We’re all too familiar with Orlando’s world-famous theme parks and waterparks, but away from the maze of mile-long queues and fairy-tale characters the Floridian city offers so much more to see and do. From brand name shopping to kayaking by moonlight, we give you the lowdown on where to spend your time when you’re done with Disney World.
Take a hot-air balloon ride to see the sights like never before as the sun rises over the stunning landscapes below. You and your family can soar up, up and away above the treetops as Florida’s lakes, wildlife and city scenery provide photo-opportunities you won’t want to miss. Orlando Balloon Rides and Bob’s Balloons are just two of the operators offering unforgettable trips to top off your holiday.
Give yourself a break from all of the thrilling theme park rides with a spot of retail therapy. The Mall at Millenia offers luxury designer clothing for those who are serious about fashion, whilst The Florida Mall is Central Florida’s largest family-friendly shopping destination where you’ll find more than 250 stores and eateries. If you’re a bargain hunter save your pennies for the area’s two main outlet malls- Orlando International Premium Outlets and Orlando Premium Outlets Vineland Avenue. Both are packed with big name brands at discounted prices.
Experience the Florida wildlife in its natural habitat by kayak in an eco-adventure through rivers, creeks and swamps into the Everglades. Spend the day keeping your eyes peeled for alligators, dolphins and manatees as you paddle through the water. By night, head out for a magical bioluminescence paddle or take in the glow of the full moon under the stars. Adventures in Florida offer a range of different packages with options suitable for kayaking beginners to the more daring among you.
You may be surprised to hear that Florida has a booming craft beer scene with over 150 breweries across the state. Located in Orlando’s industrial district, you’ll find locally produced organic ales and lagers at Orlando Brewing. Head down Monday to Saturday at 6pm for a free tour of the brewery or why not sample the freshly brewed ales in the 24-tap taproom and beer garden. Along with daily specials throughout the week, the taproom’s two stages play host to live music from local and touring bands on Friday and Saturday nights.
Harry P. Leu Gardens
Leave the bustle of the theme parks behind and escape to an oasis of calm surrounded by 50 acres of grounds and lakes in these beautiful botanical gardens. Mere moments away from Downtown Orlando, the estate boasts a gift shop and tours available onsite. Admission includes free parking so bring along a packed lunch to enjoy the day here. Every so often, the gardens transforms into an outdoor evening cinema allowing visitors to bring along a picnic basket and watch movies in the open-air.