Things to Do in Orlando Beyond the Theme Parks

Take a break for outdoor adventure and animal discovery.

Orlando is known for its world-class theme parks. Once you’ve had your fill of rollercoasters, there’s still so much more to see and do. Here are some top family-friendly attractions, from animal adventures to outdoor excursions. 

Ride the Waves at Aquatica

Aquatica Orlando, a SeaWorld water park, secures accolades for being one of the best outdoor water parks in the world. Slide past leopard sharks in the clear-tubed body slide, Reef Plunge. Feel weightless as your group rafts up the massive wave-shaped KareKare Curl water slide. See if you’re brave enough to plummet down the steepest multi-drop tower in Orlando, Ihu’s Breakaway Falls. Turi’s Kid Cove opened in spring 2023 with spray jets, dumping buckets and a slide for the little ones. Parents can relax and unwind in pool chairs or cabanas. There’s also wave pools, lazy rivers and sandy beaches as well as dining and shopping. 

Drive Through a Safari and Take an Airboat Ride at Wild Florida

Photo credit: Wild Florida Airboats and Gator Park

About 45 minutes south of Orlando, you’ll find all sorts of untamed adventures at Wild Florida. Take a breezy airboat ride through the Everglades to experience native Florida wildlife. Giggle and gawk as you drive through a Safari Park, where emus and zebras roam. Walk through the Gator Park, where you can also purchase up-close encounters with animals like sloths, lemurs and porcupines. 

See the Sights from the Wheel at ICON Park

ICON Park is home to attractions like Madame Tussauds wax museum, the Museum of Optical Illusions, a 7D motion theater, ax throwing, dining, shopping and more. Take a spin on The Wheel for some of the best views of Orlando from one of 30 climate-controlled capsules. You can even play your own music during the 22-minute ride.  

Play Pinball, Ride Bumper Cars and Go Karts, Bowl and Bounce at Dezerland Park

Photo credit: Dezerland Park

Escape the heat and rain inside Florida’s largest indoor attraction. Dezerland Park is over 800,000 square feet of family fun in one huge complex. Burn off energy at the trampoline park. Swing for glow-in-the-dark miniature golf. Light it up at Pinball Palace, home to one of the largest collections of pinball games in the country. Race around the go-kart course or bump into friends and family on bumper cars. You’ll also find bowling, laser tag, virtual reality, arcades, an auto museum, candy shops and restaurants. 

Interact with Marine Animals at Discovery Cove

If your wish is to swim with dolphins, Discovery Cove is a beautiful day resort with rave reviews to make this dream a reality. Snorkel with tropical fish and stingrays, hand-feed colorful birds and interact with marine animals. Relax in a gorgeous beachy setting with waterfalls and underwater caves at this all-inclusive day resort.

Zipline, Off Road and Rock Climb at Gatorland

Feed your taste for adventure and get to know Florida’s alligators at Gatorland. You can zipline over a gator-infested swamp, off-road with hilarious guides, rock climb and even spy glowing eyes in the water on a night tour. Up-close encounters with snakes, spiders and capybaras are fun for the more adventurous visitors, too.

Take a Detour to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

About an hour outside of Orlando, but well worth the drive, is the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, where NASA launches rockets. Kids and adults alike will be riveted by the outstanding videos, engaging exhibits and space-tacular experiences offered for astronaut enthusiasts and even those mildly interested in outer space. It’s an inspiring destination well worth a day trip. 

New and Renovated Places to Stay in Orlando

Off the beaten path, yet only a mile and half from the magic of Walt Disney World Resort, Caribe Royale recently underwent a multi-million dollar renovation. Spread out in a suite or 2-bedroom villa with a full kitchen. The whole family will enjoy the outdoor pool with waterslide, hot tubs and waterfalls. Play basketball and tennis on the outdoor courts. Seven on-site restaurants range from refined at The Venetian Chophouse to relaxed at the pool bar and grill. 

Universal’s New Endless Summer Resort features two extra-affordable hotels, the first in the value category for Universal. The Dockside Inn and Suites has two towers and two pools, and the Surfside Inn and Suites is smaller with water views and a surfboard-shaped pool. Both offer standard rooms and two-bedroom suites. Plus, staying at Universal’s hotels includes perks at Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Volcano Bay, such as complimentary shuttle bus transportation and early park admission. Consider those perks your magic spell for making an early morning beeline to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and riding the new Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Bundle theme park tickets with your stay and save even more.


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Cortney Fries
Cortney Fries
An award-winning travel journalist, Cortney Fries (pronounced "freeze") has been writing about family travel for over a decade. She knows that parents planning trips are looking for all members to have fun and make lasting memories. Cortney believes that you should definitely try anything that makes you slightly nervous.

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