When people think about Orlando, Disney’s theme parks often come to mind automatically. However, this association can be restrictive, causing those less enthused about them to overlook Orlando as a travel destination. So, are there alternative activities in the city to enjoy, whether you’re skipping Disney or simply seeking other experiences? Absolutely!
Just keep in mind that the city is incredibly car-friendly, making it the optimal mode of transportation to explore its many attractions and destinations. With an extensive network of roads and highways, getting around by car offers convenience and accessibility, allowing you to easily reach your desired destinations and make the most of your time in Orlando.
Below, you’ll discover a comprehensive guide to the finest attractions in Orlando.
Universal Orlando Resort
If you like theme parks at all, Universal Studios is a must-visit destination, offering a thrilling experience for visitors of all ages. The park is known for its iconic rides, shows, and famous movie-themed attractions. Whether you’re a fan of Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, or The Simpsons, Universal Studios has something to delight everyone. Universal Orlando Resort is located at 6000 Universal Boulevard, and it’s important to get tickets in advance.
SeaWorld Orlando and Discovery Cove
SeaWorld is a destination in Orlando that offers a blend of marine life, rides, and entertaining shows. It also provides an opportunity to get up close with fascinating creatures such as dolphins, sharks, and sea turtles. In addition to the incredible animal encounters, SeaWorld features roller coasters and immersive exhibits that educate visitors about the wonders of the ocean. To reach SeaWorld by car, you can take Interstate 4 (I-4) and exit at Central Florida Parkway.
Following the same route as you would for SeaWorld, you will find Discovery Cove, a tropical oasis where you can swim with dolphins, snorkel among coral reefs, and relax on sandy beaches. With limited admission, the park provides an all-inclusive experience, including meals and beverages, making it a convenient and hassle-free choice for a day of relaxation and adventure.
Orlando Watersports Complex
From wakeboarding and waterskiing to paddleboarding and cable park rides, the Orlando Watersports Complex caters to both beginners and seasoned water sports enthusiasts. With expert instructors and top-notch equipment, visitors can enjoy the water while surrounded by stunning natural scenery. The complex is located at 8615 Florida Rock Rd, and you can easily get there by car.
Orlando Kart Center
Located at 10724 Cosmonaut Blvd, the Orlando Kart Center offers an amazing racing experience for individuals of all skill levels. With a variety of high-speed tracks and well-maintained karts, visitors can enjoy the thrill of racing and compete against friends and family. The Orlando Kart Center provides a safe and exciting environment for both recreational drivers and aspiring racers.
Orlando City Stadium
Orlando City Stadium is a must-visit destination for sports enthusiasts and fans of Major League Soccer (MLS). Located at 655 W Church St, the venue is the home stadium of the Orlando City Soccer Club. The stadium offers excellent sightlines, modern facilities, and passionate fan support, making every game a memorable experience.
ICON Park and WonderWorks
At International Drive in Orlando is ICON Park in Orlando, an entertainment complex that offers a diverse range of attractions and experiences. This dynamic destination is home to the famous Orlando Eye, also known as The Wheel, a towering Ferris wheel that provides breathtaking views of the city skyline.
ICON Park also boasts a variety of restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues. Visitors can enjoy the Sea Life Aquarium, explore Madame Tussauds wax museum to encounter lifelike celebrity figures, and so much more.
About a 5 minute drive from ICON Park is WonderWorks, an interactive indoor amusement park that mixes education and entertainment. With its upside-down building design, WonderWorks sparks curiosity and imagination as visitors of all ages experience from exhibits of hurricane-force winds to virtual reality adventures and interactive science experiments.
NASA Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is a captivating destination that offers a unique and educational experience for space enthusiasts and curious minds alike. As the gateway to the wonders of space exploration, this complex allows visitors to get up close to real rockets, experience interactive exhibits, and even meet astronauts.
From the iconic Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit to the awe-inspiring Rocket Garden, there’s something for everyone to discover. Additionally, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex provides insightful tours that take you behind the scenes of NASA’s space programs.
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is located at Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island.
Known as the “Alligator Capital of the World,” this 110-acre park is home to thousands of alligators and crocodiles, as well as a variety of other animals like snakes, birds, and tortoises. Visitors can witness live shows or take a walk on the wild side with zip line adventures over alligator-infested waters. To get to Gatorland by car, you can take Highway 441, also known as South Orange Blossom Trail.
Harry P. Leu Gardens
Located at 1920 N Forest Ave, the Harry P. Leu Gardens is a botanical oasis that offers a serene experience for nature lovers. Spanning 50 acres, the gardens feature a collection of plants and an impressive array of tropical and subtropical flora. Visitors can explore winding pathways, charming gardens, and themed sections, such as the butterfly garden and the tropical stream garden. The garden’s main attraction is the Leu House Museum, a historic home filled with art and furnishings from the late 19th century.
Lake Eola Park
Lake Eola Park is an urban oasis in the heart of downtown Orlando, at 512 E Washington S. The centerpiece of the park is the beautiful Lake Eola, surrounded by a paved walking path where you can enjoy a leisurely stroll or a peaceful boat ride.
The park also features a vibrant amphitheater, picnic areas, and a playground, making it an ideal destination for families, nature lovers, and those seeking relaxation.
On Sundays, the park is home to the Orlando Farmers Market, a vibrant open-air market that showcases a wide variety of fresh produce, locally sourced goods, artisanal products, handmade crafts, and more. Visitors can browse through stalls filled with colorful fruits and vegetables, sample gourmet treats, and discover unique handmade items. The market also often features live music and entertainment, creating a lively and festive atmosphere.
Wekiwa Springs State Park
Located about a 30 minute drive distance from downtown Orlando, Wekiwa Springs State Park is a natural paradise just outside of Orlando that offers a serene and immersive outdoor experience. Nestled along the Wekiva River, the park is renowned for its crystal-clear springs, forests, and wildlife. Visitors can swim, snorkel, canoe, hike and picnic amidst the park’s picturesque surroundings.
Orlando Museum of Art
Close to the Harry P. Leu Gardens, the Orlando Museum of Art is a captivating cultural institution that showcases a diverse collection of fine art from around the world. With its extensive permanent collection and rotating exhibitions, the museum offers visitors a chance to appreciate a wide range of artistic styles and mediums. The museum also hosts educational programs, lectures, and interactive workshops that engage visitors of all ages.
The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
Whether you’re a fan of Broadway shows, ballet, opera, or concerts, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts hosts an impressive lineup of world-class performances throughout the year. Located at 445 S Magnolia Ave, the center’s stunning architecture and modern amenities provide a captivating setting for amazing evenings of entertainment.
Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park, a 15 minute drive away from downtown Orlando, is a cultural gem that houses a collection of American art and decorative objects, such as glass creations from Louis Comfort Tiffany. The collection also features American paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts from various periods.
The Florida Mall
With over 250 stores, including renowned fashion brands, specialty shops, and a variety of dining options, the Florida Mall caters to every taste and style. Whether you’re in search of the latest fashion trends, electronics, or unique souvenirs, it has it all. Additionally, the mall features entertainment options like a multiplex cinema and a play area for children. The mall is conveniently located near the intersection of Sand Lake Road and Orange Blossom Trail.
The Mall at Millenia and Orlando International Premium Outlets
The Mall at Millenia is a premier luxury shopping destination with an upscale atmosphere and a curated selection of high-end brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel, and more. Located southwest of downtown Orlando, about 15 minutes away by car, the mall also houses a variety of dining options, from casual eateries to fine dining establishments.
From there, located at a 10 minute drive on Millenia Boulevard, the Orlando International Premium Outlets offer a wide array of designer brands and discounted prices. With over 180 stores, visitors can find renowned brands like Nike, Coach, Calvin Klein, and Michael Kors, making it a must-visit destination for fashion enthusiasts and bargain hunters.
East End Market
East End Market is a vibrant culinary destination located in the Audubon Park Garden District of Orlando. It showcases a variety of local food vendors, artisanal producers, and specialty shops, and visitors can encounter baked goods, gourmet cheeses, craft coffee, and much more. The market also hosts cooking classes, workshops, and community events.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Orlando known for other than Disney?
Other than Disney, Orlando is known for its numerous other theme parks such as Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld Orlando. It is also recognized for its vibrant nightlife, shopping destinations like The Mall at Millenia and Orlando International Premium Outlets, and its proximity to natural attractions such as the beautiful beaches of the Atlantic Coast and Gulf Coast.
What other parks are near Disney?
Several parks are located near Disney in Orlando. These include Universal Orlando Resort, which features Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, and SeaWorld Orlando.
Are there things to do in Orlando for free?
Yes, there are several free things to do in Orlando! You can explore the beautiful Lake Eola Park, visit the Orlando Farmers Market on Sundays, stroll through the vibrant streets of downtown Winter Park, and visit the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art during selected hours. Remember to check for any specific guidelines or restrictions before visiting.