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Orlando Eye observation deck - ICON Orlando - orlando florida - explorethe6.com
Orlando, Florida,  Travel

Things To Do In Orlando Florida – Summer Road Trip Chronicles Part 1

I’m a self-proclaimed road trip queen. If there was an award for planning the best road trip I’d probably win every. single. year. I thank my parents for instilling this amazing skill set in me. As a kid, my mom and dad didn’t have the money to fly four kids around on action-packed summer family vacations. While other kids, were jetting off to exciting destinations, I was jumping into our Oldsmobile and Chrysler along with my siblings heading out on road trips to places like Crystal Beach, Niagara Falls and New York, New York.

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Looking back, I’m so happy that this is how we did family vacations. One would think that jamming four kids into a car for 8-12 hours+ would annoy everyone to the point of threatening to jump out of a moving vehicle! However, we all managed to have a great time, and this is before smartphones and i-pods existed! Goodness, I’m old. Yet, I’m still technically considered a Millennial. How is this even possible? I digress!

Luckily, the man also loves a good road trip and we hit the open road a few times every year.  In a few weeks, we’re heading back to Orlando, Florida with a 12-year old boy in tow who only cares about Fortnite and Roblox. Lord help us. All jokes aside, I’m pumped for this road trip. I personally think that there’s a ton of things to do in Orlando Florida for adults, but having kids around really forces you to step outside of your comfort zone (i.e. lounging by the pool all day) and explore new places.

When you think about things to do in Orlando, Florida theme parks are usually top-of-mind. After all, they don’t call Orlando the theme-park capital of the world for nothing! Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld are amazing, must-see destinations, but what else is there to do once you’re all theme-parked out and nearly broke? LOL

This is a key part of planning a successful road trip vacation. Don’t just focus on the actual drive to and from your destination. Of course, you’re going to need to pack snacks, wet wipes, a garbage bag to stash your trash in the car, etc. All of those things are essential, but take your road trip planning a step further and think about some of the key places and attractions that you’ll be driving too while you’re on your trip! I’m all for last minute plans because hey,  live your best life. But when you’re going to Orlando pre-planning  a drive to at least 2-3 attractions will save you a lot of grief later on! Plus it will help you to maximize your gas tank (have you seen gas prices lately?!).

During this trip, I know for sure that we’ll be visiting at least one of the big theme parks because they’re all fabulous. But, our real goal is to see some of the other attractions that offer up travel experiences that go beyond the obvious.

Our top 2 non-theme park things to do in Orlando during this trip are: 

Kennedy Space Center Day Trip:

Travel time from Orlando: Approx. 45-minutes

Every time I go to Orlando I say that I’m going to visit the renowned Kennedy Space Center that’s located a short distance from Orlando in Cape Canaveral. Some how I always run out of time, but it’s definitely on my list of places to go for a day trip in Orlando this year. I’ve heard nothing but awesome things about this NASA facility where people literally spend hours exploring launchpads, rocket exhibits, participating in Shuttle Launch experiences and much more! To get the most of out of this attraction we’ll need to plan to stay for a day so I look forward to also finding some great local restaurants to grab a bite to eat.

Kennedy Space Center Orlando - explorethe6.comkennedy space center orlando - explorethe6.com

ICON Orlando (formerly known as The Coca-Cola Orlando Eye:

Even though I’m afraid of heights, I love taking in awe-inspiring views! Billed as the tallest observational wheel on the U.S. east coast, ICON Orlando is known to deliver some of the most breathtaking views of Orlando. At 400 feet up, and weighing 3 million pounds this observation deck has been in my sights for awhile now so it’s about time I cross this attraction off my list! It’s not as though I’ve never been up super high before. But there’s something about the ferris wheel design that freaks me out. I. will. overcome! The ICON Orlando features color changing LED lights, Air Conditioned capsules (thank goodness), iPads for interactive viewing and a Bose audio system. Fun fact: Each capsule weighs 6,600 pounds!

ICON Orlando is conveniently located on International Drive. The up and coming I-Drive 360 entertainment complex is also home to a bunch of other cool  attractions such as Madame Tussauds Orlando, the Sugar Factory and several restaurants which gives you a lot of things to do in Orlando downtown. It also gives us a chance to park the car for awhile and get into a whole bunch of fun all in one location!

Orlando Eye observation deck - orlando florida - explorethe6.com

We’re also considering adding one or more of these attractions:

Food is definitely another thing that’s on my road trip planning to-do list. We’ll have access to a fully stocked kitchen so I’ll be able to run to Walmart or Publix to grab some groceries so that we can cook a few meals. But I’m still on hunt for a few Orlando area restaurants that are a must try!

As you can see, I’m all about not over-planning this road trip itinerary so that we can actually enjoy our trip. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re on the clock while you’re on vacation. Pre-planning doesn’t have to equal feeling pressured to follow a strict schedule in my book!

Have you been to Orlando, Florida lately? Do you have any recommendations on any sights or attractions we should check out during our visit other than the big theme-parks? 

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93 Comments

  • Noelle

    OMG my Dad would love to check out the Coco Cola “eye” super super cool list! Need to get back to Orlando and really check it out, I haven’t been in AGES!

  • jumpseatjenny

    I’m totally with you on the roadie planning! I absolutely LOVE finding strange and fun roadside attractions to break up the driving. (Plus you really can’t beat road trip snacks!) I personally enjoy Disney Springs in Orlando – you don’t have to pay to get in but can still enjoy themed shops and restaurants. Is a little dose of Disney on a budget!

  • Haley

    The Kennedy Space Center is so much fun! I remember going there when I was little every time we would drive to florida.

  • Kristen

    I love Orlando! I’m totally a Disney girl and spend most of my time there, but I have been wanting to take a daytrip to the Kennedy Space Center!

  • Ana Vukosavljevic

    I love road tripping with my family and friends!! I’ve never been to Orlando, but I’m really hoping I will go soon. I didn’t know there are so many attractions!

    • Explorethe6

      Do it girl! There’s so much to do in Orlando and Florida in general. If it’s your first time definitely give yourself a minimum of one week to see a few attractions.

  • Alison Rost

    There really is so much that you can do in Florida especially during the summer, which makes it an awesome destination for families! I’d love to go to Orlando!

  • Karlyn Cruz

    Ah! We were just talking about Orlando! Thank you for this list of places to go! I had no idea there was so much more going on besides Disney! Fantastic!

    • Explorethe6

      Whoo hoo! Glad to have inspired you to think a bit outside of the Disney box! Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE Disney…but there’s so much more to see in Orlando 🙂

    • Explorethe6

      There’s so many attractions in Orlando that’s what makes it great! Kennedy Space Center has so much for both adults and kids! Wonderworks also has some neat science exhibits your kids would likely enjoy.

  • twinspirational

    We haven’t been to Orlando in a while, but our niece and nephew want us to plan a trip there with them. They are very excited to visit.

  • Tonya Michelle

    The last time I was in Orlando I was a teenager! Looks like this would be a great trip as an adult too.

    • Explorethe6

      Honestly, Orlando is a fun trip as an adult too. The man and I have gone several times on our own and had a great time because there’s so much to do!

  • thatssodarling

    Orlando seems like it would be such a fun trip! I will have to remember this post whenever I travel there!

  • NEedda

    I would love to visit there one day, it looks such an incredible place! I need to gather some money now to hit the Orlando… Gathered all tips and things to do in Orlando

  • Nati

    Your guide is amazing! You made me laugh with your intro, because I am also a child of a roadtrip-family (I guess in large territorial countries like mine or yours roadtrips re more popular!) however, I don’t even have a driving license, lol. But I’ll go on every roadtrip anyone would take me 😉

  • Kristy B

    We drove through Orlando in February ‘18 on our way home from LEGOLAND. We stopped at Blue Springs State Park to see the manatees and that was pretty awesome. I think it’s about an hour away from Orlando.

  • thefashionableaccountant

    I live in Orlando!!! Great spots you picked, I love the Orlando Eye! The theme parks are a definite must if you are visiting!!

  • Ithfifi

    Orlando sounds amazing, I’ve never been anywhere in America but its so high on my list of destinations. I am sure your boy will forget all about Fornite while he’s away! Thinking about childhood trips without technology make me feel lucky!

    • Explorethe6

      Right! Trips without gadgets were the best. Although I’m totally guilty of needing Netflix no matter where I am b/c there’s always at least 1 rain day 😂

  • Esme Sy

    This is a nice post worthy of saving for my future Florida visit/s. I really can’t recommend any other place other than the famous aquariums and landmarks but I guess that might be a good thing for someone interested in visiting Orlando.

    • Explorethe6

      All recos are helpful! There’s some great eco- friendly attractions in Orlando as well so I’m sure seeing some nature and animals will be on the agenda

  • Team Uy

    What a wonderful itinerary and so many kid-friendly places to visit in Orlando. I can’t wait to see America and definitely I will put Orlando in my bucketlist. My daughter will love to visit Orlando Eye and Kennedy Space Center.

    • Explorethe6

      That’s what’s so great about Orlando – there’s something for everyone to do! I’ve done adult only trips and trips with kids and all have been enjoyable 😀

  • Melanie Poulos Walsh

    I may give you a run for your money on the title of road trip queen. I love them too! I tend to have as many random roadside stops like OstrichLand and guaranteed hits. These sound like great places to check out in Orlando, especially for astronauts-in-training.

    • Explorethe6

      Ya know, I feel like sometimes visitors forget that there’s more to Orlando than the theme-park areas. I’m guilty of this myself. That’s why I’m determined to hit the road and explore a bit further this time around 🙂

  • dgutkowski

    I’ve never driven down to Orlando before, only flown, but I had no idea there were so many things to do! This post is inspiring me to take a road trip!

  • familytalksweekly

    I’ve lived in FL my entire life and Orlando has a main trip that has SO much to do like the things you mentioned. Ripleys believe it or not and the pirate ship mini golf place is my favs. But you are right, you can def do Orlando on a cheaper budget than Disney 🙂

    • Explorethe6

      I’ve been to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not once and had a blast! I’m seriously considering adding it to our list because the kid hasn’t been before.

  • Krysti Jaims

    These are all such great ideas! I spent 4 nights in Orlando recently and my favourite was definitely Universal Studios, so fun.

    • Explorethe6

      Universal Studios is soooo much fun! Have you ever been to their Halloween Haunt event? If not, you’ve gotta go one year. It was scary as heck but super fun!

  • Stephanie

    I lived in Orlando for 7 years, I went to college at UCF and met my husband there. We hardly ever went to the big parks, they were so crowded and too expensive. There are soooo many other things to do in the area. We would go over to Cocoa Beach or explore downtown Winter Park which is gorgeous. Or go to the Lake Eola Farmer’s Market. Oh, and there’s Crane’s Roost park behind the Altamonte Mall.

    • Explorethe6

      Yes to all your recos- thanks! Cocoa Beach is lovely. I’ve been before and had a great day there. I’m a beach bun so it’s always nice to get away from the pool and relax on the beach a bit!

  • Gladys S Parker (@momtograndma)

    I would automatically say the big theme parks because you are taking a twelve year old but, since you want non theme park I can only say the beaches as I haven’t been there in way to many years. I do hope you find a couple things though and have a great vacation. I’m sure with all those theme parks there are many more smaller sights .

    • Explorethe6

      Absolutely! We’ll definitely be doing at least one big theme park. But we’ve all been to Orlando several times so that’s why we’re looking to expand our horizons a bit more this time around 😉

    • Explorethe6

      You’re not alone! I’m discovering so many people haven’t been to Orlando. Good news is there’s never a bad time to go so maybe our trip will inspire you to visit one day 🙂

  • Rachelle Willgren

    Oh, it’s been so long since I visited Orlando. I don’t remember much about our trip either. I know we went to Sea World and the other theme parks (Bush Gardens, maybe?). We also had family nearby so we saw them as well.

    I can’t believe I’ve never been to the space center! I’d love to take my boys there when they’re a little older since we’re all pretty much space- obsessed.

    Thanks for the ideas.

    Mama | http://www.mamawritesreviews.com

  • Elizabeth O

    Its really handy to have this excellent guide for things to do in Orlando that are not Disney related. I am sure this will help so many people out.

  • Megan

    I haven’t been to Orlando, but I’d love to go sometime! I’ve seen lots of other parts of Florida and lived there for a little bit, but surprisingly never Orlando 🙂

  • kumamonjeng

    This is good post for me as I am planning to have a similar road trip soon. I have done a road trip on the west coast so hope to do one in East coast too. I will certainly do a visit to Kennedy Space Center, we don’t have such thing back home.

  • Geraline Batarra

    I never been in this place but I would love too! I heard and read a lot of beautiful places and an amazing things that you can possibly do when your in this country. I will definitely add this to my bucket list.

  • Sam

    I was in Orlando for a few days as a teen on a mission team with my youth group. I’d love to back again (gotta visit Hogwarts!). I like that you included stops that most people overlook. These are two places I’d like to visit.

  • acraftymix

    Ahhh road trips are the best and your going to love the Space Center. It was an absolute highlight for us a few years back when we were in Florida.

  • laveremis

    I love that you are focusing on some Orlando options other than the major theme parks. I honestly have very little knowledge of Orlando, so I don’t have any advice, but I am certain there is natural beauty to explore. Florida is a lovely state! I think you are very smart to not “overplan” your trip as well.

  • Brogan and Lynn Blog

    We’ve been wanting to go to Florida for so long, and this is the perfect excuse to go! These look so fun.

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