As the Theme Park Capital of the World, Orlando is one of the most exciting destinations in the U.S. With its year-round warm weather, bargain shopping opportunities and unique amusement parks, Orlando is a destination that you must visit at least once in your lifetime.
If you are planning to visit Orlando in the near future, you might want to take advantage of the awesome activities and one-of-a-kind attractions the city has to offer. Besides, it’s only a three-hour drive away from Miami, so you may also want to extend your visit and treat yourself to a well-deserved vacation in the Sunshine State.
Things to do in Orlando
As we mentioned above, Orlando is home to some of the most exciting amusement parks in the world. If you enjoy the thrill of riding roller coasters, going down high-speed water slides or swimming with dolphins, this is the destination of your dreams. Here are some of the places you must stop by while you’re in town:
Walt Disney World
Arguably the most famous amusement park in the world, Walt Disney World is a place where people of all ages can have the time of their lives. After all, it is “the happiest place on Earth.” As the largest Disney location, it is home to four separate theme parks:
Magic Kingdom Park
This is where fairytales come to life, giving you the opportunity to meet and interact with all Disney characters and go on rides designed after your favorite Disney movies
This part of Walt Disney World includes two distinct realms: Future World, featuring awesome technological innovations for the tech buff in you, and World Showcase, highlighting the culture and cuisine of 11 countries, giving you the awesome opportunity to have a taste of different parts of the world all in one place.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
As the name suggests, here you will be immersed in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood and experience rides based on some of your favorite movies and TV shows. A must-stop is the Star Tours – The Adventure Continues attraction based on everyone’s favorite Star Wars franchise, offering a 3D, motion-simulated flight into space. The ride was recently updated to include the latest movie in the Star Wars series, Episode VII: The Force Awakens, so you can be among the first to experience the new and enhanced adventure.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
One of the best things to do in Orlando with toddlers, you can see more than 2,000 animals across 300 species from all over the world at the Animal Kingdom. Rather than just checking them out from afar zoo-style, you can hop on one of the many thrilling rides that will bring you up close to the various animals. Our favorite attraction at the Animal Kingdom is the Maharajah Jungle Trek that takes you on a walking tour of Southeast Asia to encounter tigers, fruit bats, various types of birds and a flying fox.
In addition to fun rides, Walt Disney World offers a plethora of various dining and shopping options, guaranteeing that you will not only have fun but you will also get some much-needed food and buy cool souvenirs to remember the awesome experience!
Universal Orlando Resort
Similar to Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort offers unforgettable fun adventures for the entire family based on some of Universal Studio’s most famous productions.
The resort has a special section dedicated entirely to the ultra popular Harry Potter series. As part of the resort’s Islands of Adventure theme park, you can visit the iconic Hogwarts castle and explore the famous Hogsmeade village – an experience that true Harry Potter fans would not want to miss.
While there, you should also check out the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem 3D ride in which you become a Minion yourself and race along with Gru on an unforgettable and hilarious trip with zany twists and turns, culminating in an exclusive dance party where you can show off your best moves.
If you prefer a ride that involves less 3D simulations and more actual high-speed racing, stop by Revenge of the Mummy. Based on the popular Mummy franchise, this roller coaster ride takes you on a trip through the sacred temple, unleashing the wrath of the evil Imhotep.
Explore everything marine-related and have a great time playing with sea animals at one of Orlando’s leading attractions, SeaWorld. Located on the outskirts of the city, the park offers fun adventure rides for both kids and adults, but what most people come here for are the unique live entertainment shows, featuring performances by various majestic sea creatures like sea lions, walruses, otters, dolphins and, the most exciting of them all, killer whales.
Like other theme parks, SeaWorld offers a rich variety of dining options. If you are planning to spend a whole day at the park, our recommendation is to take advantage of the All-Day Dining Deal for an all-you-can-eat experience at most restaurant locations on the SeaWorld premises. The deal allows you to eat at participating locations as often as once every hour until closing time. Prices for the All-Day Dining Deal start from $34.99 for adults and $19.99 for kids (ages 3-9).
A part of the SeaWorld family, Discovery Cove is a one-of-a-kind experience that allows you to get as close to nature as possible by swimming with dolphins, feeding tropical birds, hanging out with a family of otters, and even walking on the ocean floor.
At the Dolphin Lagoon, you can come face to face with numerous friendly dolphins, play with them, and grab onto their dorsal fins for a ride you will remember all your life. If you head to the Explorer’s Aviary section, you will enter a hidden treasure where you can watch hundreds of various colorful birds fly above and around you. You even get to feed some of them!
For an authentic underwater experience that doesn’t require scuba diving certification, you should check out the park’s Seaventure walking tour that allows you to literally walk under the sea wearing a dive helmet and explore the fascinating world below the surface. You will see beautiful reefs and even come eye-to-eye with sharks! Don’t worry, you will be completely protected from them by 8-foot-tall panoramic windows.
Shopping & Dining
If the thought of roller coasters and underwater diving doesn’t excite you, then you might wanna stop by Orlando’s famous shopping and dining districts where you will find plenty of fun places to unwind and get unbelievable deals on fashion that you will not find anywhere else.
Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets
Arranged as a large outdoor village, Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets is one of the most popular outlet malls in the country. With more than 160 designer and name-brand stores, including leading fashion & athletic apparel retailers like Calvin Klein, Burberry, Diesel, Prada, Puma, Roberto Cavalli, Reebok and Adidas, among many others, the center is the ultimate destination for bargain shopping, offering high-class goods for just a fraction of the price that you will get at your local shopping mall or high street.
The center is located outside of the city but can easily get there by car or by public transportation from Downtown Orlando.
Restaurants & bars to check out
Hot Krust Panini Kitchen
8015 Turkey Lake Rd #200, Orlando, FL 32819
For some of the best sandwiches in town, stop by Hot Krust Panini Kitchen. This joint yields options for both meat lovers and vegetarians, and even offers gluten-free bread for those of you on a strict diet. The best part, however, is that all meats are freshly roasted in-house, rather than relying on deli processed alternatives, bringing you a fresh taste and preserving all original flavors. With prices varying between $5 and $9, you will not get a better value for your buck.
125 W Church St, Orlando, FL 32801
It’s a sin to visit Florida and not try some of the delectable latin food options the Sunshine State has to offer. Ceviche Tapas is a great choice for those of you looking to try good food, drink delicious sangria and enjoy a fabulous performance. As the name suggests, the specialty here is the rich variety of ceviches, made with shrimp, scallops, tuna, salmon, octopus, or oysters. While most of the dishes are tapas-style, many of them are also offered as a full-blown meal, so you can choose to either share everything with your company or get a delicious meal just for yourself. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Ceviche Tapas offers passionate latin music performed live but the real treat is on Fridays and Saturdays when professional dancers spice things up with a must-see live flamenco show.
Lizzy McCormack’s Irish Pub
55 N Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801
We have two words for you – pudding shots! For $5 each, you can choose over 40 rotating flavors of this pub’s world-famous pudding shots that everyone who has tried them is raving about. Also worth mentioning is the fact that Lizzy McCormack’s offers a daily happy hour between 2pm and 8pm where you can get two drinks for $6 on select calls, $1 off all draught and canned beer, and $4 house wines. In addition, the pub has a great outdoor patio, giving you the opportunity to people watch and enjoy the nice Florida weather.
Points of Interest
Harry P. Leu Gardens
The stunning Leu Gardens are an amazing 50-acre botanical oasis located minutes from Downtown Orlando. This serene location gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself into Mother Nature’s creativity and enjoy flowers and plants that are typical for the tropical Florida climate. You will stroll through palms, roses, camellias, vines, bromeliads and hundreds of other gorgeous natural creations.
Don’t forget your smartphone when you go there because, throughout the gardens, visitors can scan available QR codes to learn more about the plants that they encounter. There are also numerous structures and statues dispersed across the gardens that will make for awesome Instagram-worthy shots. Admission is $10 for adults, $3 for children aged 4-12, and free for kids under 4.
Lake Eola Park
Located in the heart of Downtown Orlando, Lake Eola Park is one of the most popular spots in town for a relaxing walk and to unwind after a stressful week. Formed around the big Lake Eola, the park offers its visitors various fun activities such as renting swan-shaped paddle boats, feeding the live swans, seeing a concert or play in the Walt Disney Amphitheater, or grabbing a bite to eat at one of the food vendors in the vicinity.
Where to stay
If you want to look at additional options, head over to Wanderu’s hotel search page.