Orlando and Disney World are pretty much synonymous. You really can’t mention one without the other. Though I do think visiting the theme parks of Orlando is a must at some point in your life (I mean c’mon…it is “the most magical place on Earth” after all), they are not the be all and end all of Orlando. This fun, Floridian metropolis has so much more to offer. So, whether you’re family vacationing, going with friends or a significant other, or you’ve already been there, done that, bought the t-shirt and is all theme-parked out, here is a list of Things to Do in Orlando Besides Disney World.
Peruse Around Disney Springs
Previously known as Downtown Disney, Disney Springs is a one-stop-shop for dining, shopping, and entertainment. From Splitsville Luxury Lanes to Sprinkles, The Art of Disney to The Art of Shaving, Amphicar Rides to AMC Movies, Disney Springs has it all! Pop in and out of the boutique shops, grab a bite to eat, or simply take a stroll and enjoy the sites, Disney Springs can be as fun or as relaxing as you want it to be.
When I asked my Uber driver for suggestions of places to eat, he told me you really can’t go wrong with any restaurant in Disney Springs because it caters to locals, as well, as travelers. It’s not a one-off sort of deal where someone may eat there and never return so the food is sub par. Nope! They cater to repeat customers and everyone wants to be the best so the all the restaurants are pretty great. We tried D-Luxe Burger and it was probably one of the best burgers I’ve ever had! So deliciously juicy and flavorful and a great atmosphere to boot. If this burger joint is any indication of the other restaurants in Disney Springs then I’d have to agree with my Uber driver that you really can’t go wrong, because this place was BOMB!
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Shop til’ You Drop
If it’s one thing Orlando is known for, besides Disney, it’s SHOPPING! With shopping malls and outlet malls seemingly at every turn, you can certainly get your fair share of retail therapy here. If you’re looking for deep discounts from high-end to low-end stores, and everything in between, be sure to check out the outlet malls. Orlando Premium Outlets-Vineland Ave., Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores, and Orlando Premium Outlets – International Drive are three of the most popular outlets. If you want to escape the heat, head indoors to the Mall of Millenia with over 150 stores and restaurants.
Enjoy Some R&R
Sometimes while on vacation we tend to get so caught up and doing and seeing everything, that we forget to carve out a little time for some rest and relaxation; which, ironically enough, is why many of us want to go on vacation to begin with – to take a break and relax from our crazy busy lives, right? I am giving you permission to do just that! Take a break and a breather. The best place to do so in Orlando is The Spa. This luxury spa offers a wide selection of spa treatments that are sure to send you into euphoric and tranquil bliss. Spend a day getting primped and pampered with a facial, and mani/pedi, or perhaps you prefer a little rejuvenation with their Enzymatic Sea Mud Treatment. Or maybe a relaxing Cabana Massage that allows you to enjoy beautiful Floridian weather is more your speed. Whatever you choose, you can’t go wrong.
Get Your Cardio On (but not in the way you think)
I know. I know. I just told you to enjoy some R&R, and now I’m telling you to get your cardio on. Trust me, it’s not how you think. This cardio work out actually doesn’t require you to move at all.
What? Why? How?
Two words. La Nouba!
La Nouba by Cirque de Soleil is shown exclusively at the Walt Disney World Resort and it will have your heart beating out of your chest with the excitement and anxiety all at the same time. The best way to describe this show is like America’s Best Dance crew mixed with gymnastics, trapeze, and aerial acrobats like you’ve never seen. It will have your heart racing and keep you on the edge of your seat. It’s dramatic, it’s comical, it’s moving, and simply all around magical. This show is for people of all ages, so you can make it a family outing, enjoy a date night with your significant other, or even go solo.
*** Update: As of New Year’s Eve 2017, La Nouba took its final bow at Disney Springs. I’m sure other exciting shows are to come.
Get a Bird’s-Eye View
Take a trip on the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye and see Orlando from a different perspective. As the tallest observation wheel on the East Coast U.S.A it’s not to be missed. Located at the heart of I-Drive, take flight and take in the breathtaking aerial views of Central Florida, the various theme parks, lakes, and even Cape Canaveral. Each of the enclosed, glass, capsules are air conditioned which is the perfect escape from those hot summer days in Orlando. Each capsule also contains an interactive tablet for you to explore and learn about the sites you see.
Experience the Magic (Outside of Disney World)
The Magical World of Disney isn’t the only place to feel and experience the magic. There is also the Orlando Magic. If you’re visiting Orlando during basketball season be sure to check out a game. I’m not a huge basketball fan, but I love the energy of basketball games and would happily sit in the stands and root for the Magic team (unless of course they’re playing the home team, the Atlanta Hawks 🙂 ), because why not?
Joy Ride on I-Drive
The International Drive Resort Area (also known as I-Drive) is another popular one-stop-shop area in Orlando for dining, attractions, entertainment, and shopping. The best way to get around I-Drive is via the I-RIDE Trolley. This is a convenient and affordable way to see hundreds of destinations in the I-Drive area. There are two different routes and you can hop on or hop off at any of the stops along your route. Check the routes here.
Not only does it offer a great way to see Orlando (I mean, who doesn’t love trolleys?), but the price also can’t be beat. You have a couple of different options when it comes to pay. You can pay per ride, $2 per adult, $1 per child (3-9 years old), and $0.25 for senior citizens (65 and over). There are also unlimited rides passes ranging from one day to fourteen days between $5 and $18 per person. Check the full price list here.
Hop aboard and enjoy attractions such as Madame Tussad’s Wax Museum, the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye, I-Drive NASCAR Kart Racing, Universal Studios Florida, and so much more!
There you have it, a list of things to do besides theme parks and Disney World in Orlando. For more ideas; as well as, discounts and coupons for things to do, see, and eat in Orlando check out the Visit Orlando website.