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Orlando Vacation Without Theme Parks

Soar Over The City With A Hot Air Balloon Ride

Orlando Vacation Guide: Top Theme Parks, Attractions, & Resorts

The closest thing to a real-life fairytale, hot air balloon rides over Orlando are the perfect way to experience the Florida swamplands and the urban sprawl from a whole new perspective.

Operated by an expert FAA-certified pilot, the sunrise flights offer unparalleled views and a truly unique experience thats perfect for anyone looking to add a touch of magic to their vacation.

And with champagne and a basket of pastries included, these one-hour adventures are far more romantic than meet the eye.

Appreciate The Worlds Most Comprehensive Collection Of Tiffany Stained Glass At The Museum Of American Art

One might assume the largest collection of Tiffany glass in the world would be located in New York or Paris, but it actually is right here in Orlandos Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in historic Winter Park. The Morse has amassed some of the most memorable lamps, leaded-glass windows, jewelry, art glass, and pottery by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Revel in the beauty of each stained glass piece and learn a bit more about how this art is made. Enjoy some brunch at a nearby restaurant after your visit.

Ripleys Believe It Or Not

Dont be fooled by this International Drive attractions outward appearance: Ripleys Believe It or Not! isnt really falling into a sinkhole! Its just one of many odd and unbelievable sights, sounds and experiences at the 10,000-square-foot venue. Inside, the whole family can enjoy fascinating, interactive exhibits and explore an impressive variety of artifacts and displays in 16 unique galleries. And the self-guided, self-paced tour means youll have plenty of time to see it all.

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Orlando: Beyond Theme Parks

Orlando Sentinel

Orlando’s theme parks need no introduction. After all, the city’s Disney, Universal and SeaWorld calling cards make it one of the planet’s most popular tourist destinations.

Chances are, if you find yourself in the town of the Mouse, it’s for pure entertainment purposes or to attend one of the hundreds of conventions scheduled here annually. Business blurs the line with pleasure in the neon-lit throes of kitschy International Drive, awash with luxury hotels, cheesy souvenir shops, mystery dinner theaters and extreme experiences of all genres.

But the human body is only hardwired to withstand so much faux.

Follow Travel Channel’s lead to experience Orlando’s alter ego, where shopping streets that conjure Europe, manatee encounters and canoe trips through pristine Central Florida woodlands await.

Boggy Creek Airboat Tour

Have fun in Orlando without stepping foot in a theme park ...

Living in Miami weve visited the Everglades there and done an airboat tour and my daughters loved it. You can do the same in Orlando at Boggy Creek Airboat Tour. Its such a different activity than what most people come up with when thinking of things to do in Orlando. Admission is also included in the Go Orlando Card.

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Orlando Theme Parks Highlights For Teens

Your older kids likely have the height to go on more rides than when they were preschoolers. Teenagers also have more stamina than those little walkers, of course, so you can really pack in a full day of rides and experiences. Here are some highlights for teens from Orlandos main theme parks.

The Na’vi River Ride in the Pandora section of Animal Kingdom is gorgeous.

Take A Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour

We absolutely loved Winter Park! From the extremely gorgeous homes, to the parks, to the cute downtown area with lots of shops and restaurants, its a very nice town that we loved working in and walking around.

One thing we didnt know about Winter Park until after our visit there is that they have boat tours! For $14 or $7 you can hop on one of their 18 passenger boats for a tour around the Winter Park chain of lakes. The tours run every hour from 10 AM-4 PM and are cash or check only.

On the boat you get to learn about the history of the area, see some nice homes, and enjoy a nice ride on the water. We hear this is so much fun and a hidden gem!

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Rent A Paddleboat At Lake Eola Park

Lake Eola park in downtown Orlando is a great escape from the hectic theme park crowds. A refreshing 1/2 mile stroll around the landscaped grounds is sure to rejuvenate both your body and mind. Plenty of plant life and birds make this walk a pleasant nature experience. Great views of the Orlando skyline too! A leisurely ride in a paddleboat is a fun way to take in the beautiful views around you.

Play Around At An Inflatable Water Park

TOP 8 FAMILY ACTIVITIES IN ORLANDO (without the theme parks)!

A perfect thing to do on a hot Florida day is to challenge yourself to a floating obstacle course! See if you can conquer Aqua Park at Nona Adventure Park.

The whole family will have a blast swinging, running, falling, climbing, and jumping on Adventure Lake. The minimum age requirement is 5 years old.

Where: 14086 Centerline Drive, Orlando

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Save Time And Money With An Airport Transfer

Youre on vacation, after all, so why add extra stress and hassle to your trip? Instead of hopping on a public bus and dealing with transfers, book a private airport transfer service in advance and let someone else take care of the logistics for you.

Not only will this save you time , itll also save you money many services offer discounted rates when booked online. Win-win!

Hotels Near The Parks

Visiting Orlando theme parks can become expensive once you get all those souvenirs and sample all that delicious food. Thats why we offer the guaranteed lowest rates on all Orlando lodging. Find resorts conveniently located right next to Disney World or Universal Orlando. We also have plenty of vacation homes to pick from if youre looking for more space.

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Charles Hosmer Morse Museum

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum in Winter Park features the largest collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany glass in the world. Tiffany a famous 19th-century designer created lamps, jewelry, paintings, and pottery, and each piece is fascinating.

From leaded-glass windows to his most memorable lamps, you can enjoy each piece of stained glass, and also learn how he made his art. The Tiffany collection also features his personal memorabilia, letters, photographs, designs, and early experiments.

The Morse museum also features an American decorative art collection supplemented by European glass and ceramic pieces from Rene Lalique and Carl Faberge.

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Get That Hoppy Fix With A Brewery Tour

Beer lovers, rejoice! Orlando is home to a plethora of breweries, many of which are thrilled to welcome thirsty tourists with behind-the-scenes tours, tasting flights, and even take-home growlers and crowlers.

From the big names to the smaller newcomers , theres a brewery for everyone in Orlando so what are you waiting for?

Depending on the guide and the destinations, tours usually involve learning about the history of the brewery, the beer-marking process, and the local culture with no shortage of samples following suit.

Things To Do In Orlando Other Than Theme Parks

  • Take a ride on The Wheel at ICON Park for a fabulous view.
  • Explore the oceans of the world at SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium.
  • Swing like Tarzan at Orlandos Tree Trek Adventure Park.
  • Take a safe climb on the rock wall at the Oviedo Recreation Gym.
  • Zip line over gators at Gatorland.
  • Take some silly family photos with celebrities at Madame Tussauds.
  • Take a dip in the crystal-clear waters of one of Central Florida’s beautiful natural springs.
  • Learn how to wakeboard or paddleboard at the Orlando Watersports Complex.
  • Pick your perfect pack of colors at the Crayola Experience. Photo courtesy of Crayola
  • Create your own crayon label and make masterpieces of color at Crayola Experience.
  • Discover where chocolate comes from and taste chocolates from around the world at The World of Chocolate museum.
  • Get catapulted vertically at 100 mph on the Slingshot.
  • Go kayaking or canoeing on Shingle Creek.
  • Play a round of putt-putt golf at a local miniature golf course.
  • Anyone over the age of 3 can find out what it feels like to fly at iFLY.
  • Cheer on your favorite knight while enjoying a medieval dinner at Medieval Times a fun night out for the entire family.
  • Become a pastry chef at Farris and Foster’s.
  • Drive bumper boats, race on a multilevel go-cart course, and ride a wooden coaster at Fun Spot.Experience the wonders of Kidstown at the Orlando Science Center. Photo by Charlotte Blanton
  • Explore the expansive KidsTown area at the Orlando Science Center.
  • Go glamping at Westgate River Ranch.
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    Appreciate The Colors Of The Mead Botanical Garden

    A hidden gem in the suburb of Winter Park, the family-friendly Mead Botanical Garden is a lush oasis thats perfect for those looking to spend an afternoon surrounded by nature and away from the bright lights of I-Drive.

    Boasting nearly 50 acres of gardens and wetlands, as well as a butterfly garden and plenty of picnic space to boot, the green escape is free to enter and makes for a great way to slow down for an afternoon with your nearest and dearest.

    The bike trail and swamp boardwalk are crowd favorites, but keep your eyes peeled for the resident four-legged friends!

    Chill Out At The Orlando Beer Spa

    Things to Do in Orlando BESIDES Visiting the Theme Parks – Visiting Orlando without Theme Parks

    Yes, its true! Orlando has its very own beer spa, finally! Similar to the Prague beer spas, My Beer Spa in Orlando invites you to soak in their proprietary beer blend, enjoy all the beer and wine you wish, relax in the in-room sauna, then cool off on the straw bed.

    It may sound too good to be true, but this time it actually is. And let me tell you, there is nothing better than a visit to the Orlando beer spa after a day at Disney World! Check out my full post on the Orlando beer spa here!

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    Check Out A Professional Sporting Event

    While in Orlando, you may have the opportunity to check out one of the professional sporting events the city has to offer. Orlando is home to NBA basketball, Major League Soccer, and the minor league hockey affiliate of the champion Tampa Bay Lightning.

    The Orlando Magic of the NBA plays between October and May the Orlando City Soccer Club plays between March and November and the Orlando Solar Bears hockey team plays between October and February.

    Take A Day Trip From Orlando

    NASA photo by Urmi

    There are many other things to do in Orlando besides theme parks, but some of them require a bit more of a trek! Below are a few ideas of things to do if you have a full day to spare!

    Visit the Kennedy Space CenterGet up close to space shuttles, walk around the rocket garden, and if you time your visit right, you can even see a launch! Kennedy Space Centeris about an hour drive from Orlando and is $47 for children and $57 for adults.

    Visit Cocoa BeachCocoa Beach is right by Kennedy Space Center and would make a great extra activity while youre out on the East coast! You can see the rocket launches from here as well!

    Lay out at Clearwater BeachClearwater Beach was named Americas #1 beach by TripAdvisor in 2019. We visited a little over 5 years ago and it was beautiful! We hear its great for dolphin watching too!

    Explore TampaTampa is about 1.5 hours from Orlando and has a much bigger city feel. Some highlights are Busch Gardens, museums, professional sports teams, the riverwalk, and Big Cat Rescue.

    Fall in love with St. PeteWe have heard so many great things about St. Petersburg and cannot wait to visit very soon! St. Pete is nicknamed the Sunshine City, as it gets an average of 361 clear days per year. Its a little under 2 hours from Orlando and very close to Tampa, so you could visit the two within a couple days if you had time.

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    General Theme Park Tips

    Make Use of MYDisneyExperience & Disney Genie

    Disney Genie is a new system that was launched in October 2021 to help plan your day. The app is completely free to everyone and also has 2 upgrade options:

    Disney Genie+$15 a day per person upgrade with the option to select return windows for Lightning Lanes at multiple attractions in all 4 theme parks.

    Individual Lightning Lane SelectionPurchase Lightning Lane access to two high demand attractions a day. Cost is attraction and date dependent.

    See full details: Disney Genie

    Consider Universal Express Pass

    Sometimes this is needed, sometimes its not, so it really depends on the time of year and the attractions you are most interested in. More Details: Universal Express Pass

    Celebrate with Buttons

    If any of you have a birthday, anniversary, engagement or any kind of celebration, call at guest services at any of the parks for a Celebration Button.

    Kids will LOVE getting wished a happy birthday by Cast Members all day long. Theyll go out of their way to high-five and Happy Birthday, Happy Anniversary or whatever the occasion.

    You may even get a complimentary snack or drink, it sometimes happens, but not always, so dont expect it. It can really make for a special trip.

    Get an Autograph Book for the Kids

    You can buy autograph books in the parks or the Disney stores. You could also buy plain writing pads before you go and have the kids decorate them.

    Book Dining in Advance

    Join An Airboat Tour At Boggy Creek

    Visiting Orlando without the theme parks!

    For a glimpse into the wild and untamed side of The Sunshine State, the sprawling swamps await.

    With a wide selection of operators to choose from to suit all kinds of budgets and preferences Boggy Creek offers short tours and full-day multi-activity adventures through Orlandos wildlife-abundant swamps and marshes, giving travelers a chance to see the likes of alligators, bald eagles, and other rare creatures up close in their natural habitat.

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    Orlando With Teens: Top 20 Things To Do At The Theme Parks And Beyond

    Think Orlando is a destination just for kids? Its even better with teens! Amusement parks are great when you can go on all the rides and dont have to worry about the dreaded “theme park meltdowns.” My big kids were also able to pack in lots of other adventures and hipster shopping areas as we explored all the fun there is in Orlando beyond the theme parks.

    Visit Orlando also helped us with expert advice on the best things to do with teens in Orlando. Heres what we found out.

    Dollywood If You Love Theme Park Shows And Entertainment

    Leave it to superstar Dolly Parton to put on a show. Her theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, has great rides, but the live performances which usually run under an hour are the real standout.

    I remember going to see just an absolutely wonderful show there last time. It felt like a Broadway musical, Niles says. It’s not just country. You’ve got rock, you’ve got show tunes, you’ve got gospel. They have a wide range of musical performances there.

    Considering the cost of Disney tickets or even Broadway theater tickets, Dollywood could definitely provide some savings. Adult tickets are $84 per day, and child tickets are $74 per day.

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    Make It A Comedy Night

    There are a few comedy venues in and around Orlando. If youre a fan of the television show Whose Line is it Anyway, head over to Sak Comedy Lab where Wayne Brady was once a cast member. It has been voted one of the 50 best comedy clubs in America.

    For another fast-paced improv experience, join Mamas Comedy Show at Sleuths Mystery Dinner Show every Friday night for an adults-only night out of dinner and drinks.

    If improv doesnt tickle your fancy, hit up Bonkerz Comedy Club for stellar stand-up acts thatll have you in stitches.

    Admire The Tiffany Collection At The Morse Museum Of American Art

    Orlando Theme Park Travel Vlog November 2021 – Travelling To The USA!

    Sitting over in Winter Park, the Morse Museum of American Art has become renowned for its sublime art nouveau collection.

    Complementing some 800 different pottery items are works by the likes of William Morris, Frank Lloyd Wright, and John LaFarge. Above all else, however, it boasts a mighty feat of housing the largest Louis Comfort Tiffany collection in the world.

    From stained glass to lamps, the famous Tiffany Chapel, and furniture items, Tiffanys work sits marvelously on display throughout the museum in a series of specially-curated galleries designed to inspire.

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