Best Things to Do in Orlando, Florida

America’s most-visited city and the theme park capital of the world, Orlando is a must-see on any Florida travel plan. But with so much to see & do, narrowing down the best things to do in Orlando can prove challenging.

Among the top tourist attractions in Orlando, you’ll find fun activities for the entire family. Theme parks like Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, and Universal Orlando Resort lead the way. Yet, Orlando is more than just amusement parks and kitschy crowd-pleasers.

For respite from the crowds, duck into its world-class museums or relax in its leafy parks & nature reserves. Gourmands will also love exploring the city’s innovative food & drink scene in Downtown Orlando.

Wondering what to do in Orlando? Start planning your trip with this guide to the best places to visit in Orlando, Florida.

Best places to visit in Orlando, FL

Walt Disney World Resort

One of the world’s most famous family destinations, The Walt Disney World Resort tops the list of must-see Orlando attractions. The famed Central Florida resort boasts four theme parks, including the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Whichever park you choose to explore, it’ll have something for the entire family.

Visit Magic Kingdom to meet all your favorite Disney characters. Experience its thrilling roller coaster rides and high-sea adventures on a pirate ship. Or let Peter Pan take you gliding through the London skies. You’re only limited by your imagination at Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park.

Magic Kingdom at Disney World

Walt Disney World Resort is not just for children. Epcot is fun for kids & adults alike. Experience 4D adventures as you travel to exquisite destinations around the world. Take a NASA simulator into outer space or feast on delicious international cuisine at the World Showcase.

Whether you’re into Star Wars or Toy Story you can meet your favorite characters in a 3D immersive experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. At the movie-focused theme park, you’ll enjoy Indiana Jones stunt shows, Frozen sing-alongs, and even Jedi training!

For a slightly different experience, drop into Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. Take a guided tour into the African savannah and spot exotic animals. Get thrills by whitewater rafting through the jungle or spend time in the land of dinosaurs. The new fantastical Pandora – The World of Avatar is a huge hit with kids & adults, too.

You’ll need at least a day for each Disney theme park and another to visit its water parks. If you’re only visiting Orlando in one day, you’ll miss out on much of the fun.

Disney Springs

Entertainment knows no bounds at Disney Springs. At the replica tourist town, you’ll find loads of free outdoor entertainment and family fun. It’s one of the most interesting places to go in Orlando for a family-friendly break from the city’s other theme parks.

At Disney Springs, live music and street performers vie for the attention of shoppers. Its bars and restaurants draw bustling crowds throughout the day.

Disney Springs

With 150 venues and 25 different shows every night, Disney Springs is the perfect spot for an Orlando sightseeing adventure. Some of the oddities include an ATM that dispenses cupcakes and the world’s biggest Disney store.

For evening entertainment, enjoy blues at the House of Blues Music Hall or have dinner at one of its 24 eat-in theatres.

Other entertainment options at Disney Springs include a bowling alley, a tethered hot air balloon, and boating. You’ll also find plenty of rides for the children.

Universal Orlando Resort

Split into three theme zones and an entertainment area, Universal Orlando Resort is a Central Florida favorite. For movie buffs, it’s among the best places to see in Orlando. At the famed amusement park, your favorite films and characters will surge to life before your eyes.

For a dose of thrills, head to the Universal Islands of Adventure. On the eight Islands of Adventure, you’ll zip around on thrill rides among magical creatures and superheroes. Seek out the Jurassic Park River Adventure or the new Jurassic World VelociCoaster to cruise along with dinosaurs.

Universal Orlando Resort

At Universal Studios Florida, you can experience your favorite movies and TV shows in 3D and 4D. Take a trip with the Simpsons or spend time hangin’ with the Hogwarts crew at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Newly opened, Volcano Bay adds a water park to the Universal Orlando Resort mix. At Volcano Bay, you’ll raft through bubbling geysers, zoom down water slides, and ply the waterways on canoes and rope ladders.

Lake Eola Park

Need a break from Central Florida’s theme parks? Spend time relaxing at Lake Eola Park. Located in Downtown Orlando, the beautiful urban oasis is one of the top tourist attractions in Orlando.

To get the full Lake Eola Park experience, hire a swan-shaped boat. Paddle out and enjoy the views, floating alongside the lake’s five species of swans.

Lake Eola Park

If you don’t want to hit the waters, take a walk along the 0.9-mile paved path. It runs the full perimeter of the lake and offers spectacular views of the Orlando city skyline.

Around Lake Eola, you’ll find plenty of places to stop for a bite to eat or a drink. Beer lovers will love the nearby World of Beer. The popular pub serves 500 beers from around the world.

For entertainment, find out what’s on offer at the Walt Disney Amphitheatre. The venue hosts concerts and festivals throughout the year. The Orlando Farmers Market also takes place on the banks of Lake Eola every Sunday morning.

ICON Park

Voted one of the seven top points of interest in Orlando, FL, by Forbes, ICON Park is a one-stop entertainment hub for the whole family. The 20-acre ICON Park boasts several family-friendly attractions, shops, and restaurants.

Get a bird’s eye view of Orlando from 400 feet up at the top of The Wheel at ICON Park, formerly called the Orlando Eye. Located on International Drive, the former Orlando Eye is modeled on the famous London Eye. It boasts private air-conditioned capsules and offers incredible views of the cityscape.

The Wheel at ICON Park

If you’re up to the adventure, try out the 450-meter-high Orlando Starflyer, the world’s highest swing ride. The exhilarating ride might be one of the most memorable moments in your ICON Park visit.

Don’t want to conquer your fear of heights? Drop in at the Sea Life Orlando Aquarium or take a selfie with life-size replicas of your favorite star at Madame Tussauds Orlando.

When you’re done with the entertainment, stroll the strip to enjoy the park’s restaurants, shops, and boutiques.

Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures

Want to explore Central Florida’s nature? Discover its wildest moments with Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures. Based in nearby Kissimmee, the outfitter floats its guests through the wild Central Florida Everglades.

Airboat Tour

On the airboat ride, you’ll experience the beauty of Florida’s wetlands up close. Keep your eyes peeled on your journey as you zip past alligators, turtles, and birds.

SeaWorld Orlando

Swap the thrill rides for a brush with marine life at SeaWorld Orlando. One of the most popular family activities in Orlando, SeaWorld puts the ocean at your fingertips. The park features a diverse array of aquatic life including killer whales, orcas, and penguins.

Don’t miss the famed Orca Encounter show at Shamu Stadium. Prepare to get soaked as killer whales slap the water with their giant fins as orcas leap from the water.

SeaWorld

Besides the dolphin & whale shows, SeaWorld Orlando throws together a menu of rides. For thrill-seekers, Mako steals the show. Opened in 2016, the hypercoaster is the tallest and fastest rollercoaster in Orlando.

If you want to get even closer to the sea creatures, visit SeaWorld’s sister park, Discovery Cove. Located next door, Discovery Cove gives the whole family a chance to swim with bottlenose dolphins. Discovery Cove is also home to an aviary. Over 250 tropical birds, including parrots and toucans, call the habitat home.

Charles Hosmer Morse Museum 

If you’re an art lover wondering what to do in Orlando, Charles Hosmer Morse Museum is worth a visit. Located 15 minutes from downtown Orlando in Winter Park, the museum is well-known for its Art Nouveau collection. The exhibits include many famous 19th and 20th century pieces.

Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art

Charles Hosmer Morse Museum is home to the USA’s most inclusive Louis Comfort Tiffany collection. The works include American art, paintings, jewelry, ceramics, glass art, mosaics, lead glass lamps, and furniture. The collection also boasts the inside of a Byzantine-Romanesque chapel. It was designed by Tiffany for the World Columbian Exposition in 1893.

Orlando Museum of Art

Still didn’t tame your art obsession? The Orlando Museum of Art has a vast selection of both modern & ancient art. For arts & culture seekers, this popular museum one of the top Orlando points of interest.

Orlando Museum of Art

There are 2,400 exhibits at the Orlando Museum of Art. The most interesting displays include pottery and fabrics from Mesoamerica and Africa. At its American art collection, you’ll marvel at paintings and sculptures dating back to the 18th century. The Art of Ancient Americas collection represents 35 ancient American cultures. It’s the most comprehensive collection of its kind in the Southeastern US.

Looking for a painting experience? This Central Florida cultural institution hosts year-round art appreciation classes and other workshops.

Orlando Science Center

One of the top Orlando tourist attractions, the Orlando Science Center has been inspiring curious minds for more than 60 years. It boasts four floors of interesting, interactive displays and 3D films to entertain the whole family.

Science Center

At the Orlando Science Center, young scientists can create their own immersive experiences. You’ll find collaborative workspaces, 3D printing, and animal habitats.

The Orlando Science Center is located in Loch Haven Cultural Park. Take along a picnic basket and enjoy a meal alongside one of the park’s picturesque lakes.

Harry P Leu Gardens

Looking for a tranquil space away from all the bustle of Central Florida’s theme parks? Harry P Leu Gardens beckons. Located north of Colonialtown, the garden is one of the most relaxing choices for where to go in Orlando.

Harry P Leu Gardens

Harry P Leu Gardens boasts fifty acres of landscaped botanical gardens. Its meandering nature trails slide along the banks of the Rowena River. The subtropical gardens include exotic flowers, tranquil ponds, and ancient oaks. The park is also famous for its butterfly garden.

The gardens surround the Leu House Museum. The museum offers interesting insights into early 20th-century Florida living. It’s the perfect setting to enjoy a packed lunch at the outdoor tables.

Chocolate Museum & Cafe

Chocoholics will rejoice at the Chocolate Museum & Cafe. Located on International Drive, the museum is one of the world’s best destinations for chocolate lovers.

Hop onto the 45-minute guided tour to learn about the history of chocolate. Along the way, you’ll learn about its origins and how it’s made. At the end of the tour, you’ll, of course, get to sample chocolate delights from all around the world.

Bok Tower Gardens

Located south of Lake Buena Vista near Lake Wales, Bok Tower Gardens is one of the most serene escapes from the city. The gardens stretch out over 250-acres, hiding pines, oaks, palms, and azaleas.

Bok Tower Gardens

The centerpiece of the garden is the Singing Tower. Designated as a National Historic Landmark, the 205-foot tower shows off a striking Gothic Revival and Art Deco style. The tower’s carillon is one of only 185 in North America. Visit at 1 pm or 3 pm to listen to one of its daily concerts.

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From Orlando, the fastest route to Bok Tower Gardens is just over an hour.

Crayola Experience

One of the top tourist attractions in Orlando for families with young children, the Crayola Experience offers a day of fun for the whole family. The experience was designed to allow children to express themselves in vibrant creative colors.

Located in the Florida Mall, the 70,000 square foot Hall of Color is a center of fun & artistic adventure. There are 27 entertainment options on offer. Children can design their own colorful keepsakes and take a starring role in their own creations.

Cocoa Beach

Any Orlando visit would be incomplete without some beach time. To enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches near Orlando, head east to Cocoa Beach. The popular Space Coast town is one of the best Orlando day trips.

At Cocoa Beach, you’ll find plenty to do from surfing to lazing in the sun. You’ll also enjoy sampling the area’s laid-back restaurants and coffee shops.

Cocoa Beach

With its consistent waves, Cocoa Beach is a great surfing spot. The shallow water allows surfers to wade out beyond the breakers. If surfing isn’t your thing, kayak out to sea or take to the air with a kiteboard.

While in Cocoa Beach pay a visit to the world’s most famous surfing store, the Ron Jon Surf Store. At an astonishing 52,000 square feet, Ron Jon is the world’s largest surf shop.

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Cocoa Beach itself has more than 800 feet of boardwalk filled with shopping & dining options. Enjoy sundowners outside in the cool sea breeze.

Blue Spring State Park

The largest park on the St Johns River, Blue Spring State Park is west of Orange City, a short drive from Orlando. For the nature lover, the park is a top choice for what to see in Orlando.

Hit the park’s waterways for canoeing, scuba diving, and fishing. A campsite and a number of chalets offer comfortable overnight accommodation, too.

Blue Spring State Park

At Blue Spring State Park, manatees gather in the relatively warm waters of the spring during the colder months of the year. Delight in their antics from the boardwalk or take a kayak tour to get closer.

Hiking groups and paddlers will enjoy the wilderness along the banks of the river and its wide variety of birds. For cycling enthusiasts, Blue Spring State Park also has a paved bike path.

Wekiwa Springs State Park

Far from the bustling crowds, Wekiwa Springs State Park offers visitors 8,000 acres of peace & tranquillity. The waters of the cool, clear natural springs attract swimmers and divers all year round. You can also hire a canoe to paddle along the Wekiwa River.

Wekiwa Springs State Park is a great destination for wildlife encounters. The park is home to white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, and Sherman’s fox squirrels. You may also spot alligators and black bears.

Wekiwa Springs State Park

Thirteen miles of hiking trails invite cyclists, horseback riders, and hikers to venture forth. Rent a bicycle or sit on the grassy banks of the spring to enjoy a picnic lunch. Fishing licenses are on sale in the park if you want to throw a line in

Want to escape the city buzz? Stay overnight at Wekiwa Springs State Park. Hook up an RV or set up camp. Even pets are welcome.

Kennedy Space Center

A trip to Central Florida would not be complete without visiting Kennedy Space Center. Located 44 miles from Orlando on Merritt Island, the Kennedy Space Center basks visitors in the adventures of space travel. Unsurprisingly, it’s one of the top things to see & do near Orlando.

At the Kennedy Space Center, explore the moon through interactive activities or walk among real rockets in the Rocket Garden. Book a guided tour of the facility to get the full lowdown.

Kennedy Space Center

Tour the US Astronauts Hall of Fame and try your hand at flying a spaceship using training simulators. You can also experience the launch of a space shuttle, meet the new Mars Rover Navigator, and more.

Got time after your Kennedy Space Center day trip? Head north to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Drive along the refuge’s Black Point Wildlife Drive to spot its diverse wildlife.

Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens

If you’re wondering what to do in Orlando. Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens offer the whole family plenty of entertainment. Opened in 1923, the zoo has more than 400 animal species.

Jaguar at Central Florida Zoo

At Central Florida Zoo, you can zipline through the trees or enjoy the slides and pools at the Tropical Splash Ground waterpark. To relax, spend time admiring the 26-acre park’s lush botanical gardens.

Need the perfect end to the day? Sunset at the Zoo offers adults a chance to enjoy happy hour drinks and food trucks. The event takes place on the third Thursday of every week.

Winter Park

Take time out of theme parks and roller coasters to enjoy retail therapy in Winter Park. The lovely Orlando suburb is located minutes from the heart of the city. It’s a great place to ditch the tourist buzz for some quieter moments.

In Winter Park, window boxes bloom with colorful flowers and fountains tinkle to add to its small-town atmosphere. Take a boat ride through the Chain of Lakes to check out its opulent homes and sub-tropical gardens.

South Park Avenue in Downtown Winter Park

Park Avenue is lined with specialty boutiques and top brands. Follow a shopping spree with a stop at one of its trendy outdoor restaurants & bistros. Park Avenue is bordered by the tranquil Central Park. If you’re lucky on your visit, you could catch one of the park’s regular concerts and events.

Visiting on Saturday morning? Pencil in a visit to the Winter Park Farmers’ Market. The market takes place at the old train depot on the south end of Central Park.

Best places to stay in Orlando for sightseeing

For most travelers, the best places to stay in Orlando include Lake Buena Vista and the area around Universal and SeaWorld. If you want to be close to the city’s arts & culture scene, staying in Downtown is another great option.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Orlando Lake Buena Vista

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Lake Buena Vista

The family-friendly 3-star is one of the area’s top budget hotels. Guests will enjoy comfortable rooms along with a spa and sun terrace. The hotel is only a few minutes from Sea World and Disney.

Hyatt House

Hyatt House Universal Resort

As you’d imagine from the name, this mid-range hotel is steps away from Universal Studios. The whole family will love the spacious modern rooms and outdoor pool.

Hyatt Regency Orlando

Hyatt Regency Orlando

For a luxurious family stay, this resort pulls out all the punches. Kids will love the outdoor pools, including one with a waterslide, waterfall, and a splash pad. All the major theme parks are within a short drive.

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