Orlando is one of the most popular destinations in the world- thanks largely in part to one infamous mouse. However, Orlando and the Central Florida area have so much more to offer away from the crowds and castles of the theme parks. For those who are interested in skipping the long lines and truly experiencing Orlando the way a native Floridian would (yes, we do exist!), check out what Orlando is really about! 


  • Orlando is about food

Orlando offers some of the best authentic cuisine sure to please any palate. Just a bit north of Orlando, you will find restaurants offering authentic German and Cuban cuisines, for example. In the Mills 50 District area, you will find a plethora of authentic Asian cuisines ranging from southern Chinese Dim Sum to Vietnamese and Thai. On the side of Hwy 44 near Deland, you will find a tiny restaurant with some of the tastiest seafood. When it comes to Orlando cuisine, dare to venture away off the beaten path and into those small venues. Your stomach will thank you.

Hollerbach's Orlando

  • Orlando is about nature

Of course, just outside of Orlando you will find beaches. However, Orlando has nature of its very own. You will find boutique, show gardens of gorgeous plant life that you can visit year around. You will also find State Parks that offer gorgeous natural springs for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, horseback riding, and even tubing. For the even more adventurous, there are countless bike trails and air-boat rides through some of the most gorgeous lowland areas. You never know what you might spot!

Orlando, Florida

  • Orlando is about soccer

Whether you call it soccer or futbol, Orlando is all about it! The Orlando City Soccer male franchise, and the new female Orlando Pride, have brought soccer fever to Orlando. In Orlando, you can sit in a packed stadium of strangers and feel like family. You don’t have to be a fan of the team (although, why wouldn’t you be?) to get caught up in the excitement and the energy that is an Orlando soccer match.

  • Orlando is about art

The art community can be found throughout Central Florida. In Loch Haven Park, you will find the Orlando Museum of Art and Orlando Repertory Theatre. The Artegon Marketplace is the newest addition to the Orlando art scene with its unique blend of shopping, dining, and entertainment for the most eclectic tastes. Stroll the Artegon and take in the hand painted arts or crafted gifts, take part in one of their face beer or wine strolls, or even stop for a coffee at the Gods & Monsters comic shop.

Orlando, Florida

  • Orlando is about tradition

Just like any city, Orlando is always changing. There are certainly many instances of the bigger, better, newer, fancier, more modern this or that showing up each and every day. However, Orlando is also about tradition. Places like Gatorland, which was founded in 1949, are still alive and thriving in the community. Generation after generation have experienced the once-in-a-lifetime attraction.


Whether it is your first visit to Orlando, or fifteenth, there is more to see and do than you could ever imagine. Consider this your invitation to skip the lines and check out the other Orlando!

26 Replies to “Orlando: More Than a Tuxedoed Mouse

  1. I’ve only had the chance to visit Orlando once. I never made it to Disney, but I never did most of these things either. Great options for the next time I get to visit!

  2. I’ve been to Orlando a few times, most recently on a work trip to the convention center and Universal Studios. I ended up getting out of the city on my last day there when I had several hours before my flight. I found this place called World of Orchids and it was gorgeous. It’s great to get off the beaten path, especially in a place like Orlando.

  3. Ive lived outside of Orlando for 30 years. I thought i knew everything there is to the city but i was wrong… Life is full of surprises just like Orlando…

  4. I am an Orlando Native and could not agree more with this blog. The cuisine in and around Orlando is AMAZING! You should check out the Mills 50 District and grab some Asian Infused Takos at Tako Cheena, or try the Bao at King Bao. There is so much to see and do other than the Mouse House!

  5. I have been to Orlando a few times. Kinda wish i had read this prior to visiting. I might have wanted to visit some of the restaurants. Trying some of the Cuban food sounds appealing. I definitely want to spend a little more time exploring Orlando’s hidden gems next time I visit.

  6. Don’t forget to check out PR’s in Winter Park! Cheesy, saucy Tex-Mex! And everytime a train goes by they ring that bell and theres a special on tequila shots. I have had to be helped out of that place more times than I care to remember, or even can remember LOL

  7. Wekiva State Park is beautiful, too. You can go tubing in crystal clear waters, or just wander along the trails–very relaxing way to spend a day.
    Also, there are a lot of things to do at Disney without having to pay to get into one of the parks. Disney Springs (which is always be Downtown Disney to me) has a lot of shops and restaurants, with a touch of Disney too.

  8. This is a great post because I am definitely someone who hears “Orlando” and says, “nope!” because I don’t need to go that far to see the mouse…Thanks for showcasing all of the other great things is has to offer.

  9. I miss living in Orlando sometimes. I was born and raised in the panhandle of Florida. Florida is definitely more than mice and beaches. The food along (if you know where to go) is worth the trip.

  10. I lived in Orlando for a year and a half. My ex was attending school there and we were on a strict budget, so going to see the mouse was definitely not a weekly (or even monthly) thing. We went once, with free tickets from a person who worked there who we’d helped out. And TOTALLY agree that Orlando has so much more to offer than Mickey and Universal! Great article!

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