Most famous for the legendary Walt Disney World entertainment complex, Orlando is packed full of fun and exciting things to do both in its theme parks and beyond.
With its thrilling theme parks, sun-kissed beaches, world-class cultural venues, and incredible wildlife, the central Florida city of Orlando has something to satisfy every predilection for fun. If you’re planning a trip here and would like to fill your itinerary with some great attractions and activities, we’ve created a list of 12 of the most fun opportunities to be found in and around the city.
Catch a magical circus show
There are common-or-garden circus shows and then there are Cirque du Soleil circus shows. The world-renowned Canadian production company are a regular fixture on Orlando’s live theatre scene, staging frequent performances in front of packed crowds at Disney Springs complex in Walt Disney World. In recent times they have teamed up with Disney to create “Drawn to Life”, a 1.5-hour show that transports spectators into the world of animation, telling the story of Julie, a courageous girl who discovers an unexpected gift left by her late father, through captivating acrobatics.
Go wildlife watching on an Airboat ride
If admiring wildlife from behind a glass screen doesn’t quite cut it for you, then you also have the chance for a more up close and personal experience by joining an Everglades Airboat Ride. After boarding your traditional Airboat in Boggy Creek, a 20-minute drive south of Orlando, your captain will navigate you through the beautiful landscapes of the Central Florida Everglades as you keep your eyes open for American alligators, turtles, rare birds, and plenty more. The family-friendly excursion can run from 30 minutes to a longer trip of 1 hour, depending on your preference.
Look around an alligator park
For a slightly more sedate – but equally enthralling and ‘au naturale‘ – wildlife experience, Gatorland certainly fits the bill. The 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve park, also a short drive south of Orlando, is one of the region’s most popular attractions, featuring thousands of alligators and crocodiles, plus an aviary, a breeding marsh and bird rookery, a petting zoo, and a nature walk. The venue also hosts a daily programme of reptilian shows, including one featuring extremely rare giant white alligators.
14501 South Orange Blossom Trail / Mon-Sun 10am-5pm
Join a foodie walking tour
Orlando has a richly diverse foodie scene and one of the city’s major culinary hotspots is Park Avenue, a tree-lined, cobblestoned street in the vibrant neighbourhood of Winter Park, lined with acclaimed eateries and other cultural attractions. Run by Original Orlando Tours, the guided Flavors of Winter Park Foodie Walking Tour invites you to discover several of them over a relaxed two-and-a-half hours in a group of up to 16. During the tour, you’ll explore the streets of Winter Park accompanied by an expert guide who will provide running commentary on the area’s long history. On several occasions, you’ll duck in to both internationally-themed and locally-owned boutique restaurants – many of which have been compared to the relaxing sidewalk cafes of Europe – to sample the local fare and watch cooking demos. Private tours are also available.
Watch a Magical basketball match
Of all America’s myriad of great sporting spectacles, there is nothing quite like the confined space of a packed basketball arena pulsating with noise and energy. Visitors to Orlando keen to experience the thrills and spills of an NBA match can do so by taking in a game at the state-of-the-art Amway Center, home to the Orlando Magic basketball team. Enjoy edge-of-your-seat excitement and classic in-game entertainment including interactive fan areas, the tallest scoreboard in the NBA, and plenty of bars and restaurants, and leave with memories to last a lifetime – even if you don’t understand the rules.
Amway Center, 400 West Church Street Suite 200
Tap into Orlando’s beer brewing scene
Orlando has a lively beer brewing scene and one of the best ways to discover it is by visiting some of the city’s very own breweries. Orlando Ale Line is a renowned local company that organises and runs tours to local breweries, as well as a hop-on, hop-off bus shuttle service that lets you visit several breweries in one day. During tours, expert guides will educate guests on the brewing process and there’ll also be the chance to meet and engage with the brew masters themselves. Both group and private tours are available.
One of the regular Orlando Ale Line stops is Ivanhoe Park Brewing Company, an independent craft brewery and tasting room located in the city’s historic Ivanhoe district. With a mission to make craft beer accessible to everyone, they make use of the finest ingredients and selected hops, barley and malts to create high-quality beers. The tasting room itself is a must-visit, inspired by Ivanhoe’s past and present to create an inviting, sociable setting in which to sample some of the home brews. If you’re too short on time to join the shuttle run, the brewery also runs its own independent tours.
See the city from up high
The bright lights and ocean vistas of Orlando are a sight to behold from any vantage point – but particularly from up high. Located at ICON Park entertainment complex is The Wheel, a stunning 400-foot-tall Ferris wheel that lets you see the city and its surroundings from an elevated perch in the sky. Aboard an air-conditioned pod, each rotation takes about 20 minutes, offering plenty of time to soak up the spectacular views. For a truly memorable experience, you can even ride at sunset and watch as the nearby theme parks set off fireworks, or go for the Sky Bar experience which includes a beverage of your choice for your flight.
8375 International Drive / Mon-Thurs 1pm-10pm Fri 1pm-11pm Sat 12pm-11pm Sun 12pm – 10pm
Traverse the local waters in a glass-bottomed kayak
Outdoor lovers keen to explore Orlando’s surrounding natural wonders have many excursions to choose from – and among them is a Glass Bottom Guided Kayak Tour in Rock Springs. After reaching your departure point at King’s Landing, 30 minutes by road from Orlando, the first part of the tour will be an upstream paddle through calm waters and overhead tree canopies, with stops to hop off your kayak and into the fresh spring water, as well as the chance to leap into the water from a hidden jump platform, if you dare. Over the ensuing two hours you’ll keep watch for fish, turtles, birds, small alligators, and other native species residing in their natural habitat, before making your way back.
Discover the art of illusion
We all remember the amusement of catching sight of our warped selves at a house of mirrors carnival attraction. At the Museum of Illusions in the heart of Icon Park, these kind of rib-tickling visions are dialled up several notches through over 50 interactive, eye-tricking exhibits designed to teach you about optical illusions. Highlights include the chance to “shrink” to miniature size in the Ames Room, defy the laws of gravity in the Reverse Room, and explore the mind-blowing expanse of the Infinity Room.
Icon Park, 8375 International Drive / Mon-Thurs 12pm-9pm Fri 12pm-10pm Sat 11am-10pm Sun 11am -9pm
Admire the dazzling night sights of Orlando aboard a chopper
With their panoramic windows and ability to fly lower than other aircraft, helicopter rides give you a truly unique perspective. The Helicopter Night Tour affords a mesmerising bird’s-eye view over Orlando and its kaleidoscopic theme parks after dark. Catch a glimpse of the illuminated Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Blizzard Beach, SeaWorld, Universal Studios and more during your 45-minute flight. During the trip, your pilot will fill you in on all the details of the sights of the city.
Wall Crawl Tour
The brainchild of husband and wife duo Joshua and Jeanette, the Wall Crawl concept in downtown Orlando was dreamed up when the couple realised that photography had changed dramatically, yet the photo studio concept remained almost completely the same. Wall Crawl was created to solve this common photography problem, and provide a studio experience that means your photos will never be the same. Spread across 4,500 square foot, the studio features over 20 seasonally-changing walls and professional lighting and can be booked by the hour to give you a photo collection to truly be proud of.
1016 West Church Street /