10 Unique Orlando Experiences

Orlando , Expert View Column
A man, woman and two children talking and laughing at a rooftop bar.  They are sat on a sofa overlooking Volcano Bay and Cabana Bay Hotel
By AttractionTickets.com’s Florida Experts, Susan and Simon Veness
Don’t miss the chance to sample something truly unique in this fabulous destination

This is an essential Orlando truism, but no matter how many times you’ve been here, there is always something new and exciting to try on your next visit.

And that is especially true if you live here, as the vast area that we call “Orlando” (which really encompasses up to six counties through Central Florida – an area roughly the size of Yorkshire!) is a dynamic destination of constant change and unique experiences. Things adapt and evolve all the time, and that brings in both new opportunities and changes to existing ones. Just as importantly, Orlando is home to a LOT of super-creative people in a wide variety of businesses, and that gives rise to some fabulous offbeat attractions that are aimed as much at locals as visitors.

We are big fans of many of these one-off places, and we thought it was worthwhile to compile a Top 10 of these unique, small-scale experiences that are well worth knowing about if you are heading to Florida for your next visit.


10. Orange Juice Slushy at Showcase of Citrus

Tucked away off Highway 27 in Clermont (the heart of Orlando’s villa home territory) is the fab, family-run Showcase of Citrus, a classic old-time roadside attraction that offers fresh fruit picking, giant-wheeled buggy rides, an old-time Country Store and a petting zoo, featuring a variety of friendly farm animals, plus a camel (yes, really). It also boasts the Tractor Bar, a fun covered bar/lounge that features their signature drink, the Fresh Orange Juice Slushy, and its sister temptation, the Creamsicle. Try either one for a true taste of Florida.


9. Live Music at Timucua Arts Foundation

When it comes to the arts, Orlando is now one of Florida’s most happening places, and that is underlined by the fabulous small-scale musical venue of the Timucua Arts Foundation, a true home-spun operation that features world-class musicians in an intimate 100-seat setting, from classical and jazz to Latin and blues sounds, and even stand-up comedy. The high-tech sound system is worth coming in for on its own!


8. Drive a Tank

For those interested in classic military hardware, there’s nothing better than Tank America, a relatively new operation in Orlando that features British Abbot tanks you can experience as a driver or rider. These 17-ton beasts have their own mock jungle course with hairpin turns, a 15ft hill and 4ft mud hole, and the experience is totally authentic. Even better, the options include the chance to crush a bunch of cars as the ultimate feat of tank power!


An army tank being driven across soil with two people sitting at the front and one person at the back


7. Try a Signature Brunch

Many restaurants have become adept at offering this combination choice of breakfast and lunch, but one in particular has made it a standout occasion each weekend. Maxine’s On Shine is most definitely the locals’ choice when it comes to brunch, and this eclectic restaurant, tucked away in a residential district of downtown, knows how to deliver both tasty dishes and complementary beverages, notably their Stout Braised Brisket washed down with the eye-catching Warnin’ in the Mornin,’ a pretty heavyweight Bloody Mary which is almost a meal in itself!


6. See the White House

Washington DC is almost 1,000 miles from Orlando, but it is still possible to see the home of the President when you’re in Central Florida. The Presidents Hall of Fame in Clermont is absolutely packed with memorabilia dedicated to all thing presidential, dating back to the 19th century. The many exhibits are crowned by an absolute tour de force of model-making by the late John Zweifel, and lovingly maintained today. The 10-ton, 1,200sq ft 1:12 scale model of the White House is superbly detailed for every single room, complete with furniture and even down to changes in detail for each new president. It’s a real marvel of construction and a genuine surprise in such a quiet location.


5. Paddle A Swan Boat

The heart of downtown Orlando remains the iconic Lake Eola Park, which is a 23-acre oasis surrounded by the skyscrapers and condos of The City Beautiful. The park features a 0.9-mile walkway around the lake and a series of modern art installations, which include the huge Muse of Discovery, a mysterious mixture of earth and limestone. But the real attraction here is the chance to paddle one of the signature Swan Boats around the lake and take in the great setting from the water.


Two people in a swan shaped peddle boat on a lake in front of a large circular fountain


4. Take in a film – and a meal – at the Enzian Theater

Orlando’s wealth of arts venues includes this superb art-house cinema, which opened in 1985 and is now home to the prestigious annual Florida Film Festival, among other events. In Maitland, just north of downtown Orlando, the Enzian screens cult classics, rarities, and Oscar-nominated features, as well as a children’s Peanut Butter Matinee at weekends. The cinema also offers dinner at your seat, or at the lovely outdoor Eden Bar for a great night out.


3. Go River-Tubing at Kelly Park

River-tubing is a particularly American pastime, best experienced during the warmer months but available year-round in Florida. The scenic Kelly Park north-west of Orlando is an ideal introduction to floating gently along the waterway on a large rubber ring in a semi-tropical setting of unspoiled nature. The park offers swimming, tubing and picnicking, with an on-site café. Tube rental is available from a specialised vendor just outside the park.


A river with lots of tropical green plants and trees covering its banks


2. Visit a Butterfly Garden

While there are plenty of exotic animals in Florida, it’s easy to overlook some of its more delicate creatures. But Lukas Nursery & Butterfly Encounter in Oviedo, just east of Orlando, has made butterflies a centrepiece of its operation, and it has quickly become a big hit with locals and school groups. The 4,000sq ft conservatory includes an aviary and the largest collection of native butterflies in the state, in a series of specially-designed displays. Peak butterfly “season” is April to September.


1. Have A Drink Overlooking Universal Orlando Resort

Rooftop bars have become big news in our part of Florida in recent years, but one of the best remains in the heart of tourist territory, with great views over the International Drive area. Universal’s Aventura Hotel features the swish Bar 17 Bistro on the top floor of the resort, and with a grandstand overview of the theme parks. Perched on the 17th floor, it offers an international-flavoured menu and its own signature cocktails, plus wine and craft beers, making for a truly outstanding night-time venue.


A tall hotel covered in glass panels with a rooftop bar on top


What unique or unusual experience have YOU discovered in Orlando? Tell us about it on the friendly AttractionTickets.com Community Facebook page, on Twitter or Instagram.

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Orlando , Expert View Column