The 12 Best Things to Do on Your Next Trip to Orlando

The Evolve Team
The Evolve Team
April 20, 2021

Orlando is most famous for being home to “The Most Magical Place on Earth,” but its ties to Disney World are just one part of what makes this central Florida city a top tourism destination year after year. 

Whether you’re theme park-hopping with kids, hitting the links at year-round golf courses, or visiting the city’s plethora of restaurants and shopping malls with friends, Orlando has a whole world of excitement just waiting to be explored. Start by booking one of our top-rated vacation rentals, then plan your adventure-filled days with these top things to do.

In This Article: 

Best Family-Friendly Activities 

Best Adult Activities 

Best Outdoor Activities

The Best Family-Friendly Activities in Orlando 

Disney World Orlando Florida

Orlando is a dream vacation for so many children, and a wonder for adults. These world-class, kid-friendly attractions are best for creating lasting memories with the whole family.

1.  Feel the Magic at Disney World 

It’s nearly impossible to imagine an Orlando family vacation without picturing Disney World. There are four theme parks to choose from: you can visit Cinderella’s castle at Magic Kingdom, hop around the world at Epcot, go on a Safari ride at Animal Kingdom, or experience the Star Wars galaxy at Hollywood Studios. If you have a longer vacation on the calendar, you can always thrill the kids and visit all four, basically guaranteeing a trip no one will soon forget.

2. Experience Thrills at Universal Orlando Resort 

Designed for adventure-seeking, movie-loving members of the family, Universal Orlando Resort is a whole other world full of rollercoasters, live shows, and other fun activities to explore. Aside from its own themed resort and CityWalk entertainment area, there are two theme parks worth visiting: Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios.

In the first, you’ll find adventures around top films like Jurassic Park, The Cat in the Hat, and Spider-Man. The second hosts thrills for fans of kid-friendly flicks like Despicable Me, Transformers, and Shrek

For many visitors, however, the top attraction at both parks is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. You’ll find an abundance of rides, shops, and restaurants to immerse yourself in the popular book and film series, and can even travel between the two parks via the Hogwarts Express.

3. See Actual Alligators at Gatorland

Florida is famous for its alligators, so while visiting Orlando you might as well see them in a safe, family-friendly environment. Claiming to be “The Alligator Capital of the World,” Gatorland has alligators and crocodiles of all sizes, and is Florida’s leader in alligator safety and education. But admiring the toothy creatures isn’t the only kid-friendly activity available: you can also see the free-flight aviary, ride the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line, or catch one of the live animal shows.

4. Cool Off at Family-Friendly Water Parks 

Beat the humid Florida weather with a trip to one of the many water parks Orlando has to offer. Whether it’s Universal’s Volcano Bay or one of Disney’s themed water parks like Blizzard Beach or Typhoon Lagoon, you and the kids will have a blast floating in the lazy river or screaming down a water slide. (P.S. If you’re craving a swim in the ocean, Orlando isn’t too far from several beaches on the Florida coast — including Tampa and Daytona.)

The Best Adult Activities in Orlando 

Orlando golfer

While Orlando is a famous destination for the younger ones, “The City Beautiful” is a top vacation spot for adults, too. If you’re looking for things to do in Orlando besides theme parks, these are some of the top attractions worth trying.

1. Experience Orlando’s Nightlife 

Those looking for a hip place to visit shouldn’t miss out on a night at Wall Street Plaza on Orange Avenue. A favorite among locals, it’s one big street party in the middle of downtown featuring affordable drinks, tasty food, and plenty of music to keep your feet moving. 

For a classier feel, venture over to Mather’s Social Gathering on nearby Magnolia Avenue. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time thanks to their speakeasy vibes and 20s-inspired cocktails (the Mather’s Fizz is a must-try). 

2.  Schedule Tee Time at a Top Golf Course 

It’s true: Orlando is a bit of a golfers’ paradise, as it’s home to an impressive list of courses. One of the most legendary: Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge. (Arnold’s Palmer’s Bay Hill Invitational takes place here every March.) While it can be difficult to find a tee time — and you may be required to stay at the lodge to book — aficionados will find the course well worth it, thanks to its prestigious history of PGA golfers and world-famous 18th finishing hole. 

In case you need a Plan B, Celebration Golf Club and the Waldorf Astoria Golf Club are two other top-rated courses in the area. Both capitalize on Florida’s natural wetland environment and offer unique challenges, like the lakes and creeks that come into play. 

3. Indulge in World-Famous Retail Therapy

One of Orlando’s biggest perks is its sweet shopping deals found at the Orlando International Premium Outlets. Whether visiting alone, with a group of friends, or a partner, the city’s largest outlet mall is where you’ll find great prices on top brand items — think Tory Burch, Coach, and Marc Jacobs — to show off when you return home. 

4. Catch Live Entertainment at Dr. Phillips Center 

When Broadway shows or popular musicians come through town, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is the place for a big night out. So after you’ve scooped up a new outfit from the Outlets, snag tickets for a play or concert here. Be sure to sip on a pre-show cocktail at the Grand Bohemian Lounge right across the street for a total “treat yourself” experience.

The Best Outdoor Activities in Orlando 

Lake Eola Park's Scenic Waterfront in Orlando, Florida

While theme parks certainly take the cake for the most common of Orlando’s outdoor activities, there are  plenty of experiences for nature lovers who prefer to take the path less traveled. Take a breath from Disney’s spinning teacups and enjoy the warm Florida air with one of these attractions. 

1.  Explore Lake Eola Park 

To get a true sense of “local Orlando,” take a stroll around Lake Eola. The area is not only bustling with more restaurants and bars, but there are also swan boats, a Japanese garden, and a farmer’s market open every Sunday for stocking your vacation rental’s fridge. 

2. Discover the West Orange Trail in Winter Garden 

Get some exercise and a change of scenery about 20 minutes west of downtown Orlando, where you’ll discover Winter Garden, a small town lined with moss-covered live oaks and small brick storefronts. You can soak in the area’s “old Florida” charm by taking a bike ride or stroll along the West Orange Trail, then treat yourself to refreshments on Plant Street Market’s pet-friendly patio. (P.S. For even more vacation ideas, check out some of the best pet-friendly destinations across the U.S.) 

3. Take a Stroll at Leu Gardens

Minutes from Downtown Orlando is an awe-inspiring 50-acre botanical oasis that’s sure to put your plant appreciation in full bloom. Take a leisurely walk around Leu Gardens and visit the historic home onsite, donated to the City of Orlando by Mr. Harry P. Leu and his wife, Mary Jane, in 1961.

4. Sip Wine at Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards 

Escape to the rolling countryside about 25 miles west of downtown Orlando, where you’ll find a picturesque winery waiting for you to indulge under the sun. Once the center of Florida’s grape industry, Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards overlooks more than 80 acres of planted vineyards, and claims to be pioneering the production of native muscadine grapes (known for its role in delicious sparkling wines). The vineyard green also hosts a variety of food trucks, so there are plenty of food options while sampling different varietals.

Explore More of Orlando, FL 

Sunny Orlando Vacation Rental for Your Next Florida Getaway

Orlando is a mecca for entertainment, and there’s something to offer for every type of traveler. Whether you plan to go for a theme park thrill, explore the nightlife, or discover the area’s more natural side, you can enjoy Florida’s warmth and sunshine through it all. 

To learn more about visiting Orlando — including where to find a great vacation rental to serve as your home base — check out our vacation-made-easy guide to Orlando.

Rest Easy with Evolve

The moment you book your vacation, you should start looking forward to your trip — not worrying about the little details. When you choose Evolve for your Orlando vacation, you can feel confident that the home you book will live up to our standards.

Every Evolve vacation rental comes with a team of hospitality experts, and we’re here to make your stay comfortable 24/7. To help you feel even more confident, we created our Rest Easy Promise: if a stay doesn’t match our standards, we’ll make it right.

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