Best Things to Do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks

Central Florida is a traveler’s paradise–fabulous weather, delicious cuisine, and attractions to appeal to any and all visitors.

Explore your cultural side with museums. Cultivate your tan on the beach or a cruise. Indulge your inner child (or your own children) with a visit to a classic amusement park. Whatever you have in mind, Orlando’s got you covered.

If you’re looking to hit up the Orlando area but aren’t sure theme parks are on your must-do list, don’t worry! There’s plenty to do in this part of the state that doesn’t involve pricey and overcrowded theme parks–as much fun as they can be under certain circumstances!

To help you plan that perfect Florida vay-cay, here’s a list of fun things to do in Orlando besides theme parks, including other entertainment and amusement options to help maximize your experience.

  1. The Wheel at Icon Park

The Wheel at ICON Park is located on International Drive and is part of the I-360 complex. Be sure to add this high up on your list of things to do while in Orlando.

First opened in 2015, this 400-foot observation wheel has quickly become an “iconic” part of the Orlando skyline and Orlando experience.

The Wheel offers stunning views of downtown Orlando and on a clear day, you may be able to see Cape Canaveral to the East.

Viewing the Wheel from the rear and from the ground up will give you a greater sense of its magnitude. The wheel is lit every evening and sunset flights may be a perfect choice.

  1. Kennedy Space Center

Visit NASA’s launch headquarters, the only place on Earth where you can meet astronauts, see rockets, experience flight simulations, and even see a real launch (check the launch schedule in advance).

The Kennedy Space Center is just an hour east of Orlando near Titusville and well worth the drive!

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex features educational and engaging “Mission Zones” where attractions and tours are organized by chronological era–from the beginning of space exploration to current and ongoing projects in space.

Interested in seeing a real launch? Check the Kennedy Space Center schedule of events and see if you can plan your visit around any of the upcoming launches. Launch viewing is included with all general admission tickets to the Kennedy Space Center.

  1. Gatorland: The Alligator Capital of the World

Also known as the ‘Alligator Capital of the World,’ Gatorland is a must-see for anyone who wants to get a real feel for Everglades nature, culture, and animals.

This 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve is filled with engaging exhibits, exciting rides, and thrilling gator-themed entertainment.

There’s a so many things to do here, but we’ll name a few of our favorites. Take advantage of 1,200 feet of zip lines for the whole family, participate in “rookie” gator wrestling for young visitors, climb an observation tower, take a train ride through the park, and step inside an aviary.

Check out one of the multiple shows scheduled daily. Be sure not to miss the four rare “white” alligators at the park.

  1. Boggy Creek Airboat Tour

No Florida trip is complete without an airboat ride! Embark on a Boggy Creek Airboat adventure and explore the Central Florida Everglades, home to lots of alligators, turtles, birds, and other diverse Florida wildlife.

Enjoy the speed and thrills of skimming above the water’s surface while getting an up-close look at plenty of native wildlife in Central Florida.

This is the perfect thing to do for families, as it combines an adrenaline rush, appreciation of the environment, and Florida’s natural beauty.

If you’re visiting in the summer, consider an evening tour to avoid the high heat of the mid-day.

  1. WonderWorks
    Image Credit: WonderWorks Orlando
    Image Credit: WonderWorks Orlando

Young travelers will especially appreciate the 100+ hands-on science exhibits at WonderWorks, while parents will love the educational elements.

Just north of the Orange County Convention Center on I-Drive, WonderWorks’ upside-down construction is attention-getting! Inside visitors will find laser tag, a rope course, a 6-D motion ride, and lots more.

Lie on a bed of nails and learn about how the distribution of your weight keeps you from getting impaled, experience a 5.3-degree earthquake simulation, design your own roller coaster, feel the winds of a 74-mile per hour hurricane, and many other exhilarating activities!

  1. Madame Tussauds
    Image Credit: Madame Tussauds Orlando
    Image Credit: Madame Tussauds Orlando

World famous for their life-sized, realistic wax figures, Madame Tussauds Orlando is selfie heaven. It’s the ideal destination for your star-struck teens, your cartoon-loving little ones, and your Netflix-binging selves.

Pose with such famous “people” as Kung Fu Panda, Jimmy Fallon, Pitbull, Scarlett Johansson, Brad Pitt, Michael Jackson, Shrek, and many more.

While photos are not allowed in some Orlando attractions, Madame Tussauds encourages them! This is a self-guided attraction so take your time visiting with your favorites stars.

  1. Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show

If you’re looking for something unique to add to your dining itinerary, the Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show is it.

This 90-minute improv comedy show is a delight not to be missed. Enjoy the comedic stylings of your hosts as they pull you into the entertainment with active audience participation. You can also marvel at magic tricks, watch your host predict the future, and even have your mind read.

At the same time, you’ll be able to dine on a casual but tasty meal of pizza, salad, desert, and unlimited beverages. Take the kids to experience a wonderful evening out they’ll never forget!

  1. SEA LIFE Aquarium Orlando

Part of the I-360 complex along I-Drive, SEA LIFE Aquarium provides a glimpse into the future of aquariums. This attraction is engineered to provide visitors, and especially young visitors, with experiences that are up close and personal.

Explore the world’s oceans through amazing plexiglass windows and tunnels. Visitors will experience sharks, rays, turtles and a hands-on touch pool experience. This is a visually stunning experience for adults and an educational one for children.

The gift shop at the end offers a variety of souvenirs and gifts, and provides a prize for small visitors who complete their passport through the aquarium.