Things to do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks

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Written By Carlos Braga

Orlando outside the parks It is a rich, bustling city, full of attractions as varied as possible.

In addition, there are places around with exuberant nature, with preserved flora and fauna, as well as historical places such as Saint Augustine.

Make the most of your trip by exploring Florida and all that it has to offer.

Does Orlando have many attractions?

Yes, there are several other options in Orlando outside the parks, despite being the most anticipated tour, the City is beautiful and has many other attractions that are worth visiting.

By the way, outside the Disney complexes there are aquariums, several museums and many coveted brand stores.

iFly Orlando - Free Flight Simulator in Orlando
iFly Orlando – Free Flight Simulator in Orlando

In addition, there is always something new, especially during the spring season, which is the beginning of school holidays in the United States.

Therefore, whenever planning a trip, it is good to keep an eye on the news on the website, so it is easier to enjoy the city and what it has to offer.

In general, the city's attractions are not usually expensive and it is a respite from tiring routines between one park and another, in addition to making the trip more interesting.

Anyway, in most shows and museums it is possible to buy the ticket in advance, this helps to plan and make the most of what Orlando has to offer.

What to do in Orlando outside the parks?

There are several options and news always comes up, so if you go to Orlando between one year and another, you might find a different place.

That, not counting the nearby towns, which also have their charm and are a good option to get away from the crowd.

The tourist can go to wax museums, amusement parks, those common ones, or watch a circus show.

At first, they are options that usually please different tastes.

Orlando outside the parks It is a busy, colorful place with a great climate, that is, it has everything to be explored.

Anyway, Orlando is a fantastic place, where your family will find unlimited fun, with countless options for tours.

Those who prefer the night, there are many bars and restaurants with live music that pleases those who want to discover the bohemian side of the city.

Icon Park

the complex Icon Park located on International Drive, it is a great alternative to enjoy an amusement park, in addition to the traditional ones at Disney and Universal, one of the best options in Orlando outside the parks.

Icon Park Orlando
Icon Park Orlando

In fact, the place has a complete structure, with toys, restaurants and stores for shopping, Some of the attractions are:

  • Sealife Aquarium
  • Madame Tussaud

It's in Icon Park, in principle, which is the largest Ferris wheel in the American East, called The Wheel, one of the main attractions.

Icon Park Orlando - Sealife Aquarium
Icon Park Orlando – Sealife Aquarium

Anyway, from the top you can get a sense of the size of the city, see the parks, in addition to a privileged view of the city.

Something that only one of the biggest Ferris wheels on the planet can provide.

Orlando StarFlyer

Orlando StarFlyer is one of the new attractions, it opened in 2018, inside Icon Park, it is one of the most radical and exciting in the park.

First of all, it is the highest carousel in the world, it is about 317 meters from the ground and reaches an incredible speed of 72 km / h.

The toy is known by many as a Mexican hat, in any case, it is one of the best options for Orlando outside the parks.

Orlando StarFlyer
Orlando StarFlyer

Right at the exit there is a bar with great drinks, or if you prefer, there is the best ice cream in the world, Häagen-Dazs in different flavors than those found here and even a store with Wetzel Pretzels.

Sealife Aquarium in Orlando outside the parks?

Anyone going to Orlando needs to go to the Sea Aquarium to meet little Chely, a friendly green turtle that was rescued.

She along with fish of all species swim freely in majestic aquariums.

Sealife Aquarium at Icon Park Orlando
Sealife Aquarium at Icon Park Orlando

It is impossible not to be enchanted by the tunnel-shaped aquarium, after all, in it the tourist literally has fish swimming above and to the sides, it is surreal to see the details of marine animals in so much detail and so close.

Anyway, it's a great tour to do with children, they talk about life in the water, maintenance and protection of these fish, all very didactic without ceasing to be fun.

Madame Tussauds Orlando

The Madame Tussauds is the famous wax museum.

In it, actors, singers and personalities are exposed in real size, with all the details.

Madame Tussaud - Walt Disney
Madame Tussaud – Walt Disney

Anyway, fun is guaranteed to take selfies with your favorite celebrity.

In addition, Madame is divided into sectors, some of which are part of it are:

  • Sports legends;
  • Classic Movies:
  • Personalities of History;
  • Presenters;
  • Singers;
  • Movie stars.

The museum is always with news, the latest is to recreate stars from South America, it is already possible to take pictures with the singer from Medellín, Maluma and Anitta.

Anne Hathaway at Madame Tussauds Orlando
Anne Hathaway at Madame Tussauds Orlando

The tickets are sold at Madame Tussauds is one of the highlights of Orlando outside the parks.

Is Museum of Illusions located in Orlando outside the parks?

The Museum of Illusions is one of the Orlando outside the parks which is interesting.

That's because he plays with the tourist's senses, through mirrors, miniature furniture, colors and drawings. 

Museum of Illusions - Orlando outside the parks
Museum of Illusions – Orlando outside the parks

It puts the tourist in situations that seem out of reality, in fact, it is a playful and interactive moment, which ends up conquering adults and children alike.

In addition, it is full of spaces that yield very fun photos and footage.

The Wheel, a great Orlando attraction outside of the parks?

The Wheel is a Ferris wheel that is 121 meters high and has thirty glass capsules that fit 14 people, some are for adults only, and you can have a party in the cabin for up to 10 people, with lots of drinks and even a bartender, things that only Orlando provides.

The Wheel ICON - Orlando's Ferris Wheel
The Wheel ICON – Orlando's Ferris Wheel

In general, the tour lasts around thirty minutes, the tip is to walk at sunset, the view at this time is spectacular.

Each cabin has an IPad, which narrates the landscape and sights below, if you need it, the cabin also has Wi-Fi, this is an alternative to walking in Orlando outside the parks.

The Wheel the former Orlando Eye

The The Wheel it has just undergone a renovation and also changed its name, it is the former Orlando Eyes.

Despite the height, it is very safe and comfortable.

Also, another positive point is that there is space for those with reduced mobility.

The Wheel at Icon Park Orlando
The Wheel at Icon Park Orlando

The ticket for this attraction entitles you to watch an initial video, which shows the city from above, with all the sights and lakes.

Up there, the surprise is a light show called Every Night: Nightly Light Show. 

Downtown Orlando

Downtown is a mandatory stop for those who enjoy architecture, in addition to the city hall building, it is full of modern towers in contrast to buildings that refer to the 19th century.

Incidentally, it is considered the financial center and during the day the place is calm, nothing reminds of the turmoil of the parks.

Downtown Orlando
Downtown Orlando

During the day, the tip is to have a snack at the traditional Mary's and a gelatto at Rita's Italian, at night, in addition to the famous restaurants located in Downtown, there are Irish pubs, such as the Harp & Celt Irish Pub & Restaurant, which serves Kidney Pie, a pie common in Ireland made of beef and kidney, which is a popular favorite with visitors.

Anyway, the nightlife in Downtown is very busy, with lots of lights and clubs, it's where young people meet, a nice, clean and well-organized place.

It is without a doubt a place that must be seen in Orlando outside the parks.

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Lake Eola Park & Orlando Farmers Market

Lake Eola Park is located in Downtown, first of all, it is a huge lake with trees around it, a green space for those who want to breathe fresh air and rest from the crowds and theme parks.

Lake Eola Park - Orlando Outside the Parks
Lake Eola Park – Orlando Outside the Parks

In addition, it is a public place, that is, the tourist does not need to disburse anything to enjoy it, it has a playground for children, places for picnics and even a trail.

During the holiday season, the place hosts fairs, theater and music for children, which makes the lake a little busier.

The fountain is a spectacle in itself, every night a light show catches the public's attention, enjoy a happy hour in the heart of Orlando.

doctor Phillips Center

The Doctor. Phillips Center is an imposing theater located in Downtown, during the year it hosts several plays, performances by musicians and ballet.

During the season, it is possible to watch Broadway plays, in fact, the schedule changes a lot during the year, so it is good to follow the events on the official website, which will be showing on the date of the trip.

doctor Phillips Center
doctor Phillips Center

The values also vary according to the schedule, but it's worth every penny, the places marked leave everything well organized, the structure of Dr. Phillips is impeccable, the acoustics are also excellent.

Anyway, it is without a doubt one of the places in Orlando outside the parks that deserves attention.

Orlando city at night
Orlando outside the parks the option is the nightlife. Travelscape image on Freepik.

Is Church Street a good option to visit Orlando outside the parks?

It's on Church Street in Downtown that everything happens, mainly at night.

After all, it is the main street, full of restaurants, bars and concert halls.

Incidentally, the stores there are one of the few places in Orlando that you will find souvenirs of the most varied types that are not of children's characters. 

The street is close to Lake Eola, it is even possible to include the lake during the visit and enjoy it better Orlando outside the parks.

Church Street - Orlando Outside the Parks
Church Street – Orlando Outside the Parks

Church Street was a railway station, and was built in 1889, meaning it is a historic place after all.

Even so, the space is well maintained, clean and above all very charming. 

Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando Outside the Parks

The Harry P. Leu Gardens is one of the most amazing places in Orlando, it's a shame that people who go to the city leave without knowing this place.

By the way, for those who like green areas and peace, there you will find several gardens with native plants and flowers. 

Harry P. Leu Gardens
Harry P. Leu Gardens

For children, the tour in Orlando outside the parks reserves birds and insects and the path to the fairy house, which makes the trail more playful for the little ones.

Finally, set aside the morning to visit the botanical garden, to escape the strong sun and late afternoon rain.

Orlando Science Center

At the Orlando Science Center science museum they arouse curiosity through practice, it is interactive, that is, it is a place where children can move around at will, this undoubtedly pleases the little ones a lot, the museum's target audience is the three eleven years old, but adults also have a lot of fun.

Orlando Science Center - Orlando Outside the Parks
Orlando Science Center – Orlando Outside the Parks

The center is divided into floors, there are four in total, they have a mini city, cinema, exhibitions.

In addition, it has a floor dedicated to engineering and the human body.

Also, a sector for dinosaurs and mysteries of the universe could not be missing. 

Orlando basketball games outside the parks?

An alternative program that is very successful in Orlando outside the parks, are basketball games.

There, the NBA season runs from October to June of the following year.

Basketball Games - Amway Center in Orlando
Basketball Games – Amway Center in Orlando

Thus, if your trip is planned for these months, it is possible to watch a game.

Orlando Magic, hometown team, plays in Amway center that stays in downtown and the schedule can be seen on the official website and tickets are also sold there.

Disney springs

Disney springs it is a place with restaurants, cinema and stores with numerous licensed Disney products.

It is part of Orlando's mandatory itinerary outside the parks.

In the Lego store, in addition to the huge sculptures of the characters, children can assemble the most varied scenarios at will.

There is also live music and an Amphicar ride, an old amphibious car that goes out into the lake.

When leaving the main store, be careful that Stitch doesn't get you wet, fun is guaranteed.

You don't need a ticket to enter, opening hours tend to be extended and parking is also free.

Nasa, a great Orlando attraction outside of the parks?

The Kennedy Space Center, or as the NASA Center is known, is a mixture of a park and an interactive museum.

In fact, all with a lot of technology to whet the curiosity of visitors.

It is one of the obligatory tours of Orlando outside the parks from Disney.

To get to the Center you need to take the road to Cocoa Beach, the journey takes around an hour and passes through a toll.

Royal Rockets at Kennedy Space Center
Royal Rockets at Kennedy Space Center

Among the attractions there is the Shuttle Launch Experience which is a very exciting space shuttle simulator, other equally interesting ones are:

  • Space Shuttle Atlantis: is a space shuttle exhibit;
  • Rocket Garden: There are eight real rockets on display;
  • Heroes & Legends: 4D theater that mixes real astronaut objects.

The official website is the best place to buy tickets, in principle, it is usually cheaper to buy them in advance, not to mention that you can plan better.

Universal CityWalk

Reserve a few hours of your trip to explore the CityWalk, which is Universal's entertainment center, unlike Disney Springs, this space has attractions a little more aimed at an adult audience, such as ballads and even a tattoo studio.

Universal Citywalk Orlando
Universal Citywalk Orlando

Among the coolest places are:

  • Rising Star Karaoke: a karaoke with a live band and backing vocals;
  • Hard Rock Live: venue and club;
  • The Groove: club with a different DJ every night.

In addition, the place has several restaurants, bars and snack bars.

It is important to pay attention to the minimum age to enter the attractions, some require the visitor to be 21 years old, while others it is possible to enter with 18 years old.

Parking is paid, also because it is the same used in the parks, the positive point is that after 6 pm it is free.

Another advantage is that some establishments validate the ticket, which is great for saving money.

Cirque Du Soleil in Orlando outside the parks?

The famous Cirque Du Soleil is one of the attractions of Orlando outside the parks, although it is possible to watch the shows in Brazil, watching them at Disney brings unique emotions and the charm is even greater.

Currently showing is the first collaboration between Cirque du Soleil, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering called Drawn to Life.

Cirque Du Soleil in Orlando
Cirque Du Soleil in Orlando

It is full of colors, choreography and movements that seem impossible to do.

It is worth watching the show and to help with the program, tickets can be purchased in advance.

By the way, it is inside Disney Springs and parking is free.

Crayola Experience

Crayola, first of all, is the name of a very famous brand of crayons in the United States, present in the school life of every American.

The attraction is a good option for Orlando outside the parks for the little ones.

It is located inside the Florida Mall and is a fun option for children on shopping days.

Crayola Experience
Crayola Experience

On site there are several activities involving chalk and creativity. To play, you pay a single amount of US$19.99 and you can do the activities as you wish, until you repeat the one you like best.

The interesting thing is that the attractions have a version in Portuguese, which helps the little ones who don't dominate English to be more comfortable.

In the first two seasons, the child even takes home a gift, a piece of chalk and modeling clay.

Anyway, the space also has a store that goes beyond crayons, it has plush toys, t-shirts and even towels.

Orlando city at night
Shopping in Orlando is an experience worth having. Image by Freepik.

Shopping in Orlando outside the parks

It's almost impossible to go to Orlando and not walk through one of the city's malls.

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There are several and with the stores of the most coveted brands by Brazilians. 

Premium outlets are the places most visited by tourists, both Vineland and International Drive, the complex has more than 200 stores, so it's always good to reserve a whole day to shop with more peace of mind.

Orlando Premium Outlet
Orlando Premium Outlet

There the tourist finds the brands:

  • Nike;
  • Gap;
  • Tommy Hilfiger;
  • Victoria's Secrets.

Another good place to shop in Orlando outside the parks, are the markets.

The two main ones are Walmart and Target.

They have a bit of everything, from lingerie to great makeup and hair products.

Lake Mendes and the Community Playground

The Community Playground in Winter Park is a playground made entirely of wood, recommended for children aged five to twelve.

It is close to Lake Mendes and the best part is that the tour is free.

Paddling Center, an option in Orlando outside the parks?

The Paddling Center is a program for those who enjoy adventure and nature, after all, it is a kayak tour through the swamp, a great tip to escape the traditional in Orlando outside the parks

The park is in an area of the Everglades National Park, along the way several turtles, alligators and birds, not to mention the native forest.

In general, the place is beautiful and preserved, it can be done on a trail if the tourist prefers.

Finally, the visit is guided and lasts about two hours on the river, you don't need to have experience with kayaking, however, it is not recommended for small children.

Orlando Tree Track

The Orlando Tree Track is a park with a challenging aerial obstacle course, all on top of natural pine trees.

Some examples of challenges are, for example:

  • suspension bridge;
  • Jumping in nets;
  • Climb trees;
  • Zipline.

It is a good option in Orlando outside the parks especially for those who are going to stay several days in the city and are looking for cheaper or different options.

The park's hours are seasonal, that is, during certain periods of the year it is open for longer hours.

Anyway, no official site you can buy the ticket and schedule.

Is Celebration in Orlando outside of the parks?

Celebration is a neighborhood that became known as the city of Walt Disney, because, when he created Epcot, he imagined a kind of futuristic city, where employees could live.

With his death, the plans did not go ahead, the brand still indirectly owns the area, so the neighborhood has become common, however, super well taken care of.

Celebration Orlando Florida
Celebration Orlando Florida

At Celebration, the houses look like those in an American movie, there are some restaurants, sweets and shops.

It is one of the options Orlando outside the parks and that ends up pleasing those who have a little more time to get to know the city.

Some restaurants in the area serve the traditional American lunch and dinner, as seen in the movies.

For those who are curious to try traditional dishes and escape from fast food, this is a great tour option.

Balloon ride in Orlando outside the parks?

The city has an extensive green area and is full of lakes, not to mention the parks, with the balloon ride it is possible to see it all from an even more special angle.

There are several companies that make the flight, in general, they take place first thing in the morning and have different sizes of balloons, some with capacity for up to 20 people.

Disney springs
Disney springs

For those who are curious to fly, but are afraid, a great option is the hot air balloon ride Disney springs, that's because, he is trapped by cables.

Walking is also more practical, just get in line and pay for the flight.

Wonderworks- Orlando's Upside Down House

Anyone passing by International Drive, one of the city's main thoroughfares, comes across a curious upside-down house.

There is no way to go unnoticed, however, only its facade and entrance are upside down, the rest are interactive attractions.

The official website, at first, says that there are more than a hundred in total, but among them two stand out, especially for Brazilians, one is the earthquake simulator and the other is the hurricane. It is one of the alternatives to enjoy Orlando outside the parks.

Orlando Neighboring Cities Worth Visiting

For those who will stay more than five days in the city, it is worth researching about nearby cities.

map courtesy of wanderlog, an itinerary planner on iOS and android

The most traditional is the duo Miami/Orlando, perhaps because it is more common for Brazilians or for shopping, however, other cities around can also be a good alternative for a tour.

crystal river

Among the cities close to Orlando, it is an hour and a half away, one of which deserves to be highlighted is Crystal River.

That's because, there is full of pools of crystal clear water. Several Florida springs have their beginnings there, which is why it is a place of unique beauty.

Finally, another positive point is that it is little known to tourists, so the place is quiet during most of the year.

In addition, it has a good structure of shops and restaurants.

DeLand in Orlando outside of the parks?

In DeLand there are two natural pools, the Blue Springs State Park and the De Leon State Park, another source of rivers in Florida.

The waters are clear and the place is surrounded by vegetation.

At first, only the amount of parking is charged, however, when it reaches its maximum capacity, it is closed, so it is important to arrive early.

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach is the closest beach to Orlando, it is the city of Kelly Slater, world surfing champion, and it is also the surfing capital of the American East Coast.

It's worth taking a day to spend on the beach, get to know the place and culture better.

Another plus point is that in Cocoa it's a great place to Orlando outside the parks to buy beachwear surf brands with several outlets.

Weeki Wachee

Weeki Wachee is two hours from Orlando, and the highlight is the crystal-clear pool and also the mermaid show.

In the park it is also possible to go kayaking along the river on a route of almost 10 km.

It is an option Orlando outside the parks and closer to nature. 

St. Augustine in Orlando outside the parks?

St. Augustine, first and foremost, is the oldest city in the United States, a place steeped in history, with unique architecture.

It is very close and is an alternative in Orlando outside the parks, the path takes about an hour north, which is great for anyone who would like a break from the park routine.

The two main tourist attractions are the lighthouse of Saint Augustine and the fortress of Castillo de San Marcos, tickets can be purchased on site.

Is there a lot to see in Orlando outside the parks?

Certainly Orlando has a lot to offer outside the Disney and Universal complexes.

In principle, within the city there are options for sports, cinema, entertainment, tours, museums and various attractions.

In addition, the values vary greatly and have for all pockets.

Anyway, in the surrounding cities there is also a lot to be seen, even cities with historical sights.

It is worth taking a leisurely stroll through the region and, if possible, add other tours in Orlando outside the parks.

I hope again that this post helped you in your research for your trip to Disney or Orlando.

As a way to help us keep the blog going, we just ask you to help us by sharing this publication and subscribing to our social networks as Facebook, Instagram or Youtube channel.

In addition to helping us, we are sure that there you will find hundreds of useful posts for your trip!

About the Author Carlos Braga:

Unparalleled experience in Orlando and Disney! As a former Universal Orlando team member and a passionate devotee of the magic of Disney, I have become a true Orlando travel expert. Before becoming a renowned travel consultant dedicated to Orlando, I had already made hundreds of visits to the parks, cultivating my knowledge and passion mainly over the last 7 years as a consultant and specialist in Disney travel.

My journey into this enchanted world began in 1995, when I took my first trip to Orlando. Since then, my love for Disney and the city has only grown. In 2023, we celebrate the sixth anniversary of 'Partiu Disney Parks', consolidating our role as one of the main sources of information about Disney and Orlando Parks.

During these six years of existence, we have continued to offer quality and updated content, being the reliable source for all those looking for essential information to plan their trip to Disney and Orlando. With my vast experience and passion for this magical destination, I am here to guide you every step of the way towards the most incredible Orlando and Disney experience!

I hope again that this post helped you in your research for your trip to Disney or Orlando.

As a way to help us keep the blog going, we just ask you to help us by sharing this publication and subscribing to our social networks as Facebook, Instagram or Youtube channel.

In addition to helping us, we are sure that there you will find hundreds of useful posts for your trip!

About the Author Carlos Braga:

Unparalleled experience in Orlando and Disney! As a former Universal Orlando team member and a passionate devotee of the magic of Disney, I have become a true Orlando travel expert. Before becoming a renowned travel consultant dedicated to Orlando, I had already made hundreds of visits to the parks, cultivating my knowledge and passion mainly over the last 7 years as a consultant and specialist in Disney travel.

My journey into this enchanted world began in 1995, when I took my first trip to Orlando. Since then, my love for Disney and the city has only grown. In 2023, we celebrate the sixth anniversary of 'Partiu Disney Parks', consolidating our role as one of the main sources of information about Disney and Orlando Parks.

During these six years of existence, we have continued to offer quality and updated content, being the reliable source for all those looking for essential information to plan their trip to Disney and Orlando. With my vast experience and passion for this magical destination, I am here to guide you every step of the way towards the most incredible Orlando and Disney experience!

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