Things To Do In Orlando Besides Theme Parks

Did you know that Orlando has many fun things to do besides the theme parks? Sure – Disney World, Seaworld Orlando and Universal Studios are amazing, but there is so much more to discover in the Orlando area!

If you have a few extra days to spend in Florida there are a ton great things for you to do in the Orlando area. Lets jump in!

best non theme park orlando activities

Kennedy Space Center

The Kennedy Space Center is about an hour away from Orlando and is well worth the drive! This is a great place for the whole family to explore.

The interactive exhibits are split into mission zones by chronological eras. You will learn all about space exploration from the beginning till now. Everyone recommends making a stop at the Apollo/Saturn V visitor center.

You will need to take the tour bus to get there – make it your first stop! You won’t regret it. One of the best things about the Kennedy Space Center is that you get to see real historic and current space craft on display.

Daily admission price includes the following:

  • Space Shuttle Atlantis featuring the Shuttle Launch Experience®
  • The Apollo/ Saturn V Center via a Kennedy Space Center bus
  • Astronaut Encounter
  • Planet Play
  • Heroes & Legends featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame® presented by Boeing
  • Universe Theater featuring many shows daily including: Mission Status Briefings and Mission Control: The Unsung Heroes of Apollo.
  • Space films in the IMAX® theater
  • Journey To Mars: Explorers Wanted
  • Rocket Garden 

The Kennedy Space Center is also the closest place to view a rocket launches from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Kennedy Space Center. Be sure to check the launch calendar to find out when upcoming launches are scheduled.

Kennedy Space Center

Orlando Science Center

If science is your jam head over to the Orlando Science Center where you will enjoy four floors of interactive exhibits! The exhibits, labs, and workshops change with the seasons so there is always something new to see and do here.

Tickets are available to purchase online.

Harry P. Leu Gardens

If you are visiting Orlando between October and March this should be on your “must do” list! The Leu Garden is home to the largest collection of camellias in the Unites Sates and are in bloom during this time frame!

This beautiful botanical garden is located in the center of the city and has a water fountain, lakes, gardens, and even a museum. This 50 acre park is gorgeous – kids will love it too! There is a butterfly garden and an amazing flower clock! You will want to plan on spending at least two hours at this park. This is a perfect place to spend an afternoon.

These botanical gardens are open every day except Christmas. The price $15 for adults and $10 for children ages 4-17. If you enjoy gardens and are wanting to visit Walt Disney World, consider visiting during EPCOTS Flower and Garden Festival!

Harry P. Leu Gardens flowers

Visit a Winery

If you are in Orlando without kids consider visiting a winery and taking a vineyard tour! The premium winery is Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards which is located in Clermont (25 miles away).

This winery offers tours, wine tasting, food trucks, and special events on the weekends. Tours and tastings are complimentary and can take anywhere from 45 minutes to about an hour. A bottle of wine from Orlando would make a great souvenir from your vacation to enjoy at home!

International Drive Orlando

Did you know that International Drive is considered Orlando’s tourism corridor? Many of the places you associate with Orlando are found on I-Drive. There are even trolleys you can use that will take you up and down the miles of things to do!

International Drive is one of the best places to see Orlando attractions. There are a number of activities you can participate in on I-Drive including an escape room, Top Golf, and Ripley’s Believe it or Not. You will also find a ton of dining options and entertainment.

Here are some of the more popular attractions in this area:

The Wheel at ICON Park

The Wheel is a huge ferris wheel located 15 minutes from Walt Disney World! This fun ride opened in 2015 and has quickly become a must-do Orlando attraction.

A ticket will get you an 18 minute ride on this amazing ride. You will see views from 400 feet in the air. The best time to ride The Wheel is in the morning or in the evening when golden hour makes everything look amazing.

Each capsule is air conditioned so don’t worry about riding in the middle of the afternoon in July! You will enjoy this ride no matter what time of day you choose.

Ticket prices for The Wheel start at just under $30 per person. You can purchase combo tickets to include Madame Tussauds, SEA LIFE Orlando, or the Starflyer. 

The Wheel at ICON park
Photo by savannah asah. on Unsplash

Pirates Cove Adventure Golf

Enjoy a pirate themed mini golf course full of waterfalls and bridges! The best part is that the scorecard is electronic! You can play 36 holes for $23.95 or a standard 18 hole game for less than $14.

SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium at ICON Park

Open daily, this aquarium will get you up close with all sorts of marine animals. The 360 degree water tunnel is a favorite of visitors! If you have kids under the age of three they are free!

sea life water animals

WonderWorks

An “amusement park for the mind,” this is an upside down attraction that you will be talking about for days to come. With over 100 interactive exhibits you will experience an earthquake, electricity, a ropes course, a roller coaster, and more!

Price is $34 for adults and $25 for kids.

Take a Helicopter Ride

If viewing Orlando from high in the air is your jam, consider taking a helicopter ride! There are a number of companies that give lots of options of helicopter tours. You can find out more information here.

See Manatees at Crystal River

Crystal River is a bit of a drive – 90 minutes – but if seeing manatees is on your bucket list you need to go!

Crystal Rivers’ King Bay Wildlife Refugee is the manatee capital of the world. Manatees live here all year long thanks to the water being warmer than the water in the Gulf of Mexico.

The best time to see these beautiful animals is November through March during high tides and cold fronts. You can see the manatees by walking the boardwalk and other trails at Three Sisters Spring Wildlife Refuge. You also may consider renting a kayak or booking a manatee tour!

The Three Sisters Wildlife Refuge is open year round and prices for admission vary. This wildlife area is a unique experience that may give you the opportunity to see wildlife and plants that you have never seen before!

manatee

Visit Blue Spring State Park

This amazing state park is open year round and is less than an hour drive from Orlando. If you like nature and enjoy visiting state parks, we definitely recommend you consider going to this state park in Orange City, Florida.

The Blue Spring State park is, as the name suggests, a water park – but not an amusement park! This is a natural spring state park where you can go swimming, snorkeling, and fishing. The water here is an amazing 72 degrees and is along the St Johns River.

You will also find hiking and bicycle trails as well as campsites. If you are looking for manatees, you might see them here as well! In the winter of 2022 the number of wintering manatees reached 722!

Fees are $6 per vehicle. Do be aware that the park can fill up and the park will temporarily close.

Blue Spring State Park

Visit Lake Eola Park

Lake Eola Park is located in the heart of downtown Orlando. This is a great place to get some nature while you are in the heart of the city! One of the most popular things to do at this park is to rent a swan shaped paddle boat. Swan boats are available Tuesday-Sunday on a first come, first serve basis. Rentals cost $15 for a 30 minute ride.

Lake Eola Park also has a .9 mile walking path around the lake where you can enjoy seeing birds and taking in nature. Picnic tables are available for use, and there are two different playgrounds! There are often festivals, farmers market, and other live entertainment in the park so be sure to check out the schedule. The entire family will enjoy spending time here.

swan boats at Lake Eola Park

Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Located a quick 25 minute drive from Orlando, the Central Florida Zoo is home to over 350 animals! While at the zoo you can hear information from Zookeepers, let your kids play in the splash pad, and even check out the zip line. You will enjoy wandering the gardens where you will see butterflies, medicinal plants, hummingbirds, and more!

The zoo is open 9:00-4:00 and you can get a discount when you purchase your tickets online.

Visit a Beach

Of course, you an always visit a beach while in Orlando! We have our favorites on each coast that are within driving distance. These beaches would make a great day trip!

family at beach

There are many other amazing things to do while in Orlando. You can check out Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures, go on a hot air balloon ride, visit Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park, or the Crayola Experience. The Orlando area is home to many golf courses so be sure to reserve a tee time!

Don’t forget that Disney Springs is free to visit! You do not need any sort of park ticket to get there. Check out our favorite restaurant options here!

About disneywithdavesdaughters

Dave and his daughters have been going to Disney for 30+ years, all on a teacher's budget . They love helping families have the most magical Disney vacation ever by sharing all their expert family secrets. Feel free to send them a message or follow along on Instagram!