The Sunshine State could well be home to more theme parks than any other destination in the world. But there’s lots more to Orlando than Universal Studios Florida, Walt Disney World or the Wizarding World of Harry Porter.
Swim with dolphins
On your holiday in Orlando you will be able to experience wildlife aplenty at Discovery Cove; here you can get up close and personal with dolphins and see thousands of tropical fish when you snorkel at Coral Reef.
If you are feeling adventurous, you may want to brave a rope bridge over a shark-filled lagoon or take an underwater walk on the bottom of the sea or visit and interact with over 250 tropical birds at the free-flight aviary.
Explore fine art at one of the Sunshine State’s three art galleries
First of the triumvirate, the Orlando Museum of Art has collections that include local, regional, national and international works of art and contemporary graphics.
Mennello Museum of American Art by contrast focuses exclusively on American paintings and sculpture old and new. It stages exhibitions, while its own collection includes the largest collection of work by the 20th century American folk artist Earl Cunningham.
Orlando’s other major art gallery is the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, which houses more than 5,000 objects dating from antiquity to the present day. It includes over 5,000 paintings from the 14th to the 21st century, from artists such as Pablo Picasso, David Hockney, Francis Bacon and Andy Warhol, as well as prints, drawings and photographs.
Take in a show
If you’re looking to take in a theatre or show whilst on holiday in Orlando you will have an abundance from which to choose. Catch The Blue Man Group and their blend of art, music and technology at Sharp Aquos Theatre, the group’s home since 2007.
You can catch a glimpse of drama at Mad Cow Theatre, home to one of Orlando’s most-respected professional theatre companies, which presents a mixture of classic and contemporary drama and musicals.
See a show at the Bob Carr Theater, a major performing arts venue which is home to Orlando Opera and Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. It also stages a wide range of other events including Broadway shows, jazz, comedy, music and dance.
See some sports
You may want to experience American football at Bright House Networks Stadium known as The Bouncehouse. Boasting a capacity of 48,453, the stadium is the home of the University College of Florida Knights football team.
Head to indoor Amway Arena, which is the home of the Orlando Solar Bears ice hockey team as well as the Orlando Predators, a professional indoor American football side. The Amway also stages other sporting events such as basketball, wrestling and ice skating.
Gets hands-on at Orlando Science Centre
From sports to science, Orlando Science Centre has been aiming to inspire curiosity and a spirit of exploration in audiences young and old since it opened its doors 60 years ago. It has four floors of interactive exhibits and a changing programme of events like the Annual Neanderthal Ball, Cosmic Golf Challenge and Science Night Live.
Visit Crosby Observatory, home to one of the world’s largest refractor telescopes; Dr Phillips CineDome hosts planetarium shows and giant screen films and the Digital Adventure Theater has live performances, science demonstrations and 2D and 3D digital presentations.
Get out into the natural world
Wander the Arboretum of the University of Central Florida. Covering 80 acres, it has over 600 species of plants. It includes an oak ‘hammock’, over 100 bromeliads, Florida scrub, a Cypress dome and many more indigenous species besides. There are also wetland areas and there are three miles of walking and biking trails, picnic tables and a disc golf course.
Or you may want to head to Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando, which offers a pleasant environment at the heart of the city in which to unwind.
Take a ride on a paddle boat on Lake Eola and watch the choreographed water display complete with light and music when evening comes. Feed the swans, grab a bite to eat or catch a show or a concert at Walt Disney Amphitheater.