17 Fun Things to do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks
10. Dine and Play at Dave & Buster’s
Dave & Buster’s is a large entertainment facility complete with traditional arcade games, ticket redemption games, a sports bar, and a full service restaurant. Dave and Busters is a great alternative to the theme parks; here you can have hours of fun without spending nearly as much as you would at a day at the parks (sign up for the D&B email club to receive special coupons). The Orlando location tends to be crowded at all times, so be prepared to pay for valet parking or spend all night searching for a spot.
11. Spend the day exploring Downtown Disney
Downtown Disney is a dining, shopping, and entertainment destination similar to Universal City Walk, only with the added bonus of beautiful water views. Several popular theme restaurants (Rainforest Cafe, Planet Hollywood, & House of Blues) can be found here. In addition, a luxury bowling alley, souvenir shops, a luxury movie theater, and Cirque du Soleil shows can be added to your itinerary. Characters in Flight, a hot air balloon ride which travel 400 feet above Downtown Disney, is another unique activity to consider.
12. Ride the largest Ferris Wheel on the East Coast
The 400 foot tall Ferris Wheel, the largest on the East Coast, is one of the newest & best additions to the entertainment lineup in Orlando. A ride in one of the enclosed gondolas is a fun way to take in the diverse scenery of Orlando, which includes scenic city vistas, the theme parks, and the natural Florida landscapes. Orlando (and Florida in general) is a surprisingly diverse area with lots to do, but sometimes we forget that as we are too busy enjoying the theme parks! Enjoy the views then plan a day visiting Orlando’s gorgeous parks and preserves.
13. Alligator watching via an airboat tour
Alligator watching aboard a narrated airboat ride is definitely one of the best things to do in Florida after beaches and theme parks. Seeing alligators in their natural habitat is a really unique experience, and one that you can really only do in a handful of states. Because alligators are known to attack, it’s nice to be able to see them from the safety of a boat! There are numerous airboat companies to choose from in the Orlando area – Wild Willy’s is a nice choice due to the close proximity to Orlando, beautiful setting on Lake Tohopekaliga, and affordable rates (just $38 per person with frequent deals on Groupon).
If you plan on exploring other cities in Florida, I highly recommend checking out Myakka State Park near Sarasota. They offer a fantastic tour upon the Gator Gal “the world’s largest covered airboat” for a super low rate of just 14 bucks. You will see lots of gators here and the staff are super friendly. Plus, this park in general is in my opinion one of the most gorgeous in the entire state. Additionally, Circle B. Bar Reserve in Lakeland (1 hour from Orlando) is a prime place for gator watching. They even have a hiking trail called Alligator Alley which is lined with gators – I’ve never seen so many! Really scary, but at the same time, really fascinating!
14. Explore downtown Winter Park
On your next outing to Orlando, skip the common chains overpopulating in the area in favor of a unique local treat at one of Winter Park’s numerous fantastic dining gems. Winter Park restaurants offer a refreshing change from the abundance of chains in the area. The downtown area is home to an impressive array of restaurants offering every type of cuisine imaginable (check out Prato, Ethos Vegan Kitchen, and Keke’s Breakfast Cafe). Those with food allergies will be happy to know that many restaurants offer specialty food allergy menus and/or are willing to customize dishes to meet your dietary preferences.
15. Bowl a game or 2 at Splitsville Luxury Lanes
Splitsville is a luxury bowling alley located in downtown Disney. It’s a great activity to enjoy either before or after your meal at one of the fun themed restaurants found in the area. Unique decor, an upscale food menu, and live entertainment make Splitsville the place to be. Weekend bowling specials are $20 per person for 1 hour of bowling. In addition, a great Early Bird special consisting of unlimited bowling from open-12:30pm for only $12 per adult is available for those visiting during the early afternoon hours.