Orlando is a prime vacation spot for the combination of warm weather and a seemingly unending amount of Disney related attractions. If you’ve been a few times and the massive theme parks are becoming less than exciting, here are 20 things you can do all across the city from someone who lived there for a number of years. Have fun!
Orlando may not be known for barbecue, but you’ll have a difficult time finding a better smokehouse than 4 Rivers. With three locations across the city, you owe it to yourself to experience their amazing food. I recommend the Burnt Ends, which is ½ brisket and ½ pulled pork smoked in 4 Rivers own signature sauce.
Forget SeaWorld, if you want to experience wildlife in Orlando you need to check out Gatorland. It’s affordable and where else can you get your picture taken while sitting on an alligator?
Located in Apopka at the head of the Wekiva River, this beautiful attraction offers camping, kayaking, hiking, and lots more. If you’re tired of the tourist areas, this is the perfect spot to get away from it all.
I lived at Uptown Altamonte for a few years and there are always special events going on at Cranes Roost with everything from Red, Hot, and Boom on the fourth of July, to arts and craft shows. Even if you don’t visit during an event, the lake and walking trail are beautiful.
This is probably the one thing on the list that most tourist know about, but if you want to do any sort of high end shopping while in Orlando, there’s no other place you need to visit than the Mall at Millennia.
I don’t have a lot of experience with Polish food, but what I can tell you is that when you go here, order the Wazanki. It’s a combination of sautéed kluski noodles, bacon, kielbasa, and cabbage and it’s incredible. Plus, the staff goes above and beyond to make sure your experience is as pleasant as possible.
This place is absolutely fantastic. Every year their food is awarded critics choice, as well as reader’s choice, awards and rightfully so. You definitely want to make a reservation because they will more than likely run out of food before closing time.
Located in Sanford, Florida, the Central Florida Zoo also contains some incredible botanical gardens that are worth checking out no matter how old or young you are.
9. Rising Star
CityWalk is full of tourist attractions that you normally pass by on your way to Universal Studios, but one that’s often overlooked is Rising Star. It’s not your average karaoke bar, as each singer performs with a live band, backup singers, and a lighting show.
If you don’t feel like paying big money to have a great seat at an Orlando Magic game, that doesn’t mean sports are out of the question. Orlando has its own arena football team, which usually plays from March to July, and the tickets are very affordable, plus if you catch a football at the game you get to keep it.
My personal favorite theater in the city is in the middle of downtown surrounded by great restaurants. The food at the Plaza Cinema Café is great, and the leather recliner chairs make any movie enjoyable.
12. Lake Eola Park
This is the perfect spot for a date night. There’s a beautiful fountain show every night, there’s swans all over the place, plus, you can rent a paddleboat to recreate scenes from The Notebook.
13. Downtown Sanford
One of the biggest complaints with Orlando is that there isn’t that feeling of history and culture, since everything is constantly being renovated and updated. If that’s your thing, Main Street in Sanford is the perfect spot. There’s dozens of old shops and restaurants that lead you to a beautiful view of Lake Monroe.
If you’re looking for a sport’s bar there is one thing that sets Friendly Confines apart from the rest; their signature cubby claws. I know it’s just a chicken tender cooked in a slightly different manner, but they’re the most addictive sport’s bar food I’ve ever eaten.
This place has over 15,000 square feet of trampoline surfaces for you to go absolutely nuts on. There’s a foam pit, as well as designated times for dodge ball and trampoline basketball so you can finally dunk without lowering the goal to an insulting height.
16. Independent Bar
The majority of the nightlife in Orlando will be clubs blasting Pitbull in your face all night. I-Bar is a New Wave and 80s bar with a great dance floor as well as bartenders who don’t treat you like an inconvenience for asking for a drink.
Fratelli’s is the best pizza place in Orlando. Their New York style slices are a mile beyond anyone else in the city. Plus they’re downtown so if you’ve had a few drinks and want a quick bite they’re the perfect solution.
Not only is their hibachi delicious, their happy hour chicken and noodles (with extra white sauce) is one of my favorite dishes I’ve ever had at a Japanese restaurant. If you’re in the mood for a drink, get a Scorpion Bowl, which comes out with a lit fire in the middle. It’s supposed to be for two, but as long as you’re not driving, go for it.
If the mall isn’t your thing, Park Avenue is full of designer shops and boutiques as well as a few fantastic restaurants. There’s too many things to list individually, so set aside a day to explore the area.
20. Firestone Live
The best place to see a concert in Orlando is Firestone Live. There’s not a bad spot in the building for a show. I saw Sleigh Bells there after they released their first album, and it’s still the best show I’ve been to in the last five years.