Large crowds, children screaming, parents fussing, sweltering heat, long lines, outrageous prices – theme parks can be overwhelming at times. And while they have their fair share of positive attributes, there is so much to explore in Orlando, including the following 10 awesome things – meant just for theme park haters.
Take a spin on the Coca-Cola® Orlando Eye
The Coca-Cola® Orlando Eye is one of Orlando’s most celebrated attractions. Ride in a private glass room and witness the incredible views spanning the entire city below. The Eye opened in 2015, and since then, it has already drawn scores of residents and tourists alike. If you’re looking for a fantastic, unique view of the city, it won’t get any better than this.
Hours: Mon–Thurs 10am–10pm; Fri–Sat 10am–12am; Sun 10am–10pm
Coca-Cola® Orlando Eye, 8401 International Dr #100, Orlando, FL, USA, +1 866 228 6438
Tour Kennedy Space Center™
While theme parks may not be your jam, maybe spaceships are. If so, Kennedy Space Center™ is the perfect place for you. Here, you’ll be able to see artifacts from old NASA missions, as well as watch shuttle launch simulations. Geek out to your heart’s content!
Hours: Mon–Sun 9am–7pm
Kennedy Space Center™, SR 405, Titusville, FL, USA, +1 877 404 3769
Test your skills at The Escape Game
Are you a fan of Sherlock and think you’re just as witty as the master of crime-solving? If so, test your hypothesis at The Escape Game. One of the area’s unique attractions, this game gives you an opportunity to try and decode classified documents, make your way out of prison, and even, if you’re lucky, solve a crime.
Hours: Mon–Thurs 8am–10pm; Fri–Sat 9am–12am; Sun 8am–10:30pm
The Escape Game, 8145 International Dr #511, Orlando, FL, USA, +1 407 501 7222
Cruise down a creek on an airboat
The Boggy Creek Airboat Rides are a lesser-known attraction in the Central Florida area, and for this reason, they’re a big draw to those that may not love theme parks. Located in Kissimmee, Boggy Creek is in the same direction as the parks, so if you’ve decided to go a different route than your family, you still won’t be too far from them. The airboat will have you speeding over the water, with many opportunities to see Florida wildlife.
Hours: Mon–Sun 9am–5pm
Boggy Creek Airboat Rides, 2001 E Southport Rd, Kissimmee, FL, USA, +1 407 344 9550
Take in some culture at the Orlando Museum of Art
For art lovers, the Orlando Museum of Art is a “can’t miss.” The museum features several rotating exhibitions each year and even hosts several throughout the city. Founded in 1924, it showcases local artists and famous works from across the country. It also offers educational outreach in the arts; therefore, your visit will help support a great cause.
Hours: Mon closed; Tues–Fri 10am–4pm; Sat–Sun 12pm–4pm
Orlando Museum of Art, 2416 N Mills Ave, Orlando, FL, USA, +1 407 896 4231
Learn with your hands at the Orlando Science Center
If you love both art and science, hold onto your hat. The Orlando Science Center is a hands-on learning facility that brings in new and fascinating exhibitions on a regular basis. It is perfect for kids and adults; the little ones will have a great time playing with everything they can get their hands on, and the grown-ups will love learning about the science and history behind the exhibits.
Hours: Mon–Tues 10am–5pm; Wed closed; Thurs–Sun 10am–5pm
Orlando Science Center, 777 E Princeton St, Orlando, FL, USA, +1 407 514 2000
Go shopping and sightseeing on I-Drive
Shopping and sightseeing on International Drive may force you to brave the crowds a bit, but they won’t be as bad as the ones at the parks, and after your wonderful time on I-Drive, you’ll be glad you did. It is home to numerous restaurants (quiet, good eats and loud, kitschy tourist traps), as well as things to do, people to see, and items to buy. Many of the hotels off the amusement park property are in this area as well. So head on over and take a stroll.
International Dr, Orlando, FL, USA, +1 407 351 8800
Ride a swan at Lake Eola
Lake Eola Park, in downtown Orlando, is a theme park hater’s dream. The lake and the surrounding property are expansive enough that you won’t be overwhelmed by any crowds. Surrounding Lake Eola, you’ll find shops, cafés, and wine bars for you to dip into for a reprieve from the Florida heat. If you can brave it, though, you can hop a ride on a giant swan across the lake.
Hours: Mon–Sun 6am–12am
Take a dip at Wekiwa Springs
Wekiwa Springs, outside of the city proper, is a nature lover’s paradise. If the weather is right, take a dip in the springs, or rent a canoe or kayak to get out on the water and try to catch a glimpse of some wildlife, including fish, birds, and gators. There’s a little store selling refreshments on the property, so take a break when you need to, and then head back out to the beautiful Florida nature.
Hours: Mon–Sun 8am–6pm
Wekiwa Springs, 1800 Wekiwa Cir, Apopka, FL, USA, +1 407 884 2009
Get frozen at the ICEBAR
Is the Florida heat too much? Pop into the ICEBAR to grab a drink and chill out – literally! Made from 70 tons of ice, the ICEBAR in Orlando is the largest permanent ice bar in the world and features an outdoor patio if the cold becomes too much. It is worth a visit, but you might want to bring some gloves.
Hours: Mon–Wed 5pm–12am; Thurs 5pm–1am; Fri–Sat 5pm–2am; Sun 5pm–12am
ICEBAR, 8967 International Dr, Orlando, FL, USA, +1 407 426 7555