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13 Things to Do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks

While Orlando is best known as home to some very famous theme parks, there are plenty of options for vacationers who want to change up their amusement routine... In this article, you’ll find 13 great things to do in Orlando -- with no mouse in sight!

1| Take Ride on the OBSERVATION WHEEL

ICON Orlando 360 is an entertainment, shopping and dining hub on International Drive whose main attraction is the 400-foot tall observation wheel. So similar to the London Eye, it was once called known as the Orlando Eye. 30 capsules hold 15 people each and move at a steady but very slow pace to provide you with a bird’s eye view of Orlando. Ride in the evening for spectacular sunsets, or after dark to see the nighttime lights. Daytime views are excellent also and are half price! You will not be swinging in the air as on a ferris wheel, but riding in a stable pod that is perfect for the entire family. Go here for the Wheel and stay for the many other entertainment options.

The Pearl Express train is included with entry to ICON Orlando so hop aboard at the courtyard for a fun way to get an overview of all that is there. Visit the Osteology Museum while there for a fascinating look at skeletons, an adventure sure to surprise and intrigue everyone in your group.

2| ‘Bone up’ on anatomy at the OSTEOLOGY MUSEUM

The study of bones and skeletons has always fascinated humans and here at the Osteology Museum you’ll encounter close to 500 real animal skeletons in clever, mid-action poses. A raccoon skeleton ravages the garbage while a human skeleton is practicing yoga poses. From massive elephants to tiny hummingbirds, it’s all about the bones. This very well curated museum shows many animals in their natural habitat and is educational and exciting at once. A hands-on display shows how a turtle fits into its shell…the world’s first transformer! Kids will be kept active with a scavenger hunt game that encourages them to look closely at the bones as they follow clues.

3| Escape the mundane at the THE ESCAPE GAME ORLANDO

Escape rooms are a great bonding activity for friends or family, a way to work together against the clock to escape from a locked room using clues. You’ll have 60 minutes to think, search, and hustle to find the way out in this immersive game that can become addictive! You’ll be engaged in an epic, adventurous story where you are the characters and the outcome depends on you. Join forces to recover a priceless work of art, find lost gold, or break out of prison. Begin by watching a quick video that explains the game and presents the challenge. Each Escape Room has puzzles to solve and plenty of fun for everyone.

The rooms in these games have been custom designed and built from scratch with a sophisticated array of robotics. Surprising revelations and curve balls throughout the game keep everyone guessing until the last minute. Hopefully your team escapes with your wits about you, but if not, don’t worry…helpful employees are on hand to let you out anyway. If you’ve never tried an escape game, this is a great place to begin as the adventures are so fun and interesting that you’ll be talking about it for a long time!

Your very first challenge will be trying to choose which would be the most fun to break out of: Classified, Gold Rush, The Heist, Mission Mars and Prison Break

4| Amuse the mind at WONDERWORKS

You’ll get a kick out of Wonderworks at first sight with its upside down façade suggesting all the fun that awaits you in this amusement park for the mind. Especially good for the kids, you’ll find the ceiling under your feet and the ground above your head as you enter the inversion tunnel to reorient yourself to your surroundings. The Wonder zones include Natural Disasters, Physical Challenges, Light & Sound, Space Discovery, Imagination Lab, and the Far Out Art Gallery. Feel the power of earthquakes and hurricanes, lay on a bed of nails, make 3-dimensional images of your body on a wall of plastic pins, or try a challenging biofeedback game based on EEG technology.

Try out virtual sports, pull yourself up in a pulley chair, and check out the amazing interactive exhibit of the real work of forensic scientists in 3D facial recognition, fingerprint identification, and 3D facial imaging and reconstruction. Challenge your kids and yourselves to conquer the 3-story ropes course, compete in a backlit laser tag maze, and experience a 4D, XD movie that simulates a thrill ride.

This is an especially great rainy day activity for families but fun for everyone at any time. If you are at Wonderworks you can stay right on into the evening for the Outta Control Magic and Comedy Dinner Show (purchase separately).

5| Enjoy dinner and a show (with the kids!) at OUTTA CONTROL MAGIC COMEDY DINNER SHOW

What can you do at night in Orlando that’s fun for the whole family? If you’re in the mood for laughs and appreciate interaction that keeps the kids engaged, then the Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show is the way to go. You’ll be impressed at this hilarious one man cast of dozens who is known for his high improvisational style.

Long tables are set up next to the stage so that you can eat and be entertained at the same time. Arrive ahead of time (most shows start at 6:00 PM) if you want to get to your meal a bit earlier than the show. Dinner includes unlimited pizza, salad, dessert, soda, beer and wine. This show does sell out so plan ahead for the entire family, as it’s a crowd-pleasing event suitable for all ages, and a great way to end a day spent at Wonderworks. Children three and under are free.

6| Go wine tasting (yes, in Florida!) at the LAKERIDGE WINERY AND VINEYARDS

Most people don’t think of wineries when they imagine a Florida vacation, but if you’re looking for something fun and free to do that doesn’t involve rides and games, consider a trip to the Lakeridge Winery. Located about a half hour out of town, you’ll find free complimentary tours AND wine tasting at Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards in Clermont. Tours are offered seven days a week, you can drop in whenever you like for a tour and spectacular views of gorgeous vineyards.

After the tour, sit down at the Wine Tasting Counter for a selection of wines ranging from dry to sweet and sparkling. The tour and tasting combined take about 45 minutes and you’ll need to have a state-issued ID or military ID, or international guests will need to show an original passport.

Browse the extensive gift shop featuring all the Lakeridge wines, gourmet foods, and wine gadgets and accessories for wine enthusiasts. Throughout the year there are special festivals and events, some of which charge a fee. Check their website for a schedule of events so that you can join the crowds if you want to, or avoid them. The grounds are spacious with shade trees and lots of open grassy areas for strolling.

7| Take a stroll in the garden at the HARRY P. LEU GARDENS

Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall – any time is the right time to visit a botanical garden in Florida. Every month of the year offers its own gorgeous array of flowers and plants, from crepe myrtles and roses in June to camellias and pink ball trees in December. Stroll under the awe-inspiring elm and oak trees as you discover the incredible tropical plants that you never knew existed. Planted to enhance the senses, the Color Garden serves as a backdrop to the Rose Garden and the Butterfly Garden attracts all sorts of butterflies year round.

The Idea Garden is where you’ll get inspiration for your own home projects, and the Tropical Stream Garden will remind you of a rainforest. See the popular wedding locale featuring all white plants, from blooms to variegated foliage. You can plan to spend quite a bit of time here strolling around the 50 acres of winding, paved trails, taking beautiful pictures, and visiting the Leu House Museum, a restored 19th century home. The house sustained damage during Hurricane Irma in late 2017 but the gardens alone are so tranquil and inviting that it’s a perfect outing for nature and plant lovers, or those who just like a change of pace after the hustle and bustle of theme parks and rides.

8| Be a race car driver at I-Drive NASCAR

Have you ever wanted to experience the thrill of race car driving, but without the danger? You can do just that at I-Drive NASCAR on an indoor track with state-of-the-art Karts engineered for full body protection and bursts of speed up to 45 mph. This is a track for those who are at least 55 inches tall (about 4.5 feet,) so keep in mind the height of your group if you decide to try out this air-conditioned entertainment complex that features arcades and a trackside restaurant as well.

There is an arcade with more than 60 games, 3 pool tables, and a 4-lane bowling alley to keep everyone entertained and happy on a rainy or especially hot afternoon in Orlando. It opens at 12 Noon on weekdays and at 11 AM Friday through Sunday. Happy Hour specials along with appetizers and burgers are available, as well as multiple screens to watch your favorite sporting events.

9| Enjoy a fun night out for less at UNIVERSAL CityWalk

Many visitors to Orlando don’t know that they can get free nightly entertainment at the fancy destinations where you have to pay during the day. You can get both free admission and free or low cost parking at Universal CityWalk, and there is so much to do here! Whether you’ve been to the park during the day or just come for an evening of fun, you’ll find much to do at CityWalk. Watch sports at the Hotdog Hall of Fame, featuring real stadium seats and a live DJ for dancing. You’ll also find an NBA-themed restaurant and practically any type of cuisine imaginable, mini golf courses, and lots of fun shopping. You can get Universal Studio souvenirs without ever actually going to the theme park, or better yet, stop into P!Q, a unique shop that is sure to “pique” your interest.

Another great option is to take advantage of free water taxi rides that run between the CityWalk and four of the area’s nicest hotels. Take a ride over to Loews Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando Resort at sunset to enjoy the fabulous Musica della Notte, (Music of the Night). Classically trained opera singers perform traditional opera and popera, a blend of pop music and opera. Talk about ending your day on a high note!

10| Paddle down the river at WEKIVA ISLAND

For those who love to be outdoors but not necessarily at the beach, here’s a chance to explore and experience the pristine Wekiva River. Located just a half hour north of Orlando, Wekiva Island is an indoor/outdoor recreation complex and tropical paradise. Experience the “real” Florida as you relax, splash and explore at this environmentally friendly indoor/outdoor recreation complex.

Rent a canoe, kayak or paddleboard and float along the river enjoying the natural landscape, year-round wildlife and beauty of central Florida. Cool off by jumping into the river that remains a constant 72 degrees year round thanks to the natural spring. You can swim along the boardwalk area or in other designated spots along the river.

There’s plenty to do for landlubbers too. Play cornhole or volleyball, relax at the wine bar lounge, or sit on the dock watching the fish in the clear water. Rent a private cabana if you want to stay all day, which is easy to do with a great food truck, sand volleyball, and clean restrooms. Visit the Tooting Otter, an indoor/outdoor bar where you can cool off in the air conditioning as you drink craft beers or choose from a large wine selection, soda, water, and snacks.

Walk the Boardwalk along the Wekiva River and Sweetwater Canal, then feel free to arrange the Adirondack chairs to chat with friends and family. Wekiva Island is the perfect getaway spot for those who need a break from the hustle and bustle of the tourist attractions in Orlando. The cost is only $1 to enter this park, an amazing bargain!

11| Experience a shipwreck at TITANIC: THE ARTIFACT EXHIBITION

The story of the Titanic has been immortalized in movies, books, folk songs and museums around the world. Thought to be unsinkable, this infamous British passenger ship hit an iceberg and capsized in the Atlantic in April, 1912, with only enough lifeboats for half the people onboard.

The Titanic Exhibition in Orlando features full-scale recreations of her Grand Staircase, a First Class Cabin, Verandah Café, Promenade Deck, and many objects recovered from the ocean floor. A 3-ton section of the ship’s hull, the second largest piece ever recovered, is there for you to touch. As you enter you’ll be given a boarding pass with the name of a passenger on the original ship and at the end, you’ll discover whether your person survived the disaster. This can be an eye-opening experience for some people, especially children, so supervision, education, and discussion is recommended.

There are 17 galleries located in a 20,000 square foot space and there’s a great shop featuring all things Titanic. Find everything from maps, books and accessories to replicas and items containing authentic coal from the ship.

If you really want the full Titanic experience, and are in town on a Friday or Saturday night, consider upping the experience by attending the Titanic Artifact Exhibition - Dinner Show. At this ‘one of a kind’ gala dinner, you’ll be a participant in one of the most famous dinner parties held on the Titanic. Join Margaret “Molly” Brown and other first class passengers as you celebrate the retirement of the Titanic’s legendary Captain Edward John Smith. This unique experience includes a Tour of the Titanic Exhibition galleries, a 1st Class Dinner, and re-enactments of the night of April 14th. The Captain’s cocktail hour starts at 6:30 pm - and we highly recommend the signature “Iceberg” cocktail (vodka, blue curacao & sprite).

12| Cool off at ICEBAR ORLANDO

If you’re really hot and want to chill out in Orlando the best place to go is ICEBAR, which boasts over 70 tons of hand carved ice - the largest permanent ICEBAR in the world! Enter through the fire lounge where you’ll be greeted by an Ice Princess who prepares you for the arctic journey by providing winter gear, ensuring you’ll stay cozy as you step into this 22 degrees Fahrenheit Winter Wonderland. Don’t worry, only 25% of the entire venue is kept cold and rest of the space, including the Fire Lounge and restrooms, are kept at normal temperatures.

At the ICEBAR, the bar is sculpted of ice as are the chairs and glasses. Fun photo ops include the Polar Bear Chair, an ice photo frame, and a Polar Bear Sculpture. You can wear a fun fur coat for an extra $10 and you’re free to go in and out of the icy cold bar throughout the evening. Appetizers include egg rolls and large, soft pretzels, steak skewers, caprese, sliders, and more.

Children are welcomed into the establishment between the hours of 5 and 9 PM and non-alcoholic drinks are available. After 9:00 the age requirement is 21 years.

13| Take an airboat ride and see alligators with WILD FLORIDA AIRBOATS

Get away from the crowds and into the heart of natural and wild Florida at its best. Wild Florida Airboat promises that you will not see any development, homes, or signs of human life (other than the employees and guests of course!) Travel deep into the 100,000 acres of protected swamps, marshes, and rivers that make up Florida’s beautiful wetlands.

With multiple adventures to choose from, you’re sure to find the perfect option for the entire family. No matter which option you choose, an airboat ride and alligator views will be at the heart of it. An airboat ride is exceptionally fun. Babies are often lulled to sleep while grandparents can sit back and take in the beauty as they search for wildlife in the landscape. All ages will thrill at the boat ride as it skims across the shoreline. All airboats are U.S. Coast Guard approved and you will have an experienced captain with a knack for finding the hidden alligators. Passengers will be given a life jacket and ear protection to ensure safety and comfort.

Back on land, you’ll enjoy the Wildlife Park. More than 200 animals live in the Florida wetlands, and you’ll be able to explore the habitats and habits of lemurs, zebra, watusi, bobcats, sloths, and other exotic animals. Kids will enjoy the covered playground, and everyone will love exploring the Hawk Swamp where owls often roost in the coolness of the cypress tree-canopied boardwalk.

Enjoy your time in Orlando, and don’t forget, you can save 20% on your order when you buy 2 or more attractions or tours on our site with code: VISIT20