Destinations, Nature / Outdoors

Things to do in Orlando besides Theme Parks

Are you planning a vacation to sunny Florida? If so, what are some things to do in Orlando besides theme parks? Believe it or not, there are LOTS of things to do besides theme parks! In fact, Orlando has beautiful nature and authentic local experiences that compare with any other major city in the USA. Here are my top ten activities I’d recommend.

#1 – Go to the Springs & Swim

I love Florida Springs so much! I highly recommend taking a day to go to Kelly Park, Rock Springs. It’s pure Florida nature as it has been for hundreds of years. (At least close to it.) You will really be glad you did. I wrote extensively about my love for Rock Springs here.

Beautiful river to swim down at Rock Springs at Kelly Park.

#2 – Take the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tours (& Eat Yummy Lunch at a French Cafe)

Winter Park is a very special section of the Orlando area. It’s about 15 minutes from downtown, and it has a beautiful vibe to it. It’s more quiet and residential. You can take a boat tour that is truly delightful. It goes around the lakes of Winter Park and it’s very informative!

Book a boat tour here.

After your boat tour, there are delightful cafes and restaurants in Winter Park. There is a French bakery (Croissant Gourmet) you really won’t want to miss. Check out my other blog post all about Winter Park for more details (& pictures of the parties!)

#3 – Go to Gatorland

This is just old-fashioned Florida fun. Where else can you go to a vintage feeling theme park about ALLIGATORS!? If you’re here on vacation, just go. It’s a bit cheesy, but it’s a Florida thing. (And kids will love it.)

Buy tickets (for the best prices) on the Gatorland website.

#4 – Boggy Creek Airboat Rides

This is such a Florida adventure off the beaten path! It’s loud, it’s intense, and it’s just as good as any roller coaster. You fly over the Florida nature on an airboat and see wildlife in their natural habitats. Enjoy!

Book your tour via their Boggy Creek Airboat Tours website here for best offers.

things to do in orlando

#5 – Forever Florida Coach Tour

This company in St. Cloud offers really amazing Florida adventure! You can do zip lines or coach tours. I love how authentic they are. They really care about education and making tourists see what Florida really was like for many years in the past. It’s a must do.

Book a ticket here on their company website for the best deal.

#6 – Kennedy Space Center

My grandfather worked for NASA for most of his life. Let me just say, when he had “take your kid to work day” — I was up early and raring to go! (I guess they let in grandkids too…because I went for years.) It was such an adventure to SEE spaceships. (He also let me play with liquid nitrogen and freeze oranges then smash them…. a story for another day.)

Today many kids aren’t inspired to pursue math and science. Well, the Kennedy Space Center helps bring back the magic of what makes science amazing. The wonderment of traveling to another planet or the moon feels a little more real after you visit. Take kids for sure, and take anyone! It’s a special experience.

Book your tickets at the best rate via their own Kennedy Space Center website here.

#7 – Green Meadows Petting Farm

If you have little ones (or adults) who need a slower day, take time to visit this lovely Orlando Florida petting Farm! I love this petting farm because it’s clean smells good, and the animals are cute. They don’t look like they’re overly mangled by children. The staff is really sweet and thoughtful. It’s also a nice size. It’s big enough to be interested, but not overwhelming to lose your little ones.

Book your tickets for the day here on the Green Meadows Petting Farm website.

#8 – Canoe from King’s Landing in a River

I love, love, love the canoe experience from King’s Landing. It’s a really wonderful adventure year round. In the summer, it’s nice to jump in the water. In the winter, just stay in the canoe and wear a scarf. (Florida is never really that cold folks.)

For more details, check out my post on this canoe spot.

Get rate info an directions on the King’s Landing Canoe Rental in Orlando website here.

orlando canoeing orlando hipster outdoor activities


#9 – Go See a Shakespeare Play

This little theater is so much fun! The plays are wonderful, the atmosphere is quaint and cozy, with good sound. You will love the experience of being in the theater. If you can, please go one afternoon or evening to support local Orlando theater. This may be one of the most memorable (air conditioned) and pleasurable parts of your vacation.

Book tickets via their website and check out the plays coming up soon.

#10 – Go to a Great Beach

Yes, you knew this suggestion was coming. Explore some of Orlando’s beautiful beaches. My favorite is Playalina Beach on the Space Coast. This is a nice one to combine with a trip to the Kennedy Space Center.

It cost a few dollars a carload to get in, but the views of unspoiled nature are SO worth it. (NO trash, NO stores, NO commercialism.) It’s just relaxation, waves, beauty, and lots of sea & sky. For more information on Florida beaches, check out my other beach blog post here.

Those are my top 10 ideas for things to do in Orlando besides theme parks. What about you? Feel free to share your favorite non-theme park activities below. 🙂


  1. Charles McCool: McCool Travel

    August 20, 2018 at 7:04 pm

    At Boggy Creek, opt for the Drive Your Own Airboat adventure. Really fun.

    1. iamvioletta

      August 20, 2018 at 7:07 pm

      Nice! Thanks for the suggestion Charles!

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