Orlando, Florida is home for Sea World, Universal, and Disney. The city itself brings in millions of tourists every single year and is hands down one of the funnest cities to vacation to in the United States. Orlando happens to be the city I was born and raised in so I know first hand how incredibly expensive it is when you’re not a local. When people think Orlando, they immediately think theme parks but I’m here to tell you it’s possible to have fun in Orlando and completely avoid the theme parks all together. If you’re looking for a fun vacation to Florida yet you’re trying to avoid the theme parks, I’ve compiled a list of things I personally think you should do. With the help of my friendq Cam, we ventured all around Orlando to create the perfect list whether you’re visiting with family or friends- this list is perfect for you.
1. Visit a Local Coffee Shop
Living in Kuwait for almost four years and it being a dry country, I’m extremely picky with my coffee shops. Kuwaiti’s have been getting extremely creative with their coffee shop concepts and Orlando has some really cool ones. Winter Park and Downtown both have some great coffee shops. My favorite was Qreate Coffee because they had such a cool concept. It’s a photography/Videography studio, they even have holiday set-ups if you’re looking to take some cute holiday photos and their coffee is amazing. Christian, the barista, convinced me matcha was the way to go and made me the best matcha iced latte with coconut milk. Definitely a must try in the Orlando area, especially if you’re a content creator or need an extra push to get you through the day.
2. Hang out in the Milk District
Milk district is a super cool part of Downtown Orlando. It’s named after T.G Lee’s dairy plant because the plant borders the area but known for their diverse cultural and vintage vibes. Whether you’re looking for some good food, a good skate sesh, a cool bar or some vintage clothing- the milk district has so much to offer. We ate at Gringos Locos, one of my personal favorite restaurants on Orlando and then went shopping at one of the local boutiques. Etoile boutique is owned by a woman named Falon, known for their vintage vibes the boutique is surprisingly super affordable and their vintage pieces are one of a kind. I think the milk district is super overlooked but it’s honestly one of my favorite places to hang out, it’s super chill and way less busy than Downtown Orlando near Orange Avenue. It’s definitely worth stopping by! The Milk District is located off of East Robinson Street and North Bumby Avenue, Orlando, DL 32803!
3. Eat at Gringos Locos
Whether you’re drunk or sober, Gringos Double D’s with everything on them hit the spot! They’re open late so you can grab some tacos or a burrito after the club or bar! It’s the best drunk food! A Double D consists of a soft taco tortilla shell inside a hard taco tortilla shell, queso, a meat of your choice, pico, cheese, lettuce…. is your mouth watering yet?! Because mine is. Gringos main location is located at 20 E Washington St, Orlando, FL 32801.
4. Take a photo with the Greetings from Orlando mural
Possibly the coolest mural in the entire city. I feel like it represents Orlando perfectly, what we’re known for like Epcot and some major throwbacks including BBQ bar and Wet N’ Wild, our sports teams, T.G Lee’s Milk Plant, Lake Eola, and oranges (duh). Located on the corner of Colonial (50) and Orange Avenue behind a donut shop, the address is 703 N Orange Ave, Orlando, FL 32801.
5. Eat a pub sub from Publix
Publix! Are you even Floridian if you don’t love Publix? Honestly, the best grocery store in the world but I may be a little biased. Hungry for a sandwich, Chinese food, or even chicken tenders? Publix offers all of this in their Deli, you can never go wrong with a pub sub!
6. Visit Lake Eola
Lake Eola Park is one the biggest parks in Orlando located in the heart of Downtown. Surrounded by 0.9 miles of side walk for those looking for a casual stroll or a fast paced jog with a view. If you’re looking for a fun activity to do with the kids, there’s a playground or rent the paddle boats shaped like swans. There’s always events throughout the year at the Walt Disney Amphitheater, you’ll be able to spot this because it’s painted in rainbow colors. The lake is lined with different bars and grills including World of Beer and Relax Grill. Every Sunday, they have a Farmers Market too where local businesses sell and showcase their work. Lake Eola offers a ton of activities for every type of person, they’re located at 512 E Washington St, Orlando, FL 32801.
7. Go to an event at the Amway Center
Whether you’re going to a magic game or a concert, the Amway Center is a must see when you’re visiting. The venue is outstanding, offering many types of drinks and food. The Amway Center is also home to one of the most popular rooftop bars, One80 Lounge, which has one of the best skyline views of the city. Amway Center is located at 400 W Church St #200, Orlando, FL 32801.
8. Go to Fun Spot
One of my first loves, Fun Spot was actually my first job. When I worked there, there were only four go-cart tracks, seventeen rides, a tiny party spot, the snack bar sold your basic stuff and the arcade was average. As the commercials say, IT’S HUGEEEEEE (now). The park has grown so much, adding on crazy editions to the rides including the infamous sky coaster! To walk around the park is completely free and one single day fun pass is about $45 which is SO affordable compared to other theme parks. The family who owns the Fun Spot chain are genuine people who care about every single customer and employee. They have multiple locations but my personal favorite is the Orlando location located at 5700 Fun Spot Way, Orlando, FL 32819.
9. Visit City Walk
City Walk is the entrance before you get to Universal or IOA, it’s completely free to visit and they offer a lot to do including a movie theater, clubs, bars, The Hard Rock, a lot of fantastic restaurants and a ton of places to shop. City Walk is a place we used to hang out at all the time because it offered so much to do, especially as kids and teenagers. If you’re wanting to visit Universal but the tickets are just a bit too expensive, City Walk is a great alternative. If you visit after 6PM, parking is free as well! City Walk is located at 6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819.
10. Play Mini-Golf at Pirates Cove
Although there are plenty of places to play mini-golf along International Drive, Pirates Cove is my favorite. The hours are 9:00AM till 11:00PM, and the prices range from $14.50 – $23.95 plus tax for adults and $12.94 – $21.50 plus tax for children. This golf course is voted one of the best places to mini-golf in Florida and it’s located at 8501 International Drive Orlando FL 32819
11. Ride the Orlando Eye
One of the coolest experiences, the Orlando Eye is a Ferris wheel that moves so slow you don’t even feel like you’re on a Ferris wheel. The experience allows you to see all of Orlando when you’re at the very top, they even have the option to have a drink whilst riding the Ferris wheel. Ticket prices really depend on what package you’d like to purchase because ICON Park has tons of restaurants and bars, Madame Tussaud’s, an aquarium and more but the starting price for general admission to the Wheel is $27.99. The Orlando Eye is located in ICON Park at 8376 International Drive Orlando, FL 32819.
12. Go to an event at UCF
University of Central Florida is the university located in East Orlando. Whether you’re visiting in the fall for football season or the spring for basketball, UCF sports events are always really fun plus they’re one of the only college universities that sell alcohol inside the stadium! If you book tickets to a football game, make sure to buy tickets in the cabana club. Even if you’re not interested in sports, the university hosts many events throughout the year including concerts and Light Up UCF in the Winter. UCF is located at 4000 Central Florida Blvd. Orlando, FL 32816.
I could go on and on about what makes Orlando great and all the many things there is to do whilst visiting! These are just a small list of things I love doing when I’m home combined with a few affordable “touristy” places. Let me know what you guys think and if you have any questions, make sure to leave them in the comments! Until my next post, inshalla.