Orlando is one of the most popular destinations in America for families with small children and adults alike. Perhaps one of the biggest draws for family activities in the area is the abundance of theme parks. From Universal Studios and Resort to Walt Disney World Resort and Theme Parks, it’s nearly impossible to think of Orlando without thinking of those parks. However, this isn’t always a draw for Florida residents or those who have visited the parks multiple times before. So, if you’ve been searching for things to do outside Orlando or within the city limits aside from theme parks, you’ll be happy to know that there are plenty of attractions in this wonderful city! Below you will find a few recommendations great for all ages, different seasons, and fun-filled activities both in and near Orlando.
Go for a Swim
One of the best activities in Florida, specifically the central portion where Orlando is located, is the abundance of water. Especially unique to Florida are the natural springs, which boast clear, refreshing water at great temperatures year-round. With a typical temp of between 68 and 75 degrees, you’ll want to add one of these springs to your to-do list when visiting.
De Leon Springs: De Leon Springs State Park is located in nearby De Leon Springs, offering a culturally and historically rich experience. Aside from the gorgeous springs and their healing properties, you can also choose to go for a relaxing hike and grab a meal at The Old Spanish Sugar Mill and Griddle House. This attraction can easily be a whole day affair, especially because it is a popular thing to do, so be sure to arrive early!
Rock Springs: A natural lazy river running through the heart of Florida? Sign us up! Hot summer days are alleviated with this gorgeous river and its clear waters, making for a perfect place to bring your inner tube and float all afternoon long. Cool and refreshing water with unique greenery to match, you won’t want to pass up Rock Springs. Like most of these natural options – prices are kept low compared to theme parks, the only fee being the entry which ranges between $3 and $5.
Wekiva Island: Wekiva Springs located in nearby Longwood, Florida is another experience perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. For an inexpensive price, there is something for everyone at this location with canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, wildlife watching, and of course, swimming. Also, there is a boardwalk, volleyball court, the Tooting Otter beer and wine bar, the Without a Paddle Café, and a General Store with souvenirs and Florida gifts. Be sure to arrive early (possibly even before the park opens) and make a spot for you, as this environmentally friendly attraction fills up very quickly, especially on weekends!
Activities for the Adventurous
Had enough of the relaxation and craving a bit of adventure without the theme park admission? Orlando has got you covered! There is plenty to do that raises your heart rate without raising the prices. Below are a few options for the thrill-seekers visiting Orlando.
Canyons Zip Line & Canopy Tours: Just north of Orlando is the city of Ocala is a fun-filled park featuring zip lines from multiple cliffs and over varying landscapes as well as land adventures like horseback riding and mine exploration. The fun doesn’t stop there. At Canyons Zip Line & Canopy Tours Park, you will also find water activities, including kayak tours, swimming, and year-round events! Perfect for all ages and all entertainment preferences, this park is a great option for a day of fun – or even multiple days if more than one attraction calls to you. There are some age and weight requirements for the zip lines, so be sure to check those out before you go.
Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park: Nothing forces bonding and tactical problem solving more than obstacle and ropes courses. Here at Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park, you and your loved ones will be among the trees as you work to come out triumphant over these courses. Don’t worry. There are activities for all ages and skill levels. If you’ve ever wanted to navigate these courses after hearing about them or seeing them on shows – this is the perfect opportunity as it is both cost-effective and accessible. Before you buy your tickets, check out the park’s list of discounts and special pricing they offer for a variety of groups like Florida Residents, early-risers, seniors, military members, college students, and large groups.
Orlando Watersports Complex: The last recommendation for the thrill-seekers visiting Orlando is this over-the-top water park. Not exactly your typical water park, Orlando Watersports Complex offers kneeboarding, wakeboarding, floating, and a beach area with a grill. If your group is split on whether to take the day to relax or be adventurous, this activity offers both options. While some family members take lessons for beginners’ activities, others can lay out and relax on the beach with a frosty drink and cool temperatures.
Activities for Boat-Lovers
Boat lovers can rejoice as there is plenty to do in the Orlando vicinity. With the typical Florida heat, who can blame you for wanting to spend some time in the water, or in this case, on it.
Bioluminescent Kayak Tour: Off the coast of Florida is an amazing and unique activity, bioluminescent waters! With so few bioluminescent waters in the world, you won’t want to pass up visiting when in Orlando if you can help it. If you’ve never heard of these waters, the water is illuminated by dinoflagellates that glow in the dark. When you’re moving in the water, especially via boat, the organisms light up when anything disturbs the surface of the water. This company offers clear kayaks, which provide the best mode to see them beneath your vessel.
Take an Airboat Ride: Airboat rides are a great way to experience wildlife on the water without putting yourself in too much danger. The Black Hammock is a company that serves Central Florida, most specifically the shores of Lake Jesup, which is believed to have the most alligators in one body of water in all of Florida. Additionally, you might also catch glimpses of other wildlife, including turtles, birds, and more. You’ll also find a restaurant at the location offering excellent food and drinks before and after your time on the water. And for anyone who wants a truly unforgettable experience, be sure to ask about holding a baby alligator while you’re there.
Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour: One of the closer activities to the city of Orlando is this scenic boat tour in Winter Park, FL, only ten minutes from downtown. Winter Park boasts beautiful waters and captivating scenery, including homes, wildlife, flora, and fauna that you can’t find anywhere else in the state, or country for that matter.
Get a Little Exercise
If your family has spent a lot of time eating and relaxing, you may be searching for an inexpensive way to get your body moving while avoiding a high price tag. As one of the sunniest and most humid states in the country, there is a completely unique landscape and features waiting to be explored. If you’re spending some time in Orlando, make sure you budget time for some of the following activities to get moving and exploring.
Cady Way Trail: This is a 7.5-mile-long paved trail that runs between Orlando and nearby Winter Park. This trail is beloved by local cyclists and pedestrians for a peaceful but well-maintained escape. Keep in mind the trail is not looped, meaning it begins and ends in two different places. As such, be sure to turn around early if you don’t want to also trek 7.5 miles back to the beginning.
Leu Gardens: This 50-acre property is the perfect place to take a stroll through some stunning gardens. Part of the gardens run along Lake Rowena in Orlando. You can expect to see an abundance of wildlife, including herons, peacocks, and of course, gorgeous flora as well.
Lake Baldwin Park – Located in the city of Winter Park is this 2.5-mile looped trail around Lake Baldwin. Since its creation, it has quickly become a popular spot for pedestrians, cyclists, and roller-bladers to catch some sun and get active. It’s also a popular spot for families with dogs as there is a 23-acre dog park on one side of the lake. You can also find a variety of restaurants to sit down and enjoy a meal, many of which are dog-friendly with their outdoor seating.
See the City Beautiful
Orlando has much more to offer than the traditional theme parks. Whether you’re looking to build a hybrid schedule that features both activities and you’re hoping to just avoid theme parks altogether, there is something great for you here. Just as Orlando’s nickname suggests, this beautiful city and nearby towns boast captivating experiences worthy of a spot in your vacation plans. Whether you live in Orlando or you’ll be visiting for a week, be sure to pencil in some time to relax and unwind if that’ what you’re looking for, or find something adventurous and affordable for the whole family. Don’t forget to be on the lookout for fun events taking place throughout the city all year long. From entertaining sports games to summer concerts, the City Beautiful has just what you need for the perfect vacation!