There’s a reason Orlando is nicknamed “The City Beautiful,” from its large lakes and sparkling fountains to its nightly fireworks shows and manicured lawns and parks.
This city caters to all types of tourists: thrill-seekers, nature lovers, sightseers, curious kids, and those who love relaxing.
Follow this guide of top 10 things to do in Orlando to get a taste of its magnificent parks and museums, and you’ll find activities to please everyone, rain or shine.
1. Have a magical day at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Bring your Harry Potter fantasy to life, starting at Diagon Alley in Universal Studios. You’ll need to buy a set of black robes and get fitted for a wand.
Act the part by exploring Gringotts bank (don’t wake the dragon), taking a dark turn down Knockturn Alley, and buying jokes and pranks at Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezies before hopping aboard the Hogwarts Express at King’s Cross Station.
This railway connects you to the other part of the Wizarding World, Hogwarts and Hogsmeade, located in the Islands of Adventure theme park. Add some adrenaline to your adventure by riding the roller coaster in Hogsmeade and the 3D ride in Hogwarts castle. Afterward, settle down with some non-alcoholic butterbeer, served frozen or hot.
A single-day ticket to access both theme parks and all of the Wizarding World is $155. They don’t accept wizard money.
2. Travel to Far-off Lands at Islands of Adventure
In addition to the Hogsmeade portion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Islands of Adventure is home to adrenaline-pumping roller coasters, water rides, diverse scenery, and performances.
Become a cartoon at Seuss Landing, a colorful, sensory-rich area of the park dedicated to all things Dr. Seuss. If the surreal animals have you feeling lost, you can wander over to the Lost Continent area where you’ll step back in time to visit Poseidon’s kingdom.
Continue your journey by visiting Jurassic Park and fleeing from a T-rex in the Jurassic Park River adventure ride—warning, you will get wet and you may get soaked! You can dry off after on the accelerated-launch Incredible Hulk roller coaster.
Whether you’re travelling with friends, family, or small children, you’ll find something for every excitement level here! Tickets begin online at $105 for single-day admission and $169.99 for a two-day ticket.
3. Believe in Magic at Disney’s Magic Kingdom
Whether you’re a princess, a prince, an evil step-sister, a cartoon, or a goofy animal, you’ll feel at home at the Magic Kingdom. Announce your arrival and meet Disney characters at Cinderella’s castle. Afterward, take a leisurely stroll through the different lands.
In Fantasyland, you’ll find yourself in Snow White’s forest, eating delicious candy apples. You also can’t miss experiencing the famous “It’s a Small World” ride.
Blast off into outer space in Tomorrowland with the Space Mountain indoor rollercoaster. If you can’t stand the Florida heat after your return from space, you can cool down on Splash Mountain in Frontierland. Be sure to hitch a ride on the Jungle Cruise in Adventureland before heading back to Main Street for the nightly spectacular electrical light parade.
Tickets are $105 for single-day admission.
4. Swim with Dolphins at Discovery Cove
What Florida experience would be complete without a visit to the beach, snorkeling, swimming with fish, and petting dolphins? Discovery Cove is your key to a tropical vacation getaway.
Put your swimsuit on and squeeze into a wetsuit to begin your snorkeling experience in The Grand Reef®. You’ll find the water refreshing as you swim with colorful fish, see corals, and swim above large rays. Reserve your dolphin encounter well in advance to make sure you have time to meet these friendly animals and take lots of photos.
When you’ve had enough water time on the Wind-Away River and tanned on the numerous beaches, visit the bird aviary and feed exotic birds.
Reservations vary by date, season, and group size. In the summer months, you can buy a day resort ticket for around $200, while the all-inclusive dolphin encounter package will run around $300.
Both types of tickets also include free admission to Sea World and Aquatica.
5. Go Below the Surface at Sea World
Sea World is an aquarium and theme park combined. Here you can see dolphins and killer whales perform tricks, ride jaw-dropping roller coasters, and chill out with arctic penguins.
The animal shows and encounters are open to all ages. Pet stingrays and dolphins and get up-close to penguins, sharks, and sea lions! Grab a show schedule so you don’t miss the One World killer whale performance at Shamu Stadium.
When the weather’s hot, go on the family-friendly Journey to Atlantis ride for a splash (or soak). Meanwhile, thrill-seekers will love the Kraken, the only floorless roller coaster in Orlanda, and the Manta, a flying roller coaster where you ride on your stomach.
Tickets start at $75.
6. Explore Earth and Beyond at Epcot
Disney’s Epcot theme park provides guests the unique experience to fly around the world and then to leave it and blast off to Mars, making it one of the top 10 things to do in Orlando.
Begin your day at the Worlds Showcase eating chocolate crepes for breakfast at the France pavilion and then grabbing an espresso from the Italian pavilion. Save some space in your stomach for the remaining nine countries: Canada, China, Mexico, Norway, Germany, America, Morocco, the United Kingdom, and Japan.
Once you’re ready to make the transition from cooked food to dehydrated astronaut food, head over to Future World to meet Disney characters like Buzz Lightyear. Fly around Earth with the Soarin’ ride, and, if you’re still not afraid of heights, brave astronaut training at Mission: SPACE.
Just make sure you’re back down to Earth in time to watch the evening fireworks show!
With its cultural, educational, and fun rides and activities, Epcot guarantees fun for the whole family. Tickets begin at $97.
7. Go on a Kayaking Daytrip with Adventures in Florida
If you’re tired of the crowds, lines, and general city hustle and bustle, take a relaxing break from it all by going on a guided kayaking adventure to some of Orlando’s nearby rivers.
The Manatee Encounter will bring you to Blue Springs State Park, where you can see manatees, otters, gators, and local birds on a kayaking plus walking tour.
Those that have previous kayaking experience might want to consider the more challenging and adventurous trips to either the Econlockhatchee River or Blackwater Creek.
The Adventures in Florida guides also offer night trips in the lakes of Winter Park to watch the sunset and the moonrise. During the fall season, trips to Merritt Island to see bioluminescence, blue light-up algae in the water, are also available.
Prices range from $40 to 80 depending on the type of tour, the season, and number of people.
8. Get Up and Close to Nature at Animal Kingdom
Have you ever wanted to go on a safari? To see and learn about wild animals in their natural habitats? Animal Kingdom is the only place where you can go to Africa, Asia, the world of the very small, and the world of the very large all within one day.
Begin your trek in front of the Tree of Life in Discovery Island. How many animals can you see carved into the tree? Try to find these animals in real life as you wander around Discovery Island and go on safari in Africa to see lions, rhinos, elephants, and gorillas. You’ll find tigers and other jungle animals in Asia.
Shrink down to the bug’s life in It’s Tough to be a Bug and the Butterflies exhibits. Then change your perspective in DinoLand as you go digging for fossils.
Like Epcot, a daily ticket is $97, but you can save with multi-park and multi-day passes.
9. Experiment at the Orlando Science Center
This four floor science museum is the perfect way to spend the day learning about physics, dinosaurs, technology, engineering, the weather, and space. It’s all indoor so this is also a great rainy day activity.
Be sure to grab a copy of the day’s Science Live! schedule. These hands-on events change daily and range from feeding fish and guided planet tours to painting and open lab experiments.
Become a weatherman and create and film your own forecast at the WFTV Severe Weather Center 9 Experience. There are three movie theaters showing documentaries about the Artic, Space, Airplanes, Africa, and there’s even an Angry Birds movie.
This Science Center is open to all ages, and admission is about $20. They’re closed on most Wednesdays.
10. Cool Down at Disney’s Blizzard Beach
It’s always winter at Blizzard Beach! Put on your swimsuit for a day of splashing around this themed water park. Even in the Florida summer heat, you’ll feel refreshed by all the water and snow scenery.
Take a tube down the Runoff Rapids or visit the kid-friendly areas, Ski Patrol Training Camp and Tike’s Peak.
If you like extreme drops, take the plunge down Summit Plummit and the Downhill Double Dipper. Wind down at the end of the day by relaxing in the Cross Country Creek lazy river and Melt Away Bay.
Tickets start at $60.
These top 10 things to do in Orlando will take you around the city and keep you entertained throughout your vacation!
Enjoy the outdoors and remember to pack some sunscreen and a rain poncho. Take a lot of photos to show your friends back home why Orlando is “The City Beautiful.”