We are excited to make Orlando part of our travels and more because of the theme parks, so it's nice to know there is more to it then just that. Thanks Penny!
When people think of traveling to Orlando, the first thing that comes to mind is Disney. After that, SeaWorld. After that... even more theme parks! There's so much more to the Orlando area than roller coasters and costumed mascots. If you're planning a trip to Orlando and want to know what's great about the city itself, here are some experiences you can't miss.
1. Wekiwa Springs
Orlando is in the middle of Florida, which means it's a bit of a drive to the nearest beach. You don't need to hit the coasts for amazing water adventures, though. Wekiwa Springs State Park has beautiful, blue pools great for swimming, snorkelling, and canoeing. It also has miles of nature trails and the opportunity to see majestic Florida wildlife, including gators and even black bears. There are 60 shaded areas for relaxing and picnics, plus several camp sites for those who would like to stay for a while.
There are a lot of great shopping areas in Orlando, but two really stand out. For an indoor experience, the Mall at Millennia is the best in the region. It has gorgeous interiors, department stores with preferred fashion labels, and special events throughout the year. For something a little more laid-back, Park Avenue in the upscale Winter Park neighbourhood is home to some lovely independent shops, delicious restaurants, and pretty scenery.
The watery Florida Everglades offer visitors to Orlando an opportunity to see the region from the sky. There are a variety of airboat strips providing leisurely rides for reasonable prices. Airboating lets you experience the lush wetlands, bright city, and twisty rivers of Central Florida from a unique perspective. Some flights are more city-focused, while others favour natural landscapes.
4. The Orlando Zoo
Sure, you could head out to the wetlands and track down some alligators on your own, or you could enjoy Florida wildlife at the excellent Central Florida Zoo in Orlando. With over 400 species of animals from all over the world, the CFZ has more to see than most visitors can pack into a single day. In addition to the animal exhibits, the zoo has an aerial adventure trail and a tropical-themed swimming area great for visitors of all ages.
5. Dine Out
Orlando enjoys a combination of several delectable culinary traditions, from classic American barbecue to zesty Cuban fare. The 4 Rivers Smokehouse is a perennial favourite, as is the Japanese Hibachi restaurant Kobe's Steakhouse. For something a little more upscale, The Ravenous Pig has an adventurous seasonal menu. For cocktail hounds, The Courtesy Bar has more than earned its moniker as Orlando's best craft cocktail bar. They do some impressive stuff with Caribbean favourites like rum, but also pull off the classics like no one's business.
Your Orlando experience doesn't have to be all about the theme parks. There are a lot of opportunities for excellent eats, shopping, and adventures around the city. From fine hotel options to shopping to extravagant nightlife, Orlando has a little something for everyone.
Penny Smith lives in Orlando with her husband and 5 kids. She adores romance fiction and going to the movies. She also attempts to visit Disneyworld at least once a month.