Top 10 things to do in Orlando


Amy Rosoman

Title photography by Sunshine / Alamy Stock Photo

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March 2018

Visit Orlando – a hub bursting with ultimate experiences for thrill-seekers and Disney-loving Instagrammers. Ride rocketing rollercoasters, slide around at water parks and discover utterly epic theme parks. Visit the Kennedy Space Centre, get lost in Orlando’s premium outlet malls, or glide across the Everglades.

Make a visit to the Kennedy Space Centre

Venture to Cape Canaveral for ‘out of this world’ discoveries. Experience the exciting Mission Zones at this space centre, from the beginning of space exploration, to current missions. Free your inner quest seeker. Learn about the space station, or take part in an astronaut training experience. See the ingenuity behind space rockets, engage with the greatness of the Apollo era and re-live missions to the moon. You can also find out more about the future of NASA.

Top tip:

Time your visit to catch a live launch and witness this spectacle of power from the main visitor complex. To be up close to the action, buy tickets to view from the LC-39 Observatory Gantry.

Discover Orlando

For a more leisurely experience, rent a kayak for up to three people, or try stand-up paddle boarding in this tropical oasis.

A trip to Universal Orlando Resort

Make a visit to Universal’s three epic parks. Wander along Diagon Alley™ at Universal Studios™ and discover spellbinding moments in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™. Feel the exhilaration of Universal’s Islands of Adventures™. Come face-to-face with dinosaurs on the Jurassic Park River Adventure™ and soar through the skies on rollercoasters or take a 3D journey with a superhero on The Amazing Adventures of Spider-man®. To cool off, dive in at Universal’s Volcano Bay™, a tropical oasis filled with beaches, waterslides and rubber ring rides.

Top tip:

Check the closing times of each park for your visit, as these often vary. This means that you can have extra time in your favourite park or visit another on the same day, depending on your ticket.

  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, Universal Studios Florida. ©Universal Studios Florida.

    Butter beer, magic shops and nifty tricks

    Find yourself amidst the mix of wands, wizard hats and the magic of all things Harry Potter.£593 pp

    Plan your trip

See the best of Walt Disney World®

Discover the wonders of Disney in Orlando. Gaze up at Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom and watch your favourite characters party in parades. Take a walk on the wild side at Disney’s Animal Kingdom — then see The World of Avatar or jump on Expedition Everest. Come evening, settle in for the dazzling River of Lights show. Get ready for the action at Disney's Hollywood Studios or head to Epcot for a cosmos of fun. Cool off with a day out at Disney's Blizzard Beach or kick back at Disney's Typhoon Lagoon.

Top tip:

To stay ahead of the game, download the Walt Disney World® app. Check waiting times, see where you are on the map and find character meet-and-greets.

Make a splash at Aquatica

Tipped as one of Orlando’s best water parks, SeaWorld’s Aquatica is a must-visit. Pump up your adrenaline, with a freefall on Ihu’s Breakaway Falls slide. Grab a rubber ring and slide side-to-side on Omaka Rocka, or take the family on Walhalla Wave for a thrilling water maze ride. Take the children to Walkabout Waters or Kata's Kookaburra Cove® for a miniature world of water park fun. Ride through Roa’s Rapids river, hit Cutback Cove’s wave pool, then relax as you drift along Loggerhead Lane’s lazy river.

Top tip:

Enjoy more time on the slides when you buy a Quick Queue pass, which provides unlimited front-of-the-line access to some of Aquatica’s most popular rides.

  • Aquatica Orlando Omaka Rocka. ©2018 SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, Inc.

    How fast can you slide?

    Race against the clock down thrilling drops and curvy corners.£37 pppn

    Stay at Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort
  • The Florida Mall, A Simon Mall. ©Simon Property Group.

    Shop, eat, repeat

    Spend your dollar bills on a shopping trip of a lifetime.£354 return

    Find our cheapest flights
  • Rocket Garden at the NASA Space Centre, Cape Canaveral. ©Findlay / Alamy Stock Photo.

    Calling all aspiring astronauts

    Make space engineering discoveries and learn about our world beyond the sky.£661 pp

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Get in touch with nature at Discovery Cove

Soak up a captivating landscape, with colourful reefs, cascading waterfalls and luscious lagoons. Experience unforgettable moments, when you swim with bottlenose dolphins, get up close to playful otters and feed exotic birds. Meet the creatures in the Freshwater Oasis, then check out the tropical fish and sting rays as you snorkel through The Grand Reef. Unwind on sandy beaches and meet the gentle sloths that live here. To see curious caves, flourishing rainforests and more wildlife wonders, float along the Wind-Away River.

Top tip:

Feed the chirpy birds early in the day, when they’ll be more likely to eat from your hands and perch on your shoulder. Later on, they may be too full from feasting with other visitors.

Orlando shopping malls – A shopaholics dream

Shop to your heart’s content in Orlando’s premium outlets. From Macy’s to Michael Kors at the Florida Mall, or the mixture of designer boutiques and outlet malls along the way of International Drive, you’ll want to explore it all. For something extra special, treat yourself to a piece of Prada. Otherwise, stroll through The Mall at Millenia for a little window shopping that won’t break the bank. Just be sure to save space in your bag for the journey home.

Top tip:

Check the currency exchange rate before you head to Orlando, so you pick the best prices and save a buck on your shopping spree.

Book a stay

  • Everglades National Park, Florida. ©Ryan McVay.

    Swamps, wildlife and adventure

    Catch a ride to the Everglades, for close encounters to alligators.£1478 pp

    Plan your trip

Take an airboat tour along the Everglades

Explore the gateway to the Everglades from Orlando. Hop aboard an airboat excursion to see the wilderness of Florida’s wetlands and marshes. Keep your eyes peeled for alligators, as you glide around the creeks surrounded by swamp creatures and towering trees. Make the most of a safari on the headway of the Everglades and with your airboat captain’s commentary, catch the best wildlife spots. From eagles in the skies, to turtles in the waters – experience an outdoor adventure like no other.

Top tip:

Have your camera out at the ready, because you never know when you might see something spectacular.

Swing for a hole in one at golfing greens

What a putt of luck. Florida is a hot spot for hitting the range and Orlando is no exception to the stunning golf scene. Head to the beautiful Waldorf Astoria Club or the mesmerising Shingle Creek Golf Club. Savour endless views of rolling greens, glistening lakes and golden sand pits. These courses scream Florida. What better way to play your favourite sport than in glorious sun, followed by a bite of club house lunch? Just be sure to watch out for the odd croc.

Top tip:

If it’s a hot day, you’ll be better off using a golf buggy to get around the course. Remember to stay hydrated and hit the club house for refreshments too.

Play at Buena Vista water sports

Skim across the shimmering waters of Lake Bryan. Hire a jet-ski and whizz around, and take advantage of a free lesson, if you haven’t used a jet-ski before. Sail away from the shore for exhilarating wake-boarding, water-skiing and tubing experiences with an instructor. For a more leisurely experience, rent a kayak for up to three people, or try stand-up paddle boarding in this tropical oasis. Newbies can also participate in a free paddle boarding lesson before setting off around the lake.

Top tip:

When you rent water sports equipment here, you can enjoy complimentary beach access, including the beach volleyball set-up. Make the most of a day here and bring a cool-box with lunch.

Sumptuous spa treatments in Orlando

Put aside the jam-packed agenda, take time to whirlpool the days away with a spa break. Surprisingly, you’ll be spoilt for choice of spas across the city. Just breathe, as you recline with cucumber on your eyelids, after browsing through the variety of sublime treatments. Discover the tranquillity in The Waldorf Astoria Orlando Spa or visit Orlando’s Woodhouse Day Spa for a truly unique spa experience. These award-winning spas provide ultimate serenity for a full day of bliss.

Top tip:

Make a booking for the ultimate spa day at the start and end of your break away, to feel revitalised from head to toe.

Where to stay

Rosen Inn at Pointe

Choose a great retreat on the famous International Drive, with all-you-can-eat buffet options and a choice of three pools to swim in after days packed with adventure.

Book a stay at the Rosen Inn at Pointe

Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Kick back in this great value retro-themed resort, close to all the Universal parks, with its very own water park.

Book a stay at Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Wyndham Orlando Resort International Drive

Take a four star break, with palm shaded pools and a stylish bar for signature cocktails – enjoy this sanctuary in the heart of International Drive.

Book a stay at the Wyndham Orlando