So you’re looking for things to do in Central Florida? You’ve come to the right place!
When you think of Central Florida, you may think of Disney and Universal, but Central Florida is so much more than those theme parks!
Central Florida has some of the best natural springs in Florida, as well as gorgeous beaches. From rooftop bars and breweries to museums, there is something for everyone in Central Florida.
There are so many things to do in Central Florida that it can get overwhelming but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
20 Best Things To Do In Central Florida You Shouldn’t Miss
See the Singing Tower at Bok Towers
Bok Towers is one of the best places to visit in Central Florida if you’re searching for hidden gems.
Bok Towers is situated in Lake Wales, about an hour and a half east of Tampa and two hours south of Orlando. There you can find this beautiful contemplative garden and bird sanctuary.
The Singing Tower sits next to the reflection pool on the 250-acre grounds. You can expect to see a lot of gorgeous wildlife here!
Visiting Bok Towers is one of the best things to do in Central Florida if you’re looking for some peace and quiet.
Make sure to check out our master post on the Best Time To Visit Florida including a breakdown by month, weather, events, and more!
See Exotic Birds at St Pete Sunken Gardens
St Pete Sunken Gardens is one of our favorite things to do in Central Florida. We always take our out-of-town family and friends here because it’s truly beautiful!
The gardens are over 100 years old and have been home to many different kinds of exotic plants and birds since the 1950s. You’ll be able to meet the resident flock of flamingos.
You can even feed to Koi fish at the Koi pond – it’s a great location to get a fab Instagram photo!
We’ve written an entire blog post dedicated to Visiting The St. Pete Sunken Gardens which will tell you everything you need to know!
Take in the Beauty of Beer Can Island
Nestled in Longboat Key in the Sarasota area, you will find the little paradise of Beer Can Island.
This is one of the great things to do in Central Florida if you’re looking for an adventure and want to feel like you’re being transported to an oasis in the middle of nowhere. It definitely doesn’t feel like Florida at all!
This is actually one of Terrence’s favourite photography locations, and I’m sure you can see why! The beautiful driftwood makes the perfect backdrop!
Beer Can Island can be a little tricky to get to if you don’t know where you’re going, but don’t worry! Our post about Beer Can Island has all of the information on how to reach it.
Explore Outer Space at the Kennedy Space Center
There is so much to do at the Kennedy Space Center, which makes it one of the best family-friendly activities to do in Central Florida.
The Kennedy Space Center is not only one of the most well-known NASA bases in the world, but it’s also one of the best museums in Florida.
Located on Merritt Island in Cape Canaveral, you’re able to watch space shuttle launches from here.
The Astronaut Training Simulator is one of the most popular Central Florida attractions. This simulator at Kennedy Space Center allows you to go inside the Atlantis Space Shuttle and see replicas of the Mars Rover. It really is a ton of fun, and one of the best things to do in Central Florida!
Take a Dip in the Crystal Clear Waters of Kelly Park/Rock Springs
If you’re looking to visit one of Florida’s natural springs as one of your things to do in Central Florida, then look no further than Kelly Park!
The waters are known for being crystal clear and the Rock Springs Run is nature’s perfect lazy river. The water is a consistent 68F, which we think is the perfect temperature, especially in the cooler months!
We love Kelly Park because you can go camping and have picnics here, making it a really great spot for a day out with family and friends.
If Kelly Park is catching your eye, read our Tips for Kelly Park blog post for further information about this gem.
Go Scuba Diving at Wekiwa Springs
Can you believe that this beautiful natural spring is just 16 miles from Orlando?! This makes this Central Florida attraction a perfect day trip from Orlando!
Wekiwa Springs is one of Florida’s best secret paradises. With miles of trails just waiting to be explored and emerald springs calling your name how can you resist?
You can go swimming, scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and canoeing at this spring. Plus, at only $2 a day, this makes Wekiwa Springs one of the best cheap things to do in Central Florida.
If you’re wanting to find more springs near Orlando, you can check out our blog post!
See the Manatees at Blue Springs State Park
Okay, we are firm believers that seeing manatees has to be one of the most fun things to do in Central Florida, ever!
The 72F water is now home to over 485 manatees after astounding conservation efforts. It truly is a sight to behold!
This does mean that water activities such as swimming and scuba diving are closed during manatee season, which is during the winter, but don’t worry, there are a ton of other fun activities to do!
You can go camping, birding, and even take riverboat tours daily from 10 am to 1 pm. Listen to a two-hour narrated nature and ecological tour as you cruise along the St. Johns River.
Take a Trip to the Historic District in Ocala
If you’re interested in history and architecture, then visiting the historic district in Ocala is one of the best things to do in Central Florida.
Fort King Street has played a huge part in Ocala’s history and remains one of the most popular residential neighborhoods in Ocala. It’s even part of the National Register.
All of the homes in the Historic District were built prior to 1930, which will really make you feel like you’re stepping back in time!
For more things to do in Ocala, you can check out our blog post.
Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride Over Orlando
What better way to see Orlando than from above!? This is one of the most fun things to do in Central Florida, but definitely not for the faint-hearted!
Orlando Balloon Rides can take you on a balloon ride every day of the year (weather permitting of course).
Each flight lasts for 45-60 minutes and you will ascend several thousand feet into the air! Your pilot will point out points of interest as you gaze down at Central Florida in a way you’ve never seen before.
Just goes to show that there are cool things to do in Orlando that aren’t theme parks!
‘Sea’ The Aquatic Life at The Florida Aquarium
Located in Tampa, Florida, this 250,000-foot aquarium is one of the best things to do in Central Florida for families, friends, and even dates!
The aquarium is home to more than 7,000 aquatic plants and animals from both Florida and around the world. The Florida Aquarium is a leader in aquatic conservation, education, and supporting programs for wildlife.
There are a lot of fun experiences to do here too, such as Wild Dolphin Cruises and Penguin Backstage Passes where you can interact with African Penguins!
Take a Hike at Flatwoods Park Trail
This is one of the most fun things to do in Central Florida for adventure lovers. Flatlands Park Trail is one of the best hikes in Tampa, but is also a great trail for cycling too!
You’ll have some great opportunities to go see some wildlife on your hike- including armadillos, hawks, turtles, and maybe even deer if you’re lucky.
The hike is 7 miles long and is dog leash-friendly. Parking for the hike is only $2, which makes it one of the best cheap things to do in Central Florida.
Have a Beer at Coppertail Brewing Company
Located in downtown Ybor, Coppertail is named after the owners’ five-year-old’s mythical sea creature who lives in the Tampa Bay! Taking a tour of the brewery is one of the most fun things to do in Central Florida if you’re into beer.
You can take tours of the 100-year-old two-story taproom, which is totally a fun date idea to do in Tampa. Best of all, the tours are only $7!
Beers on tap include Unholy a Belgian Trippel, Free Dive an IPA, Independent (a pilsner), Night Swim (a porter), 6th-anniversary Hop Skull 10.5% ABV IPA, Oktoberfest, Purple Drink (a sour), and 10.6% ABV Nitro Stout.
Dive Into Devil’s Den
If you are intrigued by the natural springs in Florida, visiting Devil’s Den is another of the best things in Central Florida you can do. This hidden gem, located north of Ocala, is absolutely stunning.
Devil’s Den is a prehistoric spring, with extinct fossils in the dry cave above the water.
To swim and snorkel in this spring, be aware that there is a fee, and reservations must be made before you go. For more information, check out our full post with tips for visiting Devil’s Den.
Visit the Don Cesar
There’s really no missing the iconic Don Cesar Hotel located in St Pete Beach! Whether you’re staying the night at this luxury resort or just visiting during the day, it’s one of the best things to do in Central Florida.
You’ll feel like you’ve stepped inside The Great Gatsby at this stunning pink palace. It’s the perfect backdrop for a photoshoot session with your friends.
With the building’s beauty comes a fascinating history too. From the days of its being a playground for the rich and famous to its serving as a convalescent center for airmen coming home from World War II, the Don Cesar has lived many lives. It’s definitely worth checking out if you’re in Central Florida!
Take a Bioluminescent Kayaking Tour
We believe this is one of the best things to do in Central Florida, as it is so unique. Kayaking through bioluminescent algae may even be a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Bioluminescence is one of the coolest natural phenomena in nature. It truly does look like magic! Think of fireflies, but blue and in the water.
There are a few places where you can see bioluminescent life in Florida and it’s definitely something that we highly recommend. It won’t be an experience you will forget anytime soon!
Explore Historic Mount Dora
Just northwest of Orlando is the small town of Mount Dora, and exploring this historic town is one of the best things to do in Central Florida for those looking for a quaint getaway.
Mount Dora is known for its historical buildings and antique shops. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time! Explore places like the Donnelly House, a Victorian home built in 1893, which can now be rented out for events.
For a unique historic experience climb aboard the Royal Palm Railway Experience, a restored 1940s locomotive that journeys through the Golden Triangle of Mount Dora, Tavares, and Eustis.
Have a Drink at a Rooftop Bar in Orlando
There are so many rooftop bars in Orlando you will be spoilt for choice!
Rooftop bars are a great way to take in some of the best views that Orlando has to offer. It’s one of the best things to do in Central Florida for a date or for a night out with some friends.
Whether you are looking for something sleek and luxurious or cool and chilled, there will be a rooftop bar in Orlando for you.
Relax at Honeymoon Island State Park
Honeymoon Island State Park is one of the best state parks in Florida! It’s one of the best places to visit in Central Florida.
This barrier island across Saint Joseph’s Sound has both sandy beaches and a rocky coastline with driftwood trees. There are three separate beaches on the island: Main Beach, Dog Beach, and North Beach.
You can do many of the classic things to do in Central Florida like relaxing on the beach, surfing, or hiking the trails on the island. We have a whole post about Honeymoon Island with more info!
Cool Off in Juniper Springs
Juniper Springs is another of the best natural springs in Florida. It’s also another one of the best cheap things to do in Central Florida as it’s only $6 to visit this beautiful place. You can find Juniper Springs, among others, located within the Ocala National Forest.
Take a dip in the clear blue water or pay a little extra to rent a canoe and paddle around. It is a popular spot to cool off on hot days, so get there early to avoid the crowds!
And yes, you may need to keep an eye out for alligators, but they usually keep to themselves.
Explore Fort Desoto
Fort Desoto has not only some of the best beaches in Florida, but is a unique blend of natural beauty and Florida history. Visiting Fort Desoto Park is one of the best things to do in Central Florida, as it is considered a “coastal playground.”
Between the coastline, picnic and camping areas, and fort history there is plenty to do in Fort Desoto. Located off of St. Petersburg, it consists of five keys: Madelaine, St. Jean, St. Christopher, Bonne Fortune, and Mullet.
Explore the ruins of the unique Fort Dade or snorkel around the submerged Battery Bigelow.
And that’s our list of things to do in Central Florida! As you can see, there is plenty more to do than the theme parks. We hope you have found something to your liking and we hope you enjoy whatever you decide to do!