Popular Landmarks and Attractions Near Orlando

From its world-famous theme parks to its premier golf courses, check out the best things to see and do around this Florida city.
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Photo By: Visit Orlando

Photo By: Visit Orlando

Photo By: the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau

Photo By: 2014 Universal Orlando Resort. All rights reserved.

Photo By: Visit Orlando

Photo By: Visit Orlando

Photo By: Visit Orlando

Photo By: Visit Orlando

Photo By: Visit Orlando

Photo By: Visit Orlando

Photo By: Visit Orlando

Lake Eola in Orlando, Fla.

Right in the heart of downtown Orlando, this park is the heart of the city itself. In addition to its beautiful view of Orlando’s skyline, Lake Eola has an amphitheater where plays and concerts may be enjoyed throughout the year. Walkers and runners can burn a few calories along a 0.9-mile trail that circles the lake. Pedal-propelled swan rental boats may seduce, but exercise caution in summer months.

Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom and Epcot

Of course, no list of Orlando attractions would be complete without Walt Disney World: the world-famous resort draws more than 50 million visitors each year. Besides its four major theme parks – Magic Kingdom (left), Epcot (right), Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios – Disney has two water parks, 35 resort hotels, four golf courses and countless restaurants and other recreation options. A few things for Disney fans to look forward to in 2014: the new Seven Dwarves Mine Train ride in Fantasyland, an all-new parade set to roll down Main Street U.S.A., and a new luxury resort by Four Seasons Hotels.

Downtown Disney in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Disney's influence on Orlando extends beyond its four theme parks: Downtown Disney offers shopping, dining and nightlife.

Universal Orlando Resort

Owned by NBCUniversal and its affiliates, Universal Orlando Resort encompasses two parks: Universal Studios features movie-themed attractions like Transformers: The Ride (pictured, left), Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, and Revenge of the Mummy. Islands of Adventure boasts rides inspired by Marvel Comics, plus the popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter (pictured, right). In 2014, Universal is expanding its Wizarding World as well as its CityWalk entertainment complex.

One Ocean Show at SeaWorld Orlando

Get up close and personal with whales, sea turtles, penguins and other aquatic life at SeaWorld Orlando. The park’s all-new Shamu show, One Ocean, pairs majestic killer whales with dancing fountains and vivid colors for an exhilarating visual experience.

Kennedy Space Center in Florida

The Kennedy Space Center, which sits on 140,000 acres on Merritt Island off the Atlantic coast, is used by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to run missions on an ongoing basis. It also happens to be a hyper-popular tourist attraction. The $60 million Shuttle Launch Experience is the most technologically advanced exhibit ever created at the complex. Using a custom-designed motion platform, the attraction re-creates the sensations of blasting into earth’s orbit.

Orlando Museum of Art in Orlando, Fla.

The Orlando Museum of Art houses a good selection of African, pre-Columbian and American art. Every first Thursday of each month, OMA showcases works by local artists, with live music, beer and wine as added amenities.

Golfing in Orlando, Fla.

Orlando is, without a doubt, a premier golfing destination, so much so entire “golfing communities” are built around courses for the benefit of those who love to tee. The 18-hole Legacy Golf Course at Ginn Reunion Resort (pictured) wanders through an inspiring landscape including natural preserve areas of woods, water, oak and palm trees.

Daytona USA in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Orlando enjoys a car and bike culture year-round, but every February and March, half a million visitors descend on Daytona Beach to ride motorcycles, party and enjoy several days of motorcycle racing at the Daytona Beach International Speedway. Daytona USA, located at the Speedway, presents the history and excitement of NASCAR racing with interactive exhibits, motion simulator rides, live pit stop competitions and NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience.

Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando, Fla.

The Harry P. Leu Gardens are a city oasis consisting of three miles of paved scenic walkways winding through 50 acres of lush gardens. Passionate feelings seem to ignite here, as lots of Orlandoans choose the gardens as their wedding backdrop.

Blue Spring State Park in Orange City, Fla.

This Volusia County park about an hour north of Orlando is a good introduction to Florida nature and among the best in the region for manatee watching. Marvel as the gentle creatures gather, seeking refuge from lower water temperatures in the winter months. The park is along the St. Johns River, which visitors may explore in canoes available for rent.