32 Fun Things to Do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks | 2024 (with Photos)

Rosalia Ignatova

Rosalia Ignatova - Travel Writer

Published: July 14, 2023

Hey there! I'm Rose, a travel enthusiast with a passion for exploring Orlando beyond the theme parks. From thrilling outdoor adventures to hidden gems and cultural experiences, I've curated a list of 32 fun things to do in Orlando that will make your trip unforgettable. Enjoy your journey and make the most out of this vibrant city!

Fun Things to Do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks

Looking for an exciting and unforgettable vacation experience beyond Orlando's world-famous theme parks? Look no further.

Orlando has a lot more to offer than just Walt Disney World, and this guide highlights 32 fun things to do in the city besides the theme parks.

From exploring the vibrant downtown area to experiencing thrilling attractions like the sea life aquarium, or taking a scenic boat tour on the city's lakes, this guide offers a wide range of activities to suit every taste.

So, let's dive in and discover all the fun things to do in Orlando besides theme parks.

Most Recommended Thing to Do

Walt Disney World

Top Choice Hotel

Rosen Shingle Creek

Our Top Choice Restaurant

Victoria & Albert's

Our Top Choice Bar for Nightlife

Tier Nightclub

Best Time to Visit

Winter months for optimal weather and less crowds.

Average Temperature

Warm and humid climate with hot summer temperatures.

Transportation Options

Buses, taxis, ride-sharing, bicycles, car rentals, walking.

Average Cost ($, $$, $$$)


My Top Recommendation

Orlando, United States of America is an enchanting city that offers thrilling adventures and magical experiences. Embark on an unforgettable journey and visit the iconic Walt Disney World, where fairy tales come to life and dreams become a reality.

Discover the essence of Orlando by immersing yourself in the vibrant local culture, taking a stroll along the charming streets of Winter Park, filled with delightful cafes and boutique shops, and be captivated by the beauty of the scenic Chain of Lakes. Let the warmth of the sun embrace you as you explore the picturesque gardens of Harry P. Leu Gardens, where nature's exquisite beauty will leave you in awe. Experience the unique flavors of the city by indulging in mouthwatering dishes at the variety of local restaurants, while marveling at the breathtaking views of downtown Orlando from the vibrant rooftop bars. Unleash your inner adventurer by getting up close with marine life at SeaWorld Orlando or taking a thrilling ride on the famous roller coasters at Universal Orlando Resort. Orlando is a city that ignites the imagination and leaves an everlasting impression on your heart.

What You'll Need to Bring

  1. Comfortable walking shoes
  2. Sunscreen
  3. Hat or cap
  4. Lightweight clothing
  5. Swimsuit
  6. Camera or smartphone with a good camera
  7. Water bottle
  8. Travel adapter
  9. Travel guide or map of the city
  10. Snacks or energy bars for on-the-go.

When packing for your trip to Orlando, United States of America, be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes, as there are many attractions and theme parks that require a lot of walking. Given the city's sunny climate, it's important to bring sunscreen and a hat or cap to protect yourself from the strong rays. Light and breathable clothing is recommended to stay comfortable in the warm weather, and don't forget to pack a swimsuit in case you plan on visiting the water parks or enjoying the nearby beaches.

You'll definitely want to capture some memorable moments during your trip, so make sure to bring a camera or smartphone with a good camera. Staying hydrated is crucial, so carry a water bottle with you to stay refreshed throughout the day. Don't forget to pack a travel adapter to charge your electronic devices, and it's always helpful to have a travel guide or map of the city to navigate your way around. Lastly, pack some snacks or energy bars for those moments when you're on-the-go and need a quick bite to eat.

What Not to Miss

  1. Walt Disney World
  2. Universal Orlando Resort
  3. Lake Eola Park
  4. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
  5. Harry P. Leu Gardens
  6. Orlando Science Center
  7. Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
  8. International Drive
  9. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  10. Gatorland

Top 3 Restaurants in CITY:

  1. Victoria & Albert's
  2. The Ravenous Pig
  3. The Osprey Tavern

What to Avoid

  1. Over-packing: Travel light and avoid the hassle of carrying heavy luggage around.
  2. Traffic during rush hours: Plan your activities taking into account the traffic patterns and try to avoid traveling during peak hours.
  3. Long queues: Look for ways to minimize waiting times, such as purchasing tickets online in advance or using fast-track options where available.
  4. Local scams: Stay vigilant and be aware of scams targeting tourists. Research common scams and be cautious when approached by strangers.
  5. Tacky tourist traps: Research and choose authentic, local experiences over overly touristy attractions.
  6. Overpaying for accommodations: Compare prices and book accommodations in advance to secure the best deals.
  7. Ignoring local customs: Respect the local culture and customs by researching and adapting to the local traditions.
  8. Skipping travel insurance: Protect yourself by obtaining travel insurance to cover any unexpected incidents or emergencies.
  9. Neglecting necessary travel documents: Ensure that you have all the required travel documents, such as passport and visa, before your trip.
  10. Ignoring weather forecasts: Check weather forecasts to pack appropriate clothing and plan your activities accordingly.

1. Explore Downtown Orlando

Lake Eola

Immerse yourself in the lively and bustling city life of Downtown Orlando.

This vibrant area of the city is a hub of activity, where you can discover new artists in galleries, enjoy free weekly entertainment, and dine at diverse restaurants offering a range of international cuisines.

The eclectic mix of shops, cafes, and restaurants will satisfy all tastes, from budget-friendly options to high-end dining experiences.

Stroll around Lake Eola, one of the most iconic attractions in Downtown Orlando, and experience the vibrant Orlando skyline. You can also catch a movie at an outdoor cinema or enjoy live music and performances at one of the many entertainment venues.

Downtown Orlando offers a unique and exciting experience away from the loud theme parks and is definitely worth exploring during your Orlando vacation.

2. Visit the Orlando Science Center

Orlando Science Center

A must-visit for the whole family, the Orlando Science Center offers interactive exhibits, live programming, and engaging science experiences.

Explore hands-on exhibits that teach about technology, engineering, and natural sciences. A visit to the Science Center can be an educational and fun break from the theme parks.

3. Play at the Escape Game Orlando

 Escape Game Orlando

Challenge yourself and your friends at The Escape Game Orlando, located near the Orlando International Airport. This is essentially an escape room.

As you probably know, the goal of an escape room is to solve puzzles, find clues, and work together to escape from a variety of themed rooms within a set time limit.

The Escape Game Orlando is a thrilling experience for everyone, offering a fun alternative to theme parks.

4. Discover Marine Life at SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium

SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium

Dive into the underwater world at the SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, situated at ICON Park. In this sea life aquarium, you can discover a diverse range of marine life, from colorful fish and coral reefs to sharks and stingrays.

The SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium provides an up-close experience with fascinating marine creatures, making it a perfect attraction for the whole family.

5. Lake Eola Park

Lake Eola Park

Take a stroll around Lake Eola Park, which is situated in Downtown Orlando. 

Lake Eola Park is a picturesque urban park surrounding a stunning lake. Enjoy a leisurely walk or rent a swan-shaped paddleboat to cruise around the lake. 

The park also hosts events, such as concerts and food festivals.

6. Shop at the Florida Mall

The Florida Mall

Indulge in some retail therapy at The Florida Mall, one of the largest shopping centers in Central Florida. With a wide range of local and international stores, the mall offers something for everyone.

Take a break from the theme parks and shop for souvenirs, clothing, and more.

7. Stroll Around Winter Park

Winter Park

Escape the hustle and bustle of Orlando with a visit to the charming Winter Park.

Enjoy a scenic boat tour, explore the beautiful gardens, and dine at local restaurants. Winter Park is a peaceful retreat from the theme parks Orlando offers.

8. Take a Day Trip to the Kennedy Space Center

 Kennedy Space Center

Embark on an unforgettable and out-of-this-world adventure by visiting the Kennedy Space Center, one of the top attractions in Florida located just a short drive from Cape Canaveral.

A visit to the Kennedy Space Center is a must for anyone interested in space exploration, as it offers an immersive experience that celebrates NASA's achievements and the brilliant minds who made them possible.

At the Kennedy Space Center, you can explore the rich history of space exploration and learn about the remarkable achievements of NASA.

A visit to the Kennedy Space Center is an educational and unforgettable experience that's truly out of this world.

9. Relax at Kelly Park and Rock Springs

Kelly Park and Rock Springs

Spend a day reconnecting with nature at Kelly Park and Rock Springs, located in Central Florida.

Float down the natural lazy river, swim in the crystal-clear springs, or enjoy a picnic in the beautiful surroundings.

Kelly Park provides a perfect escape from the theme parks and the busy Orlando city life.

10. Laugh at the Orlando Improv Comedy Club

Orlando Improv Comedy Club

Enjoy a night of laughter at the Orlando Improv Comedy Club, located in the heart of Downtown Orlando.

Watch talented comedians perform live, and enjoy food and drinks while you laugh the night away. This Comedy Club offers a fun and entertaining break from theme parks.

11. Admire Art at the Orlando Museum of Art

Orlando Museum of Art

Explore the world of art at the Orlando Museum of Art, which features works from local and international artists, as well as rare African bronze sculptures.

This museum offers a cultural experience for everyone and provides a unique perspective on the world of art.

12. Pose with Celebrities at Madame Tussauds Orlando

Madame Tussauds Orlando

Pose with your favorite celebrities at Madame Tussauds Orlando, located at ICON Park.

This world-famous wax museum features incredibly lifelike figures of movie stars, musicians, athletes, and historical figures.

Madame Tussauds Orlando offers a fun and interactive experience for the family, away from the theme parks.

13. Indulge in Sweets at the Chocolate Museum & Cafe

Chocolate Museum & Cafe

Get ready to satisfy your sweet tooth and explore the fascinating history of chocolate at the Chocolate Museum & Cafe.

Located in Orlando, this unique museum and cafe is the perfect destination for chocolate lovers of all ages.

Here, you will discover the origins and history of chocolate, and learn about the journey that cacao beans take from tree to treat. Watch expert chocolatiers demonstrate the process of chocolate-making, and see how it transforms from bean to bar.

The museum also features an impressive collection of chocolate molds and packaging from around the world, providing a comprehensive look at chocolate's impact on culture and society.

Indulge in gourmet chocolates and sample delicious treats at the cafe, where you can enjoy a variety of desserts, hot chocolates, and coffee drinks.

With so much to explore and taste, a visit to the Chocolate Museum & Cafe is sure to be a delightful experience for chocolate lovers of all ages.

14. Explore the Audubon Park Garden District

Audubon Park Garden District

Next, we have the charming Garden District. This is one of the best places to visit if you are looking for things to do in Orlando besides theme parks, where you'll find an array of unique shops, cafes, and local businesses.

This vibrant neighborhood is home to a thriving community garden and a bustling farmer's market, making it an excellent destination for foodies and those looking to have a relaxing day.

15. Experience Shopping and Entertainment at Disney Springs

Disney Springs

For an exciting day of shopping, dining, and entertainment, head to Disney Springs, a lively destination in Orlando that's sure to delight visitors of all ages.

Formerly known as Downtown Disney, this outdoor complex offers a unique experience that captures the essence of Disney magic without the need to visit the theme parks.

With a wide variety of dining options ranging from quick bites to gourmet dining, there's something to satisfy all tastes.

From boutique shops to high-end retailers, Disney Springs offers an unparalleled shopping experience, with something to suit every style and budget.

You can also catch a movie at the state-of-the-art AMC Disney Springs 24, or enjoy live entertainment at the House of Blues, making it a perfect destination for a fun-filled day or evening out.

With so much to see and do, Disney Springs is a must-visit destination

16. Wander Through the Harry P. Leu Gardens' Butterfly Garden

Harry P. Leu Gardens' Butterfly Garden

Next up on our list of things to do in Orlando besides theme parks, we have the Harry P. Leu Gardens' Butterfly Garden. Here, you can immerse yourself in nature.

It is also a great place to stroll through the beautiful grounds, observe butterflies and other wildlife, and learn about the importance of conservation.

The garden is a tranquil escape for anyone looking for some peace and quiet.

17. Attend Events at the Orange County Convention Center

Orange County Convention Center

Attend exciting events and conventions at the Orange County Convention Center, one of the largest convention centers in the US.

From trade shows to expos, the Convention Center hosts a variety of events that cater to a wide range of interests.

18. See Animals at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens

Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens

Spend a day with the family at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens, where you can see exotic animals, take part in interactive exhibits, and explore beautiful gardens.

The zoo offers an educational and entertaining experience that is enjoyable for all ages.

19. Catch a Soccer Game at Orlando City Stadium

Soccer Game at Orlando City Stadium

Spend a day with the family at Catch a soccer game at Orlando City Stadium, home to Orlando City SC, and the Orlando Pride.

Experience the excitement of live sports and cheer on your favorite team, providing a fun alternative to the theme park.

20. Try the Local Cuisine

In Orlando, Florida, you'll find a vibrant culinary scene offering a diverse range of delicious dishes. Don't miss the opportunity to try some iconic local flavors.

Indulge in mouthwatering seafood, such as fresh Florida grouper or succulent Gulf shrimp. Savor the juicy, tender flavors of slow-smoked barbecue, a Southern specialty. Sample Latin-inspired cuisine with delectable Cuban sandwiches or savory empanadas.

For dessert, satisfy your sweet tooth with a slice of key lime pie, a Floridian classic. And don't forget to explore the diverse international dining options, from authentic Thai cuisine to fusion food trucks. Orlando is a food lover's paradise, ready to tantalize your taste buds.

21. Connect With Nature at Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve

Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve

Connect with nature at the Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve, a serene park with miles of walking trails, picnic areas, and diverse wildlife.

This peaceful preserve offers an opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of Orlando and enjoy the natural beauty of Central Florida.

22. Walk Along International Drive

International Drive

Stroll along International Drive, a bustling tourist corridor filled with shops, restaurants, and attractions.

International Drive is home to ICON Park, the Orlando StarFlyer, and other popular destinations, making it a lively area to explore outside a theme park.

23. Visit an Orlando Spa

Bella Collina Spa

Treat yourself to a spa day at one of the luxurious wellness retreats in Orlando, where you can escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse yourself in a world of relaxation and rejuvenation. These spas offer a wide array of indulgent treatments to pamper your body and soothe your senses.

Many wellness retreats in Orlando also provide additional amenities like steam rooms, saunas, hydrotherapy pools, or tranquil relaxation lounges. Take advantage of these facilities to further enhance your spa experience and promote overall well-being.

24. Visit Blue Spring State Park

Blue Spring State Park

Discover central Florida's state park of Blue Spring, a natural haven that provides a serene retreat from the bustling atmosphere of Walt Disney World.

As an alternative to the excitement of an indoor amusement park, this state park offers a sanctuary for manatees, turtles, and various bird species. Immerse yourself in the crystal-clear waters, explore picturesque trails, or savor a picnic amidst the park's stunning scenery.

The state park is the perfect destination for a rejuvenating escape from the lively theme park scene.

25. Take a Scenic Boat Tour on Some of the Nearby lakes

Lake Osceola

While on your vacation, you can escape the hectic pace of the city center by spending a few hours exploring the beautiful lakes nearby.

Lake Osceola, located near Winter Park, offers a serene setting where you can unwind and enjoy various water activities, such as jet skiing, paddle boarding, or taking a boat tour.

Further afield, you'll find Lake Wales, an idyllic destination for fishing, boating, and picnicking amidst stunning natural surroundings. After a day of fun on the water, head to Kings Dining for a delicious meal and a well-deserved break.

The picturesque lakes near Orlando provide a refreshing and tranquil experience, perfect for those seeking a more relaxed pace.

26. Discover Orlando’s Nightlife

Wall Street Plaza

Orlando offers a vibrant and diverse nightlife scene with plenty of options to suit different tastes. Head to the downtown area, specifically Church Street and Wall Street Plaza, where you'll find an array of bars, clubs, and live music venues.

Enjoy craft cocktails and dance the night away at popular spots like The Beacham and Tier Nightclub. For a more laid-back atmosphere, explore the Mills 50 district, known for its eclectic mix of bars, breweries, and artsy hangouts.

International Drive is another bustling area with themed bars, comedy clubs, and late-night entertainment options. Whether you're into live music, dancing, or simply socializing, Orlando's nightlife won't disappoint.

27. Attend a Performance at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Attend a performance at the Center for the Performing Arts, a state-of-the-art venue that hosts concerts, Broadway shows, and other events.

The Center is an excellent destination for an evening of culture and entertainment.

28. Cheer for the Orlando Magic at Amway Center

Orlando Magic at Amway Center

Next, it's time for some sport. Cheer on the Orlando Magic, the city's NBA team, as they play at the Amway Center.

Here, you can experience the excitement of professional basketball and enjoy a fun-filled evening with the family, offering an alternative to the theme park experience.

29. Taste Local Brews at DLBC and Orlando Brewing

Dead Lizard Brewing CompanyDLBC

Unwind and enjoy the local flavors of Orlando by visiting two popular craft breweries in the area, Dead Lizard Brewing Company(DLBC) and Orlando Brewing.

These local breweries have quickly become fan favorites, and it's not hard to see why. Step inside and sample a variety of unique and refreshing beers, from classic pilsners to bold IPAs and stouts.

With a strong commitment to sustainability and environmentalism, they offer a unique and eco-friendly experience that's truly one-of-a-kind.

These breweries offer a fantastic way to unwind and spend time with friends or family, while also experiencing the unique flavors of Orlando.

30. Embark on a Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures

Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures

You can take swamp airboat rides and explore Central Florida's swamps and marshlands.

Glide through the waterways, spot alligators and other wildlife, and learn about the region's unique ecosystem.

Airboat rides are one of the best fun things to do in Orlando besides theme parks.

31. Go to a Fitness Center

Planet Fitness

In Orlando, you can find numerous fitness centers and gyms catering to various fitness needs. Some popular options include the YMCA of Central Florida, LA Fitness, Anytime Fitness, and Planet Fitness, which have multiple locations across the city.

Additionally, boutique fitness studios specializing in specific workout styles, such as yoga, Pilates, CrossFit, and cycling, are also available.

Whether you're looking for a well-equipped gym with state-of-the-art equipment or a specialized fitness facility, Orlando offers a range of options to help you stay active and meet your fitness goals.

32. Try Indoor Skydiving at iFLY Orlando Science Center

Indoor Skydiving at iFLY Orlando Science Center

Try indoor skydiving at iFLY Orlando, an adrenaline-pumping attraction that simulates the feeling of freefall without the need for a plane or parachute.

iFLY offers a unique and exhilarating experience for thrill-seekers and adventurers, providing a thrilling break from the theme parks.

FAQs about Things to Do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks

Now, let's explore some frequently asked questions and answers about fun things to do in Orlando besides theme parks.

What else is in Orlando besides Disney?

Orlando is more than just Disney World. The city offers an array of exciting activities, including vibrant downtown areas, nature preserves, world-class museums, and thrilling attractions like the StarFlyer and indoor skydiving.

For example, you can visit the Orlando Science Center, Kennedy Space Center, or the Central Florida Zoo.

You can also explore beautiful parks and lakes, such as Lake Eola or Kelly Park, or enjoy unique shopping experiences at the Florida Mall or in Winter Park.

Is it worth going to Orlando without Disney?

Yes, it is worth going to Orlando without Disney. While Disney is a major draw, Orlando has plenty of other attractions that make it worth visiting.

The city's vibrant downtown areas, unique shopping experiences, delicious dining options, and beautiful parks and lakes are just a few examples of what the city has to offer.

You can spend a day exploring the Audubon Park Garden, visit museums and galleries like the Museum of Art or the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, or relax on the scenic Winter Park Boat Tour.

Orlando is also home to exciting sports teams like the Magic, making it a great destination for sports fans.

How do I waste time in Orlando?

If you're looking to kill time in Orlando, there are plenty of fun things to do.

You can explore local attractions like ICON Park, where you can ride the Orlando StarFlyer or visit Madame Tussauds Orlando.

Alternatively, you can take a scenic boat tour through Winter Park's Chain of Lakes, visit the Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve, or spend a day at Fun Spot America.

If you're looking for something more relaxing, you can enjoy a picnic at Lake Eola Park, take a stroll through the Harry P. Leu Gardens, or sample local brews at Dead Lizard Brewing Company or Orlando Brewing.

How can I spend the evening in Orlando?

Orlando offers a range of options for an enjoyable evening. You can attend a show at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, which hosts concerts, Broadway shows, and other events.

Alternatively, you can visit local breweries or wineries, such as the Florida Beer Company or Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards.

You can also explore the city's vibrant nightlife scene in downtown Orlando or at Disney Springs, which offers a variety of dining, shopping, and live entertainment options.

Finally, you can catch a game or concert at the Amway Center, home to the Orlando Magic and other exciting events.

Summing Up: Fun Things to Do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks

We hope we've managed to show you that Orlando offers a wide range of exciting activities and attractions beyond Disney World.

From exploring the vibrant downtown area, and immersing yourself in nature at beautiful parks and preserves, to experiencing thrilling attractions like the Orlando StarFlyer, there's something for everyone.

The city is home to fascinating museums, world-class dining, and unique shopping experiences. This diverse list of fun things to do ensures that your Orlando vacation will be memorable and enjoyable, regardless of your interests.

So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your unforgettable Orlando adventure today.