A Peek at the Fun: If you are planning a vacation to Florida you need to check out these fun things to do in Orlando. Seriously, we had so much fun on our vacation and you will too.
In May we did something kinda crazy and took our kiddos out of school and headed on vacation. Somehow we managed to talk my sister and her family into joining us and let me tell ya, we had a BLAST! We did so many fun things in Orlando I just couldn’t wait to share them with all of you.
If you have any inkling of heading to Orlando, keep reading and I think you’ll be convinced. So many fun things to do and there really is something for everyone.
Fun Things to do in Orlando:
Let’s start with the obvious draw to Orlando…Disney World and Universal Studios. People are definitely flocking to Orlando to visit these fun theme parks, us included. None of us had been to Disney World but since we are Disneyland fans we had to give it a try.
Disney World has lots of the same rides and lands as Disneyland but they are separated into 4 different parks. And because they are separated by a large distance, your best bet is to choose one park a day. We decided we would only hit two of the parks because we wanted to experience more in Orlando than theme parks: Hollywood Studios and Magic Kingdom. It was fun to experience some old classic Disney rides mixed with new ones. We had such fun riding rides and eating our way through both these parks. Here are some of our favorite treats at Disney World.
Ok guys, Universal Studios was thee BEST! And it was hands down one of our favorite things we did in Orlando. My whole group absolutely loved it. We went to Islands of Adventure and left wanting more Universal. If you have teens and adults (like we did) Universal Studios is definitely a must go. I would leave yourself two days for Universal Studios so you can do both parks. There is so much to see and do at there.
Our group loved the new Jurassic World VelociCoaster, hands down everyone’s favorite roller coaster ever! The other ride we all loved and is a must ride is Hagrid’s Magical Creatures. It is a really fun and different ride with unexpected twists. I won’t say more so you can be surprised!
Airboat Rides In Florida-
Have you ever been on an airboat? If not, now is the time. Seriously, such a fun experience and the perfect way to spend some time in Orlando.
My biggest recommendation for having fun in Orlando is to experience more than the theme parks. While they are so much fun, Florida has so many unique things happening. Make sure to leave time to experience some of everything.
We booked our tour through Wild Willy’s Airboat Tours. They were really knowledgable about the wildlife in Florida and worked really hard to find interesting things for us to see. Wild Willy’s is about 45 minutes outside of Orlando. I recommend booking an early tour so you have time to hit the beach after your tour. At that point you are already half way there. We headed to Cocoa Beach which was another 45 minutes from Wild Willy’s.
It wasn’t peak alligator season when we went so they were a little harder to find, but we manage to still spot one. The best time to see alligators is when the temperatures are low because they come to the top. When it’s hot out, they tend to dive deep. We were there in May so the alligators weren’t up top on the water. But we still saw this little guy…and by little I mean this 7 foot fella.
He was gracious enough to sit perfectly still while we chatted about him and took tons of pics. It was really a fun experience. 🙂
When our tour was over we were able to hold this baby alligator. I loved this shot with my cute niece, I think the alligator was even smiling.
Swimming with Manatees-
While we are talking about fun things to do in Orlando, this next activity is a must try! Swimming with Manatees.
Did you know that there is a large population of manatees in Crystal River, Florida? Well, there is and that means that you can swim with manatees year around. We went when the population of manatees was low because they move out of the area for the summer, but there was still plenty of manatees for us to swim with.
Our manatee swim was booked with Explorida and they are amazing. They made sure we found some great places to swim where the manatees were hanging out. It was such a different experience, the manatee are so large so when they come in close it takes your breath away but it’s AMAZING.
Crystal River is about an hour and a half west of Orlando, toward the gulf coast. We booked the first tour (yes, that meant getting up before the sunrise) but it was totally worth it. The earlier the better for clear water. And if you go early, you still have plenty of time for lunch and the beach…which is exactly what we did.
Once you are all suited up, Explorida takes you out on this boat and you head to the manatees. When manatees are spotted everyone jumps in the water and starts to snorkel near the manatee. They are very friendly, curious animals and often swam near us. It was so different and exciting.
Fun Places to Eat in Orlando-
I’m not sure if this is just me but I really love finding fun new places to eat while I’m on vacations. One of the best tips to finding great places to eat is asking the locals. That’s how we found this gem…The Crab Plant.
The Crab Plant-
This restaurant is located just around the corner from Explorida in Crystal River and it was the lovely people at Explorida that recommended this place and it was delicious.
First of all, let’s talk about the location. Does it get any more perfect? We chose to eat outside right on the water and it was literally perfection. And the food is absolutely amazing. When a group of 11 are all happy with their meals, I think that means we found a winner of a restaurant.
When you are in Florida I think it might be mandatory to eat some fried alligator? 😉 So we gave it a try and agreed, it tastes like chewy chicken. We also tried fried frog legs, which was a first for all of us.
We ordered a variety of food from seafood to Philly cheesesteak sandwiches and they were all delicious.
Bubba Gump Shrimp Company-
Located at Universal Studio’s Citywalk, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company has something for everyone. We went to Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. during our Universal Studio day. It was amazing to have a yummy and relaxing meal in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the theme park.
Not only was the food amazing at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company but the service was out of this world fantastic. Our server kept giving us Forrest Gump trivia questions…which we got correct almost every time. 🙂
I ordered shrimp (because is there anything else to order at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company) and it was simple divine. But if you aren’t a seafood lover no biggie, there are lots of other options.
My son ordered this drink and it came in this cool cup that lit up and we got to keep it. Such a fun take away.
The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen-
While you are visiting Universal’s Citywalk you may want to stop by the Chocolate Emporium for a sweet treat. They have anything you might be craving…plus some.
We thought these truffles were so beautiful. And guess what? They tasted as good as they look, maybe even better. We also tried several flavors of fudge but we ate that too fast to take a good picture.
Another fun place to eat in Orlando is Gator’s Dockside. This came as a recommendation from our friends at Wild Willy’s Airboat Tours. Gator’s Dockside is a chain restaurant so you can find them in many locations. What I liked about this restaurant is the large menu with a wide variety of food options. Again, our group of 11 found something perfect. Definitely a good option for all ages and all group sizes.
Best Beaches Near Orlando-
We can’t talk about fun in Orlando without talking about beaches! Orlando is located in the middle of Florida which makes it perfect to hit both coasts which is what we did. Both coasts offer something totally different. On the Atlantic coast we visited Cocoa Beach. Cocoa beach offered bigger waves which the teens (and adults) loved. We all played in the water and had a blast. On the Gulf of Mexico coast we went to Clear Water Beach. Clear Water Beach is everything a beach should be…warm, soft white sand and amazing water. It was really a beautiful beach. The waves were smaller, but I thought it was perfection. If you are heading to Clear Water Beach allow plenty of driving time. There is only one way in and out and traffic gets quite backed up, but we thought it was totally worth it.
We had such a fun vacation and found lots of fun things to do in Orlando. We can’t wait to go back.
Have Fun on your visit to Orlando!
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