22 Things to Do in Orlando: Natural Beauty, History, Art, & Fun (It’s Not Just Theme Parks)

Welcome to Downtown Orlando Lake Lucerne Florida

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Welcome to the enchanting city of Orlando, Florida – a place renowned for its boundless entertainment, iconic attractions, and magical experiences.

But there are so many things to do in Orlando beyond the parks and rides that attract so many visitors.

Whether you’re a lover of arts and culture, a foodie seeking culinary delights, or a nature aficionado craving outdoor exploration, this vibrant city has something in store for you.

In this guide, we share a treasure trove of handpicked activities and hidden gems that will ignite your wanderlust and inspire you to plan your Orlando escapade.

You might also like our guide to the most romantic things to do in Orlando if you’re trying to impress your sweetheart.

And be sure to check out our guide to Orlando on a budget to get some helpful tips before your trip.

Best Things to Do in Orlando Florida

Our guide starts at Lake Eola, right in the heart of Orlando.

From there, we’ll go up towards Winter Park and then check out a few places in the Orlando outskirts that we highly recommend.

Lake Eola Park

Lake Eola Park (512 E Washington St) is the crown jewel of downtown Orlando and acts as the perfect setting for enjoying The City Beautiful.

The park’s scenic lake is decorated with swan boats and encircled by a 1-mile walking path.

Depending on the time of year, you’ll likely also see families of swans relaxing under the shady trees along the shoreline.

A visit to Lake Eola Park is a must-do in Orlando; go for a leisurely walk, bring a nice picnic, paddle in a swan boat, and take in the skyline of downtown Orlando.

Sunset behind the skyline and Lake Eola in Orlando Florida

Orlando Farmer’s Market at Lake Eola

You can find the wonderful Orlando Farmer’s Market every Sunday at Lake Eola Park (20 N Eola Dr).

Each week, the park transforms into a lively market that features a variety of locally-made goods, handmade crafts, fresh produce, and delicious treats.

The friendly atmosphere paired with the incredible offerings and scenic backdrop makes this a great place to go in Orlando to shop, indulge in great food, and support local artisans.

Vegetable at Farmer's market.

Orange County Regional History Center

The Orange County Regional History Center (65 E Central Blvd) brings guests on a fascinating journey through the region’s storied past.

Housed in a 1927 courthouse, the museum has thousands of artifacts, from photographs, books, recordings, and memorabilia that explore Central Florida’s 12,000-year history.

Visitors can dive into topics such as local culture, industry, and important events that helped shape the area.

With 4 floors of intriguing exhibits that are designed to appeal to all ages, this history center is one of the best things to do in Orlando if you’re looking to deepen your knowledge about the area.

SAK Comedy Lab

If you’re looking for some laughs and a unique thing to do in downtown Orlando, head to SAK Comedy Lab (29 S Orange Ave).

SAK Comedy Lab has a team of professional improv actors that put on shows every weekend, providing hilarious entertainment for audiences.

The interactive and spontaneous performances have been keeping crowds engaged since the doors opened in 1991.

You’re pretty much guaranteed to have a night full of non-stop laughter and unpredictable fun when you visit SAK Comedy Lab!

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (445 S Magnolia Ave) is the place to come for awe-inspiring concerts, plays, and comedy shows that cater to all kinds of artistic tastes.

This venue has 3 different theater spaces and always has something lined up on the calendar, whether it be a Broadway show or a ballet.

The Dr. Phillips Center has also kept accessibility in mind, with transport wheelchairs available upon request, elevators, wheelchair-accessible restrooms, and wheelchair lifts to select tiers in the main theater.

Attending a show at the Dr. Phillips Center provides guests with the opportunity to support and appreciate the arts in an architecturally stunning setting.

Welcome to Downtown Orlando Lake Lucerne Florida

Dickson Azalea Park

For a peaceful escape into nature just outside of downtown Orlando, Dickson Azalea Park (100 Rosearden Dr) is the place to go.

The 3.6-acre park features a charming bridge, water views, and walking paths that wind through lush foliage and towering trees, showcasing a variety of native plants.

Benches and picnic spots offer guests the perfect chance to unwind and enjoy the lovely surroundings.

Exploring Dickson Azalea Park is a top-notch Orlando activity that allows visitors to enjoy the sheer beauty of nature.

Tasty Takeover

Tasty Takeover (2424 E Robinson St) is a weekly food truck event held every Tuesday just outside of downtown Orlando.

The event features a diverse lineup of Central Florida’s best food trucks, each one offering unique and mouthwatering dishes.

There are some vendors that are regulars and others that change up each week, so you’re bound to discover new and exciting things even if you’re a local.

After you grab a bite (or a few) from the food trucks that pique your interest, you’re welcome to head over to one of the several bars along the street to dig in and wash it down with a crisp beverage.

Primrose Lanes Restaurant and Bowling Club

In 1959, a bowling alley known as Colonial Lanes opened in what’s known as Orlando’s Milk District.

The historic establishment had to shut down in 2018, but the community was determined to keep its memory alive.

Enter Primrose Lanes (400 N Primrose Dr), which opened in the same neighborhood and holds many different relics from the original bowling alley.

With a diverse menu including dishes like crab cake fritters, smoked BBQ ribs, and hash brown bites topped with smoked trout caviar, Primrose Lanes is a place to come eat, drink, and bowl in a trendy yet historical setting.

Bowling alley

Harry P. Leu Gardens

Harry P. Leu Gardens (1920 N Forest Ave) is a 50-acre tranquil paradise that’s filled with gardens of roses, tropical plants, and 200-year-old oak trees.

Stroll the pathways as you take in the peaceful gardens and gorgeous views of Lake Rowena.

With Florida’s temperate climate, there’s no bad time to visit Leu Gardens, as something will always be in bloom.

In addition to its stunning variety of plants, there are also whimsical art installments throughout the property that add to the atmosphere in a remarkable way.

Harry P. Leu Gardens is a place to immerse yourself in the sheer beauty of nature’s wonders.

Alley in the Harry P. Leu Gardens with lush greens in Orlando, Florida.

Orlando Museum of Art

The Orlando Museum of Art (2416 N Mills Ave) has an impressive collection of pieces across various media that makes for one of the best things to do in Orlando, Florida.

With a mixture of artistic genres and time periods, this art museum has engaging exhibits that offer a journey through the power of human expression.

From African and American art to contemporary pieces, patrons can explore a variety of artistic perspectives and styles.

The museum is also completely wheelchair-accessible and can provide assisted listening devices and wheelchairs if needed.

The Orlando Museum of Art is the city’s flagship museum and plays a key component in the community when it comes to encouraging artistic appreciation and expression.

Mead Botanical Garden

A trip to Mead Botanical Garden (1300 S Denning Dr, Winter Park) makes for a day filled with sunshine and serenity.

Covering 47 acres, the garden features an amphitheater, a butterfly garden, a boardwalk, and a bike trail.

Get a glimpse into several Florida ecosystems, including wooded areas and wetlands, and even enjoy activities such as Tai Chi or Yoga in the Garden.

If you’re searching for things to do around Orlando, make your way to this botanical garden to connect with Florida’s nature in a profound way.

Scenic Boat Tour

There’s no better way to see the beautiful neighborhood and waters of Winter Park than by embarking on a Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour (312 E Morse Blvd, Winter Park).

Located just a few minutes outside of Orlando, this boat tour can accommodate eighteen people and brings guests on a journey through 3 of the region’s 7 lakes and near several historic homes.

Guided narrations provide insights into the area’s history and its ecosystems as you glide through picturesque waterways.

The tour is an opportunity to immerse yourself in a side of Central Florida that isn’t often experienced so you can appreciate the hidden gems that the area has to offer.

A white single swan in water with cityscape in the background in Orlando Florida

Enzian Theater

The Enzian Theater (1300 Orlando Ave, Maitland) is arguably the most special cinema in Orlando’s surrounding area and is even home to the Florida Film Festival.

Known for its eclectic film showings, this indie theater has been offering diverse lineups of independent, classic, and foreign films since the 1980s.

The cozy atmosphere is enhanced by its comfortable seating and a full-service bar, which elevates the movie-watching experience.

The Enzian Theater is a truly beloved spot within the Central Florida community and is an ideal place for enjoying the art of cinema.

The Crayola Experience

Let your imagination run wild at the Crayola Experience (8001 S Orange Blossom Trail), one of the best things to do in Orlando besides theme parks.

This interactive attraction offers a bunch of hands-on activities and stations, each one being ADA-compliant, allowing visitors of all ages to explore art and creativity.

From melting and molding crayons and naming your very own crayon to digital art adventures, the Crayola Experience is the place to be for a day of artistic discovery.

This is a place where the whole family can unleash their creativity and make colorful memories together.

Skip the line with this advance ticket option.


CityWalk (6000 Universal Blvd) is a bustling entertainment complex where exquisite dining, shopping, and activities await.

Part of the Universal Orlando Resort, CityWalk features restaurants such as Margaritaville, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., and the Hard Rock Café.

There are also numerous live music venues and themed clubs like a karaoke bar and a dueling piano bar to really set the scene for a night full of fun.

For family-friendly fun, partake in a round of minigolf or see a hit movie at the state-of-the-art theater!

Whether you’re here during the day or evening, visitors can enjoy the energetic atmosphere that CityWalk is known for. 

Universal Studios Globe. Orlando. Florida

Astro Skate of Orlando

Get groovy at Astro Skate of Orlando (866 S Goldenrod Rd), a roller skating rink and entertainment center that’s fun for all ages.

The rink has created the perfect atmosphere complete with colorful lights, lively music, and a large skating area where you can skate and dance the night away.

Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced skater, Astro Skate welcomes all and provides a safe environment to glide and enjoy yourself.

You can rent skates, take lessons, play arcade games, and get your favorite snacks in between skate sessions to complete the fun, making it a great Orlando attraction for families or a night out with your friends.

Waterford Lakes Town Center

Waterford Lakes Town Center (413 N Alafaya Trail) is an outdoor shopping plaza that offers so much great stuff to do in Orlando, with its wide range of shops, restaurants, and entertainment options.

Discover shops such as American Eagle, Old Navy, Sephora, and Super Target as well as restaurants like Cooper’s Hawk, Red Lobster, Fresh Kitchen, and Marlow’s Tavern.

In addition to the dining options and stores, you can also catch a movie at Regal Cinemas or have a blast playing a round of minigolf at Pop Stroke!

The activities are practically endless at Waterford Lakes, allowing guests to shop, eat, play, or just walk around and enjoy the lively surroundings.

University of Central Florida

When you’re in Orlando, you’re in Knight territory!

The University of Central Florida (4000 Central Florida Blvd) is one of the largest universities by enrollment not only in the state, but the entire country.

UCF has a wonderfully diverse student community and strolling its lovely campus makes for a great pastime.

Even better, plan your visit around the athletic schedule so you can potentially catch an exciting basketball or football game!

UCF is such a pillar in the Central Florida region and a place where you’ll discover vast green spaces, captivating architecture, and a lively sports scene.

Aerial photo sports fields at University of Central Florida in Orlando

Econ River Wilderness Area

Spending time on the Econlockhatchee River is an incredible way to get some Orlando sightseeing in.

The Econ River Wilderness Area (3795 Old Lockwood Rd, Oviedo) is on the outskirts of Orlando and a great way to experience the tranquil Econ River and its surroundings.

There are 3 miles of trails that wind through the wilderness area; you can try to see white-tailed deer, bobcats, raccoons, and great horned owls while traversing the paths.

A visit to this Floridian habitat offers guests a way to enjoy many of their favorite outdoor pastimes and a chance to bask in the peace only nature can provide.

Orlando Wetlands Park

Orlando Wetlands Park (25155 Wheeler Rd, Christmas) possibly provides the most up-close-and-personal way to encounter wildlife in its natural habitat.

This nature sanctuary was man-made to provide treatment from Orlando’s reclaimed water, but it is now an imperative habitat for hundreds of different species.

A birdwatcher’s dream, walk through the wetlands and observe great blue herons, bald eagles, osprey, and spoonbills along with alligators, turtles, otters, and white-tailed deer.

Orlando Wetlands Park is a unique way to experience Florida and the harmony of its delicate ecosystems.

Roseate Spoonbill flying at Orlando Wetlands Park Florida

Split Oak Forest Wildlife and Environmental Area

Visiting Split Oak Forest (10525 Clapp Simms Duda Rd) is like stepping into a woodland fairytale.

This pristine conservation area has 6.4 miles of hiking trails that bring you through a variety of habitats such as pine scrub, prairies, and forests.

Named after a 200-year-old oak tree, this land has been dedicated to preserving the gopher tortoise.

Exploring Split Oak Forest is a great way to observe native wildlife and plant species and experience the unspoiled beauty of this region.

Central Florida Ale Trail

If you love locally brewed beer and want a way to see a large portion of Central Florida, then embarking on a journey along the Central Florida Ale Trail in Orlando is right for you!

This self-guided tour of the region’s top breweries showcases its growing craft beer scene.

Participants can grab a passport at any of the 16 breweries involved in the ale trail to start racking up their stamps.

Explore unique taprooms while learning about the creative processes behind each beer.

From refreshing blonde ales and hoppy IPAs to rich stouts, the Central Florida Ale Trail offers a chance to discover new flavors and experience the culture of Orlando’s craft beer scene.

Close-up of four small beers as a sampler

Final Words

Are you ready to try all these things to do in Orlando other than theme parks? We hope this inspired you to check out some new-to-you places and activities.

Share your favorites in the comments below!

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