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The 18 best things to do in Orlando right now

Ditch the guide maps and tourist shops and let us guide you to the best things to do in Orlando instead

Written by Megan duBois in association with TD Bank
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Orlando, Florida is a Mecca for enthusiastic theme park fans, full of culinary indulgences for the epicurious and offers tons of rivalries for sports fanatics. And, it can't be denied, some of the best things to do in Orlando include the previous three things (sometimes you can even find all of them in the same space – looking at your Walt Disney World). But outside of the previously named "big three," the City Beautiful is also home to incredible art and science museums, wildlife encounters and outdoor activities.

While you might be tempted to spend the day at the pool since summers average temperatures in the 90s, there’s still plenty to do to cool off, including some incredible water parks. When the temperatures drop in late fall and through winter be sure to hit the golf course, or try out a swan boat ride at Lake Eola. If you’re looking to gather all of the best things to do in Orlando for the ultimate vacation or staycation, these are our top things to do right now.

Best things to do in Orlando

  • Attractions
  • Theme parks

Walt Disney World is probably the number one thing people who travel to Orlando want to see. The spacious resort has four theme parks, two water parks, a dining and shopping district and over 20 on-site, Disney-owned hotels. Starting October 1, Walt Disney World will begin to celebrate its 50th anniversary with "The World's Most Magical Celebration." The festivities will be held around Walt Disney World and include the debut of new attractions, new nighttime fireworks shows, new daytime entertainment and more.

  • Attractions
  • Theme parks
  • Turkey Lake

Universal Orlando Resort is the home of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where you can literally step into Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Both Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure have a Wizarding World area that is connected by a short train ride on the Hogwarts Express. Outside of the Harry Potter-themed area you’ll find the new Jurassic World Velocicoaster, which takes you on an intense ride through the raptor paddock and over the lagoon before coming back to the safety of the unload zone.

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  • Museums
  • Science and technology

This exciting theme park is filled with water creature-themed coasters, animal exhibits and encounters and an adorable Sesame Street-themed area for kids. This year will also bring a new roller coaster to SeaWorld – the Ice Breaker. The thrilling new ride will feature four launches, including a reverse launch into a beyond vertical drop that is sure to take your breath away. Throughout the day, you can also see shows and live entertainment featuring animals and learn about the natural behaviors of sea life.

  • Attractions
  • Towers and viewpoints
  • Convention Center

ICON Park is home to more than 40 restaurants, shops, bars and entertainment offerings. Around the sprawling complex you can enjoy things like the Orlando Starflyer, which is a high flying swing that stands at 450-feet tall. If you’re looking for something a little more relaxed, consider a tour around Madame Tussauds Orlando where you can see lifelike models of Walt Disney, Taylor Swift and Wonder Woman. When it’s time to eat consider Sugar Factory, where you can get over-the-top milkshakes and burgers to satisfy your grumbling stomach.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • South Eola

Take a relaxing stroll around Lake Eola and Lake Eola Park, located in the heart of downtown Orlando. The walk around the lake is just under one mile and along the way you'll take in picturesque views of the downtown skyline. Want to be on the water? Rent swan paddle boats and get out there with the live swans. Also located inside the park is the Walt Disney Amphitheater, which typically hosts live concerts, movies and performances.

  • Music
  • Music venues
  • Downtown Orlando

The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is the spot to be in Orlando for live music, broadway shows like Hamilton, and tons of family-friendly entertainment. Kids will love movie nights with family-friendly flicks like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. But true movie and music buffs will want to look for movies in conjunction with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, who will play the score live while you watch the film. The Dr. Phillips Center is also the home of the Orlando Ballet, which performs often with shows like The Jungle Book and The Nutcracker.

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  • Attractions
  • Parks and gardens
  • Rose Isle

For those looking for a bit of outdoor adventure without getting into the Florida swamps, check out the Harry P. Leu Gardens. The stunning, walkable garden boast 50 acres of beautiful flora and fauna just a few minutes drive from downtown Orlando. The garden and historical home were donated to the city of Orlando for public use in 1961 and guests have been enjoying the space ever since. The garden also hosts movie nights for families and educational seminars on various topics throughout the seasons.

  • Attractions
  • Zoo and aquariums
  • Westwood

If you only visit one water park in Orlando we implore you to visit this one. Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive water park where you can get up close with dolphins, sharks, rays and tropical fish while basking in the warm Florida sun. Only a very limited number of guests are let in each day – which means you can get more done! — and add-on experiences like a morning flamingo walk or playtimewith otters make the day extra special. 

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Head to the Amway Center in downtown to see the Orlando Magic make some ... well ... magic. And if you're dragging along anyone who doesn't love basketball, there’s plenty of family entertainment between plays and during commercial breaks for this to be a fun night for all. Just be sure to give yourself plenty of time to get there — the area around the Amway can get very congested on game nights, and you don’t want to be late for tip off.

The Orlando Science Center has been welcoming kids of all ages for six decades. The hands-on museum offers four floors and has dozens of interactive exhibits, labs, theaters and workshops. Kids will love learning about everything from dinosaurs to sustainability (and, let's be honest, so will moms and dads). Those looking for even more hands-on experiences can book personalized adventures (held in small groups), or can learn how to get in touch with their creative side at the Makerspace.

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  • Shopping
  • Markets and fairs

Cheer on the lions at Exploria Stadium in downtown Orlando from April through November. Just be sure to don purple and gold (that is assuming you don't want to be boo'd by rowdy fans). If you don’t have anything to wear, check out the Orlando City Team Shop on West Church Street.

History and architecture combine into one relaxing experience on the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour. The tour takes you through the lakes and byways of Winter Park to see some of the historic homes of the area as well as the wildlife that call Florida home. The boat tour is about an hour long and you can bring your own food and drink on board. Pro tip:  Grab a coffee and pastries from one of the many shops nearby and don't forget to offer something to the captain! 

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  • Attractions
  • Wildlife centers
  • Meadow Woods Cove

There's always something fun to eat in Orlando. In the fall, the city hosts Magical Dining month, where you can get a three-course meal at participating restaurants and support a local charity. In the spring, look out for Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando Resort, and, come October, the Swan and Dolphin Food and Wine Classic at Walt Disney World. On a regular week, you'll find food truck rallies throughout the city and sometimes even a festival based on specific foods like donuts or Spanish tapas.

Did you know Orlando is where you can find the headwaters of the Everglades? That’s right, and in the marshy, swamp area you can take an airboat ride through the tall grasses and deep waters to see some of natural Florida that hasn’t been inhabited by animated animal characters (yet). The Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures take you through the headwaters on an adventure that lasts either 30 minutes or one hour. Throughout the tour you’ll see animals like turtles, alligators, fish and various birds that make up the delicate ecosystem of the headwaters.

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Families with kids shouldn't miss this colorful experience. See how crayons are made, experience hands-on activities, and do a few craft projects before setting out to make your very own Crayola crayon color. Each of the activities are designed with little and bigs kids in mind — which means everyone in the family will have an equally good time. 

This tree top adventure and ropes course is filled with activities like Tarzan ropes, 50-foott tall ladders, suspension bridges, hanging nets, swinging logs and zip lines — all of which are supposed to help you get to the finish line. There are five different courses based on elevation and difficulty levels, including one made just for kids. Each course ends with the 4250foot-long zip line across the tree tops.

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Walt Disney World is home to three 18-hole golf courses and one nine-hole walking course. While you won’t see Mickey Mouse himself on the course teeing up, you may see a few hidden Mickeys as bunkers or on some of the practice balls. If you plan on spending more time in the theme parks you can book a sunrise or sunset nine-hole round at a discount. Disney’s golf courses are open to the public, and you do not have to be staying at Disney or have a theme park ticket to enjoy a round of golf here.

LEGOLAND Florida Resort is about 45 minutes from Walt Disney World and about an hour from Universal Orlando Resort. The LEGO-centric theme park is known for kid-friendly rides featuring LEGO characters, and a LEGO Pirate Island Hotel that is a swashbuckling good time for the entire family. This year LEGOLAND Florida Resort is celebrating its tenth anniversary and continues to bring new entertainment to the park. The most recent addition is a new water stunt show, Brickbeard’s Water Stunt Show, which takes place on the lake on the backside of the park.

Not enough culture for you?

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