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This is totally understandable, I’ve been overwhelmed by things to do in Orlando before, and I’ve lived in Florida for 25 years! This list breaks down some of the top things in to do in Orlando, as well as the best times of year to go and who the target demographic is!
There is a myriad of places to stay in Orlando, but if you want to be in the center of all the action, I wholeheartedly recommend the Wyndham on International Drive. We were gifted a 2-night stay in the executive suite here and it was FABULOUS. Two pools, a wonderful hot tub, great service, and tons of restaurants right next to the resort, it was the perfect place for a getaway escape. The rooms were classy, clean, and spacious! Parking was plentiful and I felt we had plenty of room to spread out from the other guests with plenty of privacy.
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Who? Any Age, though little kids may enjoy Disney a bit more, as the rides at Universal & Islands are a bit more adventurous than Disney!
When? Summer is brutally hot and tends to be crowded. Try visiting during the off-seasons (September/October or January – March) to avoid crowds and cooler experience.
Why Go? HARRY POTTER!!!!
No vacation to Orlando would be complete without these first two items on this list! While the obvious reasons most people come to Orlando, there is an art to visiting these theme parks successfully. For newbies, there is an entire world of options that you may have never known existed.
But why is Universal one of the top 10 things to do in Orlando? Apart from being the go-to location in Orlando for adrenaline junkies, the parks of Universal and Islands of Adventure are jam-packed with events, rides, and games for anyone and everyone.
Potterheads will be crying as they visit Hogwarts for the first time, step inside Gringotts bank, stroll down Diagon Alley, and ride on Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure.
Comic fans can rush on the Hulk, or get some mild whiplash on the spiderman ride. Hang out with Dr. Seuss and the Cat in the Hat, or get into trouble with the minions.
Universal has an endless amount of entertainment for everyone to get involved in. My brother and I have a tradition of going once a year, and we never get tired of it, even being born and raised in Florida! If it is your first time going to Universal, I recommend purchasing a two-day park-hopper pass (you can’t ride the Hogwarts express without a park-hopper ticket!)
Who? Anyone can enjoy Disney, though it isn’t the best place for adrenaline junkies!
When? Summer is brutally hot and tends to be crowded. Try visiting during the off-season (September/October or January – March) to avoid crowds and cooler experience. If you’re looking for a unique experience, try October for Mickey’s Very Scary Halloween Party, or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party!
Why go? Uhm…it’s Disney and it’s probably THE top thing to do in Orlando!
In Florida, we all live under the eye of the mouse, so to say. When Disney closed from COVID-19, we knew it was serious! Disney has so much going on, and similarly to Universal, there is something for everyone in these parks! The 4 main parks are Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT (which has it’s own section later on and will talk about more!
The Magic Kingdom – The BIG sights of Disney, if you’ve only one day and you’ve never been, this is the park you need to go to. Think Cinderella’s Castle, Dumbo, Runaway Trian, Space Mountain, Lilo and Stitch, and Buzz Lightyear. All the good Disney Classics and then some live in this park.
Animal Kingdom – Expedition Everest, Avatar, and a Safari Ride – the Animal Kingdom is an epic adventure for anyone!
Hollywood Studios – This is now better known as the Star Wars park these days, Storm Troopers crawl all over the pace!
Who? Anyone who can float in a tube!
When? Best visited on hot summer days!
Why go? To cool off and experience the natural side of Florida.
Just a short drive outside of Orlando, this natural Florida spring makes for an escape from the Orlando heat. Snorkel in clear waters that stay at 72 degrees year-round, or laze down the river float in a tube with your friends. You can camp at Ginnie Springs overnight, or just visit for a day trip.
Who? Families enjoy this park best!
When? Warmer days are best for a water park! Try and avoid spring break if you don’t want long lines and crowds!
Why go? Adventure and fun pools? The kids can run about while mom and dad relax!
If you love rides and you love pools and want to do a little bit of both, head to Volcano Bay Water Park (a branch of Universal Studios) for a fun day in the sun and water! Don’t forget to pack a change of clothes, your water shoes, sunblock, and a towel!
Who? Great for date night, or a fun family evening outing?
When? Warm summer nights, or cool fall evenings!
Why go? Budget date night or fun for the family!
For a more low key afternoon or evening, head to Icon Park on I-Drive, walking distance from the Wyndham Hotel! The Wheel at Icon Park offers pretty views of Orlando and is a cheaper option for a budget date night, with tickets only costing $5. Icon Park has fun things for kids, food trucks, and little restaurants and is a great place to take a stroll and people watch!
Who? Best for anyone 21+, though anyone is allowed to enter!
When? Any time of year, though of course summer is always TOASTY!
Why go? Adult party in 11 countries in one day! What could be better?
Calling all 21+ who are looking to travel around the world without leaving the state! If you’ve never drank (or eaten) around the world at Epcot you are truly missing out! Visit 11 countries in just a few hours and much and sip on your favorite treats from all of them! This fun adult-oriented theme park is a great way to spend the day in Orlando – make sure you stick around for the fireworks show at the end!
Who? Anyone of any age!
When? Any time of year!
Why go? Learn about outer space!
Just outside of Orlando in Cape Canaveral is home to the Kennedy Space Center, home to NASA! Take an interactive tour of Kennedy Space Center, learning all about our galaxy, the universe, the space station, and so much more! Some days you may even be lucky enough to catch a rocket launch!
Who? Anyone! Great for couples, teens, or families!
Why go? It’s like a mini downtown right next to the theme park of your choice. The Wyndham at I-Drive has a free shuttle to Universal City Walk and back!
Think of Disney Springs (previously known as Downtown Disney) and Universal City walk as the epic downtowns of Orlando. These fun spots have everything you could ever want in a downtown, restaurants, bars, pubs, movie theatres, shopping, bowling, laser tag, and so much more. You’ll be full and entertained, and there’s usually a fun water display as well!
Who? Kids ages 5+ (it can get a little loud for younger kids)
When? Any time of year, though summer is sure to be a little more “swampy”
Why go? Experience a totally unique & natural side of Florida.
For the adventurers out there, how do swamps and alligators sound? Take a dip into the Everglades National Park (though probably not literally) for a chance to see a unique side of Florida that so many people forget about. See incredible wildlife, and learn all about Florida’s natural side on a unique airboat in a place that feels like its in another country. Whatever you do, don’t forget to bring the bug-spray!
Who? Anyone who wants to swing a golf club!
When? Rain or Shine!
Why go? Something fun to learn a new skill & is fun for anyone! Plus, great social distancing practices!
I know these things are in most major cities these days, but with the world being as it is, one of my favorite places to hang out socially distanced is at Top Golf! It’s a great way to get “outdoors” and be active, but still stay dry on a rainy day, hang out, play games, and eat and drink! Top Golf is great for anyone! You pay per bay and per hour, not per person, so the more the merrier! Check for weekly specials!