit!
I was living in St Petersburg (FL) at the time I visited Orlando so I never actually flew there, I always drove. But I managed to get a flight for my friend: Manchester – Orlando (return) for less than £300. Not bad right?
Anywho, let’s get back to the topic: what to do in Orlando!
Home to dozens of entertainment parks and more, this is truly a place where you will never get bored.
If you love theme parks, clearly Orlando will be your paradise but even if you don’t, there are some activities for you out there! There are many incredible places to visit and things to see in Orlando!
So, are you ready to discover the best things to do in Orlando, the theme parks capital of the world?
Let’s get to it!
Here are all of the top places to see, when you are wondering what to do in Orlando.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost for you!
Discovering the city of Orlando itself
As previously said, the main reason for many travellers to go to Orlando is to visit the theme parks. I can’t blame them, I did the same! However, Orlando Downtown has also loads to offer and is perfect when you want to get away from the crowded parks.
There are many things to do in Orlando besides theme parks and we shall start with that!
In Orlando Downtown, head first to Church Street. Although not part of the official Downtown, it will be a very good start. Church Street has many bars, cafes and the iconic old Railroad Depot. It will give you an idea of the vibe in Orlando.
After that, you can head to Amway center, Wall Street Plaza, East End Market, Thornton Park and City Art Factory.
There are also another couple of main sites in Downtown but I will highlight them a bit further down.
As a general thing, I always recommend just going for a walk around Downtown. That’s the best way to experience Downtown Orlando. You will find some murals, cute cafes where you can stop to have an amazing iced coffee (or whichever your poison is 🙂 ).
Also, if you are going to Florida mainly for the theme parks, checking out Orlando Downtown is one of the best things to do in Orlando before your flight!
Lake Eola Park
This park is located right in the middle of Downtown Orlando. It is a beautiful and unique park! The perfect escape!
The Lake Eola park features the famous Walt Disney Amphitheater, which is the perfect place to visit for those who are interested in attending community events and exciting live performances, both of which the amphitheater organizes all year round.
This park also features a playground and a Chinese pagoda, which is an essential part of Chinese culture’s architectural style. The lake itself is a beautiful sight to see since, in reality, it is a sinkhole with a breath-taking fountain that changes its colours during the night. It is the perfect place to go for a night walk where you can also enjoy a light show.
Lake Eola is also a great photo spot! If you position your camera correctly, you will get the reflection! Very pretty!
RECOMMENDED TOURS: Again, this activity is free. If you want to know more though, you can go on the historic downtown walking tour.
Orlando Science Center
The Orlando Science Center is perfect for travellers who are interested in science and culture, as it is a science museum.
However, even if you are not particularly interested in science, you should still visit this museum, as it centres around learning that is experience-based for both the sciences as well as technology.
Its purpose is to provide the general public with a basic knowledge of science. If you ever been to the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, England, that’s a bit like that but not just focused on technology.
There are several interesting and attention-grabbing exhibits in the Orlando Science Center, such as the DinoDigs, which features replicas of fossils of dinosaurs, and more, as well as the Kinetic Zone, which consists of interactive electric-based exhibits.
ADDRESS: 77 E Princeton St, Orlando, FL 32803, United States
TICKETS: You can book tickets on their website directly.
Having fun in Orlando’s theme parks
Orlando is particularly famous for being home to Disney World! The happiest place in the world!
Located in Lake Buena Vista, about 30 min away from Orlando Downtown, Disney World is formed of 4 attraction parks and 2 water parks.
The attraction parks are from far the most popular.
Magic Kingdom: rides, princess castle and fireworks
Hollywood studios: rides and recent movies references, generally prefered by adults
Animal Kingdom: Everything animal related in Disney Movies. There is even a safari!
Epcot: drink and eat your way through the world! Each country is represented!
And 2 water parks are:
Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park
Magic Kingdom was actually one of the first theme parks built in Orlando. The arrival of Magic Kingdom in Florida has had so much impact on the local economy as it’s one of the main reasons why Orlando became the theme park capital of the world.
If you are looking for things to do in Orlando with kids, Magic Kingdom will be on top of your list!
Regardless, Disney World is a must-do in Orlando.
Somehow it’s impossible to go to Orlando or even Florida in general without going to Disney World.
Let’s be honest, we all love Disney.
That said, Disney is also the most expensive park in Florida. Something to keep in mind if you are on a budget.
If you are going to Orlando for Disney World though and want to treat yourself to the full experience, you may also want to consider staying in a Disney World resort. There are many of them and clearly they are amazing!
ACCOMMODATION: If you want to enjoy the full Disney Experience, you will want to stay in one of the Disney Resorts.
TICKETS: There are several ticket options. You can book your tickets directly on Disney World’s website.
Finally, if you are planning on staying in one of the Disney resorts, you may want to consider taking a package.
Universal Studios Florida
Universal Studios debuted in the year 1990, in Orlando.
It is one of the most world-renowned duo-functional theme parks.
This means that it is a theme park that also functions as a production studio.
Universal Studios houses several breath-taking attractions as well as live show performances. The theme park operates all year round and in 2017 had an approximate intake of ten million visitors.
It has been ranked as the ninth most attended theme park in the entire world. The park, itself, has an incredible design where it features a tremendous lagoon around which there are eight themed areas. While the rides and shows are incredible, each year Universal Studios Orlando holds seasonal events that everyone should have on their Orlando bucket list, such as Halloween Horror Nights, Grad Bash and Gradventure, Macy’s Holiday Parade, and more.
It is perfect for people of all ages, with exhilarating rides and the opportunity to get pictures taken with their favorite characters, such as Marilyn Monroe, Betty Boop, Scooby-Doo, and even Shaggy.
There are plenty of things to do at Universal Studios with kids but it’s also fair to say that it is one of the best things to do in Orlando for adults. Either way, it will be good fun!
Ideally, I would recommend spending 2 days in this park. If you want to you can stay in one of the Universal Orlando resorts or book a hotel in Orlando.
No matter what, Universal Studios should definitely be within your top things to do in Orlando.
TICKETS: There are several ticket options. You can book your tickets directly on Universal Studios’ website.
If you are in the UK, you can book them here.
The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter
For all of you Potterheads out there, if you are visiting Orlando then this is the place that you must go to.
As you may know, I love Harry Potter places around the world and I wrote some articles about Harry Potter in London and in Edinburgh, so it was only normal I would give this one a whole section in this article.
The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter is truly an unbelievably breath-taking theme park; the contents of which have been derived from both the novels as well as the movie series.
From the Hogwarts castle to Kingscross Station, this theme park has it all. The main or crown jewel ride of this theme park is Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, which is a motion ride that will take you on an exhilarating tour through the entire wizarding world.
Apart from that, this theme park houses a rollercoaster that has been particularly intended for families, a ride which has been named as the Flight of the Hippogriff, Diagon Alley, and even a re-creation of Hogsmeade, complete with Dervish and Banges, Ollivanders, the Three Broomsticks, and even Zonko’s Joke Shop.
It truly allows all Harry Potter fans to finally fulfill their dream of stepping into the wizarding world. Definitely one of the best things to do in Orlando!
TICKETS: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is part of the Universal Studios. This means that you need to book tickets for Universal Studios to get access to the Harry Potter lands.
WHERE TO STAY: If you are a true Harry Potter fan, make sure to check out these Harry Potter themed Airbnbs in Florida.
Universal’s Volcano Bay
This one is quite a unique one. There is no theme park quite like Universal’s Volcano Bay.
This theme park is a water-themed as well as a tropical-themed park. What sets this theme park apart and the element that gives this theme park its name is that it has been constructed around a two hundred feet tall, beautiful, and breath-taking artificial volcano known as the Krakatau.
The volcano is rich in greenery and has water flowing down, which makes for a sight that is unlike any other.
Universal’s Volcano Bay is perfect for thrill-seekers as the volcano houses three different drop capsule slides. Apart from the volcano, this theme park features three other attractions, known as the river village, wave village, and the rainforest village. All of these villages house fun-filled elements of their own, such as wave pools, splash pools, body slides, relaxation pools, a water fortress, raft slides, raft rides, and more.
This theme park is truly one of the best places to invest your time in and visiting it should be on everyone’s Orlando bucket list.
TICKETS: You can buy tickets for Universal Studios on their website or here!
SeaWorld Orlando is another duo-functional park that functions as both a theme park as well as a marine zoological park.
It is the tenth most visited park in the entirety of the United States of America and, that too, for good reason. The entire park itself is divided into different areas, where each area is called a sea. Each sea has a theme of its own, you can spend the entire day in this park and still never get bored!
The main entrance follows a Florida centered theme, complete with an extensive synthetic freshwater marina, landscaping that has a tropical nature, and more. Another area is known as the Sea of Ice which follows an Antarctic theme.
The boat located in the Sea of Legends is a must-visit attraction in the park. Another must-visit attraction is the live show which consists of killer whales in the Sea of Power. There won’t be a second where you will not be awe-inspired by all the elements that are located in this park, such as the rides, a hyper coaster, live shows, animal exhibits, and more.
Kennedy Space Center
Located on Meritt Island, 50 minutes drive from Orlando Downtown, the Kennedy Space Center is a must-do for any space lovers.
As you may know, Florida is famous in the entire world for being one of NASA rocket launch spots.
Have you ever wondered where the NASA rockets were launched for and why Florida is such an important place when it comes to space exploration? The Kennedy Space Center will answer all these questions!
The park offers a variety of ticket options, both available online and on-site. That said, like for any theme park in Orlando, I would recommend booking in advance and online.
Tickets start at $57 for adults.
TICKETS: Tickets for Kennedy Space Center are available here and on their website.
Gatorland is the perfect place to visit if you want to spice it up a bit!
Apart from functioning as a theme park, Gatorland also functions as a wildlife preserve, which makes it even more interesting.
It was also the first theme park in Orlando! It was opened in 1949, 22 years before Disney World! Pretty amazing, right?
As the name suggests, Gatorland houses a vast amount of alligators. You will literally find thousands of alligators including the rare breed that is known as leucistic alligators.
Gatorland is also home to some crocodiles.
Little fun fact about Gatorland: it’s where Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the world-renowned movie, was filmed.
There are many things to do in Gatorland including an incredible zip line ride! It runs over a pool filled with alligators! But don’t get scared by it, it’s perfectly safe!
It also features an open spot, known as Gator spot, where visitors are allowed to take photographs with alligators. This is the perfect place to get away from the predictability of everyday life.
TICKETS: Tickets for Gatorland are available here and on their website.
Unlike the name suggests, Old Town is not an old version of Orlando Downtown. It is, again, a theme park and is located about 30 minutes away from Orlando Downtown.
The old town is a classic entertainment park in Florida. Apart from being an entertainment complex, it also features an outdoor shopping mall, both of which have been operating since the year 1986.
It is the perfect place to visit for those tourists who have an extensive or general interest in vintage items and places. The old town features several different entertainment places, such as restaurants, live music performances, car shows, retail shops, bars, and even rides.
Old Town is the location that houses the weekly car show that is known to be the USA’s longest-running car show, and a cruise. Talk about variety.
TICKETS: Tickets for Old Town are available here.
Holy Land Experience
This park is a unique theme park that is Christian-based. The best part is that it is a non-profit organization.
Apart from conducting church services, on a weekly basis, this theme park has recreated the themes as well as architectural buildings that have been derived from Jerusalem. There is a collective total of forty-three exhibits, which also include restaurants as well as retail shops.
It might not be something you’d want to go to. I personally haven’t because it wasn’t what I was the most interested in. But regardless, I thought it was something worth mentioning!
Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
This is the perfect nostalgic place to visit for all 90’s kids as well as adults, who were interested in television shows. The Ripley’s believe it or not is based on the popular show that had the same name. This building is an interesting museum that is filled with artifacts that are both unique as well as bizarre.
TICKETS: Tickets for Ripley’s Believe it or not! are available here and on their website.
You see! There are so many attractions and activities in Orlando! From museums to incredible theme parks, Orlando truly has it all.
The theme parks are from far the most popular attraction in Orlando however they can work out very expensively and it’s important to choose carefully so you don’t end up running out of the budget.
Also remember, in the USA, taxes are not included in prices which means you need to consider the fact that the actual expense will include 7% tax on top of the price.
Now that you know everything about the best things to do in Orlando, I hope you will have loads of fun!
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