The world knows that many Orlando attractions centre on theme parks of all descriptions. In fact, it is home to more than a dozen, so if you’re planning a trip there for that reason, then pack your walking shoes and hat and get ready for the thrill of a lifetime.
On the other hand, not everybody considers theme parks as the be-all-and-end-all of things to do in Orlando. Let’s take a look at what else there is to do there - with a bit of a science bent.
No. 1 Take an Airboat to see the ’Gators
Wannabe biologists, who doesn’t love a good old swamp tour? You’re in ‘gator country now! You can’t possibly miss an opportunity to see them in their natural habitat. Kissimmee Swamp Tours will get you right up close where you can practically feel the alligators around you. Your hair will stand on end, the goose bumps will hit and you’ll notice the adrenalin rush!
The tour will take you for an informative 60 or 90-minute airboat ride across the headwaters of Central Florida’s famous everglades. Kissimmee offer a total wilderness experience, away from the hustle and bustle of the city, where there is no traffic and no civilisation; just thriving, teeming wildlife everywhere you look. If you’re a bit of a biology enthusiast, love animals, are thrilled by conservation or wish you could be the next Croc Hunter, then this tour is for you.
Spot endangered birdlife such as the snail kite and whooping crane. Catch a glimpse of wild deer and pigs. And of course, what you’re there for is to see a real, live, prehistoric alligator in the flesh. You won’t be disappointed! TripAdvisor reviewers comment that their airboat experience and alligator watching was a huge success and they enjoyed every minute of it, particularly the informative talk given by the Captain.
An hour’s drive out of the city makes it a fair way to go but we’re counting it as one of the things to do in Orlando that are really worth the additional investment in time.
No. 2 Space-Out in Astronaut ‘Nirvana’
Out of the swamp and out into space, you will enjoy a thrilling adventure that’s out of this world at the Kennedy Space Centre. Launch into a fascinating day of science-based education, entertainment and interactivity and chances are good that you’ll meet an actual astronaut. The Kennedy Space Centre is a living, breathing, working government facility that contributes significantly to research, development and mission execution for NASA’s space projects.
Within the centre is the Visitor Complex where visitors are invited to embark on various activities. The Shuttle Launch Experience will treat you like an astronaut, strapping you in vertically to a custom-designed crew cabin before seemingly hurtling you through space. Visit the Apollo/Saturn V Centre where you’ll see what it took to put a man on the moon back in the 1960s. In the IMAX Theatre, you can see exactly what astronauts see when they look back at Earth from their spacecraft. The NASA Now exhibit enables you to explore what’s currently happening in the space program, not the least of which, the highly anticipated Journey to Mars.
Science enthusiasts will have the time of their lives at the Kennedy Space Centre where there is so much information, so many facts and figures and such a head-spin of cool stuff that you won’t sleep for days afterwards. For that reason alone, it absolutely had to feature on our list of science lovers’ things to do in Orlando.
No. 3 The most exciting Science Class ever!
The Orlando Science Centre has been welcoming visitors for more than sixty years and features four floors of fascinating exhibits. Rain, hail or shine, its open every day of the week from 10am. The Centre is divided into various Exhibit Halls including Our Planet, DinoDigs, Engineer It, Kinetic Zone, NatureWorks and KidsTown. Each one offers its very own interactive fun combined with education that will enchant kids and adults alike. Uncover ‘fossils’ in the DinoDigs dig pit and take a close look at fossilised dinosaur eggs.
Try your hand at engineering in the Engineer It Hall where you can explore truss, arch and beam bridges and create a Lego brick boat that floats on water. The NatureWorks exhibit offers a hands-on opportunity to learn about Central Florida’s diverse ecosystems and there’s even a man-made cypress swamp inhabited by live alligators.
Though the Orlando Science Centre is aimed more towards children, there’s no doubt that adults enjoy it too and many return multiple times, either to see current exhibitions or to catch something they may have missed before. It’s one of the great science-y things you can do on a rainy day when the thought of trudging around a theme park might be less than appealing!
No. 4 The science of Froth and Bubble
If your idea of a scientifically educational day out is examining the alchemy that goes into the creation of a craft beer, then the Crooked Can Brewery is for you. Situated in the Plant Street Market in the downtown Winter Garden development, Crooked Can takes visitors through the brewery for a look at the steps a good beer goes through to get to the tap, bottle or can. Tours are run every hour from noon to 4pm on Sundays but can be arranged for other days if enquiries are made in advance.
Learn what goes into boutique beers and the process of turning these humble ingredients into a sparkling beverage. Talk to the brewers, ask your most scientific questions and come away with a new appreciation for the white-coated professionals behind this popular liquid refreshment.
Don’t let Extreme Weather ruin your holiday
We’re betting that finding yourself bunked down in a hotel ballroom is not on your list of things to do in Orlando, however science-y the experience could be. Given the city’s reputation for hurricanes, tornadoes and flooding, we recommend squaring away that smart travel insurance* before you head over.
Extreme weather is not conducive to travel plans so cancellations and delays can throw a definite spanner in the works and cost you lots of money. Better to be safe than sorry and not throw away your hard-earned money on things that are out of your control!