Top 10 Tourist Attractions Near Orlando, Florida

The city of Orlando is one of the world’s most remarkable tourist destinations, attracting millions of visitors from around the globe each year. What are its main attractions? Well, nearly perfect weather year-round, with mild winters, and this bustling city boasts some of Florida’s top tourist attractions: Walt Disney World Resort, SeaWorld Orlando, and Universal Resort.

The establishment of these mega amusement parks has encouraged numerous investors in the travel and leisure sector, and today there are countless hotels, motels, and resorts in the Orlando and Kissimmee areas. These, combined with thousands of restaurants, dozens of golf courses, and many other attractions and activities in Orlando, prove that Walt Disney was right when he took a chance on this city in 1971.

While many people consider Orlando primarily a family destination with activities mainly targeted at children, adults will also find plenty of entertainment here. Attractions like the Harry P. Leu Gardens provide a beautiful escape, and the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral is easily accessible from the city.

Whatever you plan to do during your stay, don’t forget to discover the best things in the area with a list of Orlando, Florida’s top attractions.


On This Page:

  • 1. Day Trip to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
  • 2. SeaWorld Orlando
  • 3. Lake Eola Park
  • 4. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach Water Parks
  • 5. Walt Disney World Parks
  • 6. Gatorland
  • 7. Universal Theme Parks
  • 8. Discovery Cove
  • 9. Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park
  • 10. Disney Springs

1. Day Trip to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex


Day Trip to Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex  | Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

A little over an hour’s drive away, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex from Orlando ranks among the most popular day trips. Here, there’s an unparalleled opportunity to see NASA’s top operational centers.

Visiting here provides a unique opportunity to witness those famous NASA operations. Among the most well-known operational centers of NASA included are those whose lifework and careers shaped the history of space exploration as the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. It also encompasses the Hall of Fame Off Fame, where you can see NASA’s most famous flight rockets, such as the Apollo and Gemini programs.

A main highlight is the main Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibition. Standing beside this iconic vehicle and witnessing the scars of flight and re-entry is an incredible experience. Over 60 exhibits typically provide information about the Space Shuttle and the program.

Other exhibits include lunar exploration, the Sound Suppression Room, Shuttle Launch Experience, and an IMAX theater. If you time your visit correctly, you can even catch a launch viewing from the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.


2. SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld Orlando | Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

SeaWorld Orlando is particularly famous for its marine life, dolphin and sea lion shows, Touch Pool, and many thrilling rides. For those who prefer not just to watch dolphins but to interact with these beautiful, intelligent creatures, you can still reach out and touch at the Interactive Dolphin Cove Pool. Dolphin encounters are also fun where you can spend time with a trainer actively engaging with the animals for their care.

Those who want a more hands-on experience can sign up for an interview tour with dolphins, killer whales, sea lions, penguins, or manatees. Other special tours include behind-the-scenes operations at SeaWorld and tours of the Manatee Rehabilitation Center or the Dolphin Nursery, where newborn dolphins at the park receive care.

Alongside the vast expanse of marine life, the park offers a plethora of rides suitable for all, providing much-needed refreshment on hot Florida days. Among the park’s most popular thrills are its roller coasters, such as the Mako Hyper Coaster, Manta Coaster, and Kraken Virtual Reality Coaster.

If you happen to find yourself in the park on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday evening, you’ll be treated to a daring fire show. Special fire shows are also featured on holidays, including July 4th.


3. Lake Eola Park


Lake Eola Park | Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash


Located in the heart of downtown Orlando, Lake Eola Park is a must-visit destination for those looking to see something unique outside the theme parks of this vibrant city. Established as a public park before it was transformed into a picturesque landscape in 1888, it’s a remarkably large green space where plenty of fun activities take place.

One highly anticipated part of the park’s attractions is the nearly mile-long circular path around the lake, perfect for cycling. Here, families can enjoy rides on swan-shaped paddle boats, admire the resident swans, and catch regular music performances at the Walt Disney Amphitheater. Bring a picnic, or dine from one of the surrounding eateries and enjoy a nice lunch outdoors.

Author’s Tip: Getting to Lake Eola Park from the water parks often involves taking the costly Interstate 4. It’s the only direct route to the southern theme parks of Orlando and cuts right through the city. If time allows and you have key events to attend, such as dinner at the Amway Center or visiting the Orlando Farmers Market, which runs every Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm, plan accordingly and allow for plenty of extra time if needed!


4. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach Water Parks


Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon & Blizzard Beach Water Parks | Photo by Leo Rivas on Unsplash


Typhoon Lagoon is Disney’s largest and most popular water park. Inside, you’ll find attractions for all ages, such as kiddie rides and specially designed areas for children, like Ketchakiddie Creek. Surfers will love the massive wave pool, and those looking to try their hand at surfing can sign up for lessons. Other attractions include lazy river excursions, the Miss Adventure Falls white water adventure, and thrilling rides for thrill-seeking couples like Humunga Kowabunga. Additionally, there are slides on the site shaded for different age groups. There’s even a sandy beach area where kids can play while parents relax.

Author’s Tip: If you have some budget left over from your water park visit, consider elevating your Disney experience with a beach hat rental. This family-sized feature includes shaded seating, a fan, unlimited water, and a cooler, along with attendant service. It’s even better when combined with a special offer that grants a limited number of park guests complete access for an extra three hours. Sure, these extras are a bit pricey, but they definitely enhance the enjoyment.


5. Walt Disney World Parks


Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is the most popular family attraction and has been since it opened its doors to the public in 1971 with Magic Kingdom. Since then, known primarily as Disney World, it has seen tremendous growth. It includes four theme parks, two water parks, a shopping and entertainment zone, a sports complex, an extensive boardwalk, and many Disney-owned accommodation options.

Among its four parks, Magic Kingdom is the most iconic, with Cinderella’s Castle standing at the center of the park. If you haven’t been to Magic Kingdom in a few years, then you may want to prioritize it during your stay in the city. Many new rides, both anticipated and upgraded for larger crowds, have been added, such as the Tron Lightcycle / Run, one of the fastest roller coasters in the world.


6. Gatorland


Gatorland | Photo by Jairo Gonzalez on Unsplash 


Inaugurated in 1949, Gatorland welcomes visitors with its famous entrance gate, where thousands of alligators, crocodiles, and other reptiles can be seen. Some daily performances and shows, such as “Alligator Jumparoo” and “Gator Wrestling,” engage visitors. In this setting, extraordinary albino alligators reside.

A small train circles the grounds, offering views of the marshland and surroundings from an observation tower. A more recent addition to Gatorland is the two ziplines: the Screamin’ Gator and the Gator Gauntlet. These two routes run over the alligator and crocodile habitats.


7. Universal Theme Parks


Formed by three distinct parks, the Universal Orlando Resort has emerged in recent years as a formidable competitor to Disney’s theme park empire, bolstered by its offerings in gameplay. Each park has seen the addition of new rides and attractions – Universal Studios Florida, Islands of Adventure, and Volcano Bay – ensuring that visitors have ample options. Now, you can explore Universal’s rich world of characters just as easily as you can Disney’s, with as much time spent as you like.

Universal Studios Florida is the original and serves as a working studio designed under the guidance of Steven Spielberg to provide a behind-the-scenes experience for selected audiences. While it’s popular with all age groups, its numerous blockbuster roller coasters and thrilling rides undoubtedly cement its status as the top destination for your teen kids to enjoy in Florida.

Universal’s Islands of Adventure features eight uniquely themed zones, each established around a different film franchise. These include Seuss Landing, The Lost Continent, Toon Lagoon, Jurassic Park, Skull Island: Reign of Kong, and Marvel Super Hero Island.


8. Discovery Cove


Located near SeaWorld Orlando, the Discovery Cove area stands out as one of the main attractions. Visitors to the park can immerse themselves in an interactive environment with marine life, such as snorkeling with a coral reef, exploring the depths of the ocean with a full dive helmet, floating amid stingrays, and interacting with dolphins.

The park boasts a large aviary where you can engage with amazing birds, and there’s a serene lazy river where you can relax and snorkel. Additionally, there’s a warm-water swimming area where you can splash in the pool or lounge in a beach chair on the sandy shore.

All of these activities are included or available as one-day passes. Due to Discovery Cove’s immense popularity, booking advanced reservations is best to secure accommodations during peak seasons.


9. Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Theme Park


Opened with great fanfare in 2017, Volcano Bay water theme park stands as Universal’s newest attraction, taking the place of the former Wet ‘n Wild. Like other areas of the theme park, it offers plenty of options for those truly seeking immersive experiences.

Located centrally in the park, Krakatau stands tall and houses the popular Krakatau Aqua Coaster thrill ride. Positioned in front of Waturi Beach, where guests can unwind by the extra-large wave pool and mingle with spectators. Here, guests can make use of provided lounge chairs, upgrade to padded loungers, or even rent a cabana.

The attraction-packed park features thrilling slides, tubing, and thrill rides. Additionally, secluded areas offer other attractions, such as the Lazy River.

With additional amenities, the park offers a TapuTapu wearable device allowing guests to virtually wait in line for one ride at a time, freeing them to bask in the sun’s warmth rather than standing in queues. The device is provided free of charge and given to each guest upon entry.

You can download the app before your visit and if you choose, input your credit card information for TapuTapu purchases.

10. Disney Springs


Disney Springs offers a completely reimagined and revitalized experience, taking the place of Downtown Disney prior to its major rebrand and facelift. Among the best free things to do in Orlando, it can easily become a recurring destination apart from the theme park extravagance. Why? Ensuring this exceptionally designed entertainment, dining, and shopping district caters to all without breaking the bank, inspiring exploration without the pressure of spending at Batuu or Main Street.

For shopping, the Town Center area provides a striking fashion store akin to a grand fashion emporium, featuring plenty of local tech-infused human-centric selections, like Anthropologie, Coach, and Johnson & Murphy. Overall, there are over 103 locations to roam and spend.

Bringing the kids along? Then you’ll be assuredly drawn to the plethora of Disney-specific shopping destinations here. Additionally, a vast LEGO store, Build-A-Dino, and naturally petite princess outlet make Disney Springs practically impossible to leave empty-handed.

But there’s more to it than just shopping and dining. Disney Springs boasts a staggering 64 dining options and a diverse array of 25 other attractions, such as the unbelievable Vintage Amphicar Sear Circle, which has a permanent residence here. So, rest assured, you can have an incredible time without spending a dime.