Posted on October 14, 2022
While Orlando may have made its name by offering some of the best theme parks in the world, the town has many other hidden gems to appreciate besides the big three. So, if you are looking to enjoy Orlando beyond the theme parks during your vacation in Central Florida, there is no shortage of activities both within the greater Orlando region and within a short drive of the area.
The area in and around downtown Orlando has many fun places to take the family during the afternoon. Lake Eola Park sits in downtown Orlando. Its bright green scenery surrounds a small lake and walking paths that curl around the water to benches and an outdoor amphitheater where you can often catch live music and other performances.
Loch Haven Park is another green space and cultural center which you can visit from an Orlando timeshare. From here you can walk to several attractions including the kid-friendly Orlando Science Center, the Mennello Museum of American Art and Sculpture Garden, the Orlando Fire Museum, and the Orlando Repertory Theater.
For more culture and shopping, you'll want to head over to Winter Park, Florida, a community about fifteen minutes from downtown Orlando. Its Park Avenue and Winter Park Village have some of the best luxury shopping in Central Florida, and the town also boasts high-end restaurants, art museums, and galleries.
Orlando also has many local dining, shopping, and entertainment hubs. You can venture out to tour the Harry P. Lou Gardens, a wide acreage of green space near the heart of the city. The best times to tour are in the spring and early summer when the entire grounds turn colorful with freshly scented blooms, but it can provide a soothing atmosphere at any time of year.
International Drive, or I-Drive as locals call it, is sometimes considered the downtown of the tourist corridor and hosts many places to have fun including ICON Park, shops, mini-golf courses, and restaurants.
Other fun things to do in Orlando can be done at no cost, such as hiking or bicycling along the West Orange Trail, which runs from Winter Park to Apopka, and can be a great way to see the natural sights and get a little exercise at the same time. Also, Old Town, in Kissimmee, often has special events such as car shows or concerts, as well as a variety of restaurants, shops, and small businesses.
When evening comes, some of the best things to do in Orlando happen. You can catch a live show of top Broadway and family musicals, plus other live performances at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, which is also the home of the Orlando Ballet.
Disney Springs provides another great option for the night scene in Orlando long after the main Disney theme parks slow down after dark. Its dining, live shows, restaurants, and bars will fill the after-hours crowds with fun and great food beneath the stars. At Universal, the equivalent scene can be found at Universal CityWalk as well as several nighttime bars and restaurants.
In downtown Orlando, the Amway Center is the home of the NBA’s Orlando Magic pro basketball team with home games running from October to April. The Center often hosts shows, concerts and special events in the evenings.
Naturally, Orlando is popular for family vacations at any time of year, mainly because of the fame this city has achieved through its world-famous theme parks. Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld have all earned their reputations as great places to take the family for an unforgettable vacation.
However, if you are looking for a break from the main theme parks and would still like to enjoy a full day of rides, carnival games, and play, then ICON Park on I-Drive will have all of the above in its year-round amusement park. This is where you'll find The Wheel, a massive Ferris Wheel with excellent panoramic views of Orlando.