Orlando Itinerary: Things to do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks
When people talk about going to Orlando, Florida for vacation, the first thing that comes to mind is Walt Disney World. The second is Universal Studios. However, there are lots of things to do in Orlando besides theme parks! I happened to be in Orlando for a work conference and decided to take a few personal days afterwards to explore the area. Since I only had 2 days in Orlando, I decided that I would leave the theme parks for another vacation and instead would check out everything else Orlando had to offer. If you’re looking for things to in Orlando besides theme parks, you’ll definitely want to check out this action packed 2 day Orlando itinerary!
- Orlando Discount Passes
- 2 Day Orlando Itinerary
- Other Things to Do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks
- Where to Stay in Orlando
- Getting Around Orlando
- What to Pack for Orlando
Orlando Discount Passes
Depending on what you decided to do in Orlando, it may be worth looking into the Go Orlando Card or the Orlando Sightseeing Pass. The idea is that you pay a flat fee for the pass, which will get you access to a certain number of attractions in Florida. In many cases paying the flat fee for the pass is cheaper than if you were to buy separate tickets for each of the attractions you visit.
Which Pass Should I Get?
The short answer is…. neither. If you’re choosing to follow in my footsteps and don’t substitute anything out of the below Orlando itinerary, it wouldn’t be worth getting either of the discount passes. Only one of my recommended Orlando activities is included in the Go Orlando Card, and none of my recommended activities are included in the Orlando Sightseeing Pass.
So, why did I mentioned the Orlando discount passes? Personally, I think it’s something you should keep in the back of your mind just in case you want to change up my below Orlando itinerary a bit. Some of the activities in Orlando are covered by both discount passes, while other activities are only included in one or the other. I’d take a look at both the Orlando Sightseeing Pass and the Go Orlando Card to see if they offer anything you might be interested in.
2 Day Orlando Itinerary
Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures
If you didn’t know, Florida is rather famous for its alligators thanks to the wetlands and swamps that cover almost 30% of the state. At Lake Tohopekaliga, the largest lake in Osceola County, you can see these alligators in person, as well as other interesting wildlife such as blue herons. If you take a tour with the Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures at the right time of day, you’ll have the chance to see the wildlife up close!
Bok Tower Gardens
Bok Tower Gardens is a bit far from downtown Orlando, about an hour by car, but it’s worth the drive if you’re interested in gardens and architecture. This vast, 250 acre garden is full of all sorts of greenery and walking paths. Unlike some other gardens, it’s main attraction isn’t really walkways surrounded by beautiful blooming flowers. Instead, the garden’s design showcases the various ferns, pines, and other wetland plants. It also serves as a bird sanctuary.
The highlight of the garden is the Singing Tower, designed by the famous architect Milton B. Medary. Next to it is a reflection pool large enough to display the entire Singing Tower on the water, and surrounding the tower is a moat that also doubles as a Koi pond. The other additional attraction within Bok Tower Gardens is Pinewood Estate, 20-room Mediterranean-style mansion.
Unfortunately, I didn’t stick around here as long as I would have liked. Although there are four main paved paths that visitors can follow on their stroll around the gardens, there are countless dirt paths that visitors can follow into all the various nooks and crannies of the gardens. I would have loved to take a few hours to explore the entire garden grounds, but gave up after about an hour and a half because the bugs simply wouldn’t leave me alone. I had more than a few bug bites by the time I left.
iFLY Indoor Skydiving
This was probably one of the coolest activities I did while I was in Orlando. It’s amazing because you get to experience the thrill of skydiving without all the terror and fear that comes with jumping out of a plane at 10,000 feet in the air. I had an absolute blast doing it, and totally wish there was one closer to where I live. It’s something that I’d love to be able to do on a regular basis. Find out what it’s like to go indoor skydiving!
Looking for something unique to do in Orlando? Try visiting a bar that’s made completely out of ice! At ICEBAR Orlando, you can grab a coat and some gloves before heading into the icebar portion of the building. Once you step inside the door, you’ll not only discover that the temperature has dropped to about 22°F, but you’ll also find yourself surrounded by several large ice sculptures. Head over to the bar and take a seat on one of the ice stools, or get a picture with the gigantic polar bear statue!
Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park
This is probably tied with indoor skydiving as my favorite activity in Orlando. I’d been zip-lining before, but this was so much more than just zip-lining. It’s an aerial obstacle course. That’s right, you literally have to make your way through several obstacle courses, all while in the air (don’t worry, you’re attached to a zip-line cable the entire time).
Take a Break!
That aerial obstacle course is no joke! I’d originally had other activities planned for this day, because I hadn’t realized how physically intensive the Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park would be. However, by the time I was done with the last obstacle course, all I wanted was to drink some water, get a shower, and take a nap. If you’re a little more in shape than I am, maybe you won’t need a nap, but you might want to at least go relax by the hotel pool or something. Otherwise, check out my other things to do in Orlando besides theme parks section to see what else you can squeeze into your Orlando itinerary.
Once you’ve recovered from your morning adventure, head over to Medieval Times for a dinner show. Eat dinner with your hands just like they did in the Medieval days and watch as knights participate in competitive games such as the ring pierce, flag toss, and javelin throw. After, watch as they joust and duel with various weaponry to become the Queen’s champion.
Other Things to Do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
After visiting the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York, I found that I had a new found appreciate for glass artwork. I was really excited when I found out that the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art housed the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, who best known for his work in stained glass. The museum contains not only his glass work, but also some of his jewelry, pottery, paintings, and more.
Unfortunately, this was one of the places that I dropped from my itinerary after being so exhausted from the aerial obstacle course and was pretty disappointed that I didn’t get to go. So if you decide to go, come back and leave a comment letting me know how it was!
A building that looks like it was lifted up into the air by a tornado and dropped on its head is sure to get your attention. Inside this unusual building, you’ll find all sorts of interactive math, physics, and space themed exhibits designed to spark imagination. Unfortunately, it was closed for a private event when I was in town, but it’s conveniently located right next to iFly and ICEBAR Orlando, making it easy to add to your Orlando itinerary.
Harry P Leu Gardens
Harry P Leu Gardens was another one of the activities that I dropped from my itinerary because I was simply too tired after doing the aerial obstacle course. Plus, I wasn’t overly keen on getting more bug bites. However, it seems like an absolutely beautiful place to visit and just take a stroll!
Where to Stay in Orlando
Even though this article is all about things to do in Orlando BESIDES theme parks, I actually recommend at least looking into the Walt Disney World hotels. I was fortunate enough to be able to stay at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel and absolutely loved my stay there. They have a few built in restaurants and convenience stores, and if those don’t meet your needs, the boardwalk as well as the yacht and beach club resorts are just a few minutes away by foot. Plus, you can also catch a shuttle from the hotel to Disney Springs where there are countless more shopping and dining options.
If you’re looking for something more affordable, or simply something a little bit closer to downtown or the airport, I recommend checking out the Best Western Airport Inn & Suites. This was where I chose to stay after my work conference had come to a close. It’s a nice hotel and is in a nice neighborhood. The only pitfall is that the street it’s located on is practically a highway, which makes it difficult to walk to any nearby restaurants or stores. However, if you choose to rent a car or don’t mind using rideshares like lyft or uber, it’s not really a problem.
If you’re looking for something really fancy, you could also check out the Hilton Bonnet Orlando Creek. It’s just off of Disney property and is where I picked up my Hertz rental car. I arrived earlier than my rental car reservation time and was permitted to walk around, hang out in the lobby, and even chill by the pool. The whole place was absolutely stunning. The lobby and restaurant was high end, and their pool was more of a water park than a pool!
Getting Around Orlando
It is very possible to get around Orlando just through rideshare services like Uber and Lyft. They’re pretty much everywhere in Orlando, but I actually recommend renting a car. Wait… what?
For this particular Orlando itinerary, it’s actually cheaper to rent a car for a few days than it would be to catch an Uber or Lyft to each of the destinations on this itinerary. Just the Lyft ride from Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures to Bok Tower Gardens would be about $35 USD. Then, to get from Bok Tower and Gardens to iFly would be another $45 USD.
There’s another benefit to renting a car over utilizing rideshares. If your flight arrives early in the morning, before hotel check-in time, you’ll have a place to keep your stuff instead of having to keep it with you or find a place to store it.
What to Pack for Orlando
I went to Orlando in early October. At that point in time, it was starting to get a bit chillier at home in the north, the high for the day sometimes being just 65°F. To my excitement, Orlando was a very warm (and very muggy) 85-90°F. Suffice to say, I wore shorts and tank tops for most of my trip.
During the summer, the high typically hovers around 90°F and the low only gets down to 73°F. Personally, I love the heat, but Florida’s humidity can make it feel like its closer to 100°F, which even I find a little unbearable. If you plan on visiting during the summer, sun screen and bug spray will be your new best friends.
Due to its location, Orlando stays relatively warm year round. In the winter, the high is around 72°F and the low is around 52°F. Worst case scenario, you might need a light jacket or some long sleeve shirts.
You also want to make sure you bring some good walking shoes, or at least some closed toe shoes (its required for the indoor skydiving).
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