We decided to travel to Orlando for the theme parks, but are so glad we discovered all the other things to do in Orlando! From insane desserts to live shows, to flying high above the city and hotels with water parks – there’s something for everyone. Below is our Orlando guide on where to eat, stay, and play while you’re there! And if you’re also thinking about hitting up the theme parks – find our guide to Walt Disney World Orlando here, and Universal Orlando Resort here.
Make a Splash at CoCo Key Water Resort
There are lots of places you can stay in Orlando – but how many of them have their very own water park? CoCo Key Water Resort is SO much fun – it’s the absolute best way to beat the heat. You get access to the water park and pools for each day you stay there. It’s also in a really great location on I-Drive, with an I-Drive trolley stop right outside the door and surrounded by lots of places to eat and drink. They also have a free shuttle to Universal Orlando Resort, if you want to easily check out the City Walk and restaurants up there.
Fly above the city with Orlando Balloon Rides
Orlando isn’t the first place that springs to mind when you’re thinking about taking a hot air balloon ride. We found there’s so much more to see in this city than just heading to the theme parks! There’s a reason they call it ‘The City Beautiful’, and it is always so incredible to see a city from above.
We loved flying with Orlando Balloon Rides – Jeremy even got to hold the balloon while it was being inflated. If you want to read more about our time high in the sky, click here.
Visit NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
We went to the Johnson Space Center in Houston a couple of years ago and loved it. We knew that a trip to Orlando wouldn’t be complete without a visit to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, so we set aside a whole day to visit (which we highly recommend!). It’s about an hour away from central Orlando, but you can easily rent a car and head over there. Included in the price of admission is a fantastic bus tour through the launch facilities, giving you an inside look.
We saw the Saturn V rocket which was INSANE. It’s always crazy to see how big these things are in person! You can see the Atlantis Space Shuttle, launch control, visit rocket park, and there’s even an option to eat lunch with an astronaut. You can see why we recommend going for a full day!
Unleash Your Spirit With The Blue Man Group
We’ve wanted to see The Blue Man Group perform for such a long time, and it didn’t disappoint. It’s hilarious, family friendly, and super creative. The theatre is located right next to Universal Studios Florida, on the Universal Citywalk and they have 2 shows – 6pm or 9pm. It’s great if you want to leave the park and catch a show to finish off the evening in style! This is definitely one of the most entertaining things to do in Orlando.
Take A Spin on The ICON Orlando 360
If you’re looking for a new way to see Orlando, head to the ICON Orlando. Standing at 400ft, it’s the tallest observation wheel on the US East Coast. The ride lasts for a whole 23 minutes – you can see things like the theme parks, the surrounding lakes and on a clear day Florida’s east coast!
Get Your Go Kart On at i-Drive Nascar
We visited Orlando in mid-July, which is known for having scorching temperatures and afternoon thunderstorms! If you want an indoor activity with AC and shelter from the storms, this checks all the boxes. Rachel was terrible at it, because she is an extremely cautious driver… and hates to admit but Jeremy lapped her twice.
Decadent Desserts at The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast
For your sweet fix, head straight to The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast on Universal Citywalk! It’s impossible to miss – this is one of the best themed restaurants in Orlando.
You’re able to meet Penelope, the ‘founder’ of the Steampunk Eatery, and get enchanted by all the crazy decor. Besides being a feast for the eyes…the food is out of this world.
Hear some live music at The Tin Roof
When we were heading to check out the Icon Orlando, we stumbled across a neat little bar called The Tin Roof. It was one of those glorious, happy, happy accidents. The Tin Roof has delicious and filling food, as well as live music on certain evenings!
Be entertained at Mango’s Tropical Cafe Orlando
If you like music, dance and food – Mango’s Tropical Cafe is perfect for you. It’s a 2+ hour extravaganza of singing, dancing and delicious food. There’s so many genres of music, from Latin American to Michael Jackson, and all of it entertaining. The waitresses even jump on stage at one point to shake their thing, it was so fun to see our server up there!
The Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show
This is a super family friendly show which includes unlimited pizza, soda, beer, wine and dessert. The pizza is homemade and so delicious, they made us a fresh cheese pizza and we were in heaven! The show is your standard comedy combined with magic tricks – it’s aimed a lot more at kids, but we’re kids at heart.
There’s a really easy way to get around I-Drive in Orlando, where all of the main tourist attractions are located – and that’s the I-Rides Trolley. It’s $2 per ride, but the best value passes are the day passes. It’s $5 for 1 day, $9 for 5 days and $12 for 7 days. There are multiple stops along I-Drive and the simple numbering system makes it really easy to follow.
We hope this has given you some ideas of things to do in Orlando besides the obvious Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort theme parks. If you’re heading there soon and need more info on things to do in Orlando, please comment below or send us an email! A huge thank you to Gabriella from Visit Orlando for helping organise our trip to The City Beautiful, we hope to be back soon.