3 Days in Orlando | A Travel Itinerary
From visiting a world famous theme park to shopping at local farmer’s markets, three days in Orlando can either be a lazy wander through the sunshine or it can be a jam-packed few days of action and fun.
Orlando is one of the best destinations in the world for visitors, but what’s in Orlando besides the theme parks? Is there anything else to do?
The answer? A resounding, “yes!”
It’s known as “the city beautiful” because of its vibrant community life and beautiful landscapes, and Orlando is way more than just the theme parks and the main tourist hub, I-Drive.
In this Orlando 3 day itinerary, you’ll learn how to spend a gorgeous 3 days in Orlando, enjoying delicious food, Florida sunshine, hidden gems, and friendly people.
Tips for Visiting Orlando
Here are a few tips for visiting Orlando, including…
- You’ll want to rent a car, as Orlando was built for drivers, not public transportation
- It rains a lot in the summer months, when you can expect torrential downpours almost every afternoon. Add a poncho to your Orlando packing list, it’s part of the Florida fun!
- One of the best times to visit Orlando is January, as the weather is dry, not too cold, and it’s not too busy after the holiday crowds have left
- It’s often cheaper to rent out an apartment or “villa” or house instead of staying at a hotel room
- The best bargain places to stay is south of Orlando, in an area called Kissimmee, or nearer the downtown Orlando area and away from the theme parks
Your day starts with a delicious breakfast in Winter Park, which is one of the most beautiful and upscale parts of Orlando.
It’s far removed from the touristy areas, which means you can enjoy your breakfast in peace!
Check out the Briarpatch Restaurant, one of the best places to get breakfast in Orlando with their creamy eggs benedict and decadent waffles.
The main thoroughfare is named Park Avenue, and it’s where you can do some window shopping and walk along after your breakfast.
Stop by the green park with the fountain in the middle and plan your next moves and do some people-watching. Winter Park is a very “walkable” area in Orlando, which can be rare!
Pack a picnic for the first afternoon after you stop by a grocery store (the main one is called Publix in Florida, and there are a few in Winter Park).
Now you’re going to Leu Gardens, Orlando’s beautiful botanic gardens. Here, you’ll find everything from sensory gardens to rose gardens to wandering paths through Florida oak trees.
Check out the Spanish moss hanging down from the sturdy branches and enjoy the fresh Florida air. The gardens are manicured and well-maintained, and is a popular destination for weddings as well as capturing family photos under the beautiful palm trees.
Spend a couple of hours here, and then it’s time to head to your evening stop.
Take a trip to Downtown Orlando where you’ll take part in a classic Orlando must-do and visit Lake Eola, as well as the local area surrounding downtown.
Put your name on the list to rent a swan boat, but be sure to be there in-person as you can only put your name on in person and they’ll call you when yours is ready.
Paddle your swan boat out onto the lake and enjoy the beautiful Orlando skyline view, as well as the fountain that’s lit up at night and the atmosphere of the people walking around the lake.
Lake Eola is one of those local places that’s popular with the locals, but not as visited by tourists. It has a community feel that’s welcoming and warm, and you’ll really understand how the real residents of Orlando play, live, and work.
And, if you’re hungry, there are so many good restaurants within walking distance of the lake. You’ll find juicy burgers, delicious pork chops and innovative vegetarian options at 310 Lakeside, and everyone in your group will find something to suit them.
On the morning of your second day, start with a filling breakfast at Keke’s Breakfast Café. They have locations all around Orlando, so you’ll be able to find one close to where you’re staying.
And once you get there, you won’t want to leave. As the name suggests, Keke’s is all about breakfast. They’ve got classics like gravy and biscuits, as well as stacks of pancakes and the most amazing home fries you’ve ever eaten. If you love breakfast (and big portions), you’ll love Keke’s.
When breakfast is over, drive to the Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve, one of the best things to do in Orlando for free. Wander down the boardwalks through the swampland and get a feel for what Florida really looks like, before the theme parks moved to town. Keep a watch out for Florida wildlife like ospreys, or check out the butterfly gardens.
Make sure to bring your boots as the ground can be wet after heavy rainfall, but know that all of the nature trails here are well-marked and accessible so you can travel on them even if you’re biking, jogging, or pushing a stroller.
After stretching your legs through Florida’s marshlands, take some time in the afternoon to get a bit fancier and think about one of two options: a fantastic round of golf, or a trip to the Mall of Millennia.
Golfers will fall in love with the golf courses in Orlando, as the gorgeous weather and well-manicured courses have beautiful views and plenty of options. Play championship courses like Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill, or try the courses at Disney World as these are some of the best courses in the area and will also be close to the plans for the evening of this day.
You can get around the golf courses by renting a golf cart, which is how most people get around the Orlando courses. Always be careful around the lakes and bodies of water on the courses, as alligators do find themselves on Florida’s golf courses commonly (keep your distance, they are more scared of you than you are of them).
If golfing isn’t your thing, head to the mall today! Check out the Mall of Millennia, Orlando’s upscale mall where you’ll find brands like Coach and Burberry, as well as a really nice food court and other stores.
This is really the flagship Orlando mall for luxury shopping, and is a great place to window shop and mingle with visitors from around the world who have come because of the great reputation of this mall.
Before you start shopping, get lunch at the Cheesecake Factory, one of the most popular restaurants at the mall and for good reason – over 20+ cheesecake flavors will help you end your lunch in delicious style.
As your day comes to an end, make sure to check out one of the best things to do in Orlando near the theme parks that doesn’t actually require theme park entrance – Disney Springs.
You don’t need to shill out tons of money to spend the evening here, as Disney’s shopping and entertainment district is completely free.
Here, you’ll find plenty of shops like Sperry’s and Basin, as well as Disney-themed ones with Disney merchandise for people of all ages.
There will usually be live entertainment in the bandstand that you can watch completely for free, or walk around the lake and see if you can spot the iconic LEGO dragon in the water (hint: it’s near the LEGO store, where you can also spend some time building).
Dinner tonight is at the Boathouse, one of the best restaurants in Disney Springs with its delicious burgers, incredible lobster rolls, and memorable turkey sandwiches.
Don’t miss the dinner rolls with their honey glaze, and if you opt to sit outside, you may just see the fireworks from Disney’s Hollywood Studios over the water.
Check out the Launchpad for the “amphibicars” from the boat launch (boats in the shape of cars that float around the lake!)
Over 21s can finish off their night with a visit to Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, an Indiana Jones themed bar that has an interesting range of drink and cocktail choices, in addition to immersive theming that will make for some great Instagram snaps.
And no matter what age you are, you can finish with a visit to Sprinkles Bakery, where you’ll find a Cupcake ATM. Yes, a cupcake ATM!
Order a cupcake from the ATM, pay, and receive it all in one transaction in this ATM that spits out cupcakes instead of dollars.
Start your last day in Orlando by breakfast at the White Wolf Café, which is one of the best places for a hearty breakfast in Orlando that will keep you full throughout the day. Try the toast and eggs, as well as the crispy bacon and hashbrowns.
Next, enjoy a visit to the Orlando Museum of Art. Founded in 1924, this museum has over 2,400 pieces of art from around America and has both traveling temporary exhibitions and permanent.
You’ll find that the inside of the museum is stunning, and it often plays hosts to weddings and other gatherings that need a beautiful stately backdrop.
Don’t forget to wander around the sculpture gardens out front, as well as looking into the kid’s activities which are held regularly to get young people involved in understanding and appreciating art.
In the afternoon, head over to the Orlando Science Center, which is a fan favorite among Orlando locals. Check out the wind tunnel, children’s play area, and wonderful IMAX screen featuring everything from films about space to under the sea.
This is one of the best things to do on a rainy day in Orlando as it’s entirely indoors – there’s even an environmental section featuring snakes, gators, and much more.
A dedicated toddler and kid’s play area also has soft foam blocks, a mini citrus grove experience and a water exploration table to make sure that they’re entertained for hours.
An on-site café has a Subway for lunch.
This evening, finish off your trip to Orlando with drinks in the Church Street station area of downtown.
Church Street has plenty of bar and nightclub options, and a bar crawl for the over 21’s is a fun way to celebrate a successful Orlando trip in true style. From the rooftop bar at Latitudes to some Irish spirit at Irish Shannon’s Pub, there’s something new to discover and different drinks to try at each one.
If you’re not of drinking age or want a different option besides bars, finish off the night by watching the fireworks for free at the Magic Kingdom!
Seriously, for free!
Head over to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge resort, where you can park as a “day” guest (meaning you’re not staying there overnight, and then head out to the back of the resort and take the free boat to the Magic Kingdom during the Magic Kingdom fireworks time.
You’ll get to see the fireworks blasting off over the castle as your boat gets closer, and the skippers will often stop to let you get a better view. The music will sometimes be piped onto the boat, but you will get some gorgeous photos and see the fireworks from a truly different vantage point than most Orlando visitors can say.
Stay on the boat, which will return to Wilderness Lodge, and then finish your evening with a non-alcoholic drink or snack at the resort’s outdoor casual dining area, Geyser’s Point.
This is a magical way to end a magical stay in Orlando, and a great way to weave in some Disney magic even if you don’t make it to the theme parks or don’t plan on stepping foot inside the theme parks during your stay in Orlando.
Bio: An Orlando native, Kalyn writes about USA travel and Disney tips at All-American Atlas.
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