Florida is best known for its amazing theme parks. The sunshine state has Disneyworld, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Busch Gardens and a load of waterparks all within a pretty small radius. The large majority of people that holiday in Florida, especially Brits, are there for the parks.
Anybody who has been there will tell you that walking around Disney day after day is exhausting. You can quickly tire of theme parks if you hit them too hard, and we always recommend a couple of ‘down days’ during your stay. But what are the best things to do in Florida that aren’t a theme park? We are going to spill the beans.
Things To Do in Florida That Aren’t a Theme Park – The List:
Whether you’re a fan of golf or not, Top Golf is a fantastic afternoon or evening out. There is so much more to visiting Top Golf than just your swing, it’s an experience all of its own. Think of it as a really fancy driving range, with digital scoring for the ultimate head-to-head competition with friends and family.
You will be designated your own spot and waiter/waitress, who will take care of you throughout your stay. Drinks and food can be served as you play golf, so it’s the perfect place to let your hair down. Let us tell you, it’s a lot harder than it looks! You will find yourself laughing, and maybe crying a little if you were as bad as we were.
It’s something completely different from the parks and it’s really enjoyable. There is only 1 Top Golf in the UK, so it’s nice to have it in such close proximity to you while staying in Orlando.
Volcano Bay Water Park
Okay, so we’re cheating a little here. We’re recommending that you take a day off the theme parks, and visit a waterpark. It may seem like the same thing, but trust us, it’s entirely different.
The reason we have specified Volcano Bay is because for us, it is the best water park in the whole of Florida. That said, you can also visit any of the other options, including Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach and Aquatica. Regardless of which you choose, the sentiment is the same. A waterpark is like a day at the beach, except there is less sand and more slides.
Even if you don’t fancy a waterslide, a lazy river or a wave pool can go a long way towards relaxing. It’ll be a real treat for your feet after miles of walking during the week, and it’s a great way to get a tan.
Go To The Cinema
We personally love going to the cinema, so this is a no-brainer for us. That said, the reason we’re recommending it here is that a cinema in Florida is very different from a cinema in the UK. Think three times the size, leather seats, recliners and refillable popcorn.
Did we mention reclining seats? The cinema at Pointe Orlando practically provides you with your own sofa and table for your drinks and snacks. It’s also surprisingly affordable, with tickets costing as little as $6 on weekdays, even for the newest movies.
A cinema trip is a great way to unwind after a busy day, and just makes a change from the typical nighttime routine of food and drinks. You won’t have had an experience like it in the UK, that is for sure.
Icon Park is one of the most recognisable parts of the Orlando skyline, as it’s where the Orlando Eye is. The wheel can be spotted from miles away, but there’s much more to the Icon Park that can’t be seen without visiting.
Madame Tussauds and Sealife Orlando are both inside Icon Park and make for a great non-theme park afternoon. If you’re visiting Florida in the summer, it’s also quite a respite from the sun for a few hours. One of the newest features of Icon Park is the Orlando StarFlyer, which isn’t for the faint hearted. If being suspended 450 feet in the air on a white knuckle swing sounds fun, then pay a visit.
There are also 40 restaurants on-site, ranging from quick bites to sit-down steak places. The only drawback is that a lot of these places are expensive. Check out our guide on cheap places to eat on International Drive for more affordable food in the area.
Visiting Clearwater in Tampa is much easier if you have a car, which we always recommend hiring if you can. More on driving in Florida here. If you want a beach day, or a mini-break during your busy stay in Orlando, Clearwater in Tampa is the place to go.
The award-winning beach is picture-perfect, with beautiful white sand and turquoise water. We highly recommend choosing a restaurant near the water and making time to watch the sunset, as it’s one of the best you will ever see. The town of Clearwater is colourful, well-kept and has a slightly 1950s feel to it.
We particularly loved walking along the Clearwater beach with ice cream, so definitely make time for that too,
Fun Things to Do in Florida
This guide has proven that there are many things to do in Florida that aren’t a theme park. It’s important to take breaks from a hectic schedule, so remember to have some downtime. The suggestions in this post are a great place to start, to summarise, they were:
- Top Golf Orlando
- Volcano Bay Water Park
- The Cinema
- Icon Park
- Clearwater, Tampa