10 Amazing Orlando Attractions That Aren't Theme Parks

From gorgeous gardens to authentic Florida orange groves, Orlando has a lot more to offer than just theme parks. Get to know the real Orlando with these recommended activities.

Related To:

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: Deanne Revel

Photo By: Visit Orlando, The Ravenous Pig

Photo By: Visit Orlando

Photo By: Visit Orlando, Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures

Photo By: Visit Orlando, Bok Tower Gardens

Photo By: Visit Orlando, Orlando Balloon Rides

Photo By: Visit Orlando, Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Visit an Orange Grove

Just down the road from Walt Disney World, the Showcase of Citrus farm features more than 50 varieties of citrus. Wander through the picturesque grove (It’s an Instagrammer’s dream!) or learn fun facts about the fruit on the farm’s off-road, monster truck eco-tour. Before you leave, you have to try the farm’s signature orange creamsicle slushie.

Go Hang Gliding

If park rides aren’t doing it for you and you need more adrenaline, head to Wallaby Ranch Hang Gliding to soar 2,000 feet above Central Florida. The flight park is great for first-timers and people looking to cross hang gliding off their bucket list because you don’t have to jump off anything here to get going. Wallaby Ranch uses an "areotowing" system so a tow plane literally pulls you and an instructor up in the air and then releases you to glide back down. It’s considered one of the safest ways to hang glide.

Cruise the Canals

Central Florida has actually been a resort area since the 1800s. But before there was Orlando, there was the community of Winter Park. The quaint town still boasts a gorgeous lake chain and visitors can tour the system today with Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour. The hour-long ride cruises through picturesque canals and passes jaw-dropping, historic estates along the water’s edge.

See the Largest Collection of Tiffany Glass

Orlando has several great art museums but if you only have time for one, head to The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park. The museum features the largest collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany pieces in the world including Tiffany jewelry, pottery, paintings, art glass, windows and lamps, but the real stunners are the large installations such as the fully restored Daffodil Terrace from Tiffany's Long Island home, Laurelton Hall, and the chapel interior Tiffany created for the Chicago World's Fair in 1893.

Savor Award-Winning Eats

Orlando is so much more than theme park junk food. There’s a growing foodie scene here, from sophisticated fine dining to creative gastropubs. If you’re a meat eater, the Ravenous Pig is a must-stop. Husband and wife chefs James Petrakis and Julie Petrakis serve up some of the best BBQ in the South (earning their restaurant a James Beard Foundation Award nomination) even garnering them a thumbs up from our own Andrew Zimmern.

Sip Local Brews

Like the emerging food scene, Orlando has a growing craft beer movement with tons of local breweries to choose from. There are so many in fact that Central Florida now has an official ale trail. Your first stop should be Crooked Can Brewery. Located in the funky Plant Street market, the food hall is perfect for pairing a flight of Crooked Can sips with local, organic snacks.

Zip Through the Everglades

For a ride with serious speed, hop on a 17-passenger airboat with Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures. The 30-minute and one-hour tours zip through Central Florida’s iconic wetlands and everglades at 45 miles per hour. For your best chance at spotting a Florida gator, book the early morning ride.

Stroll Through Botanical Gardens

Designed by famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., who designed New York's Central Park and the grounds of the Biltmore Estate, Bok Tower Gardens is a Central Florida gem. The gorgeous gardens feature the historic Singing Tower. The 205-foot Art Deco stunner boasts one of the world’s best-preserved carillons. A carillon is like a bell tower but instead of moving the bells to ring, a carillon’s cast bronze bells are calibrated in place and have special clappers to hit a range of nearly six octaves. Hearing these special bells is truly a magical experience. Don’t miss the daily concerts at 1 and 3 p.m.

Ride in a Hot Air Balloon

For an unforgettable experience and truly unique view of Orlando, book the one-hour sunrise tour with Orlando Balloon Rides. Soar thousands of feet in the air above Central Florida’s lake chains and forests. Photographers and Instagrammers will love the aerial photography opportunities, from theme parks to orange groves.

Visit the Zoo

Several Orlando theme parks have animal exhibits but they also come with hefty ticket prices. If your kiddos could care less about rides and just want to see animals, head over to the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens. The zoo features more than 400 animals including two Greater One-Horned rhinos.

Shop This Look