27 Unforgettable Things to do in Central Florida

Central Florida, known for its world-class theme parks and beautiful natural attractions, is a top destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts.

Discover the charm of authentic Florida attractions as you stroll through citrus groves, explore stunning gardens and parks, or embark on thrilling adventures at fan-favorite amusement parks.

Immerse yourself in Florida’s unique experiences, such as the fascinating wonders of hydroponic gardening or the chance to cool off in the crystal-clear waters of Shell Key Preserve.

Central Florida promises a memorable getaway, leaving you with unforgettable memories and a longing for more.

Theme Parks

Central Florida is a paradise for theme park enthusiasts! In this section, we’ll explore some of the most popular theme parks in the area, perfect for family vacations and unforgettable experiences.

Entrance of Walt Disney World near Orlando

1. Walt Disney World

As one of the most visited theme parks in the world, Walt Disney World is an essential stop for visitors to Central Florida. This magical destination consists of four main parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

2. Universal Orlando Resort

Another must-visit theme park in Central Florida is Universal Orlando Resort, which consists of two theme parks – Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. The resort is home to the famous Wizarding World of Harry Potter and other thrilling rides based on popular movies and TV shows.

Cheetah Hunt rollercoaster at Busch Gardens
Cheetah Hunt rollercoaster at Busch Gardens

3. Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens in Tampa is an exciting mix of thrilling roller coasters, captivating animal exhibits, and live entertainment. Known for its African theme, visitors can also enjoy up-close encounters with more than 12,000 animals from different continents.

Large alligator head at the main entrance to Gatorland theme Park and wildlife preserve located along South Orange Blossom Trail south of Orlando.

4. Gatorland

If you’re looking for a unique and authentic taste of Florida wildlife, consider visiting Gatorland. This one-of-a-kind park showcases thousands of alligators, crocodiles, and other incredible animals, as well as exciting zip-lining experiences and one-of-a-kind shows.

International Drive-Icon Park
International Drive-Icon Park

5. ICON Park

ICON Park is a popular entertainment complex located on International Drive in Orlando, Florida. The Wheel at ICON Park is a 400-foot-tall observation wheel that offers breathtaking views of Orlando and the surrounding area. Each capsule is air-conditioned and can hold up to 15 people, making it a great way to see the city with friends or family.

Nature Adventures

Central Florida offers a variety of captivating nature adventures for outdoor enthusiasts. In this section, we explore some of the region’s top destinations for enjoying the beauty of the natural world.

6. Wekiwa Springs State Park

Wekiwa Springs State Park features crystal-clear springs and several miles of beautiful trails, perfect for hiking, biking, and wildlife watching. Visitors can also enjoy kayaking, canoeing, and swimming in the refreshing spring waters.

7. Blue Spring State Park

Renowned for its manatee sightings, Blue Spring State Park provides a unique Florida experience. Take a stroll on the boardwalk or dip your toes in the cool spring water to relax and unwind, while you admire the enchanting wildlife.

8. Devil’s Den

Devil’s Den is an incredible underwater cave system that offers snorkeling and scuba diving experiences for adventure seekers. The pre-historic qualities of this site provide a unique glimpse into Florida’s natural history, making it a must-see destination.

palm trees in front of the Bok Tower Garden in Lake Wales

9. Bok Tower Gardens

Take in the beauty of Florida’s native plant life at the serene Bok Tower Gardens. Featuring a 205-foot neo-Gothic and art deco “Singing Tower,” the gardens showcase various plants, flowers, and wildlife, creating a tranquil environment for visitors.

10. Central Florida Zoo

Discover over 350 animals from around the world at the Central Florida Zoo. The zoo is a perfect destination for families and nature lovers with interactive exhibits, animal encounters, and beautiful walking paths.

11. The Florida Aquarium

Spanning over 200,000 square feet, The Florida Aquarium offers an incredible marine experience. Witness diverse aquatic life, turtle rehabilitation facilities, and an immersive coral reef gallery, providing a full day of oceanic exploration.

Museums and Cultural Experiences

Central Florida is filled with exciting museums and cultural experiences that can’t be missed during your visit. Explore the wonders of space, science, and art as you take in the rich history and breathtaking nature that this region has to offer.

12. Kennedy Space Center

Take a journey into the final frontier at the Kennedy Space Center. This iconic space hub offers interactive exhibits, live presentations, and even the chance to witness a breathtaking rocket launch. Learn about space exploration’s past, present, and future as you stroll through the fascinating exhibits.

13. Orlando Science Center

Embark on a thrilling adventure of discovery at the Orlando Science Center. With four floors of exciting exhibits and dynamic programs, there’s something for everyone to explore. Delve into the mysteries of our planet, the intricacies of technology, and the wonders of the human body as you delve into this exciting world of science.

14. Harry P. Leu Gardens

Escape the city to find tranquility and beauty at Leu Gardens, a 50-acre botanical oasis. Wander through the serene pathways, strolling past lush tropical plants, vibrant flowers, and peaceful lakes. Discover the historic Leu House Museum, where you can learn about the families who once called this enchanting garden their home.

15. Florida Botanical Gardens

Explore the natural beauty of Florida at the Florida Botanical Gardens. With over 150 acres of cultivated gardens and preserved natural landscapes, you’ll find yourself immersed in the diverse flora and fauna that make Florida unique. From tropical fruit gardens to native plantings and wildlife habitats, there’s always something new to discover.

16. The Dalí (Salvador Dalí Museum)

Step into the surreal world of Salvador Dalí at The Dalí, a museum dedicated to the iconic artist. Explore the largest collection of his works outside of Europe, including paintings, sculptures, and interactive experiences that bring the brilliance of his imagination to life. Delve into the genius of Dalí and experience the extraordinary at this one-of-a-kind museum.

Outdoor Adventures

17. Golf Courses

Central Florida is a golfer’s paradise, offering stunning courses and great weather year-round. Play amongst the rolling greens, challenging sand traps, and pristine landscaping at top courses such as ChampionsGate Golf Club or Orange County National Golf Center.

18. Airboat Tours

Experience the wild side of Central Florida with an exciting airboat tour. Explore the Florida Everglades and gaze upon alligators, turtles, and exotic bird species as you navigate the waterways. A popular choice is the Florida Everglades Airboat Tour and Wild Florida Admission which offers an unforgettable experience.

19. Zipline and Aerial Adventures

Soar high above the trees and embrace your adventurous side in Central Florida’s zipline and aerial adventure parks. A few options to consider are:

These parks offer thrilling experiences for both beginners and experienced adventurers.

20. Bob’s Balloons

Embark on a magical hot air balloon ride with Bob’s Balloons and admire Central Florida’s breathtaking landscape as you float peacefully above the ground. A sunrise hot air balloon trip is a one-of-a-kind experience you won’t want to miss!

21. Kayaking to Shell Key Preserve

Kayaking to Shell Key Preserve is a popular activity for nature lovers visiting the St. Pete Beach area of Florida. The paddle to Shell Key takes about 30 minutes to an hour, depending on your paddling speed and the weather conditions. Along the way, you’ll pass by mangroves and seagrass beds!

Once you arrive at Shell Key, you can explore the island’s white sandy beaches and clear blue waters. The island is home to a variety of wildlife, including shorebirds, nesting sea turtles, and gopher tortoises.

Shopping and Dining

Downtown Winter Park

22. Park Avenue

Park Avenue is a charming destination for shopping and dining in the heart of Winter Park. The area attracts both tourists and locals with its vibrant atmosphere and diverse selection of shops and restaurants.

The Aerophile Aero30 balloon basket is a custom hand-painted tethered 400 feet helium balloon ride over Disney Springs.

23. Disney Springs

Disney Springs offers a magical shopping and dining experience for the whole family. This outdoor shopping village is located within the Walt Disney World Resort and features:

  • Over 100 shops, including luxury brands and Disney-themed merchandise
  • A variety of dining options, from quick bites to fine dining
  • Live entertainment and events
  • Free parking and transportation to all Disney parks

Disney Springs is an enchanting destination where you can shop, dine, and enjoy the Disney atmosphere.

A crowd of visitors walking towards the entrance of the Universal Orlando Resort theme parks

24. Universal CityWalk

Adjacent to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, Universal CityWalk offers an exciting blend of shopping, dining, and entertainment options:

  • Themed retail stores with a variety of merchandise
  • Casual and fine dining establishments
  • Cinemas, mini-golf, and live shows

Universal CityWalk is an ideal destination for a fun-filled day of shopping and dining amidst the action of Universal’s theme parks.

Best Beaches

Central Florida is home to some amazing beaches that should not be missed. This section will explore three top beach destinations: St. Pete Beach, Cocoa Beach, and Clearwater Beach.

St. Pete Beach

25. St. Pete Beach

St. Pete Beach, located on the Gulf Coast, is well-known for its soft, white sand and warm, calm waters.

This family-friendly beach offers many activities, such as parasailing, paddleboarding, and dolphin-watching tours. Be sure to visit the historic Don CeSar Hotel, with its pink exterior and stunning views.

people relaxing on the beach in Cocoa Beach, Florida
Cocoa Beach

26. Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach is a popular destination on Florida’s East Coast, featuring a picturesque pier perfect for fishing and surfing. Visitors can also enjoy the nearby Ron Jon Surf Shop, the world’s largest surf store.

In addition, Cocoa Beach provides easy access to Kennedy Space Center and other nearby attractions.

Clearwater Beach

27. Clearwater Beach

If crystal-clear waters and powdery white sands are what you seek, look no further than Clearwater Beach.

The area offers plenty of water sports, dining options, and a lively beachfront promenade. In addition, you can visit the nearby Clearwater Marine Aquarium, home to Winter the Dolphin from the movie Dolphin Tale.

Nicole Mickle

Born and raised in Orlando, Nicole is a seasoned real estate agent with over 20 years of experience in the sunny city of Orlando, Florida. Along with her extensive knowledge of the local real estate market, Nicole has a passion for educating others about the Florida lifestyle. Through her blog, Florida Homes and Living, Nicole shares insights on everything from the best neighborhoods to buy a home to the top local attractions and events. Whether you're a longtime resident or a newcomer to the Sunshine State, Nicole is happy to welcome you to Florida.

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