Orlando is a paradise for theme park lovers. Whether you’re spinning the tea cups at Walt Disney World Resort®, boarding the Hogwarts Express at Universal Orlando™ Resort, or watching a dolphin show at SeaWorld® Orlando, you can find big thrills and inventive attractions all over the city. Check out a mini version of the Kennedy Space Center at LEGOLAND Florida Resort, or whoosh down flumes in massive water parks.
If you need a break from Mickey Mouse or wonder what to do when it’s raining or too hot out, there are plenty of fun things to do in Orlando besides Disney®. Downtown is home to a buzzing nightlife scene, with a cluster of trendy bars at Wall Street Plaza for cocktails, karaoke, and clubbing. In the artsy Ivanhoe Village district, you can browse antiques stores, spot Art Deco architecture, and taste global dishes from Spanish tapas to traditional Greek cuisine.
Reasons to go:
- Vibrant arts scene: At the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, you can catch everything from Broadway musicals to elaborate Orlando Ballet productions and concerts by the renowned Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. Public tours of this multi-space, contemporary venue take place on the fourth Friday of each month.
- Family attractions: Hanging out at WonderWorks Orlando is an entertaining way to spend a day, rainy or otherwise. Kids can tackle an indoor ropes course, play laser tag, and try out interactive exhibits like an earthquake simulator and a bubble lab. Your budding artists will love Crayola Experience Orlando in the Florida Mall, where they can paint with melted wax and watch a coloring page come to life on screen.
- Winter Park museums: The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art displays a vast collection of Tiffany jewelry, pottery, and glasswork, and it offers free admission on Friday nights November through April. At the nearby Albin Polasek Museum, you can wander through a lakeside sculpture garden and tour the sculptor’s former home.
- Pro sports: Join the roar of the crowd at an Orlando City Soccer Club MLS match. You can get a close-up look at the players’ tunnel and the owners’ suite on a 45-minute, behind-the-scenes tour of the modern Exploria Stadium. If you’re a basketball fan, cheer on the NBA’s Orlando Magic at the Amway Center.
- Aquatic adventures: For a relaxing activity on the water, rent a swan-shaped paddleboat in downtown’s Lake Eola Park and cool off beneath the lake’s fountain. South of the city in Kissimmee, The Paddling Center runs guided kayaking and stand-up paddleboard tours through a tranquil cypress forest along Shingle Creek. Keep an eye out for wildlife like water turtles and alligators.
When to go
Orlando enjoys warm, sunny days year-round. Daytime temperatures rise into the low 90s in summer, while winter highs typically hover in the low 70s, dropping to the low 50s overnight. Winter and spring are generally less humid, and fall can be a quieter time to hit the theme parks.
If you visit in spring, the Epcot® International Flower & Garden Festival takes over its namesake park with brilliantly hued gardens and gigantic topiaries of Donald, Goofy, and company. Over the holiday season, the city’s theme parks sparkle with colorful lights. You can spot dancing gingerbread men and Santa Claus himself during Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade at the Magic Kingdom park.
Check out the Visit Orlando website before you travel for discounts on theme park tickets, attractions, tours, and sporting events.
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