Orlando’s Hidden Gems: Fun Things To Do In Orlando Besides Theme Parks

Orlando, Florida is known as the theme park capital of the world, with Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld among its top attractions. However, there is so much more to this vibrant city than just theme parks!

From outdoor adventures to cultural experiences and everything in between, Orlando offers a variety of activities for all ages and interests.

In this guide, we will explore the hidden gems of Orlando and discover fun things to do beyond the theme parks.

So let’s dive in and uncover the best-kept secrets of Orlando!

Cultural Exploration

performing arts theater

Did you know Orlando has a vibrant cultural scene along with its famous attractions?

Art galleries, museums, and performance arts venues; Orlando is filled with hidden gems.

Orlando Museum of Art

If you plan to visit Orlando, make sure you visit the Orlando Museum of Art.

This museum offers visitors a unique and enriching cultural experience with a collection of over 4,000 art pieces, of art, spanning centuries and continents, The Orlando Art Museum is a must-visit for art lovers out there.

The museum also hosts multiple events and programs that are suitable for all ages. From guided tours to art workshops for family-friendly fun, there is always something happening at the Orlando Museum of Art!

So get your whole family together and immerse in the rich history, diverse collection, and exciting events.

Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Another on the list of Orlando cultural exploration is the Dr. Philips Center for the Performing Arts.

Located in the heart of downtown Orlando and just 20 minutes away from Orlando International Airport, this art venue showcases a variety of performances including Broadway shows, concerts, operas, and more.

With two main theaters- the Walt Disney Theater and the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater, it can accommodate over 3000 guests for a single show.

The Dr. Philips Center is not just a performing arts venue, but also a hub for community events and education programs.

It hosts several cultural events such as Jazz festivals, movie screenings, and interactive workshops. The center also offers educational programs for children and adults to learn about the performing arts and its importance in our society.

So what can be a better way to experience Orlando’s culture than this?

Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art is located in Winter Park (which is just a short drive away from Orlando). If you are an art enthusiast, you should definitely not skip this one.

The museum hoards 19,000-year-old works of art including paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and the largest collection of Tiffany’s works.

The highlight of this museum includes his iconic stained glass window, lamps, jewelry, and other decorative items. The museum also features pieces by renowned artists like John Singer Sargent and Winslow Homer.

The Morse Museum also offers educational programs like lectures, workshops, and hands-on activities. One of the most popular is the “Sketching in the Galleries” workshop, where visitors get a chance to learn basic sketching techniques.

So if you are an art enthusiast, definitely add Morse Museum to your Orlando vacation itinerary!

Outdoor Adventure

Lake Eola Park Orlando

Orlando’s warm and sunny weather makes it the perfect destination for outdoor adventures.

Whether you are seeking thrill or relaxation, here are some hidden gems that will give you a taste of the great outdoors in Orlando.

Lake Eola Park

Lake Eola Park is located in downtown Orlando and is a perfect spot for a peaceful afternoon outing. The park features a beautiful lake with swan-shaped paddle boats, as well as playgrounds and picnic areas.

But the highlight of this park is its iconic fountain, which lights up at night for a mesmerizing light show. The park also hosts various events and festivals throughout the year, including food festivals and live concerts.

After strolling around the lake, you can also hop on a swan boat and explore the picturesque views of the downtown skyline.

Gatorland

If you’re looking to check out Orlando’s wild side, Gatorland is the place to be. Sure, it’s technically a theme park, but with all the wild adventures it offers, it’s hard not to count it as a must-do outdoor adventure!

This 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve is home to thousands of alligators and crocodiles, as well as other animals like birds, snakes, and tortoises.

You can take a guided tour through the park to experience the native Florida wildlife or watch exciting shows like the Gator Jumparoo and the Up-close Encounters. For a unique experience, you can also zip-line over the alligator breeding marsh or even take a train ride through the park.

Gatorland is not just about entertainment, but it also focuses on conservation and education. You can learn about these incredible animals and their habitats through interactive exhibits and educational programs.

So if you are looking for an adventure like no other, Gatorland is a must-visit in Orlando!

Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures

For a truly unique and thrilling outdoor experience, Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures is the perfect choice. Located in Kissimmee, just 40 minutes away from Orlando, this adventure offers airboat rides through Florida’s beautiful wetlands.

You will get to explore the natural beauty of Central Florida while spotting wildlife like alligators, birds, and turtles. The experienced guides will take you on an exhilarating ride, racing through the water at high speeds.

So if you want to add some adventure to your Orlando vacation, make sure to book an airboat ride at Boggy Creek!

Rock Springs at Kelly Park

Rock Springs at Kelly Park is another hidden gem for outdoor enthusiasts. Located in Apopka, just 45 minutes away from Orlando, this park is home to a crystal clear natural spring that flows into a scenic run.

You can rent tubes and float along the lazy river or swim in the refreshing water. The park also offers picnic areas and camping facilities, making it a perfect spot for a day trip or a weekend getaway.

Don’t forget to pack your swimsuit and sunscreen for this adventure!

Culinary Delights

culinary delights in Orlando

No vacation is complete without trying out some of the local culinary delights. Orlando offers a diverse range of cuisines and here are some must-try areas that will satisfy your taste buds.

Disney Springs

Disney Springs is not just for theme park enthusiasts, it’s also a great spot for foodies. This outdoor shopping and entertainment complex has an array of restaurants, from quick bites to fine dining.

You can find a variety of cuisines here, including Italian, Mexican, Asian, and American. Some popular spots include Morimoto Asia for sushi lovers and The Boathouse for seafood enthusiasts.

After your meal, you can also explore the shops or catch a live performance at one of the stages around Disney Springs.

International Drive

International Drive, also known as I-Drive, is a popular tourist spot with plenty of dining options. From fast-food chains to upscale restaurants, you can find it all here.

But the highlight of this area is its international cuisine scene. You can find restaurants serving cuisine from all around the world, including Brazilian, Indian, and Middle Eastern.

Don’t miss out on trying some authentic dishes from different cultures during your visit to International Drive!

Mills 50 District

For a unique culinary experience, head over to the Mills 50 District. This neighborhood is known for its diverse Asian food scene, with a variety of Vietnamese, Chinese, and Korean restaurants.

You can also find some hidden gems serving fusion cuisine and trendy dishes. Don’t forget to try the popular Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches or the delicious dim sum at one of the many eateries in this area.

Orlando Food Tours

Orlando food tours offer a fun and delicious way to explore Orlando beside theme parks. On this tour, you’ll get the chance to taste a variety of local dishes and learn about Orlando’s history and culture through food.

The food tour typically runs for 2-3 hours and you’ll be led by a guide who will help you go through some of the best restaurants, markets, and food trucks. While taking a tour you’ll hear fascinating stories about the history and culture of Orlando.

Some of the must-try foods on the tour are Cuban sandwiches, Key Lime Pie, Gator Bites, and Conch Fritters.

Check out the list of best food tours in Orlando!

Entertainment and Nightlife

Orlando is known for its lively entertainment and nightlife scene, with plenty of options to choose from. Here are some places that should be on your list!

CityWalk at Universal Orlando Resort

CityWalk at Universal Orlando Resort is a popular spot for both tourists and locals alike. This outdoor complex offers a variety of restaurants, bars, and live entertainment.

You can catch a movie at the AMC Universal Cineplex, listen to live music at Hard Rock Cafe or enjoy a drink at one of the bars.

Disney’s BoardWalk

Another must-visit spot for nightlife is Disney’s BoardWalk. This waterfront promenade is lined with restaurants, shops, and entertainment options.

You can grab a drink at one of the bars or enjoy some live music and street performers. For a unique experience, you can also rent a surrey bike for a ride along the boardwalk.

ICON Park

ICON Park is another popular spot for entertainment in Orlando. This outdoor complex is home to restaurants, bars, shops, and attractions like The Wheel, Madame Tussauds wax museum, and SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium.

You can grab a drink at the rooftop bar while enjoying stunning views of the city or try some local cuisine at one of the many restaurants.

There are also live entertainment options, making it a great spot for a night out!

Shopping Extravaganza

shopping at outlet mall Orlando

A trip is incomplete without some shopping, and Orlando offers a range of options for all kinds of shoppers. Here are some places where you can indulge in retail therapy during your vacation!

The Mall at Millenia

The Mall at Millenia is known for its luxury shopping experience, featuring high-end brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel. This upscale mall also has a variety of dining options, making it a great spot for a day of shopping and indulgence.

Orlando International Premium Outlets

For those looking for discounted shopping, the Orlando International Premium Outlets is the place to go. This outlet mall offers a wide selection of designer and brand-name stores at unbeatable prices.

You can find everything from clothing and accessories to home goods and electronics here. Be sure to check out the VIP Shopper Club for additional discounts and deals.

Florida Mall

Florida Mall is one of the largest shopping destinations in Orlando, with over 250 stores to choose from. You can find everything from department stores and specialty shops to restaurants and entertainment options.

This mall also offers tax-free shopping for international visitors, making it a popular destination for tourists looking for a good deal!

Family Fun

Orlando Science Center

While theme parks may be the main attraction in Orlando, there are also plenty of family-friendly activities and attractions to enjoy. Here are some options for a day of fun with the whole family.

Orlando Balloon Rides

Take in stunning views of Orlando from above with an unforgettable hot air balloon ride. This family-friendly activity offers a unique perspective of the city and is perfect for all ages.

You’ll float over lush landscapes, theme parks, and even wildlife while enjoying the peacefulness of being high up in the sky. Be sure to bring your camera to capture this once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Orlando Science Center

For a more educational experience, visit the Orlando Science Center. This interactive museum offers hands-on exhibits and experiences that will entertain and educate both children and adults.

From learning about space to exploring the human body, there’s something for everyone at this science center.

Kennedy Space Center

Located just an hour away from Orlando, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is a must-visit for space enthusiasts and families alike. You can tour working spaceflight facilities, see real spacecraft and rockets, and even meet astronauts!

The complex also offers interactive exhibits, simulators, and shows to make your visit both educational and entertaining. It’s a fun day trip that will leave you and your family in awe.

Additional Attractions around Orlando

Here are more activities you can consider adding to your itinerary for a well-rounded Orlando vacation-

  1. Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens– Enjoy a day at the zoo and see a variety of animals from around the world.
  2. Everglades National Park– 3 hours away from Orlando, take a day trip to this national park and explore the unique ecosystem through airboat rides, hiking trails, and wildlife sightings.
  3. Winter Park– Just outside of Orlando, this charming town offers boutique shops
  4. Wekiwa Springs State Park– Go canoeing, kayaking, or hiking through this beautiful state park.

With so many options for entertainment, shopping, family fun, and other activities in and around Orlando, the city has just what you need for a vacation to remember!

Make sure to plan ahead and choose the attractions that interest you the most to make the most of your time in Orlando.

So, start packing your bags and get ready for an unforgettable trip to Orlando! Happy travels!

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