Guest Post: Outside the Orlando Theme Parks

Breaking Away from the Crowds: The Other Attractions of Orlando 

Have you ever had the insatiable urge to visit Orlando, Florida and said to yourself, “I don’t want to be that tourist” – That “tourist” being any tourist, every tourist, and a tourist in general. Of course, for the general public not living in the Orlando area, or Florida for that matter, Orlando is one big touristy blob of theme parks and attractions. It’s Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, et cetera, et cetera. When you find yourself either inexplicably or intentionally in Orlando, it can be a challenge not to become a tourist. There are simply too many tempting (or not) destinations to visit. However, if you do want to get out and enjoy what Orlando has to offer—while avoiding the big crowds—there are still plenty of options. 

Depending on what time of year you visit, crowds might be inevitable (such as summer), no matter where you go, but with a little planning, you’ll find a few destinations worth checking out that don’t feature waiting in line as their primary attraction. 

Bok Tower Gardens. The gardens are defined by The Singing Tower, a 205 foot tower featuring a 60-bell carillon, which is played twice daily. This is the place to go if you want quiet and maybe a little serenity. Since it’s near Lake Wales and roughly 40 miles south of Orlando, it takes you out of the thick of things, making it one of the better “anti-tourist” locations in the Orlando area. The gardens are open year round form 8 am to 6 pm and you can check out the website for pricing and directions here

Downtown Orlando. While the tourists are out and about enjoying the theme parks, you can head downtown for night of anything you can think of. Of course, downtown Orlando is a big place, with tons of stuff to do, see, eat, buy, and everything in between. It has everything for every age and inclination. Ideally, it’s a place to explore, a place to peruse and take your time. Since it doesn't cost anything to enter, you can those savings to eat genuinely good food—obviously there are too many choices to list, but there is literally everything. 

Orlando Science Center. North of downtown, the Orlando Science Center is surrounded by several lakes and is the place where you can Science! Get your astronomy on or explore more earthly pursuits. It’s a great place for both kids and adults, with exhibits, programs, events, and classes that cater to all age groups. Hang out, look at the stars and have a beer, or dig in the dirt for replica dinosaur fossils—engage whatever floats your science boat. You can find hours and admission prices here.

Trainland. Otherwise known as the International Train & Trolley Museum, is not your usual destination. The museum features a selection of model railroad layouts packed with surprising details, so many you’ll be eternally consumed trying to see them all. Plus, the museum doubles as a model railroading supply store, so if you’re interested in getting into the hobby, it’s a great place to get started and consult experts. You cannot go wrong with trains, especially model trains. More details, such as address, hours, and admission prices can be found at The Other Orlando

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sean Lords spent three years teaching English in Seoul, South Korea. Since returning to the US, he advises and offers insight for those considering tesol certification in Orlando, all while raising a family and working on his Master of Education.


  1. Great article!
    We always love to go to the Bok Towers. Guess what, he was from the Netherlands and way, way back he was a ancestor of me!

    When visiting downtown Orlando why not also visit Winter Park, it's beautiful!

  2. Thanks for sharing that with us, Don! Bok Tower Gardens is definitely a place we would like to visit very soon!

  3. You are welcome.
    Please check the calendar of events at their site because their events are really special.
    On your way there you can also visit Spook Hill in Lake Wales (free and funny).


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