So, is Orlando worth visiting? Yes, it is worth visiting. Of course, Orlando is famous for its theme parks but there is a lot more to Orlando than Walt Disney World or Universal Studios Orlando.
Orlando is the most popular tourist destination in the whole of America. Orlando, Florida has perfect weather all year round and there are activities to suit everyone’s need. Orlando is the best place to shop, have fun and enjoy a romantic evening.
Orlando is also ideally located to enjoy some road trips. Some of the best day trips from Orlando include Clearwater on the Gulf Coast, Tampa, Daytona Beach and Fort Myers.
The easiest way to enjoy Orlando is to rent a car. It is not easy to travel around Orlando without one and renting a car will save you precious journey times. Below is a link of a car rental comparison website to find the best price for you.
Where is Orlando Florida?
The city of Orlando is in the United States of America on the continent of North America. Orlando is part of the state of Florida. It is the third largest metropolitan area in Florida after Miami and Tampa.
📍 Map here
How to Get to Orlando Florida?
Orlando has an international airport located 6 miles from its downtown district.
How to Get from Orlando Airport (MCO) to Downtown Orlando?
- Rent a car at the airport and drive to your hotel.
- Take the bus (line 11) – average time of 40-minutes. The bus is located at ground transportation level (level 1), at commercial lanes spaces A38-A41.
- Take a taxi – average time of 18-minutes. The taxi cabs are on the A-Side and B-Side of the terminal in the center of arrival level (level 2)
- Use a shuttle located on the A-side of the terminal at ground transportation level (level 1), at commercial lanes spaces A19-A21. Or, on the B-Side of the terminal at ground transportation level (level 1), at commercial lanes spaces B27-B29.
- Use the SunRail train. You need to take a bus to the train station at Sand Lake Road.
Orlando Weather Averages
What is Orlando Florida Famous For?
- Disney – Orlando is the home of Walt Disney World and other theme parks.
- Shopping – Orlando is a great place to shop, particularly in outlets.
- Gator and wildlife – Orlando is a great place to enjoy wildlife.
- Ice Hockey/Basketball – Orlando is a great place to enjoy live hockey or basketball.
- Entertainment – Orlando is a great place to have fun. It has everything for everybody.
What To Do in Orlando?
1. Bag a Bargain Shopping in Orlando
There are plenty of amazing places where you can go and shop in Orlando. Orlando shopping brings the shopping experience to another level. You can enjoy going to visit malls like the Florida Mall, The Mall at Millenia or Disney Springs. These malls are not just shops, you will also find everything you need to have a great night out. Try The Edison in Disney Springs for eating and listening to music.
When I’m in Florida, I always visit an outlet mall. This is the best place to save money on everything, especially clothes. You will be able to find your favourite brand at discount prices.
To save even more money, I advise you to register with the mall before your visit and download the reduction coupons booklet beforehand. You will have even more discounted prices with this additional reduction!
Another tip for the outlet is to go early morning to avoid the crowds. These outlets can be very busy in the afternoons.
If you prefer to be outside, why not visit the Winter Garden Village (The Grove)? All the shops are outside which provides a different feel to your shopping experience.
2. Get Close to Nature at a Wildlife Park
Orlando is a great place to see wildlife and discover different species, like the gator or sloth. Two of the best places to experience wildlife in Orlando are Wild Florida and Gatorland.
In both parks, you will have the opportunity to see animal shows. Gatorland specialises more in gators, and it is smaller than Wild Florida.
Wild Florida is bigger and offers air boat rides which are fun to do. Travelling on an air boat is a unique experience but you also have the chance of doing this activity on another day (check out number 3).
Wild Florida and Gatorland are two difference experiences, but you may have time do both during your vacation. See below for the best prices.
3. Take an Exhilarating Air Boat Tour
As mentioned above, an air boat ride is a great experience. This special boat was built to navigate shallow water. It is a flat-bottomed boat with an aircraft propeller. This boat is extremely powerful, and all the family will remember the ride.
In addition to experiencing a ride on an air boat, your guide will introduce you to the flora and fauna of the area. You will stop periodically to spot Florida’s state reptile, the American Alligator, in its natural setting. You will also see birds and other wildlife.
It isn’t a zoo, so nothing can be guaranteed but I can tell you that the experience will be worth it.
4. Enjoy an Ice Hockey or Basketball Game
When I travel, I love to experience things from my hometown. We have Ice Hockey and Basketball games where I live but they are not the same as those we can experience in the US.
Whilst you are in Orlando, you can go to see a professional Ice Hockey or Basketball game. You will be able to visit one of the biggest arenas and experience its exciting vibe. You just can’t replicate this atmosphere when you watch games on TV.
Amway Center is the home of the Orlando Solar Bears Hockey and Orlando Magic of the NBA.
5. Experience a Stunning Orlando Sunset
We all love to contemplate sunsets when we are on holiday. Orlando has some amazing sunsets but where is the best place to enjoy them?
The 400-foot observation wheel at Icon Park is good place to see Orlando from up high but also to witness amazing sunsets. You need to check the time of sunset to enter the wheel at the right time.
Lake Eola is another good place to see the sunset. You can rent a boat to make the experience more magical.
Lake Ivanhoe Park is another good spot to observe the sunset. If you arrive in advance, you will find plenty of activities to do whilst you are waiting for the sunset to happen.
If you want a unique experience, why not rent a private sailing boat to see the sunset on Lake Fairview? You will enjoy a two-hour sailing tour on Lake Fairview at sunset aboard the 25-foot MacGregor. This is an exclusive experience you won’t forget in a hurry. Check here for the best prices.
6. Spend an Entertaining Evening in Downtown Orlando
Downtown Orlando is the best place to spend an evening with acclaimed dining, culture, nightlife, and big sporting event at the Amway (see number 4).
Church Street is the best place to start your journey in downtown Orlando. From here, you will find the most popular dining and nightlife places.
The best place to enjoy culture and entertainment in downtown Orlando is the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. There are three indoor theatres and an outdoor plaza. You will find something for every taste.
Downtown Orlando also has great places to enjoy art. CityArts Factory and the Grand Bohemian Hotel offer free admission, or you can opt for the Orange County Regional History Center to learn about central Florida history.
Lake Eola is part of downtown Orlando and here you will find free live events during the year. Lake Eola’s park also hosts a Farmers’ Market every Sunday. You can relax in the park and enjoy the sunset (see number 5).
7. Take a Magical Orlando Bioluminescence Kayak Tour
A visit to Orlando will gave you the opportunity to see a magical phenomenon call Bioluminescence. If you want more details about Bioluminescence, you can read our article about Holbox Bioluminescence.
In brief, Bioluminescence is a chemical reaction between some animal-like plankton and water. This reaction creates blue light in the water. When you see it, it is like you are watching a blue sky full of stars in the water.
The best way to enjoy Bioluminescence in Orlando is to be part of a tour. Locals know exactly when to go and where to go to experience this natural phenomenon. Click here to book this unforgettable Kayak tour.
Don’t forget to take insect repellent with you to Florida. This one from Amazon works very well and will keep you protected.
8. Blast Off at Kennedy Space Center
All kids want to become an astronaut, and everyone is keen to discover more about the secrets of Space. The Kennedy Space Center is the most interesting place to learn and experience Space in Florida.
There is a lot to do and to see in the Kennedy Space Center. To name a few, you can discover the history of rockets, learn about the story of the moon, and find out about the Atlantis shuttle.
The best way to enjoy The Kennedy Space Center whilst you are in Orlando is to book your tickets in advance to save time on arrival.
There are few options when booking tickets. You can book just the admission ticket in advance, or you can book it with transportation from Orlando.
- The most popular ticket for The Kennedy Space Center is the skip the line admission ticket which you can buy here.
- To buy skip the line admission tickets with transportation click here. When you book, you will be offered the possibility of choosing your nearest pick-up point.
9. Do Something Different at Disney Springs
Disney Springs is a great place to spend one day out with or without kids. Here you will find amazing stores. If you love Disney, you will be able to by Disney art, but don’t worry there are shops for all tastes.
At Disney Springs, you will find all the best names for your dining experience. The restaurants have nice façades like the Rainforest Café. We recommend you go to the Coca-Cola store and enjoy the view from the rooftop terrace. If you love Indiana Jones movies, you will love the Hangar Bar. Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar is an Indiana Jones theme bar.
Disney Springs looks like a theme park and has a very good atmosphere. Just wander around Disney Springs for a great experience that is free.
One other thing you can do in Disney Springs is to enjoy some entertainment. Whether you head to the cinema or catch a Cirque du Soleil show, you have everything to entertain the whole family. To cap it all, why not rent an Amphicar, plunge in the lake and take a cruise?
10. Hang out on International Drive
International Drive is a very long avenue (11 miles long) which connects all the attractions in Orlando. International Drive is the home of some of the theme parks and outlet shopping. You can walk some of International Drive, but you need transport to enjoy it in full.
The fun way to see International Drive is to use the I-Ride Trolley. By using the trolley, you will save money from car parks because some are free but not all.
To buy your ticket in advance and get unlimited hop-on hop-off trolley journeys, click here.
When visiting International Drive, you should stop at the ICON Park. There are plenty of things going on here like the tallest swing and a big wheel.
Save time at the wheel by buying your ticket in advance here.
Another very cool thing to do in ICON park is the Museum of Illusion. This museum will introduce you to the art of illusion by challenging your senses. In addition to learning about the art of illusion, you will be able to capture an impossible photo. This picture will amaze your social media community.
A nice place to eat and discover new artists is the Ole Red Restaurant. The owner is Black Shelton, one of the judges of the Voice. As a result, the concept of the restaurant is to bring talented new singers onto the stage before they become famous.
You will find many affordable hotels in International Drive. If you combine your hotel with trolley transport, you will have easy access to a lot of attractions.
11. Get Up Close to Marine Life at SeaWorld Orlando
SeaWorld is located on International Drive and is easily accessible by the I-Ride Trolley. SeaWorld is the best of two worlds. It is a mix of theme park with rides and aquarium with shows and animal experiences.
SeaWorld has incredible rides and is going to open a new one soon called the Ice Breaker. Personally, I love the Manta roller coaster but there are rides for everyone in your family.
SeaWorld is the perfect place to be able to enjoy marine animals. There are animal shows during the day like the Orca Encounter or Dolphin Adventure. However, your journey doesn’t stop at rides or shows. You will be able to have other experiences like the Shark Encounter where you travel in a tube under all types of sharks!
We recommend booking your tickets in advance to save time at the entry and to give you maximum time in SeaWorld. The tills can be very busy in peak season.
To save time and money, we recommend you buy combined tickets which include access to SeaWorld. These tickets also give you access to other popular parks and are valid from 2 days to 14 days.
12. Swim Alongside Giant Manatees
This is a unique experience! Swimming with manatees is only possible in a few parts of the world. In Florida, you will be able to swim with this gentle giant in incredible clear water. The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is the best place to view manatees in the world. So, don’t miss it when you visit Orlando.
Are Manatees friendly?
Yes, the Manatees are friendly. They are called the “gentle giants” and they are very peaceful animals. They move slowly and love to come close to humans.
Crystal River is located 1 hour 30 minutes by car from Orlando. When you arrive, you can book your Manatees swim experience. However, if you want peace of mind, you can book your tour from Orlando in advance of your visit.
By booking this tour, you will get more for your money. You will receive a free pick up from different points in the city along with transportation to Crystal River where you will swim with Manatees! After swimming with manatees, your day continues with a visit to ono of Floriday’s best kept secrets – Homosassa State Park. Here you will have the chance to see some of Florida’s endangered species like the state panther.
13. Soak Up the Sun on Orlando Beaches
In fact, there aren’t any beaches in Orlando. However, if you have a car, there are plenty of beautiful beaches to explore. When you are on vacation, it is always a good idea to relax on a beach and take a break from vibrant and busy cities.
What is the Closest Beach to Orlando?
The closest beach to Orlando is Cocoa Beach. Cocoa Beach is a 1-hour drive by car. Cocoa beach is known for its surf and has the world’s largest surf shop which is open 24-hours a day! Unsurprisingly, Cocoa beach is the perfect place to learn to surf!
What is the Most Famous Beach in Orlando Florida?
The best-known beach in the Orlando area is Daytona Beach. Once again, Daytona Beach is just over a 1-hour drive from Orlando. At Daytona Beach, you can drive your car on the beach!
A long time ago, part of Daytona Beach was designed for racing. They keep 23 miles of hard-packed sandy beach for users to drive on it. Today, the maximum speed is 10 mph! To see a Nascar race, you need to head to the Daytona International Speedway. However, don’t forget to book in advance to see a race or you can opt for a tour.
14. Immerse Yourself in Orlando Museums
Orlando isn’t just about rides and having fun. You can also enjoy a peaceful visit to a nice museum.
The Museum of Art
The Museum of Art is the most visited museum by locals. Here you will learn about the history of Orlando and the museum hosts 10 to 12 different exhibitions every year.
What is the Best Day to Visit the Museum of Art in Orlando?
The best day to visit the Museum of Art is certainly Thursdays. Each Thursday between 6 to 9pm you can meet local artists or enjoy live music.
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition
If you love the story of Titanic and want to be immersed in its history and learn more, this artifact exhibition is perfect for you. Here you will discover over 300 artifacts and full-scale replica rooms of Titanic including the Grand Staircase, First Class Cabins, and the Veranda Café. The exhibition features 17 galleries in 20,000 square feet. You will also be able to interact with costumed actors.
Don’t wait for your entrance tickets, book them in advance here. If your plans change, don’t worry you can cancel up to 24-hours before.
Other interesting museums you can visit are:
- Orange County Regional History Center: History of Orlando from aviation to the Pulse nightclub tragedy. Free entrance from 5 to 8pm on the third Thursday of every month.
- Orlando Fire Museum: History of firefighting in Orlando. Entrance free.
15. Relax at Downtown Celebration Town Center
Located in Kissimmee, Celebration Town Center is a place to wander around during the day. Here you will find buildings modelled after those found in small American towns.
Downtown Celebration was originally developed by the Disney company. It is a nice place to walk and shop or to have a nice lunch/dinner.
Good to know: Each Sunday there is a Farmer’s Market in Celebration Town Center.
16. Explore Old Town Kissimmee
Old town in Kissimmee has its own unique feel. You will discover family friendly entertainment with live music and a weekly car cruise every Saturday night.
Old Town is good place to spend time with your family and to stay if you are on a budget. Similar to ICON Park, you will find some rides here including a Carousel, Ferris wheel and the Great Magical Hall. Also, Old Town Kissimmee is right next to Fun Spot.
17. Meet Your Favourite Personalities at Orlando Madame Tussauds
Madame Tussauds is a unique place where you can meet your favourite characters. You don’t just see a replica of a famous personality, but you will enjoy a scene where you will be able to take part.
From E.T to U.S Presidents or popular Superheroes, you will find plenty of scenes where you can take part and take pictures with famous celebrities.
You can combine the Madame Tussauds Museum with a Sea Life ticket if you want to save money. Jump the queue and buy your tickets in advance here.
18. Cool Off at the Aquatica Water Park
Orlando can be very hot so why not to enjoy a refreshing aqua park? Aqua parks are one of the best places to have fun with all the family.
What is the Best Aqua Park in Orlando?
The best aqua park in Orlando is Aquatica Water Park. Aquatica, SeaWorld’s water park in Orlando, delights all ages.
Aquatica Water Park has the most thrills in Orlando. Are you brave enough to face Ihu’s Breakaway Falls, the steepest multi-drop tower of its kind in Orlando? Or will you take the Dolphin Plunge or challenge your friends in the Riptide Race?
However, Aquatica is more than extreme slides. You can relax and unwind at Aquatica Orlando’s Beaches where you can enjoy lounge chairs or lazy rivers.
Aquatica Park doesn’t forget small ones. Kids can enjoy areas tailored to their needs with water play and close-up animal experiences.
19. Climb Hight at the Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park
The Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park is Orlando’s most thrilling tree top obstacle course with activities for all levels. This is the right place to come with all the family for an unforgettable day. Put down your phones and enjoy an outside adventure in the best acrobatic park.
You and your kids will face a lot of challenges. You will be able to swing on Tarzan ropes, climb ladders 50-feet up and cross wobbly suspended bridges.
In total, there are 97 amazing aerial challenges for adults and teenagers and 2 separate kids’ courses featuring 21 challenges. But if this isn’t enough, you can challenge yourself on the giant 425-foot zip line!
The great thing about the Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park is that you start with less difficult courses (green course) and then progress in difficulty (red courses for advanced skill).
20. Delight in Orlando Food Specialities
We love food and everywhere we travel we enjoy tasting all specialities the country has to offer. Of course, like everywhere else in United States, you will find very good burgers and BBQ recipes in Orlando.
What is Orlando Florida’s Most Iconic Food?
Orlando is famous for the tasty orange. Start your day with a freshly squeezed orange juice. But don’t forget the strawberries as well! After all, Florida is the winter strawberry capital of the world.
When visiting Orlando, you need to try eating Gator which tastes like chicken. Personally, I prefer Stone Crab which is almost as good as lobster.
You will find plenty of places where you can eat these specialities. However, we always recommend trying to find restaurants out of touristic areas to get the most authentic food experience.
21. Be Entertained at an Orlando Medieval Times Dinner and Show
This is the perfect way to finish your day. Enjoy a world-class medieval show combined with a delicious 3 course dinner.
Your experience will start at the entrance of the castle where you will find plenty to see and enjoy. Giant candelabras hang overhead, suits of armour line the halls and treasures abound.
Good to know: The castle gates open 60-minutes before the show and you can explore the castle before the show.
Is Orlando Worth Visiting?
Yes, Orlando is worth visiting! Not only is Orlando part of the sunshine state of Florida, but you will find activities for all. Orlando isn’t just about Disney and theme parks. It has a lot more to offer. Take time to discover the wildlife around Orlando or to dine in restaurants with top Chefs.
For more information you can visit Orlando Visitor Center
If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below. Reach out and share your experiences with our Off the Tourist Treadmill communities. We’d love to hear from you!
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