The Final Orlando Bucket Checklist – 101 Issues to Do in Orlando Florida
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Growing up in Atlanta, we used to visit Orlando every year during our school breaks. We went often enough that our parents eventually purchased a timeshare there. Visiting now brings back a lot of nostalgic memories, and making this list made me realize how much more there is to explore there.
Because theme parks are the most popular attractions in Orlando, we couldn’t leave them out, but we listed them briefly so that you can know about all the other great things to do in Orlando.
THE ULTIMATE ORLANDO FLORIDA BUCKET LIST – 101 THINGS TO DO IN ORLANDO
WHAT WE COVER [ CLICK LINKS TO SKIP AHEAD ]
- Tourist Attractions (1-18)
- Shows + Events (19-38)
- Museums + Monuments + Memorials (39-53)
- Outdoors + Urban Parks (54-68)
- Thrills + Adventure (69-73)
- Shopping (74-82)
- Miscellaneous (83-93)
- Day Trips (94-101)
- Seasonal + Special Events
- Map of the Area
- Essential Tips for Your Tour
- Where to Stay
- American Ghost Adventures – ghost tours of cemeteries and haunted buildings
- Arcade City, I Drive 360 – theme park
- Cafe Tu Tu Tango
- Gatorland – gator wrestling, snake show, swamp walk, you can wrestle an alligator, Screamin Gator Zip Line, Trainer for a day program feeding baby alligators
- Fun Spot America – theme park with go-karts, roller coasters
- Helicopter Rides – over all the parks, there are several companies
- Holy Land Experience – they have an admissions free date
- Ice Bar Orlando
- LEGOLAND Florida – largest Legoland in the world
- Madame Tussauds – wax museum
- (Coca-Cola) Orlando Eye – 400 ft tall observation wheel
- Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf
- Planet Hollywood
- SeaWorld Parks – Aquatica Waterpark, Discovery Cove, SeaWorld Orlando
- Toothsome Chocolate Emporium and Savory Feast Kitchen – Willy Wonka inspired
- Universal Orlando – Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure with the main attraction The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Volcano Bay Waterpark
- Walt Disney World Parks – Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot (you can drink around the world), Hollywood Studios, Blizzard Beach Water Park, and Typhoon Lagoon (they do surf lessons). If you’ve visited before, you can always try a new way to explore the parks with a backstage tour or a Segway tour. If you are up for a challenge, try running the Disney Marathon. It might be more about meeting the Princesses with no lines.
- WonderWorks – 100+ hands-on science exhibits, laser tag, ropes course, etc.
SPECTATE: SHOWS + EVENTS
- Amway Center Sports Complex – Orlando Magic game
- The Beacham & The Social, DT Orlando – live music venue and nightclub party till after hours
- Blue Man Group
- Cirque Magique Dinner Show – all shows have been canceled due to hurricane Irma and will reopen in 2018
- Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
- Enzian Theater – oldies at the Wednesday Night Pitcher Show and other movies. If you haven’t seen The Room yet, do yourself a favor and pick up a box of plastic spoons and go!
- ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
- Full Sail Live – WWE NXT wrestling match taping
- Grapefruit League Game / Spring Training – Braves come for spring training
- House of Blues Orlando – They have a Sunday Gospel Brunch
- La Nouba Cirque du Soleil
- Mad Cow Theatre – plays
- Mango’s Tropical Cafe – dinner, drinks, shows
- Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament
- Orlando City Soccer game – tailgate party at the Citrus Bowl
- Pirate’s Dinner Adventure – family-friendly dinner show
- Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant, Downtown Disney – we’ve gone here a lot for the bread pudding and piano bar.
- SAK Comedy Lab
- Sleuth’s Mystery Dinner Shows
- Venue 578 – concert venue / nightclub
MUSEUMS + MONUMENTS + MEMORIALS
- Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe
- Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art – world’s largest collection of Louis Tiffany stained glass art
- CityArts Factory, DT Orlando – showcases new and emerging talent, changes on a monthly basis
- Kerouac House
- Leu Gardens / Harry P. Leu Gardens – a grand, 50-acre botanic garden and estate on Lake Rowena with roses, camellias, butterfly garden, and more. Admission is free during their annual plant sale flora and fauna bonanza in March and pick up a few plants for your home.
- Maitland Art Center – Mayan Revival buildings of Orange County’s first National Historic Landmark.
- Mennello Museum of American Art
- Orange County Regional History Center – 5 story museum on the history of Central Florida
- Orlando Museum of Art – Select Wednesdays 6-830 they have Art Night Out – create your own masterpiece plus beverage in cost.
- Orlando Science Center – There are lots of hands-on exhibits and planetarium shows. You can also get some free therapy from Eliza the computer psychologist.
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum Newport
- SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium
- SKELETONS: Museum of Osteology
- Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition – museum dedicated to Titanic artifacts
- World of Chocolate Museum and Cafe
OUTDOORS + URBAN PARKS
- Airboat Rides – see gators in their natural habitat.
- Audubon Center for Birds of Prey – rehab center for hawks, owls, etc.
- Bay Hill Club & Lodge – Golf here. Other great places to golf include Waldorf Astoria Club, Grand Cypress Resort, or Reunion Resort that’s designed by golf legends Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, and Arnold Palmer.
- Disney Wilderness Preserve
- Fishing Charters – plenty of fishing charters from Orlando
- Forever Florida – zipline, horseback ride, wild coach safari adventure tour – see black bears, alligators, turtles, whitetail deer, wild turkeys
- Florida Dolphin Tours – Dolphin encounters near Clearwater Beach and other excursions
- Hot Air Ballooning over Orlando – Ride over Disney and Universal Parks and more
- Lake Eola Park – It’s popular for swan boat rides, paddleboats, wallking, feeding swans. There’s also a 6 min fountain show at 8:30 pm and free yoga on Sundays.
- Mead Botanical Gardens, Winter Park – on a full moon?
- Orlando Wetlands Park – You can see gators here. It’s not a natural habitat but an eco project to recycle Orlando’s used water.
- Shingle Creek Regional Park, Kissimmee – kayaking with alligators, bald eagles, etc at the source of the Florida Everglades. You can experience it through an airboat ride or if you dare, by kayak.
- Tibet-Butler Preserve
- Wekiwa Springs State Park, Altamonte Springs – cool springs to swim in, can kayak, snorkel, canoe, hike, or cycle.
- Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour through Chain of Lakes
THRILLS + ADVENTURE
- I-Drive NASCAR Kart Racing
- iFLY Indoor Skydiving Orlando
- Orlando Watersports Complex – wakeboarding, wakeskating, wakesurfing, kneeboarding, waterskiing
- Wallaby Ranch Hang Gliding
- Zombie Outbreak
- Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney)
- East End Market – earthy and locally sourced eatery and market.
- Flea World – largest flea market in the US with thousands of diff booths
- The Florida Mall – central Florida’s largest shopping center, 1.7 million sqft.
- Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores
- The Mall at Millenia – the upscale mall
- Orlando Premium Outlets
- Universal CityWalk – known for shopping and nightlife and includes Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, Hard Rock Cafe, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, NBA City, and more.
- Winter Park Farmer’s Market
- Courtesy Bar – old-school cocktail bar. They have cocktail classes – 545 pm first and third Sat of the month.
- Cowboys Orlando – Orlando’s best country nightclub
- Crayola Experience in the Florida Mall – create your own custom crayon here.
- Escape Room Attractions
- Frosty’s Christmastime Lounge – A bar that celebrates Christmas year round.
- Hanson’s Shoe Repair – a popular speakeasy. Other speakeasies to check out are Park Social, Pharmacy, the Treehouse Orlando, Geek Easy, the Courtesy, the Woods, and the Imperial Wine Bar & Beer Garden (here’s a post on how to get the passwords).
- Machine Gun America, Kissimmee
- Orlando Brewing – free brewery tours Mon-Sat at 6 PM except on Beer30 (30th of each month) – You can also brewery hop to Ocean Sun, Crooked Can, Ten10, and Red Cypress.
- Truffles and Trifles – take a cooking class
- Waldorf Astoria Orlando Spa Day – other spa options: Ritz Carlton Spa at Ritz Carlton Orlando Grand Lakes, Poseidon Spa at the Grand Bohemian Hotel, or the Salt Room for salt therapy.
- World’s Largest McDonalds – It’s 19,000 square feet.
- Cocoa Beach (59.8 mi / 1 h 2 min East, with tolls)
- Clearwater Beach (118 mi / 1 h 58 min SW, with tolls)
- Daytona Beach (55.8 mi / 57 min NE) – typical beach activities plus Daytona International Speedway and Daytona Beach Pier.
- Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park – swim with manatees down the Crystal River
- Kennedy Space Center (51.9 mi / 51 mi East of Orlando) – Visitor Complex + Shuttle Landing Facility, Titusville
- Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Titusville – kayak over a bioluminescent lagoon
- New Smyrna Beach, Volusia County – the shark attack capital of the world according to Guinness Book of World Records.
- Silver Springs State Park, Ocala – glass bottom boat rides see fish and occasional gator sightings, and scenery with Spanish moss.
SPECIAL EVENTS + SEASONAL
- Bite30 – great prix fixe menu prices at 30 of Orlando’s top restaurants
- Christmas, Florida (23.5 mi / 26 min east) – go during Christmas to get your cards postmarked here.
- Florida Citrus Parade (end of Dec)
- Florida Film Festival by Enzian Theater (end of April)
- Flower and Garden Festival, Epcot (Feb-May)
- Halloween Horror Night, Universal (mid-Sept – early Nov)
- Holidays Around the World, Epcot (late Nov – Dec 30)
- Grinchmas, Universal Islands of Adventure (Dec)
- International Food and Wine Festival, Epcot (late Aug – mid-Nov)
- Lakeridge Winery and Vineyard’s Annual Harvest Grape Stomp (Aug)
- Macy’s Day Parade, Universal Studios – After Thanksgiving, this parade comes from NYC to Orlando and stays here until Christmas. They call it Universal’s Holiday Parade Featuring Macy’s.
- Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, Magic Kingdom (late Aug – Nov 1)
- Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, Magic Kingdom (early Nov – late Dec)
- Orlando Film Festival at Cobb Plaza Cinema Cafe (late Oct)
- Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival (mid-May – end of May) – longest running fringe festival in the US
- Strawberry Festival, Plant City (Mar 1-11, 64.6 mi / 1 hr 15 min SW)
- 3rd Thursday Gallery Hop – culture crawl every 3rd Thurs of the month
MAP TO HELP YOU GET AROUND:
ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR ORLANDO
- The Best Time to Visit is Spring or Fall. The weather is good and you avoid the summer crowds.
- If you are visiting the main parks (Walt Disney World and Universal), do everything you can to avoid holidays! It becomes ridiculously packed. We had a friend who went the week of Christmas and Magic Kingdom closed because it was at capacity!
- Don’t try to do everything in one day. Esther visited all the Disney parks in one day before as a bucket list item but it did not feel very good. You’re spending most of the time running around between them that it was hard to enjoy any of the parks.
- If you’re visiting between late May to mid-October, then be prepared for a bit of rain every day. The rain doesn’t usually last, but be prepared with a lightweight rain jacket (hers + his). It’s good to have handy even not during the rainy season.
- It gets hot! Be prepared with water (we love this reusable water bottle that folds up when we don’t need it) and sunblock.
- Don’t forget to budget for other extra fees. Park tickets are already pricey, but you also have to pay for parking, food, etc. Parking usually runs roughly $20 per park.
- Dress comfortably and in layers if you’ll be out all day.
WHERE TO STAY & RENTING A CAR
- Check out reviews and deals for hotels near Disney’s Magic Kingdom.
- The Disney Springs area is also a great location. Check out hotel reviews and deals.
- If you’re a Harry Potter Fan, then look for hotels and reviews near Universal.
- Search for the best Car Prices here.
- Lonely Planet Pocket Orlando & Walt Disney World
- Lonely Planet Florida
- Orlando Street Map
- Unofficial Guide to Walk Disney World
- Magic Guidebooks Walt Disney World (find hidden mickeys!)
- Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando
DID YOU ENJOY THE POST? PIN IT FOR LATER
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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust
ESTHER + JACOB
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 50 travel blogs in the world. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They move to a new city every year and currently live in Portland, Oregon.
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