If you’re heading to Orlando, odds are you’re thinking of hitting up one of the parks or many tourist attractions. Orlando is land-locked with no beaches or ocean views but what they lack in beaches, they make up for with fun activities to do! Orlando is a city that thrives because of their tourism dollars with many of the local attractions geared towards families. I’m a Disney World lover so if I’m heading to Orlando, I’m making my way there no matter what. We are heading to Orlando tomorrow and visiting Disney on Friday which I can’t wait for! There’s also Universal Studios which has thrilling rides. Harry Potter World, within the Universal park, is incredible and feels as if you’re stepping into the magical wizarding world. A quick Google search will show you that Orlando is also home to an aquarium, SeaWorld, ICON Park, and The Blue Man Group.
My advice if you’re heading to Orlando is to take advantage of all the city has to offer. Lean into the theme parks, the museums, and attractions – that is truly what Orlando is all about! If you’re not looking for such a commercialized experience then visit some of the other Florida cities instead, like my favorite being Tampa or Clearwater Beach.
We all know how expensive the parks are though so odds are you’ll be planning in a day or two of down time. Here’s my guide of things to do in Orlando beyond the parks!
Formerly known as Downtown Disney, Disney Springs is a fun area that has plenty of shopping, restaurants, and bars to keep you busy. Disney Springs also has a movie theatre, virtual reality experience and bowling alley should you catch it on a day with poor weather or if you’re simply looking for an activity for the whole family. I always love spending time in Disney Springs as it’s a way to get a taste of some of the Disney charm without having to pay for an expensive park ticket. I will note however that the restaurants and shops in Disney Springs definitely come at a premium since you’re paying for the Disney name – so don’t expect an inexpensive day/night unless you choose to simply walk around and don’t stay to eat/shop.
If you know you’re heading to Disney Springs then I recommend downloading the Disney World app to check for available reservations. The app is extremely easy to use and also includes maps, restroom locations, and is an easy way to manage your reservations. I would urge anyone heading to Disney Springs that plans on eating there to make reservations ahead of time since restaurants do fill up and will be booked – especially on weekends!
Also note that if you’re staying on Disney property or in one of the Disney Springs affiliated hotels, then you have complementary access to the Disney Shuttles. The shuttles operate between the different parks, ESPN Wide World Of Sports, and Disney Springs so it’s easy for you to get to and from.
Visit The Disney Resorts
What’s great about the Disney resorts is that you don’t have to actually stay there in order to enjoy the restaurants and activities! Disney’s Boardwalk is one of my favorites which sits between the Yacht Club and Boardwalk resort. It has really high energy with shops, restaurants, and clubs that sit on a small body of water. It’s charming and feels as if you’re in a retro Atlantic City. My recommendation is to grab an ice cream, walk the boardwalk, catch some music and enjoy a fun night. Again, use your Disney app to make reservations ahead of time if you plan on eating here.
Also, some of the best dining at Disney World is at the resorts. I’ve eaten at Crew’s Cup Lounge, Beaches & Cream Soda Shack and had delicious food. Again, use the app to check out restaurants at the resorts and make yourself a reservation! No need to be a guest and you still get to enjoy some of the Disney magic.
Attend An Orlando Magic Game
A few years ago while in Orlando we decided to attend an Orlando Magic basketball game. Without my husband being the sports fanatic that he is I wouldn’t have thought of this as an activity but we had a ton of fun. Plus, you may get lucky with celebrity sightings like we did! We saw Kate Upton and Justin Verlander sitting court-side.
Eat Delicious Food
It will come as no surprise that there are great food options in Orlando. Although Phil and I don’t typically eat outside of the parks or Disney Springs while we’re there, I have my eye on a few restaurants like DOMU, Black Rooster Taqueria, Cafe De France, and Enzo’s On The Lake.