I'll be in Orlando at the end of February, beginning of March for the doTERRA Leadership Retreat and am an avid bucket list crosser offer & outdoor adventure seeker. What are your suggestions that don't involve a theme park?
There are a lot of things to do in the Orlando area outside of the parks, but most of the things I've done are not the adventure types of things - at least recently. And it depends on how far you want to go away from Orlando. But here are some suggestions.
My son did the Richard Petty driving experience after a visit to WDW (WDW is really not in Orlando proper). Apparently this isn't available in Orlando anymore - the current website just lists Daytona Beach
Winter Park (Florida)Winter Park (north of Orlando - Winter Garden is south) has a boat tour of their canals. Very nice and interesting but not active. There's also Waterhouse Shop and Museum (woodworking) and the Harry P. Leu Gardens which has over 3 miles of garden paths and lots of different plants to see in the garden plus there was a tour of the house (no pictures allowed inside).
There's a War Bird Museum down in KissimmeeKissimmee
Lake WalesLake Wales has the Bok tower, which has some nice walks and a museum, and Spook Hill.
Cypress Gardens is near there too - it was a water ski show back in the day. Last time I went it was a water park and now it seems to be part of LEGOLAND, but it has a botanic garden.
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I've lived here since 1984 and honestly can't think of much to do that would make my bucket list – don't get me wrong, there are plenty of tourist attractions and things to do. Florida just doesn't rise to the level of OMG that other more dramatic places offer, in my opinion. A lot of the suggestions already given are things I recommend to people looking to enjoy the non-theme park amenities Central Florida has to offer. It would help to know what your interests are, but here are a few additional ideas:
Discovery Cove is an extension of SeaWorld, which is a theme park… but here you get to swim with live dolphins, which makes for a pretty memorable experience.
If you've never been in a hot air balloon, there are plenty of operators here – they typically lift off at sunrise and many will float over Walt Disney World or other areas of interest. I treated my mom to this experience in the late 80s – it was $150 per person then, so not cheap.
You can take a nighttime Bioluminescent Kayak tour in nearby Titusville – friends have told me the location here is brighter than the bio bays in Puerto Rico, which get a lot of tourists. Certain times of year are better than others for viewing (also aim for a new moon for darker skies). Check their website or call for info.
There a a lot of airboat tours you can take which will give you an authentic Florida experience. Focus on the lakes and waterways south of Kissimmee – they generally have the best operators and the natural areas are less developed. Wild Florida Airboats & Gator Park would be a good spot to take an airboat ride and also visit their gator and wildlife park.
Are you a diver or snorkeler? There are many beautiful natural springs in the area including Wekiva Springs, Blue Springs, Juniper Springs, Alexander Springs Recreation Area. You can also kayak, canoe, swim and paddle board at most of them. The waters are crystal clear.
There are also a lot of operators for hang gliding, paragliding, parasailing, helicopter tours etc. if that is your thing.
Enjoy your visit and your retreat!
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