Growing up in Atlanta, we used to visit Orlando every year during our school breaks. We went often enough that our parents eventually purchased a timeshare there. Visiting now brings back a lot of nostalgic memories, and making this list made me realize how much more there is to explore there.
Because theme parks are the most popular attractions in Orlando, we couldn’t leave them out, but we listed them briefly so that you can know about all the other great things to do in Orlando.
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Last Updated: May 17, 2020
The Ultimate Orlando Florida Bucket List - 101 Things to Do in Orlando
Tourist Attractions + Local Attractions
Ghost tours of cemeteries and haunted buildings.
Various arcade games, from classic pinball to modern driving games.
Artsy, eclectic cafe that serves unique tapas. Live entertainment throughout the week.
Gator wrestling, snake show, swamp walk, you can wrestle an alligator, Screamin Gator Zip Line, Trainer for a day program feeding baby alligators.
Theme park with go-karts and roller coasters.
Over all the parks, there are several companies.
They have an admissions free date.
Grab a drink from this below freezing bar that’s built from ice.
Largest Legoland in the world.
See your favorite celebrities and historic icons in their life-size wax forms.
400 ft tall observation wheel.
Putt putt that’s great for a fun date night or come play with the family.
Tribute-to-Hollywood American restaurant. Check out all the cool movie memorabilia here.
Willy Wonka inspired.
Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot (you can drink around the world), Hollywood Studios, Blizzard Beach Water Park, and Typhoon Lagoon (they do surf lessons). If you’ve visited before, you can always try a new way to explore the parks with a backstage tour or a Segway tour. If you are up for a challenge, try running the Disney Marathon. It might be more about meeting the Princesses with no lines.
100+ hands-on science exhibits, laser tag, ropes course, etc.
Spectate: Shows + Events
Go see an Orlando Magic game.
(DT Orlando) Live music venue and nightclub party till after hours.
Iconic interactive entertainment at Universal.
Polynesian Fire Luau at the Orlando Forum
Luau and Samoan Fire Dance dinner show with Hawaiian, Tahitian, Tongan and Polynesian entertainers.
Catch a Broadway musical, symphony orchestra, or a comedy show here.
Oldies at the Wednesday Night Pitcher Show and other movies. If you haven’t seen The Room yet, do yourself a favor and pick up a box of plastic spoons and go!
Nine large venues that hosts various amateur and professional sporting events throughout the year.
Full Sail Live
Grapefruit League Game
Braves come for spring training.
They have a Sunday Gospel Brunch.
Drawn to Life Cirque du Soleil
Disney animation comes to life via acrobatics.
Fun, interactive theatre productions.
Enjoy Carnival style performances with your Latin and Caribbean food.
Knights, javelins, horses! Be aware, you’ll be eating without utensils.
Tailgate party at the Citrus Bowl.
Family-friendly dinner show.
(Downtown Disney) We’ve gone here a lot for the bread pudding and piano bar.
Locals will tell you it’s the best improv comedy in Orlando.
Solve a murder mystery during dinner.
Rock Dinner Show Orlando
See kings and queens of rock and pop put on Vegas-style performances.
Museums + Monuments + Memorials
Queen of the Universe
World’s largest collection of Louis Tiffany stained glass art.
(DT Orlando) Showcases new and emerging talent, changes on a monthly basis.
See where the author of On The Road, Dharma Bums lived.
A grand, 50-acre botanic garden and estate on Lake Rowena with roses, camellias, butterfly garden, and more. Admission is free during their annual plant sale flora and fauna bonanza in March and pick up a few plants for your home.
Mayan Revival buildings of Orange County’s first National Historic Landmark.
We loved the collection of folk art.
5 story museum on the history of Central Florida.
Select Wednesdays 6-830 they have Art Night Out – create your own masterpiece plus beverage in cost.
There are lots of hands-on exhibits and planetarium shows. You can also get some free therapy from Eliza the computer psychologist.
Speciality museums with oddities and interesting attractions.
Well designed tanks and displays with knowledgable staff.
America’s largest skeleton museum.
Museum dedicated to Titanic artifacts.
Learn about the history of chocolate. Cafe is free to visit.
Outdoors + Urban Parks
See gators in their natural habitat.
Rehab center for hawks, owls, etc.
Golf here. Other great places to golf include Waldorf Astoria Club, Grand Cypress Resort, or Reunion Resort that’s designed by golf legends Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, and Arnold Palmer.
See some of the local landscape and wildlife.
Plenty of fishing charters from Orlando.
Small safari-like adventures.
Dolphin encounters near Clearwater Beach and other excursions.
Hot Air Ballooning over Orlando
Ride over Disney and Universal Parks and more.
It’s popular for swan boat rides, paddle boats, wallking, feeding swans. There’s also a 6 min fountain show at 8:30 pm and free yoga on Sundays.
(Winter Park) Short paths, good for a quick stroll through some planted gardens. You might even see otters and wild birds.
You can see gators here. It’s not a natural habitat but an eco project to recycle Orlando’s used water.
(Kissimmee) Kayaking with alligators, bald eagles, etc at the source of the Florida Everglades. You can experience it through an airboat ride or if you dare, by kayak.
No admission fees to enjoy this preserve.
(Altamonte Springs) Cool springs to swim in, can kayak, snorkel, canoe, hike, or cycle.
Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour
Through Chain of Lakes.
Thrills + Adventure
Fast karts and challenging tracks.
Thrilling experience, great if you’re not ready to try the real deal.
Wakeboarding, wakeskating, wakesurfing, kneeboarding, waterskiing.
Reservations are recommended.
Sling Shot and Starflyer at Magical Midway
World’s largest slingshot and swings that rise above the ground over 230 ft, rotating 360 degrees at approximately 50 mph.
(formerly Downtown Disney) Ride the Aerophile balloon here.
Earthy and locally sourced eatery and market.
Largest flea market in the US with thousands of different booths.
Central Florida’s largest shopping center, 1.7 million sq ft.
Lots of bargain and outlet shops.
The upscale mall.
You’ll see tour buses stop here, so be ready for large crowds at all times.
Known for shopping and nightlife and includes Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, Hard Rock Cafe, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, NBA City, and more.
Fresh produce, bakery items, etc.
Old-school cocktail bar. They have cocktail classes – 545 pm first and third Sat of the month.
Orlando’s best country nightclub.
Create your own custom crayon here.
They have Escape Rooms all over the country and the ones we’ve done are really well done!
Dine at a Celebrity Chef’s Restaurant
Morimoto Asia, Guy Fieri’s Chicken Guy, Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill, and more.
Boggy Creek Airboat Tour
Explore the Central Florida Everglades by skimming above the water’s surface in an airboat.
Free brewery tours Mon-Sat at 6 PM except on Beer30 (30th of each month) – You can also brewery hop to Ocean Sun, Crooked Can, Ten10, and Red Cypress.
Take a cooking class.
Other spa options: Ritz Carlton Spa at Ritz Carlton Orlando Grand Lakes, Poseidon Spa at the Grand Bohemian Hotel, or the Salt Room for salt therapy.
It’s 19,000 square feet.
Swim with manatees down the Crystal River.
(Titusville) Kayak over a bioluminescent lagoon.
(Volusia County) The shark attack capital of the world according to Guinness Book of World Records.
(Ocala) Glass bottom boat rides see fish and occasional gator sightings, and scenery with Spanish moss.
Seasonal + Special Events
Great prix fixe menu prices at 30 of Orlando’s top restaurants.
Florida Citrus Parade
(end of Dec) Celebrates the holidays and two annual college football bowl games: the Citrus Bowl and the Camping World Bowl.
Florida Film Festival by Enzian Theater
(end of April) Current, independent, and international cinema.
Flower and Garden Festival, Epcot
(Feb-May) Amazing displays of your favorite Disney charactors as floral and topiary sculptures.
Halloween Horror Night, Universal
(mid-Sept – early Nov) Haunted houses, scare zones and live entertainment. Not intended for young children.
Holidays Around the World, Epcot
(late Nov – Dec 30) Don’t miss the Candlelight Processional.
Grinchmas, Universal Islands of Adventure
(Dec) Who-liday Christmas performances and more.
International Food and Wine Festival, Epcot
(late Aug – mid-Nov) Try food and drinks from around the world.
Lakeridge Winery and Vineyard’s Annual Harvest Grape Stomp
(Aug) Live music, winery tours, grape stomping competitions.
Macy’s Day Parade, Universal Studios
After Thanksgiving, this parade comes from NYC to Orlando and stays here until Christmas. They call it Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s.
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Magic Kingdom
(late Aug – Nov 1) Costume parties, candy, and more. Great for young kids.
Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Magic Kingdom
(early Nov – late Dec) Holiday treats, performances, and special events.
Orlando Film Festival at Cobb Plaza Cinema Cafe
(late Oct) Filmmakers, donors and partners come to celebrate the movie-viewing experience.
Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival
(mid-May – end of May) Longest running fringe festival in the US.
Strawberry Festival, Plant City
3rd Thursday Gallery Hop
Culture crawl every 3rd Thurs of the month.
101 THINGS TO DO IN ORLANDO FL MAP
Essential Tips for First Time Visitors to Orlando FL
- The Best Time to Visit is Spring or Fall. The weather is good and you avoid the summer crowds.
- If you are visiting the main parks (Walt Disney World and Universal), do everything you can to avoid holidays! It becomes ridiculously packed. We had a friend who went the week of Christmas and Magic Kingdom closed because it was at capacity!
- Don’t try to do everything in one day. Esther visited all the Disney parks in one day before as a bucket list item but it did not feel very good. You’re spending most of the time running around between them that it was hard to enjoy any of the parks.
- If you’re visiting between late May to mid-October, then be prepared for a bit of rain every day. The rain doesn’t usually last, but be prepared with a lightweight rain jacket (hers + his). It’s good to have handy even not during the rainy season.
- It gets hot! Be prepared with water (we love this reusable water bottle that folds up when we don’t need it) and sunblock.
- Don’t forget to budget for other extra fees. Park tickets are already pricey, but you also have to pay for parking, food, etc. Parking usually runs roughly $20 per park.
- Dress comfortably and in layers if you’ll be out all day.
Did we miss anything? What would your ideal trip to Orlando include?
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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust