Best things to do in Orlando: Routes on swamps, NBA games and gastronomic centers: the USA city known for its magic has much more to offer beyond the parks
For years, Orlando has developed its downtown and surroundings to capture tourist attention for a few more days and try to keep them a bit out of the big parks. But do travelers leave the traditional route of parks, shopping and hotels?
Beside the magical world of the Disney Parks, the adventure of Universal Studios, the adrenaline of Busch Gardens, and the oceanic world of Seaworld, travelers can also get to the swamps by boat, flying in balloons or on Wekiwa Springs State Park, where you can hike and go in natural pools. Another Orlando attraction is the NBA games that often takes place in the city.
Downtown Orlando also has a lot of activities for the family, like the Ferris Wheel that became a gazebo, Madame Tussauds wax museum and Church Street District, a pleasing gastronomic center.
Speaking of food, the best way to find out about the gastronomic culture of the place is to look for restaurants in other hotels, even the ones you are not staying. You will be surprised with the variety: asian, italian, traditional US american or modern cuisine. Who said the United States is only made of hamburger and pizza?
The city is large, but organized, which makes moving around very easy. Some of the best places to visit in Orlando within easy reach are: NBA games, a gastronomic tour trough Church Street District restaurants, a joyful drop by Madame Tussaud’s wax museum, and a visit to the ferris wheel. If the goal is shopping, some of the most famous places are Florida Mall, Mall at Millenia, Orlando International Premium Outlets and Vineland Premium Outlet.
But if you really want to get off the comun route, be aware of the city’s rich ecosystems with a boat trip or balloon ride through the swamps and a relaxing day at Wekiwa Springs State Park, where you can chill out in natural trails and pools.
What to Do in Orlando
The complex has four thematic and two water parks. Magic Kingdom is the most famous one and its symbol is the Cinderella castle. There, you can go through the magical worlds of Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan.
It’s also where characters like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Minnie show up. The most searched attractions are: Seven Dwarfs’ Mine Train, Space Mountain and Splash Mountain.
An old MGM studio, the Hollywood Studios’ central theme is movies, so it has attractions like Indiana Jones, Avatar, Star Wars and Toy Story. Another strong points are the live shows like Beauty and the Beast and the Little Mermaid. More attractions are: Rock’n’Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, the Frozen musical and Fantastic firework show, at the end of the day.
After you go through the gates, you’ll get to the Animal Kingdom. The symbol of this park is the Tree of Life, from The Lion King, and everything is surrounded by plants, which makes the climate more pleasant on hot days. The park is divided in world themes, like Africa and Asia. It is also famous for the safari, the live Lion King musical, the Everest Expedition roller coaster, Kali River Rapids and It’s Tough to be a Bug.
Originally designed to create a futuristic society, Epcot has two os the most famous attractions of all the parks: the Task Track, where the visitors simulate an adventurous ride on cars and the Soarin, where everybody flys on a hang-glider all around the world. Another one that is becoming famous is the tour through Frozen scenarios. But the real deal is the food, that are from 11 different countries and you can try them all.
The complex is made up of two major theme parks: Universal Studios, with areas dedicated to popular films such as the Simpsons, Minions and ET. The second one is the Island of Adventure. This park has old production attractions, like Jurassic Park and Popeye, but recently it has been called “Harry Potter park”, and is one of the best places to visit in Orlando.
Visitors are transported to the magical wizarding world with decorated streets, food and shops from the J. K. Rowling books. In spite of the roller coasters, the main attraction for fans is the Hogwarts castle, which has a 3D simulation mixed with a roller coaster in the dark.
As well as being the best attraction of the park, the fun starts when you are still in line, going through different places from the “school”. But you can also check out some other things, like The Incredible Hulk Coaster and the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.
The park is 90 km away from Orlando, in the city of Tampa, and is known for the big and adventurous roller coaster, since it also has some of the biggest rides in the world. Plus, it’s one of the largest zoos in the country, with more than 10 thousand animals. Some of the highlight rides are: Sheikra, Edge of Africa, Tiger Trail, Kumba and Jungala Flyers. That’s why it’s considered one of the best places to visit in the US.
The incredible Lego park is one of the most popular among families going through Orlando. The park is just 40 min away from the tourist center of the city. The entire decoration of Legoland Florida is made of the famous little toys and you can see numerous tourist points around the world, built up of 50 million pieces.
The gallery is a very traditional shopping mall in Orlando and it has a good diversity of brands like Dick’s, Finish Line, H&M, Oakley, Kipling, Abercrombie, Zara, Victoria’s Secrets, Pandora and much more.
Other Things to Do in Orlando
- Disney Springs
- Disney Typhoon Lagoon
- Disney Blizzard Beach
- NBA game
- Routes on swamps
- Church Street District
- Wekiwa Springs State Park
- Balloon Flights
- Mall at Millenia
- Orland International Premium Outlets
- Vineland Premium Outlet
- Madame Tussauds Wax Museum
- Ferris Wheel
How to get to Orlando
Orlando has its own airport, but it is also possible to land in Miami and continue the trip by car (380 km).
Even though it is not one of the best options, you can go to Orlando by train. The city is connected to other major destinations in the United States, such as New York, Washington, Charleston, Jacksonville and Savannah. The travel time from New York to Orlando is about 20 hours.
Best time to visit Orlando
Orlando is hot almost every day of the year and the coldest temperatures are in November and December, but only during some days and at night. From June to September, it is hurricane season in the Caribbean, so there is lots of rain in the city.
The high season months are January, February, July, August, October and December. The best time to visit the city is between the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas, because the queues are smaller.