The Orlando area and the center of the Florida full of attractions. It is a hyper touristic place perfect for a family trip. Usually people go there to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando. In this article, however, we have decided to introduce you to other interesting places to visit in this beautiful region that you may be able to add to your itinerary during a trip to the sunshine state.
Please note that we have numbered the proposed activities but they are not in any particular order of preference, for example, from best to worst or vice versa.
1. Visit International Drive
If there’s only one road you need to visit outside of Walt Disney World at Orlando it is International Drive, or more simply called the I-Drive. This is the main place where you will find attractions of all kinds near Disney and Universal.
On International Drive you can, for example, visit the Ripley’s Believe it or Not! museum, the I-Drive Nascar Kart Racing, the Madame Tussauds wax museum, the small Fun Spot America amusement park, etc…
2. Shopping in Outlets
There are 2 outlet centers in Orlando near Walt Disney World either the Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets (about 15 minutes) and the Orlando International Premium Outlets (about 25 minutes).
You will find an impressive number of shops offering generally good prices. Perfect for a shopping spree during the trip. Don’t forget to visit the Disney outlets store (especially the Vineland one) because you could find items there at very low prices. Personally, we went there a few times and each time, we found something interesting at a good price.
Address: 7007 Sea World Dr, Orlando, FL 32821, USA
When we think of making a trip to Orlando, we generally want to visit Disney and / or Universal. But don’t forget the park sea world which is also in the Orlando area just a short drive from Disney.
It is a theme park in which you can see shows of marine animals but there are also very interesting attractions. During our last visit to Sea World, we loved going aboard the Manta but also in the Mako. If you have teenagers, these two roller coasters will surely be a favorite for them.
4. Go to the beach
Orlando is in central Florida both north-south and east-west. There is therefore no beach directly in Orlando but luckily, our friends from Florida have a state that is not very wide. So from Orlando it’s easy to get to an east coast or west coast beach in no time.
We recommend our article: Top 5 Beaches Near Walt Disney World and Orlando.
5. Bok Tower Gardens
Address: 1151 Tower Blvd, Lake Wales, FL 33853, USA
Located approximately 65 km from Disney (30 minute drive), the Bok Tower Gardens is a contemplative garden and a bird sanctuary where you will find peace and tranquility. The place is indeed far from being one of the most touristy in Florida and undoubtedly the least touristy of those on this list.
The Singing Tower that can be seen in the photo above is the central element of the park and is located at the highest point of the latter. This magnificent Gothic-style tower is 205 feet tall. The Bok Tower Gardens is the creation of Edgar and Mary Bok, a wealthy couple who spent their winters in Lake Wales. It was in 1921 that they decided to create a garden to shelter the birds.
Address: 14501 S Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL 32837, USA
In Florida there are alligators everywhere. There are thousands of them in the Everglades, you can buy stuffed ones for a few dollars in small stores like gas stations, you see them on lots of logos such as the Florida Gators football team for example. It is therefore logical that the animal that best characterizes this American state has a theme park dedicated to it. And this park is Gatorland!
If you love alligators then check out Gator Land, just a 22-minute drive from Disney World. There are all sizes and sizes without forgetting crocodiles and other reptiles that will impress young and old.
7. Legoland/Cypress Gardens
Address: 1 Legoland Way, Winter Haven, FL 33884, USA
The Legoland park dedicated to these small building blocks with which we all loved to play in our childhood (and sometimes also rage on difficult constructions) opened in 2011. The park replaced the oldest amusement park in Florida which was named Cypress Gardens and dating from 1936. We still remember the photos of our parents of this old park with these magnificent cypresses, these shows of water skiing, its old cars and women with splendid colorful dresses from another era.
The new Lego park, very popular with young children, offers more than fifty attractions and shows. It is the largest Legoland park in the world at the time of this writing. Interestingly, the water ski shows and the historic gardens of Cypress Gardens have been retained within the new park.
8.Kennedy Space Center
Address: Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, FL 32953, USA
Florida is known for its magnificent beaches and its theme parks but also for its space center with its takeoffs of Space X or previously, space shuttles. In addition, it is possible to visit this place and for having done it ourselves, we liked the visit and it is worth it, especially if you have science and space enthusiasts at home.
The space shuttle Atlantis is one of the most impressive elements of the visit. In our case, we had already seen Discovery in Washington, but the difference is that Atlantis was installed sideways with the two long doors at the top open, which allows us to admire the interior with the Canadian space arm.
9. Busch Gardens
Address: 10165 McKinley Dr, Tampa, FL 33612, USA
Busch Gardens Tampa is an amusement park and zoo located in Tampa. The theme of the park is the African continent. It’s owned by the group that also owns the SeaWorld parks, so it’s a bit of the same genre except that the theme is savannah animals rather than those of the sea.
Just like Seaworld, Busch Gardens has its share of thrilling attractions.
10. Salvador Dali Museum
Address: 1 Dali Blvd, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, USA
If you love art, the Salvador Dali Museum is a must. This museum dedicated to the famous surrealist painter Salvador Dalí is located on the campus of the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg, about 150km from Walt Disney World. This is not the type of tourist trap museum but a very serious museum dedicated to the great painter who lived in Florida for part of his life. You can see some of his most beautiful works there.
Little anecdote about Salvador Dali and Walt Disney: Did you know that they have already made an animated film project together. The film in question is called Destino. It was not completed, however, until long after the deaths of both men.
There you have it, 10 ideas for things to do in the Orlando and Central Florida area. We could have gone on, there is so much to do.
Note that, for golf lovers, we have chosen not to add this activity to our list because, as you probably know, Disney already offers several magnificent golf courses.