Mention the words “Orlando” or “Central Florida,” and you likely conjure up visions of Mickey, Universal and giant turkey legs or frozen bananas on a stick. But there’s much more to the region aside from the theme parks and crazy snacks. Here are 10 unusual attractions to help entertain yourself away from the big parks.
Drive a Tank
You heard us right. At Tank America, you can drive an actual FV433 Abbot tank through a course that includes hills, mud holes and more. Crush a car too if you want (for an additional fee). There are a variety of packages starting at $299. Tank America is on the same side of town as the theme parks and airport and sits on 14 acres of jungle terrain. You have to be 16 years old and at least 55 inches in height to drive. Official website.
Address: 6605 Muskogee St, Orlando, FL 32807
Phone: (407) 213-8265
Soak in Beer
Do you love beer? Do you love it enough to soak in it? My Beer Spa on International Drive offers an unusual approach to relaxation. It has treatment rooms with wooden hot tubs filled with beer’s ingredients. To be clear, you won’t be soaking in actual beer – you’re soaking in a tub of hops, water and other ingredients used to make beer. Real beer and wine is available to drink during your sessions. Other features include an infrared sauna, a hay bed with white sheets and pillows, and a cozy little (electric) fireplace. A flat-panel TV in the room can also be used as a Bluetooth speaker. If you want to know more about what to expect, check out this review by the Orlando Date Night Guide. The spa’s official website is light on details. Sessions start at $129.
Address: 11787 International Dr. Ste 106, Orlando FL 32821
Phone: (407) 778-1772
See a Cirque Show
Las Vegas feels like the world capital of Cirque du Soleil shows, with a plethora of options there 365 days a year. But did you know that Cirque has a permanent residence in Orlando too? Disney built a special venue just for the acrobatic troupe in its Disney Springs shopping and entertainment district. There, guests can marvel at “Drawn to Live,” the newest show to play two performances a day on Wednesday through Sunday. An animation table comes to life thanks to dazzling acrobats, daring choreography and mind-blowing music. Tickets start at $85.
Address: 1478 Buena Vista Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
Phone: (877) 924-7783
Ascend a Citrus Tower
Climbing a plain, old water tower is a movie cliche these days. Prepare yourself for true adventure – traveling to the top of a 226-foot tower in Clermont, just outside of Orlando. The Florida Citrus Tower was built in 1956 to serve as an observation deck towering over miles of orange groves in Central Florida. Its location on US Highway 27 was a hot spot for tourists traveling between Cypress Gardens and Silver Springs. However, once the Florida Turnpike was built in the 1960s, the drive-by traffic dwindled. The citrus groves have dwindled but today guests can gawk at the Orlando skyline, the theme parks of Walt Disney World and more. The structure is the equivalent of 22 stories and guests today take an elevator to the top.
Address: 141 North Hwy 27, Clermont, FL 34711
Phone: (352) 394-4061
Zipline Over Alligators
There’s a fine line between clever and stupid, the movie “Spinal Tap” taught us. You can decide on your own where a zipline over gators lands. Gatorland in Orlando offers the Screamin’ Gator Zipline, allowing guests to travel 1,200 feet over Cuban and Nile crocodiles and an alligator breeding marsh featuring 130 gators below. There’s no age restriction for this attraction, but guests must be at least 36 inches tall and weigh no more than 275 pounds. We’d say stick closer to 250 to be sure!
Address: 14501 S Orange Blossom Trl, Orlando, FL 32837
Phone: (407) 855-5496
Browse a Knife Museum
You read that right – a knife museum. The Randall Museum in Orlando features more than 9,000 square feet of Randall knife displays. The museum is a tribute to Bo Randall, who began making knives back in 1936. Stop in the showroom off South Orange Blossom Trail and you’ll be directed to the museum, which is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
Address: 4857 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL 32839
Phone: (407) 855-8075
Experience Hurricane Winds
We’re not going to lie to you: Orlando’s International Drive probably has 100 strange things to do any day of the week. But visiting Wonderworks – called “an amusement park for the mind” – is among the most noteworthy. First of all, the attraction is upside-down – or at least it’s designed that way. Like a museum of the macabre, it offers a variety of guest experiences including the “Extreme Weather Zone,” which offers an earthquake cafe and hurricane shack, where winds reach 74 miles per hour.
Address: 9067 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
Phone: (407) 351-8800
Down Beers in an Authentic Irish Pub
Raglan Road in Disney Springs touts itself as the only authentic Irish pub in Orlando. Before you roll your eyes, consider that the entire building was built in Ireland and then shipped to Disney. We’re not sure why they went to all that trouble, but we love the final result. Dive into genuine Irish food and brews while dancers and musicians entertain seven days a week. There’s a shop too if you desire the finery of the Celts.
Address: 1640 Buena Vista Dr, Orlando, FL 32830
Phone: (407) 938-0300
Sneak Into a Speakeasy
Hanson’s Shoe Repair is not actually the place to go to get your church shoes resoled, but you could very well find religion there. It’s actually a speakeasy – the kind of illegal bars that popped up during Prohibition days, but today are merely for libation fans. Housed in a building thought the oldest remaining structure in downtown Orlando, Hanson’s does require a password to enter. You’ll find it on their official Twitter page.
Address: 27 E Pine St, Orlando, FL 32801
Phone: (407) 476-9446
Rent a Swan
Technically, you’re renting a swan boat, but once you get a look at them, you’ll see why these paddleboats can be confused for the real thing. Head to Lake Eola right off downtown Orlando for a spin on these pedal-powered boats. They’re available 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday (they’re closed on Mondays). Reservations aren’t available so be patient if there’s a line. Tickets are $15 for a 30-minute rental.
Address: 512 E Washington St, Orlando, FL 32801
Phone: (407) 246-4484
Enjoy an Old-School Amusement Park
If you’ve spent any time watching TV in Orlando, you’ve no doubt seen the quirky commercials for Fun Spot – “It’s huuuuuge!” While Central Florida is a theme park Mecca, there’s something old school about the two Fun Spot parks – one near International Drive and the other in Kissimmee. (A third park is in Atlanta.) They’re smaller for sure, but they’re also much cheaper. A single-day pass goes for $59.95. Add on a dining package for another $24.99. The rides are also breathtaking, particularly the White Lightning, a wooden roller coaster that reaches speeds up to 48 mph. Too much for you? Try the Freedom Flyer instead. There are also go-cart rides, a funhouse, a Ferris wheel and a midway area for games. Best yet: Parking is free.
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