Believe it or not, there’s more to Orlando than magical mice, islands filled with adventure and kissing whales. There’s a lot to see and do down the road less traveled.
Venture off the beaten path during your Orlando vacation to experience the many wonderful attractions that may not be on your radar but are well worth a visit, including these less-hyped favorites.
Some very special friends are waiting for you at Discovery Cove, Orlando’s reservation-only adventure park. Swim with a bottlenose dolphin or introduce your family to a school of stingrays; snorkel through exotic fish or spread your wings with hundreds of birds in a free-flight aviary.
Signature experiences include the Freshwater Oasis with otter and primate encounters; SeaVenture’s underwater walking tour while wearing a dive helmet; and The Grand Reef with aquatic adventures like playing peek-a-boo with smooth rays and sharp-toothed reef sharks. No matter the experience you choose, you and your family will make memories that last a lifetime while exploring the lagoons, pools and tropical atmosphere of this Orlando attraction.
Orlando Science Center
For more than 60 years, the Orlando Science Center has inspired the curious to get hands-on with science by taking part in learning experiences that are both exciting and educational. Visit one or all six of the permanent exhibit halls for interactive experiments and more.
At NatureWorks, reptiles from around the world slither, climb and hang all around you. For a trip back to the prehistoric age, head into DinoDigs, where you can join an excavation to uncover fossil remains. The Engineer It! exhibit encourages builders of all ages to design and construct everything from boats to bridges using LEGO™ bricks and Superstructs™ and, of course, imagination. The Orlando Science Center is also home to workshops, live events and traveling exhibits.
Long & Scott Farms
If you had 6.5 acres of corn, what would you do with it? Long and Scott Farms turn it into an annual themed corn maze. It’s a fun-filled adventure for those who feel like getting lost for the day. Check it out between October and November. While you’re there, be sure to visit the market for seasonal produce like corn, cucumbers, yellow squash, red potatoes, onions and more.
Families on vacation with younger kids will want to visit the playground, featuring giant tractor tires, jumping pillows, slides and a challenging labyrinth. Of course there are hayrides, too. Climb aboard the Sweet Corn Express and take a ride around the farm.
Where can you find the Alligator Capital of the World? At Gatorland! Despite the scary name, Gatorland is a nice, safe place to get acquainted with this fearsome reptile. Take a seat at the World Famous Gator Wrestlin’ Arena for a thrilling show with wranglers who catch six- to eight-foot alligators by hand. These fearless performers climb on the backs of these scaly creatures, roll them over and put them to sleep. Another thrilling spectacle is watching an alligator jump four to five feet out of the water to grab a piece of food dangling in front of them.
Speaking of food, be sure to bite into some of the popular Fried Gator Nuggets at Pearl’s Smokehouse. You’ll be surrounded by several hundred man-eating reptiles, so bring your appetite—and a side of courage.
Orlando is the perfect place to let your imagination run wild, and WonderWorks can stretch it to the limits. This upside-down neoclassical museum features more than 100 mind-boggling exhibits, entertainment and dinner shows for the entire family.
Travel through six WonderZones, including Natural Disasters where you can safely touch a Tesla Coil emitting 100,000 volts of electricity or step into the Hurricane Shack and experience wind forces up to 74 miles per hour. Take a Physical Challenge by laying on a bed of 3,500 nails, and then test your reflexes in Light & Sound zone. You’ll also be able to go on a 4D XD Simulator Ride with plenty of special effects to enhance your experience.
Boggy Creek Airboat Rides
Mention the Everglades and most people think airboats and alligators. That’s especially true at Boggy Creek Airboat Rides in Kissimmee. Zoom across the marshlands of Lake Toho in search of every creature you can think of that inhabits the Sunshine State.
One-hour scenic nature tours are the most popular. These excursions into Florida’s wetlands are commanded by a certified U.S. Coastguard captain. Learn about the history of this undisturbed area while traveling under a canopy of cypress trees during a safe and educational tour. For something a bit more daring, book a night expedition for up-close-and-personal encounters with the nocturnal hunters that lurk in the darkness.
Kennedy Space Center
Kennedy Space Center isn’t a light year away—it’s only 45 minutes from Orlando, and possibly the closest you’ll come to outer space. Step out of your car and climb aboard a spaceship (it’s a replica), then grab a bite to eat while you shoot the breeze with a real astronaut. Spend the rest of your day launching into fun activities that will have you feeling like a space explorer.
Blast off for an amazing adventure in the Atlantis Theater. The Space Shuttle Atlantis Exhibit™ tells the story of the brave people who have taken part in NASA’s extraordinary space shuttle program. The centerpiece of this exhibit is Space Shuttle Atlantis, featuring amazing views of open payload doors and its “Canadarm” (its robotic arm, so-called because it was made in Canada) extending out, just as it did when it unlocked from the International Space Station. You can even blast off for a one-of-a-kind simulation on the Shuttle Launch Experience.® Other things to do include a walk through the Rock Garden where the pioneering ships of space exploration now reside.
One Week in Orlando
Seven days is enough time to do everything on this list, or pick and choose your favorites. Enjoy a stay at The FountainsTM or Orlando’s Sunshine Resort, either of which will make a great home away from home as you explore Orlando.
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