Things To Do Near Disney World Besides Theme Parks

Dont get me wrong…Theme parks can be VERY fun, especially for the kids but, sometimes, even the most fun-loving families need a break from all of the turnstiles, fast-passes and long lines that go hand-in-hand with that type of excitement.

On our last three day trip to Orlando, we decided to skip the parks and opt for a more relaxed, low-key vacation, and I don’t think my kids were disappointed one bit — which was music to my un-moused ears! So, if you are looking for things to do near Disney World besides the theme parks, read on, travel planners. Read on.

First and most importantly in my book, find a great hotel…

Disclaimer: Although I write for Hilton Hotels & Resorts, I also write to give honest advice and perspective to those who are planning a family trip… And, keep in mind that the travel topics I choose are completely up to me. Honest.

Enjoying the fun kids activities at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek.
Enjoying the fun kids activities at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek.

That being said, as a mother and as the primary family travel planner, I HIGHLY recommend staying at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. In a nutshell (if that’s even possible considering what they offer), this place is a family-friendly paradise.

First off, they offer all types of packages and special rates that change according to the season or what promotion or fun-filled special they may be running at the time. And, even more importantly, they offer everything from s’mores by the fire pits to multiple pools (including zero-entry), a lazy river, a waterslide, Surrey and regular bikes, multiple daily counselor-led kids’ activities, an arcade, day and evening kids club, an 18-hole championship golf course, a state-of-the-art fitness facility (with outdoor yoga on weekends), a full-service luxury spa and twelve great eateries…

I almost forgot to mention that the resort is located minutes from Walt Disney World (should you want to travel out and about), yet tucked into the most beautiful nature preserve complete with all kinds of wildlife. In fact, we saw little brown bunnies out by the pool one night and many different types of beautiful birds as we rode bikes along the Florida-style deck every day.

This place is pretty excellent…So, you might not even want to leave. (Ever!) But, just in case you want a little more, here are a few other ideas that don’t include turnstiles.

Other Ways to Entertain

Downtown Disney
Always exciting, this place offers all types of activities, eateries (including the themed varieties) and entertainment and is open both day and night. From a movie theater to outdoor music, shops, Cirque du Soleil La Nouba, Disney Quest and even an upscale bowling alley, there is something here for everyone.

Checking out the gift shop at Downtown Disney's T-Rex restaurant.
Checking out the gift shop at Downtown Disney’s T-Rex restaurant.

Discovery Cove
If you’re not on a tight budget and looking for an all-day adventure that doesn’t involve large crowds, this is a cool option. Here you and your family can swim with dolphins, wade with rays, snorkel with fish, feed tropical birds  and relax on the sand. Although a bit pricey, this makes for a fun family adventure.

Located on International Drive in the heart of the Orlando tourism area, this fun, upside down science laboratory of sorts has everything from exhibits to an indoor ropes course, laser tag, a 4-D theatre and even a comedy dinner magic show. The admission prices vary depending on your age and what types of things you want to do.

Disney Boardwalk
A quarter-mile promenade located along the water’s edge that also offers plenty of fun, food and shopping but, on a much smaller scale. This Coney Island-style boardwalk is best attended beginning in the early evening when all the lights are twinkling and the midway games and street performers come to life.

Participating in one of the street performances at Disney BoardWalk!
Participating in one of the street performances at Disney Boardwalk!

Know Before You Go

  • If you’re visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort, be sure to pack adequate walking shoes. The resort is close in size to San Francisco!
  • At Universal Orlando™, the general parking is $25.
  • International Drive is known as the tourist center of the city – you’ll be close to trendy restaurants, bars, and sightseeing activities.

This post was written by Hilton Suggests Team Member, Mary Ellen M. Are you interested in traveling to Orlando? Let us know if we can help you with any other recommendations. Tweet us for more great local travel tips!

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