Orlando in Florida might as well be theme park heaven, as it has some of the biggest and most popular themed amusement resorts such as Disney, Universal and Legoland.
However, there’s plenty of attractions in this central Florida city that doesn’t necessarily involve expensive entrance fees or staying in fancy themed hotels.
Spread all over downtown, the suburbs and nearby villages are fascinating places that you can visit, as well as a variety of interesting activities to do.
From art museums to science centers, pretty gardens to urban parks and even themed restaurants —there’s never a shortage of things to do in Orlando, Florida.
Getting Around Orlando/ Car Rentals in Orlando
Most of these places are easily accessible via the city’s efficient transport system. However, there are also plenty of must-visit attractions that are spread all over Orlando, that it’ll require you to make multiple transfers via bus or train.
Whether you have a set itinerary or plan to just explore the city one day or one district /neighborhood at a time while taking in the surroundings — renting a car from Miles Car Rental is definitely recommended.
This way, you can better manage your schedule which wouldn’t be dependent on bus or train timetables. You also get to explore more, perhaps discover a unique neighborhood or stumble into a cool cafe or restaurant.
Getting around Orlando in a car is a great way to experience the local vibe, and see more of the city without hurrying from one train or bus to another.
Car rentals in Orlando are available in the airport as well as in and around downtown, and it is advisable to book your rentals in advance so you get to have a pick of the type of car or brand.
Rental cars run out pretty fast especially the local (not based in the airport) companies so make sure you book in advance.
When renting a car and driving around Orlando, either bring extra cash or purchase a toll pass, download a map or bring a GPS (in case the car doesn’t already have one) and take your sense of adventure.
Be prepared to get to know more of this vibrant Florida city and check out these must-do activities and must-see attractions.
9 Best Things To Do in Orlando, Florida
1. Winter Park Scenic Boat Tours
Known for its farmers market, cool cafes and restaurants and scenic gardens, Winter Park area are easily among the best places to visit in Orlando.
A definite must-try here is the boat tour that takes you through the Chain of Lakes, and man-made canals.
The scenic cruise takes about an hour, and also offers stunning views of beautiful private homes and mansions, shores lined with palm trees and you may even spot an alligator basking on the lakeshore.
2. The Wheel at ICON Park
Located on International Drive and part of the I-360 complex, the already iconic observation wheel is among the top things to do in Orlando.
This massive Ferris wheel towers at 400 feet and offers stunning views of downtown Orlando as well as its skyline.
On a clear day, you may even see Cape Canaveral to the East.
This is also one of the best places to view the sunset in Orlando, where you can watch the city literally light up as evening comes.
3. Lake Eola
A scenic walk by the lake away from the theme park crowds and a view of the Orlando — that’s exactly what Lake Eola has to offer.
It’s an easy respite right in the heart of the city, where you get to relax within its landscaped grounds.
Check out the abundant plant and bird species, as well as swans basking in the lake.
Take a leisurely stroll or enjoy a picnic, Lake Eola is one the places to visit in Orlando that should be part of your itinerary.
4. Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve
The 440-acre Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve is another of those places to see in Orlando that offers a fun but relaxing time, away from the theme park crowds.
Get to commune with nature as you explore easy to moderate trails, Stand by the lakeshore and take in the view of the wetlands or get lost among the pine forests and spot some wildlife.
Spend an early morning or late afternoon here, have a picnic and relax. Here is a great place to visit before setting out either to another theme park or seeing more of downtown Orlando.
5. Orlando Science Center
The Orlando Science Center takes you through various interactive displays and exhibits, where learning mixes with playtime.
This is one of the best attractions in Orlando that’s ideal for the whole family, one that both kids and adults will enjoy.
Check out the various exhibits, the cinedome, the planetarium, and a massive telescope to see spectacular views of the night sky.
6. Local Gardens
Orlando is definitely a thriving, vibrant, busy city that gets an influx of tourists every year, that you’d think a good part of it is all fun, color, and loud merriment.
If you’d like to take breaks in between exploring theme parks and other local attractions, go on a quiet, leisurely stroll through some of its gardens.
Check out the Harry P. Leu Gardens, with its scenic landscaped grounds filled with tropical plants.
There’s also Winter Park’s Kraft Azalea Gardens and Mead Botanical Gardens that boasts of rich flora and fauna, where you also get to walk by lakes and man-made canals.
7. Themed Restaurants
Orlando is home to 5,000 restaurants, so that pretty much puts you in a dilemma. Where to go, what to eat?
How about somewhere that offers both good food and great entertainment? Narrow down your choices to ‘themed restaurants’ where you get a one-of-a-kind dining experience.
Among the best things to do in Orlando in the evening, one of the most popular themed restaurants is Medieval Times Dining and Tournament.
Located in an actual castle close to Disney World, this is a unique dining experience that takes you several centuries back, with knights on horses, duels and sword fights, you get to witness a story unfold as you enjoy a sumptuous meal.
8. Orlando Museum of Art
The colorful and vibrant city of Orlando, apart from the various attractions, also takes pride in its art scene.
Be sure to visit the Orlando Museum of Art, which boasts of an impressive variety of permanent collections such as African art, contemporary pieces and the spectacular“Art of the Ancient Americas.”
As this central Florida city is known all over America as among those with the most diverse and thriving local art scenes, this museum is among the best places to see in Orlando.
9. Universal Orlando Resort
You can’t be in Orlando and not visit at least one of its massive theme parks, and a great alternative to Disney is definitely the Universal Orlando Resort.
This place is legendary, with the variety of things to see that includes Marvel superheroes, witches and Wizards.
This is among the best Orlando attractions that are not to be missed, especially if you’re a film buff or bringing family or friends along.
Be sure to plan your trip ahead so you can maximize your visit, as it is easy to get lost in the resorts two massive theme parks: the Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure.
Be sure to spend time with the Transformers, the Amazing Spiderman and of course, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
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