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Unveiling the Magic of Orlando: Must-Do Activities and Attractions in the City Beautiful

Updated: Nov 16, 2023

Orlando is one of the most popular destinations in the United States for travelers who want to experience the magic of theme parks, the thrill of outdoor adventures and the charm of cultural attractions. Whether you are looking for a family-friendly vacation, a romantic getaway or a solo adventure, Orlando has something for everyone.

Disney World, Orlando, FL, USA

Best things to do in Orlando

  • Visit Walt Disney World Resort

The most famous attraction in Orlando, Walt Disney World Resort is home to four theme parks, two water parks, dozens of hotels and hundreds of dining and entertainment options. You can meet your favorite Disney characters, explore different lands and worlds, enjoy thrilling rides and shows and immerse yourself in the magic of Disney. You can also visit Disney Springs, a shopping, dining and entertainment district that offers live music, street performers and unique shops.

  • Explore Universal Orlando Resort

Another must-see attraction in Orlando, Universal Orlando Resort is a place where you can experience the movies and TV shows you love. You can visit Universal Studios Florida, where you can ride the Hogwarts Express, join the Fast & Furious family, and enter The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. You can also visit Universal's Islands of Adventure, where you can encounter dinosaurs, superheroes, and mythical creatures. And don't miss Universal's Volcano Bay, a water park that features a massive volcano, thrilling slides, and relaxing pools.

  • Enjoy SeaWorld Orlando

If you love marine life and conservation, SeaWorld Orlando is the place for you. You can see amazing animals like dolphins, whales, penguins, and sharks, learn about their habitats and behaviors, and watch spectacular shows and presentations. You can also ride roller coasters, water rides, and other attractions that will make you feel like you are part of the ocean. And if you want to get closer to the animals, you can book animal encounters, tours, and experiences that will let you interact with them in a safe and respectful way.

  • Discover other attractions

Orlando is not only about theme parks. There are many other attractions that you can enjoy in this city. You can visit ICON Park, a entertainment complex that features The Wheel, a 400-foot observation wheel that offers stunning views of the city. You can also visit Madame Tussauds Orlando, where you can see lifelike wax figures of celebrities and historical figures. Or you can visit Ripley's Believe It or Not! Orlando Odditorium, where you can see bizarre and fascinating exhibits from around the world.

  • Experience nature and adventure

If you are looking for some outdoor fun and adventure, Orlando has plenty of options for you. You can go kayaking or canoeing on the scenic lakes and rivers, where you can spot wildlife like alligators, turtles and birds. You can also go zip-lining or hot air ballooning over the lush landscapes, where you can enjoy breathtaking views and adrenaline rushes. Or you can go hiking or biking on the trails and parks, where you can explore the natural beauty and diversity of Orlando.

  • Indulge in culinary delights

Orlando is a food lover's paradise with a diverse range of dining options. From fine dining establishments to casual eateries and international cuisine to local flavors, there's something to satisfy every palate. You can try delicious seafood, savor mouthwatering steaks, sample authentic international dishes, and indulge in decadent desserts. Additionally, you can explore vibrant food markets and food truck gatherings that offer a wide variety of culinary delights.

  • Immerse yourself in art and culture

Orlando is home to several museums, galleries and cultural institutions that showcase the city's rich artistic and cultural heritage. You can visit the Orlando Museum of Art, which houses an extensive collection of American art, African art, and contemporary works. The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art is another must-visit destination, renowned for its comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Furthermore, you can explore the vibrant Thornton Park district, known for its art galleries, boutiques, and charming cafes.

  • Enjoy outdoor spaces and parks

Orlando boasts beautiful parks and outdoor spaces where you can relax, have a picnic, or engage in recreational activities. Lake Eola Park, located in downtown Orlando, offers a serene environment with a picturesque lake, walking paths, and swan-shaped paddleboats.

Harry P. Leu Gardens is a botanical oasis that features stunning gardens, scenic trails and historic homes.

Leu Gardens in Orlando
Leu Gardens

If you're a nature enthusiast, you can venture outside the city to explore the nearby natural wonders such as Wekiwa Springs State Park or the Ocala National Forest.

  • Attend live entertainment and events

Orlando is known for its vibrant entertainment scene. You can catch a live performance at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, which hosts Broadway shows, concerts, and ballet performances. Additionally, Orlando is a popular destination for sports fans, with professional basketball, soccer, and hockey teams calling the city home. You can catch a game and cheer on your favorite team or attend major sporting events hosted in the city.

  • Shop till you drop

Orlando is a shopper's paradise, offering a wide array of shopping destinations. From luxury malls to outlet centers and specialty boutiques, you can find everything from designer brands to unique souvenirs. The Mall at Millenia and The Florida Mall are two of the city's premier shopping destinations, housing a vast selection of stores, upscale retailers, and dining options. Additionally, Orlando is famous for its outlet malls, such as Orlando International Premium Outlets and Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets, where you can find great deals on popular brands.

These are just a few of the many incredible things to do in Orlando. Whether you're seeking thrilling adventures, cultural experiences, or simply a fun-filled getaway, Orlando offers a diverse range of activities that cater to every interest and age group.

What are some good restaurants in Orlando?

Orlando offers a wide range of restaurants, catering to various tastes and culinary preferences. Here are some popular and highly regarded restaurants in Orlando:

  1. Victoria & Albert's: Located at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, this fine dining establishment is renowned for its exquisite cuisine and impeccable service. It offers a multi-course prix fixe menu with an emphasis on seasonal and luxurious ingredients.

  2. The Ravenous Pig: A gastropub in Winter Park, The Ravenous Pig is known for its creative and elevated American cuisine. It features a menu that showcases locally sourced ingredients and offers a selection of craft beers and fine wines.

  3. Norman's: Led by celebrity chef Norman Van Aken, this upscale restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton Orlando offers a fusion of Latin, Caribbean, and Asian flavors. With its elegant ambiance and innovative dishes, Norman's provides a unique dining experience.

  4. The Boheme: Situated within the Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando, The Boheme offers a sophisticated atmosphere and contemporary American cuisine. Its menu focuses on seasonal ingredients and includes dishes like steak, seafood, and vegetarian options.

  5. Prato: Located in Winter Park, Prato is an Italian-inspired restaurant that serves wood-fired pizzas, handmade pasta, and rustic Italian dishes. It prides itself on using fresh, high-quality ingredients and offers a lively and vibrant dining experience.

  6. The Osprey Tavern: This neighborhood eatery in Baldwin Park combines a casual atmosphere with a focus on modern American cuisine. The menu features dishes like roasted chicken, seafood, and handcrafted cocktails, all prepared with attention to detail.

  7. Christner's Prime Steak & Lobster: Known for its classic steakhouse ambiance, Christner's offers an exceptional dining experience for steak and seafood lovers. It serves prime cuts of meat, fresh seafood, and an extensive wine list.

  8. The H Cuisine: This Turkish restaurant in Dr. Phillips blends traditional Turkish flavors with modern culinary techniques. The menu includes a variety of mezes (small plates), kebabs, and other Turkish specialties.

  9. Yellow Dog Eats: Located in Gotha, Yellow Dog Eats is a quirky and popular restaurant known for its delicious sandwiches, barbeque, and eclectic menu. It's housed in a charming historic building and offers a unique and laid-back dining experience.

  10. Se7en Bites: This charming bakery and Southern-style café in the Milk District of Orlando is famous for its comfort food and delectable desserts. From biscuits and gravy to fried chicken, Se7en Bites offers a delightful selection of Southern favorites.

These are just a few examples of the many excellent dining options available in Orlando. Whether you're craving international cuisine, upscale dining, or casual comfort food, you're sure to find a restaurant in Orlando that suits your tastes and preferences.

What is the cheapest way to get around Orlando?

When it comes to affordable transportation options in Orlando, several choices can help you get around the city without breaking the bank. Here are some of the cheapest ways to navigate Orlando:

  • Lynx Bus: Lynx is the public transportation system in Orlando, operating a network of bus routes throughout the city. Riding the Lynx bus is an economical way to travel, with fares typically ranging from $2 for a single ride to $2.50 for a day pass. The Lynx website provides route maps, schedules, and fare information to help you plan your journey.

  • LYMMO: The LYMMO is a free bus service that operates in downtown Orlando, covering the central business district and connecting key destinations. There are several LYMMO routes available, denoted by different colors, and they offer a convenient way to explore downtown without any cost.

  • Biking: Orlando has been working on improving its bike-friendly infrastructure, making cycling a viable and affordable transportation option. You can rent bikes from various bike-sharing programs such as Juice Bike Share or use the city's extensive network of bike lanes and trails. Additionally, some hotels and resorts provide complimentary bicycles for their guests.

  • Walking: Depending on your location and the distance you need to cover, walking can be a cost-effective means of transportation in Orlando. The city has pedestrian-friendly areas, particularly in downtown and certain neighborhoods, where you can explore on foot and enjoy the surroundings.

  • Taxis and Rideshare Services: While not the cheapest option, using taxis or rideshare services like Uber or Lyft can still be relatively affordable, especially if you are traveling with others and can split the fare. These services offer convenient door-to-door transportation and are readily available throughout Orlando.

  • SunRail: If you plan to travel beyond Orlando's city limits, SunRail is a commuter train service that can be a budget-friendly choice. It connects various locations in Central Florida, including downtown Orlando, suburban areas, and neighboring cities. SunRail fares vary based on distance traveled, so be sure to check the pricing information on the official SunRail website.

It's worth noting that while renting a car provides convenience and flexibility, it may not always be the cheapest option when factoring in rental fees, fuel costs, parking fees, and other associated expenses.

By considering these affordable transportation options, you can navigate Orlando without putting a strain on your wallet and make the most of your visit to the city.

Frequently Asked Questions About Orlando:

  • What is the best time to visit Orlando?

Orlando's peak tourist season is during the summer months and major holidays when the theme parks are busiest. However, if you prefer smaller crowds and milder weather, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring (March to May) and fall (September to November).

  • How many theme parks are there in Orlando?

Orlando is home to several major theme parks, including Walt Disney World Resort with its four parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Animal Kingdom), Universal Orlando Resort with two parks (Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure), and SeaWorld Orlando.

  • What is the average cost of visiting the theme parks in Orlando?

Ticket prices for theme parks vary depending on factors such as park, time of year, and type of ticket. Generally, single-day tickets can range from around $100 to $200 per park. Multi-day tickets, bundled park passes, and seasonal offers may provide better value for longer stays.

  • Are there any attractions in Orlando besides the theme parks?

Absolutely! Orlando offers a range of attractions beyond the theme parks. You can explore cultural sites like museums, enjoy outdoor activities in the city's parks and lakes, visit shopping districts and outlets, or attend live entertainment shows and sporting events.

  • What are some family-friendly activities in Orlando?

Orlando is renowned for its family-friendly offerings. In addition to the theme parks, families can enjoy attractions like LEGOLAND Florida, Gatorland, The Orlando Science Center, and interactive experiences at ICON Park. Outdoor adventures, such as airboat rides or visiting nature reserves, are also popular options.

  • Is it necessary to rent a car in Orlando?

While having a car can provide convenience, it is not always essential in Orlando. The city offers public transportation options like buses (Lynx) and free downtown shuttles (LYMMO). Additionally, rideshare services, taxis, and hotel shuttles can help you get around. Consider your itinerary and transportation needs to determine if renting a car is necessary.

  • What are some popular dining options in Orlando?

Orlando has a diverse culinary scene, offering a wide range of dining options. You can find renowned restaurants serving various cuisines, including American, Italian, Asian, and more. Additionally, the city boasts food markets, food trucks, and local eateries that provide unique flavors and dining experiences.

  • Are there any outdoor activities or natural attractions in Orlando?

Yes, Orlando offers opportunities for outdoor activities and nature exploration. You can go kayaking or canoeing in the area's lakes and rivers, explore botanical gardens, hike in nearby state parks like Wekiwa Springs State Park, or take an eco-tour to experience the natural beauty of the region.

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