Most people who visit Orlando make a beeline for Walt Disney World. While it’s a great place to spend a vacation, it won’t give you much insight into the city of Orlando itself. You’ll find that spending some time outside the kingdom of Mickey ears and beloved cartoon characters can be just as magical. It may even offer you exactly what you’re looking for in a vacation.
Since there are lots of choices for great IHG hotels near downtown Orlando, finding accommodations throughout the city won’t be a hard task. What will be difficult is narrowing down exactly what to do in a city filled with sights, sounds, food, and excitement. Here are some suggestions to help you see the real Orlando outside of Disney World.
Experience the City
There is so much to do in Orlando with something for almost anyone. A ride on the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye will give you incredible views of the city with a bird’s-eye view of beautiful landscapes and landmarks.
Probably one of the best hidden gems in the city is SAK Comedy Lab. It’s one of the best attractions guaranteed to bring you tons of laughs and is a great way to spend an evening. Seriously. Their Friday night Duel of Fools and Gorilla Theatre are hugely entertaining and perfect to kick off an evening, or weekend, downtown. You’ll also get a bonus if you go for the first show – stick around after and get a ticket to the second for only $5 USD!
Since any visit to Florida introduces thoughts of alligators, it would only make sense to check out Gatorland. Not only will you get to see the creatures up close, but you can also ride the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line over the marshes and habitats where they live!
You may not head to the Magic Kingdom, but you can cap off your trip with the Chocolate Kingdom Factory Adventure Tour. Here, you can surround yourself with sweet goodness as you learn about the process of making chocolate.
Enjoy the Outdoors
Orlando is home to many natural landscapes and plenty of outdoor activities. Even in the heart of the city, you’ll find beautiful sights like Lake Eola Park. It’s a beautiful place to take a walk, watch swans swim by, or jump on a paddleboat and have some fun. You may want to try to get there on a Sunday, when the Orlando Farmers Market sells local produce, baked goods, and artwork.
If you’re looking for something more private, you can head to Harry P. Leu Gardens. Here, you can spend time walking along the winding paths of the 50 acres of gardens surrounded by flowers and plants from around the world.
A trip to Orlando wouldn’t be complete without exploring the outdoors. If you want to get a good look at all the natural beauty of the area, a hot air balloon ride would definitely give you a unique outdoor experience.
Embrace the Food Culture
Orlando has been building its reputation as a culinary destination. With so many great restaurants to choose from, it’s easy to see why. One of the more memorable restaurants is the Red Mug Diner. Great for any meal and open 24 hours a day, this spot offers some tasty classic Southern comfort foods, like fried chicken and waffles, along with regular diner fare.
Food and art often have blurred lines, and dining at Café Tu Tu Tango offers the experience of both. You’ll find some delicious small plates to share as local artists paint and display their works while you dine.
Another restaurant that’s worth fitting into your schedule is Cuba Libre Restaurant and Rum Bar. The Florida location is great for a late-night meal before you lose yourself in Orlando nightlife.
Planning a trip to Orlando allows you to explore a city full of wonderful attractions, natural beauty, and incredible food. You don’t need to venture to Walt Disney World to capture excitement and adventure, but you’ll probably want to book another trip to the city since you’ll find that one trip to Orlando only scratches the surface.
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