NON-theme park, non-resort things to do in the area?

leebee

DIS Veteran
Joined
Sep 14, 1999
Title pretty much says it all. What ELSE is there to do in the general WDW/Universal area that is fun? Breweries, museums, wineries, orchards, wildlife viewing/tours? We will have 3 days to explore things in the area, but don't know what there is to do!
 

JaxDad

DIS Veteran
Joined
Sep 23, 2014
Try looking at some trip reports in this forum. @Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina has done some nice reports that include a variety of attractions. Will you have a car? Would you consider Kennedy Space Center or even St. Augustine (or something on the Gulf Coast)? Winter Park is closer and has nice shops. There’s also Wekiva Springs. Have fun!
 

ChanaC

Mouseketeer
Joined
Apr 25, 2014
Three ideas!

Loch Haven Park: It's kind of the cultural center of Orlando. Around the park you can find the Orlando Science Center, Orlando Shakespeare Theatre, Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando Repertory Theater, the Orlando Fire Museum, and the Manello Museum of American Art. Also around the corner is Leu Gardens, a really nice garden area to walk through

Winter Park: This is a suburb just north of downtown Orlando (and close to Loch Haven Park). They have a cute downtown area (Park Ave) with lots of small businesses and restaurants. It's just a nice place to walk around and window shop. Winter Park also have a bunch of interconnected lakes and they offer boat tours.

Give Kids the World Village: God, I love this place and could write a whole essay about it, but I'll keep it brief. So about 40% of Make-A-Wish wishes are related to the Walt Disney Company, and a majority of those wishes are to visit WDW (plus lots of others wish to visit Universal, SeaWorld, Lego Land, etc.). GKTW is the resort they all stay at. Each family stays for a week and gets their own two or three bedroom villa. Three meals a day are served in the food court and there is an ice cream parlor that opens at 7am so kids can eat ice cream for breakfast. The village has literally anything a kid could ever want, including kids, an arcade, mini gold, a movie theater, a pool, a splash pad, a playground, horse back riding, fishing, and more. Everything is 100% wheelchair accessible so no one is left out. The Disney and Universal characters come to visit for private meet and greets. Every night is a party, with Halloween every Monday and Christmas every Thursday. AKA, it's like the neighborhood from The Good Place, but real. I bring this up because need thousands of volunteer hours every week. I volunteered for two days and I served lunch, operated their carousel, and handed out candy during their Halloween party. If you have time, it's a great place to volunteer. They really, truly appreciate you.
 



  • lorenae

    I'm going to Disney World!
    Joined
    Sep 12, 2015
    We drove down to the headwaters of the Everglades, according to the site. It's in Kissimmee, but took about 45 minutes of rural (no freeway/highway) driving.
    I can't remember the name of the place, but I'm sure you could find it on tripadvisor or via Google.
    We did an airport tour where we saw birds, alligators, etc, and it was great fun. My 5 year old grandson still talks about it. It was about $45/person or so, and we were the only ones on the boat, but they have several tours per day so I'm sure that the others had more people.
    I gave him a choice- go to Crystal River and snorkel with manatees or do the airport tour, and he choose the airport tour.
     

    ImarriedGrumpy

    AKA Miss lady who isn't my mommy
    Joined
    Apr 26, 2005
    One of our favorite places is Bok Tower Gardens. There's a beautiful carillon tower, gardens, museum, etc. It's really lovely and peaceful, and such a refreshing change from all the theme parks and entertainment.
     

    Gina-Gina-Bo-Bina

    SeaWorld Platinum Passholder
    Joined
    Sep 12, 2008
    Some of our favorites from past trips...

    Airboat tour (we highly recommend both Wild willy's and wild Florida)

    Showcase of Citrus

    Gatorland

    Renting jetskis and touring some of the lakes

    Skeletons Museum

    Icon attractions (the wheel, Sea Life, and Tussauds)

    Dinner shows (we LOVE Capones, and also enjoyed the Outta Control Dinner Show)

    Mini golf (Congo River is our fave)

    Beach day - we loved Daytona, and also enjoyed Cocoa Beach

    We purchased Sightseeing Passes on Groupon for our upcoming trip (we arrive tomorrow, yay!l). With the extra discount (we had an additional 25% coupon offer) on top of the Groupon price, we are getting 5 attractions for $75.....a fabulous savings. We hope to do a helicopter tour through Maxflight on the pass, so I'll let you know how that goes. We also plan on doing the wine and chocolate tasting, along with the factory tour, at Chocolate Kingdom as both are included attractions on the pass. If you're looking for a way to stretch your budget, it might be worth checking out as they also have 3 and 4-attraction options.
     

    JaxDad

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 23, 2014
    Some of our favorites from past trips...

    Airboat tour (we highly recommend both Wild willy's and wild Florida)

    Showcase of Citrus

    Gatorland

    Renting jetskis and touring some of the lakes

    Skeletons Museum

    Icon attractions (the wheel, Sea Life, and Tussauds)

    Dinner shows (we LOVE Capones, and also enjoyed the Outta Control Dinner Show)

    Mini golf (Congo River is our fave)

    Beach day - we loved Daytona, and also enjoyed Cocoa Beach

    We purchased Sightseeing Passes on Groupon for our upcoming trip (we arrive tomorrow, yay!l). With the extra discount (we had an additional 25% coupon offer) on top of the Groupon price, we are getting 5 attractions for $75.....a fabulous savings. We hope to do a helicopter tour through Maxflight on the pass, so I'll let you know how that goes. We also plan on doing the wine and chocolate tasting, along with the factory tour, at Chocolate Kingdom as both are included attractions on the pass. If you're looking for a way to stretch your budget, it might be worth checking out as they also have 3 and 4-attraction options.
    Have a great trip, Gina!
     
  • NH-to-FL

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 10, 2015
    I second @ImarriedGrumpy on a visit to Bok Tower Gardens. If you are a gardener or just appreciate gardens it is worth the trip down 27 to Lake Wales.

    And I heartily second @ChanaC to consider a volunteer shift (or two) at Give Kids the World! A wonderful organization that relies on volunteers to make the magic happen. We volunteer there frequently.
     

    CAPSLOCK

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 22, 2017
    Had a great time kayaking at Blue Springs state park. Lots of native wildlife, and a different way to experience it. Learned a lot from the guide.

    Wonderworks was cool for what it is.

    GREAT escape rooms in the area. Did 2 at The Escape Game Orlando.

    Whirlyball was neat. Think lacrosse from bumper cars.
     

    monkeydawn

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 16, 2019
    Give Kids the World Village: God, I love this place and could write a whole essay about it, but I'll keep it brief. So about 40% of Make-A-Wish wishes are related to the Walt Disney Company, and a majority of those wishes are to visit WDW (plus lots of others wish to visit Universal, SeaWorld, Lego Land, etc.). GKTW is the resort they all stay at. Each family stays for a week and gets their own two or three bedroom villa. Three meals a day are served in the food court and there is an ice cream parlor that opens at 7am so kids can eat ice cream for breakfast. The village has literally anything a kid could ever want, including kids, an arcade, mini gold, a movie theater, a pool, a splash pad, a playground, horse back riding, fishing, and more. Everything is 100% wheelchair accessible so no one is left out. The Disney and Universal characters come to visit for private meet and greets. Every night is a party, with Halloween every Monday and Christmas every Thursday. AKA, it's like the neighborhood from The Good Place, but real. I bring this up because need thousands of volunteer hours every week. I volunteered for two days and I served lunch, operated their carousel, and handed out candy during their Halloween party. If you have time, it's a great place to volunteer. They really, truly appreciate you.
    How do you go about volunteering for this?

    Edited to add: I remembered Google was a thing so I am all set. Thanks for the suggestion!
     
  • Shellyred8

    I'd rather be at Disney
    Joined
    Mar 17, 2016
    I'll jump on the Bok Tower Gardens bandwagon. We really enjoyed our trip down there. And, if you happen to time it during the Orange season, roll your windows down and enjoy the smell of the orange groves!
    We also like to do mini golf and we usually hunt down a couple of different courses each trip.
    If you will be there on a weekend, check out the car shows at Old Town on Friday and Saturday nights. Friday night is the muscle cars and Saturday night is the classic cars. It's free. :)
     

    ZJ5/9D47

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 24, 2018
    Showcase of Citrus has a lot of varieties of fruit to pick and their website lists what is in season. It is not too far west of WDW. Picked-by-you Florida oranges and grapefruits is a more unique gift to give friends and family.

    There is a great wildlife boat tour up at Blue Springs State Park and in the winter you can see tons of manatees hanging out in the spring (there is a boardwalk path leading to the actual spring) and munching on plants in the river. Right by the boat dock a few feet away there was a baby manatee that kept coming up to breathe whose mother had left it in a crevice in the bank among some tree roots...super cute!
     

    ttfn3

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 12, 2000
    One of my favorite towns in the whole US is located very near WDW. I highly recommend a day trip (or several days actually) to Winter Park. The downtown is absolutely adorable with great shops and restaurants - check out https://www.bosphorousrestaurant.com/ The bread and appetizers are really good here. Several museums are worth checking out - especially the Morse Museum. There is a nice sculpture park. Rollins College campus is a beautiful campus to visit - nice walk near the lake. Mr. Rogers went to this school. The Alfond Inn in Winter Park is a beautiful hotel - profits goes to scholarships at Rollins. They have art work on display throughout the hotel - the living book is fascinating. Winter Park's scenic boat trip through the canals and lakes is fun too. Winter Park has a fabulous arts festival in mid March.

    I also really liked Winter Garden - check out the cute downtown and Crooked Can Brewery. There is a nice bike path (West Orange Trail) that goes through the town and around the area.

    Mt Dora is also a cute town - with some nice, funky shops. They also have a scenic train ride.
     

    Disneyfan754321

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 19, 2019
    Get a go Orlando pass from groupon... they are awesome unlimited attractions for how ever many days you pick. Alot of what people have said above on there
     

    leebee

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 14, 1999
    We are going to the ballet! I was lamenting to a friend that this'll be the first time in about 15 years that we haven't been to see The Nutcracker; our daughter was part of a local company that did 10 shows around ME and NH every year from the times was 12 until she was 23, so we've seen quite a few shows. My friend suggested we check out Orlando Ballet and sure enough, they are doing Nut performances while we are there, with live music. I'm excited to see a different perspective on this classic, and very excited to see it performed with the symphony. SO that's what we are doing on the afternoon of 12/23, and then we'll have dinner at Raglan Road to make it a dance-filled day!
     



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