The City Beautiful may be best known as the home of Disney (which no Orlando experience is complete without), but there is so much more to Florida’s tourist destination than the famous glove-wearing mouse and friends! Whether you’re looking for sight-seeing, company, or to get a feel for the city life, Orlando has something for everyone.
1. Ride the Orlando Eye
The tallest observational wheel in North America, the Orlando Eye offers an enchanting view of the city as it brings riders 400 feet into the air. Built like a traditional Ferris Wheel, the Orlando Eye carries its passengers in capsule reminiscent of a ski-lift.
Opened in 2015, the Orlando Eye is the must-do activity for tourists aiming to get a true bird’s eye view of the city. Go alone, with a friend, or ride with a fellow tourist for an unforgettable view.
2. Wander Down CityWalk
Famous for its rides, Universal Studios Orlando offers entertainment and dining down its Universal City Walk. While you will need to pay the parking garage fees (usually not more than $10), there is no fee to get into CityWalk. At night, patrons can enjoy nightly performances, dining, and shopping. Street vendors and performers add to the unique experience that is Universal CityWalk.
Regular performances by the Blue Man Group are a mainstay of CityWalk. You can also check out Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville for a dining and entertainment experience like no other. It’s truly an experience like no other.
3. Winter Park Popcorn Flicks
Come for the movie, stay for the popcorn! Winter Park Orlando offers a free movie event in their Central Park every second Thursday of each month. Enjoy the company of Orlando’s citizens while viewing movies that range from classic hits to modern blockbusters. The event includes popcorn, but moviegoers are encouraged to bring their own snacks, picnics, and blankets to enjoy the show as well.
The event costs nothing, but donations to keep the event going are welcomed.
4. Old Town
No Orlando experience is complete with a trip to Old Town, an amusement-park-meets-shopping-mall attraction unique to the city. Old Town offers a variety of experiences throughout the week, from Sunday Movies to Wednesday Night Car Shows and more.
Looking for more than movies and cars? Enjoy Old Town’s various attractions. Get scared at the Morten Manor, a haunted attraction open Wednesday through Sunday, or be mystified by the Great Magic Hall, with shows scheduled from 3 p.m to 9 p.m. Bring the whole family to enjoy the Happy Days Family Fun Center. Whatever experience you’re looking for, Old Town will not disappoint.
5. Disney Fireworks
Whether you enjoy the full Disney experience or just want to get a feel of the Happiest Place on Earth, you can feel free to join Mickey and Friends for their nightly fireworks show. Special fireworks and light shows are scheduled for holidays, while a general show is done the rest of the year.
If you don’t want to go to the park but still want to join in on the fireworks and lights, hop on the free shuttle to the ticket booths and enjoy the show from there. Be careful where you park if you should drive, though; some of Disney’s parking spots are paying guests only. Disney’s policies are subject to change without notice, as well, so check their website before you head out to ensure your best fireworks experience no matter where you view them from.
6. Lake Eola Park
The breathtaking park in the heart of downtown Orlando built in 1883 to highlight Orlando’s natural beauty, Lake Eola offers something for the nature lovers. Enjoy a swan-boat ride around the lake, grab a bite to eat, feed the live swans and other birds, or enjoy a show at Disney’s Amphitheater. Explore the one-mile round lake and take in the natural beauty that is the heart of Orlando.
Lake Eola also offers a light display with their famous Linton E. Allen Memorial Fountain. The water changes colors as the music plays. Colors and music change with the seasons to make your experience more unique.
7. SAK Comedy Club
An improv club in downtown Orlando as unique as the city itself, SAK Comedy Club offers nightly shows reminiscent of famous improv shows like “Whose Line Is It Anyways?” Audience members throw out their suggestions to the SAK comedians, and the talented actors bring those suggestions to life with on-the-spot characters, songs, skits, and more.
SAK offers lessons, private events, and holiday-themed shows alongside their shows.
8. House of Blues
Located in Disney Springs, Orlando’s House of Blues offers the ultimate in nighttime adventures. Along with monthly shows and themed events, the House of Blues offers a dining experience complete with live music, a daily happy hour, and private events.
The House of Blues also offers a Sunday Gospel show at brunch, so come enjoy your Saturday night and continue the fun on Sunday.
9. Tier Nightclub
Orlando’s upscale nightclub destination, Tier is a classy yet laid-back club. Enjoy live DJ’s, a high-energy atmosphere, and full-service bars in Orlando’s ultimate nightlife experience. Thanks to the birds-eye view design, everyday club goers can catch sight of celebrities, VIPs, and Orlando’s “in crowd” while enjoying the lights, lasers, and glow of the club.
There is a dress code enforced at management’s discretion that includes such caveats as no hats, work boots, sandals, or athletic wear.
10. Downtown Disney
Much like its Universal counterpart, Downtown Disney is a dining and entertainment district dedicated to sharing the Disney spirit with all. Enjoy shopping at the Disney-themed retail stores and dining at waterside cafes and world-class restaurants. Watch live entertainment at Exposition Park, or check out a stage show at Waterview Park. Create personalized portraits, storybooks, and enjoy unlimited digital downloads.
There is no need to purchase a Disney Park Pass to enjoy Downtown Disney. Simply pay a parking fee, or hop on the Disney shuttle, and enjoy your Downtown Disney experience.
Updated: April 25, 2018