10 Things To Do In Orlando Beyond Theme Parks
Amazing experiences in Orlando that you should try!
· 17 min read
Orlando is known around the world for its theme parks and family-friendly attractions. But beyond the bright lights and magical experiences of Disney and Universal, there's a whole other side to this vibrant city waiting to be discovered. From cultural institutions to outdoor adventures, here's a guide to some of the most unique experiences Orlando has to offer.
- Visit the Orlando Museum of Art
- Indulge at Orlando’s Beer Spa
- Experience the Thrills at Gatorland
- Embark on a Culinary Journey at Foreigner Restaurant
- Relax and Enjoy at Wekiva Island
- Explore Nature at Wekiwa Springs State Park
- Be on the Wild Side at the Drive-Thru Safari Park
- Learn about Space at the Kennedy Space Centre
- Visit the Charles Homer Morse Museum of American Art
- Enjoy the Tranquility at the Orlando Wetlands Park
Orlando Museum of Art
Founded in 1924, the Orlando Museum of Art has a long history of showcasing the finest works of art from all corners of the globe. The museum's mission is to inspire creativity, foster cultural understanding, and promote the appreciation of art as a vital component of society. Visitors can explore paintings, sculptures, photography, and more, with an emphasis on works that reflect the cultural diversity of Florida and the wider world. The Orlando Museum of Art also offers a variety of programs including guided tours, artist talks, workshops, and classes for children and adults.
One of the most popular events hosted by the museum is the annual Festival of Trees that takes place at the end of the year. During the Festival, the museum transforms into a winter wonderland, with dozens of elaborately decorated trees on display.
🕤 Opening Hours: Tuesday to Friday: 10am - 4pm; Saturday and Sunday: 12pm - 4pm; closed on Mondays and holidays
⏰ Recommended Time Spent: 1-2 hours
💲 Cost: $20
Orlando’s Beer Spa
Orlando has a thriving craft beer scene, and a visit to a brewery or taproom is a must if you are in Orlando. But if you're looking for a unique way for to enjoy beer in Orlando, look no further than the Beer Spa. This innovative spa concept combines the restorative properties of beer with traditional spa treatments for a one-of-a-kind experience.
The beer bath is the centerpiece of the spa — and it's exactly what it sounds like: a tub filled with warm water and beer. The beer bath is specially formulated to promote relaxation, improve circulation, and soothe your tired muscles. You’ll also be treated to a beer-infused body scrub, which will leave your skin feeling soft and smooth. The scrub is made with natural ingredients, such as hops and barley, and is designed to exfoliate and nourish your skin.
The spa also offers a range of other services from massages to beer-based facial treatments. But the beer spa isn't just about the treatments - it's also about the experience. The spa's cozy, rustic decor and friendly staff create a warm and welcoming atmosphere that will put you at ease from the moment you walk in the door. And of course, it wouldn't be a beer spa without some cold brews to enjoy. The spa offers a variety of craft beers, including local favorites, which you can sip on while you relax and unwind.
🕤 Opening Hours: Wednesday to Sunday: 11.30am - 7.30pm; closed on Monday and Tuesday
📞 Reservations: 407-778-1772 / mybeerspa.com
If you're looking for an exciting way to experience the wild side of Florida, look no further than Gatorland in Orlando. The star attraction at Gatorland is, of course, the alligators. Visitors can get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures in a variety of ways, from watching them feed to taking a thrilling ride on the park's zipline over the alligator breeding marsh.
Don't miss the chance to visit the Swamp Walk, a boardwalk that winds its way through a cypress swamp and offers stunning views of the park's resident wildlife. For those looking for a more interactive experience, Gatorland offers a variety of hands-on exhibits, such as the petting zoo and the chance to hold a baby alligator. You can also take part in one of the park's many shows, which feature everything from snake handling to bird demonstrations.
And if you're feeling brave, be sure to check out the Screamin' Gator Zip Line. This thrilling ride takes you soaring over the alligator breeding marsh, offering breathtaking views of the park and its resident wildlife.
🕤 Opening Hours: 10am - 5pm daily
⏰ Recommended Time Spent: 4 hours
💲 Cost: $32.99. Save $3 if you buy the tickets online. Separate tickets may be required for different experiences.
If you're a foodie, you will want join award-winning Chef Bruno Fonseca for an intimate and homely Omakase-style dinner at the Foreigner. The Foreigner started off as a pop-up kitchen, and have operated at locations like The Heavy in Winter Park, which didn’t have a full kitchen setup.
The Foreigner is known for providing diners with an elegant dining experience in a comfortable and relaxing environment. With a base of regulars over four-years of hosting pop-ups, the chef has recently opened a new brick-and-mortar restaurant at Audubon Park. The restaurant’s set-up has a 10-seat chef’s table built around an open kitchen, and prioritises guest comfort while providing an exquisite dining experience without the pretence.
The menu is curated by the chef on a monthly basis and focuses on local products. So go in with an open mind and enjoy the journey that the chef brings you through! While you cannot make special requests of the menu, do reach out to the restaurant if you have any dietary restrictions to enquire if alterations can be made.
🕤Opening Hours: Thursday to Saturday: 5.30pm - 10pm (2 seatings each day, at 5.30pm and 8pm); closed from Sunday to Wednesday
🌐 Reservations: https://www.exploretock.com/foreignerrestaurant
Just a 20 minutes drive from downtown Orlando, lies a hidden gem that's a must-visit destination for locals and visitors alike: Wekiva Island. At Wekiva Island, you'll find a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere that's a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
One of the main draws of Wekiva Island is the pristine swimming area, which is fed by the cool, clear waters of the Wekiva River. The swimming area is surrounded by soft, white sand and plenty of shady trees, making it the perfect place to cool off on a hot Florida day.
For a more adventurous way to enjoy the water, you can rent a canoe or kayak and paddle down the Wekiva River and explore Florida’s wildlife. The river is faster and the water levels are higher during the winter months, making for a more exciting ride for those seeking a challenge. We recommend that you take a trip up the river to the Wekiva Springs State Park for one of the best views. Wekiva river is also known for its variety of fishes, so kayak-fishing is a great option as well!
For those looking to relax and unwind, there are plenty of hammocks and lounge chairs scattered throughout the island, as well as a full-service bar and restaurant where you can grab a cold drink or a bite to eat. Wekiva Island is also known for its live music events, which take place on a regular basis throughout the year. From local bands to nationally renowned artists, there's always something happening at Wekiva Island.
🕤 Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday 8am - 7pm; Friday to Saturday: 8am -11pm
Wekiwa Springs State Park
Just 20 minutes from downtown Orlando lies one of Florida's most beautiful state parks: Wekiwa Springs. With crystal-clear springs, lush forests, and miles of hiking trails, Wekiwa Springs Park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
The park is centered around Wekiwa Springs, a natural spring that pumps out millions of gallons of crystal-clear water each day. Visitors can swim, snorkel, and scuba dive in the spring's refreshing waters. Or you can also rent a canoe or kayak and paddle down the Wekiva River, which runs through the park.
The park is also home to miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails, which wind their way through dense forests and offer stunning views of the park's natural beauty. The trails range in difficulty 8/10 mile (1.3 km) to 13.5 miles (21.7 km), so there's something for hikers and bikers of all skill levels.
Wekiwa Springs Park is also home to a variety of wildlife, and a good place for viewing is right along Main Park Drive. Try spotting the white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, or Sherman’s fox squirrels. The park also offers a variety of camping options, from primitive campsites to full-service cabins, so you can spend the night and wake up to the sounds of nature.
🕤 Opening Hours: Everyday from 8am to sundown
💲 Cost: $2 for pedestrians and bicyclists, $6 per vehicle
Wild Florida Safari Park
Visitors can drive through a safari park and observe a variety of exotic animals in their natural habitat at the Wild Florida Drive-Thru Safari Park. A 45-minute drive away from Central Orlando, the park is home to over 100 species of animals, including giraffes, zebras, eland antelopes, and more. As you drive through the park, you'll be surrounded by acres of lush greenery and stunning scenery, making you feel as if you've been transported to the African savanna.
One of the highlights of the drive-thru safari is the chance to feed the animals. The park offers a variety of feed options, from carrots for the giraffes to whole chickens for the big cats. You can even purchase buckets of feed to hand out to the animals as you drive through the park.
The Wild Florida Safari Park also has a Gator Park, which is home to an additional 200 animals. The Gator Park is a walk-through area where you can get up close with these animals with various opportunities of unique animal encounters.
The Wild Florida Safari Park also provides airboat tours where you can also go on an airboat tour to experience Central Florida from a different perspective!
🕤 Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday: 9am - 6pm (last car at 5pm); closed on Sunday.
💲 Cost: $34 for Drive-thru Safari and Gator Park. Additional costs are required for the other experiences.
⏰ Recommended Time Spent: 2 hours
Kennedy Space Center
For anyone with an interest in space exploration, the Kennedy Space Center is a must-visit destination in Orlando. This iconic space center is the hub of NASA's human spaceflight activities and offers visitors the chance to learn about the past, present, and future of space exploration.
The Kennedy Space Center is home to a wide range of exhibits and attractions that allow visitors to get up close and personal with some of NASA's most legendary spacecraft and explore the science behind space travel. From the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit, where visitors can get an up-close view of the shuttle that completed 33 missions in space, to the Rocket Garden, where you can see a collection of historic rockets that helped launch the U.S. space program, there's so much to see at the Space Center you could spend an entire day there.
One of the highlights of the center is the chance to take a bus tour of the facility and get a behind-the-scenes look at the launch pads, the Vehicle Assembly Building, and other important locations on the complex. You can even get a glimpse of the next-generation Space Launch System rocket that will take humans back to the Moon and eventually to Mars.
🕤 Opening Hours:
January 1 - March 12: 9 AM - 5 PM March 13 - April 16: 9 AM - 6 PM April 17 - June 18: 9 AM - 5 PM June 19 - August 13: 9 AM - 6 PM August 13 - December 17: 9 AM - 5 PM December 18 - December 31: 9 AM - 6 PM
💲 Cost: $75 for 1-day admission ticket, $89 for 2-day admission ticket
⏰ Recommended Time Spent: 1 day
Charles Homer Morse Museum of American Art
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park is a gem that is well worth a visit. Founded in 1942, the museum houses one of the most comprehensive collections of American decorative art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The museum's most famous collection is the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany, one of the most celebrated artists of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco movements. The museum boasts the largest collection of Tiffany glass in the world, with over 19,000 objects on display. These include stained glass windows, lamps, vases, and jewelry, all of which showcase Tiffany's mastery of color, light, and form.
In addition to Tiffany glass, the museum's collection includes works by other notable American artists, such as pottery by George Ohr, furniture by Gustav Stickley, and paintings by Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent.
🕤 Opening Hours: Tuesday to Thursday, Saturday: 9.30am - 4pm; Friday: 9.30am - 8pm; Sunday: 1pm - 4pm; closed on Monday and public holidays
💲 Cost: $6
⏰ Recommended Time Spent: 1.5 - 2 hours
Orlando Wetlands Park
Located just a 40 minute drive to the east of downtown Orlando, the Orlando Wetlands Park is a 1,650-acre wildlife sanctuary that offers visitors the chance to discover the incredible diversity of Florida's ecosystems.
The park features a unique system of constructed wetlands that have been designed to naturally filter and clean the water from the city's wastewater treatment plant, creating a healthy habitat for a wide variety of plants and animals. Visitors can explore the park's 20 miles of walking trails, boardwalks, and observation towers, and observe everything from free-roaming alligators and otters to wading birds and raptors.
The wetlands are also home to a variety of native plants, including cypress trees, sawgrass, and water lilies, which provide important habitat for many species of insects, birds, and mammals. The park's diverse habitats include marshes, swamps, ponds, and hardwood hammocks, each with its own unique flora and fauna.
As only passive and primitive activities such as wildlife viewing and hiking are allowed at the park, the atmosphere at the park is generally more peaceful, making it a great option for a relaxing day out to connect with nature.
🕤 Opening Hours: Daily from sunrise to sunset
💲 Cost: FREE
⏰ Recommended Time Spent: 1 hour