If you’re looking for an exciting getaway that offers beautiful beaches, fun attractions, and plenty of opportunities to explore the great outdoors, then Central Florida should be on your travel bucket list!
From sunny days spent playing in the surf to enjoying a delicious dinner at one of the area’s many restaurants, there are so many wonderful ways to enjoy yourself in this vibrant region.
With so much to see and do it can be overwhelming trying to decide what activities you want to experience – but don’t worry! We are here to help with our guide featuring all the top things you could do in Central Florida.
1. Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World, fondly known as the “Happiest Place on Earth”, is a place where fantasy becomes reality. The Magic Kingdom, the first of the four parks, is home to Cinderella’s Castle and six enchanted lands filled with timeless attractions, enchanting fireworks, musical parades, and beloved Disney characters.
This magical destination consists of four main parks: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Epcot, the second park, showcases technology and international cultures. It is divided into two zones: Future World, which features technical innovations and ideas for the tomorrow, and the World Showcase, which exhibits the culture and cuisine of 11 countries.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the third park, offers a cinematic experience with attractions inspired by popular films and shows, and it is home to the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge area.
Lastly, Disney’s Animal Kingdom invites visitors to embark on an adventure in a world teeming with animals real, imaginary, and extinct. This park is known for the Avatar Flight of Passage ride in the Pandora – The World of Avatar area.
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.
Universal Studios, one of the two parks at Universal Orlando Resort, pays homage to the magic of filmmaking with attractions inspired by some of the most beloved movies and TV shows.
The park’s highlights include the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, the Minion Mayhem ride, and the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit roller coaster.
In addition to the parks themselves, Universal Orlando Resort also features an entertainment complex named CityWalk.
CityWalk hosts a variety of dining, shopping, and entertainment options, including the famous Hard Rock Cafe, the Blue Man Group show, and a multi-level golf course.
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.
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.
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.
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, one of Central Florida’s hidden gems, is a prehistoric spring nestled inside a dry cave.
This stunning natural wonder, formed thousands of years ago when a roof of an underground river collapsed, now functions as a popular spot for snorkeling and scuba diving.
As you descend into the cave, the view of crystal-clear water against the backdrop of ancient rock formations is simply breathtaking.
Underwater explorers can enjoy the warmth of the 72-degree water year-round, spotting a variety of fish and marine life during their dive.
On the surface, the den offers amenities like picnic areas, a gift shop, and cabin accommodations.
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.
The centerpiece of the gardens is the “Singing Tower,” named for its 60-bell carillon that plays concerts daily, offering a soothing soundtrack as you explore the lush and picturesque landscape.
The gardens cover 50 acres and are home to a variety of ecosystems. They feature more than 150 bird species, making it a birder’s paradise, and an array of fauna and foliage, providing endless fascination for nature enthusiasts.
The historic Pinewood Estate, a 20-room Mediterranean-style 1930s mansion, is another highlight of the gardens. Visitors can tour the estate and get a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of the early 20th century.
The gardens also host a variety of events throughout the year, including plant sales, concerts, and seasonal festivals, making every visit unique. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or just someone seeking a tranquil escape, Bok Tower Gardens offers a multitude of experiences to make your visit enjoyable and memorable.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.