50 Bucket List Things to Do in Central Florida (That Aren’t Disney)

Orlando Florida hot air balloon ride with Bob's Balloons

Central Florida is an awesome place to live, but as a local trying to find new things to do in the area, it can be frustrating when Google returns list after list of Disney centric activities. I don’t have a vendetta out against Disney, I’ve just learned in my 4 years living here that Central Florida has SO much more to offer.

Whether you’re a local looking to discover new activities, or a tourist who wants to shake things up, I’ve compiled a list of 50 bucket list worthy activities – major theme parks NOT included.

Bucket list: Hot air balloon ride - Orlando Florida
Sunrise hot air balloon ride with Bob’s Balloons

1. Go on a hot air balloon ride

2. Watch the theme park fireworks from the Orlando Eye

3. Go on a self-guided brewery hop in Orlando (Ocean Sun, Crooked Can, Ten10, Red Cypress)

4. Swim and snorkel with manatees in Crystal River

5. Take a day trip to sample cocktails at Ice Plant in St. Augustine (technically not Central Florida…but it’s a must add!)

6. Have a staycation at one of Orlando’s many resorts

7. Go to the drive-in movie theatre in Lakeland

8. Have dessert and cocktails for dinner at Better Than Sex

9. Attend a food truck bazaar or meet-up

10. See a show at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Bucket list: dinner at sunset on the beach in Florida
Watching the sunset at The Sandbar Restaurant in Anna Maria Island

11. Have a sunset dinner on the beach

12. Have drinks at a local speakeasy

13. Have a strawberry milkshake and shortcake at the Parkesdale Farmer’s Market in Plant City

14. Try Kelly’s Homemade ice cream

15. Attend a weekend music festival or major concert

16. Zip line over alligators at Gatorland

17. Find a “secret” beach

18. Learn to paddle board somewhere in the gulf coast

19. Go “glamping” at Westgate River Ranch

Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, FL
Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, FL
Lake Louisa State Park
Lake Louisa State Park

20. Check out one of Central Florida’s many state parks and gardens. Some ideas: Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Lake Louisa State Park in Clermont, or Wekiwa Springs State Park in Altamonte Springs.

21. Have brunch on Park Ave. in Winter Park

22. Attend an Orlando City soccer game

23. Go on the horseback adventure at Forever Florida

24. Sample craft beers at the Brew Hub off of I-4 and the nearby Two Henry’s Brewing Co.

25. Take sailing lessons

26. See a movie at the Enzian theatre and dine at the on site restaurant

27. Eat at the following Orlando restaurants: Pig Floyd’s, Yellow Dog Eats, Prato, SoCo, Red Mug Diner, Black Rooster Taqueria

28. Take a cooking or cocktail class

29. Attend an Orlando Solar Bears hockey game (the season typically lasts November – April)

St. Augustine, FL
St. Augustine, FL

30. Take a day trip to a nearby town (get some ideas in this blog post)

31. Visit the Kennedy Space Center and learn all about space

32. Visit the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens

33. See a dinner show in Orlando (my favorite: Medieval Times!)

34. Take a weekend road trip up or down Florida’s coast

35. Go bioluminescent kayaking

36. Eat the monstrous Chicken & Waffles at Hash House a Go Go

37. Attend a food or drink festival (I recommend the Strawberry Festival!)

38. Sample wine at a Central Florida winery

39. Spend the day at a waterpark

Dinosaur World - kitschy, but fun and dog-friendly
Dinosaur World – kitschy, but fun and dog-friendly

40. Go to Dinosaur World in Plant City (it’s dog friendly!)

41. Go on an air boat ride

42. Visit the Florida Aquarium in Tampa

43. Pick strawberries or blueberries at a local farm

44. Spend a Sunday in downtown Orlando at Lake Eola Park: check out the farmer’s market, do outdoor yoga, or grab brunch and wander nearby neighborhoods

45. Go camping at a state park

46. Make your own masterpiece at a local Paint Nite event

47. Visit the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary

Valhalla Bakery vegan donuts in Orlando
Valhalla Bakery donuts

48. Have donuts at the Orlando famous Valhalla Bakery (donuts soon to branch off into their own space at Valkyrie Donuts)

49. Take the scenic boat tour in Winter Park

50. Visit Showcase of Citrus and ride the “world’s largest 4×4 adventure

51. Attend the Epcot Food & Wine Festival (A bonus, because I said no Disney.)

So far I’ve done 21/50. How many have you completed on this list?

4 thoughts on “50 Bucket List Things to Do in Central Florida (That Aren’t Disney)”

  1. I live in south Florida and I never seem to make it out of my zip code…unless it’s to visit family in Kendall but that doesn’t count. Anyway, this is fabulous. I’m also looking to go places with my dog b/c I’m a new dog mom.

    This is a really great post with so many ideas! And the pics are absolutely lovely! 🙂

    1. Haha we’ve all been there 🙂 There’s not a ton going on in my area, so that tends to push me out and explore more. Thanks so much for reading and for your kind comments! If you ever find yourself near Orlando, Winter Park is SUPER dog friendly and walkable. They put water bowls alongside the streets and many restaurants have dog friendly outdoor seating. Lake Eola Park is also a beautiful and dog friendly spot to explore downtown.

  2. Great post! I am a (albeit fairly new) Central Florida local and blogger and love all that this great area has to offer. We have been fortunate to do many of the things on this list, but definitely not all and would love to. We went to the Strawberry Festival a couple of years ago and it was tons of fun. We live near Winter Park and LOVE it. Definitely a great area to roam and explore, especially on Saturdays during the Farmers Market.

    1. Keri, so sorry I missed your comment and am just now seeing it and replying. Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment!! I need to update this post with even more ideas because my list just keeps growing. If you love the Strawberry Festival, I recommend a stop at the Parkesdale Market also. They have a slightly kitschy but wonderful strawberry themed set up and you can get strawberry shortcake and milkshakes all throughout the strawberry season. Great meeting you at dirty pour!!

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