Beyond the Theme Parks: Exploring Orlando’s Hidden Gems

It’s difficult to avoid discussing Disney and theme parks when talking about Orlando, Florida. However, we assure you there is more to this sunny city than The Magic Kingdom. 

Leu Gardens

Harry P. Leu Gardens is a fantastic experience for all ages. It is open to the public and spans over 50 acres. On-site, you can find giant oaks and forests of camellias. The Gardens were started in 1936 by Mr. And Mrs. Harry Leu. They purchased the land and built it up over decades of travel. They would bring back plants and other flora species. 

There are many common courtesy requests on the website for the Gardens. Since there’s no charge to visit, everyone must protect and respect the premises. If you have recently reviewed houses for rent in Orlando, you may have come across mention of the gardens. They are a local treasure. Some people have their weddings or birthdays here as well. 

Even more exciting for families, there are classes, camps, and workshops for everyone. Set the little ones up for summer day camp. While they are off learning, you can attend a class to learn how to plant summer vegetables, make pressed flower art, or paint in the garden. Once the days get closer to summer, catch a movie at the gardens. 

Lake Eola Park

Orland is a beautiful city boasting brilliant weather. Lake Eola Park is located downtown and surrounds Lake Eola. You can count on blossoming flower beds and seeing plenty of swans, ducks, and other water-dwelling animals. It’s the best spot in town to walk and find out about upcoming events from fliers. 

There are events held here year-round. The Russian Ballet Orlando performs The Nutcracker Ballet every year in December. Annually, the community celebrates Fourth of July fireworks and Come Out With Pride at Lake Eola Park. 

Additionally, you can enjoy the big red pagoda in the park or climb aboard a swan paddle boat. Couples, students, visitors, and families gather here for lunch and watch the people hang out on the water. In 2013 they expanded, adding more acreage and a paved patio. It is truly a centerpiece of the city. 


Similar to a theme park, Gatorland is a park with quite a prominent theme. Gatorland is home to alligators, crocodiles, wild cats, tortoises, and a capybara! Gatorland is another option for the whole family. See who is brave enough to take on the Gator Gauntlet or the Screaming Gater Zipline. 

The Gator Gauntlet is a zipline over the alligator breeding marsh at 350 feet. You’ll need to be a brave soul to tackle this attraction! The Screaming Gater Zipline is about 1,200 feet in the air and flies you through several of the park’s attractions. Catch several demos of feedings or educational exhibits.

These options are a new taste of what Orlando has to offer. However, we know that Disney is alluring. We would never suggest avoiding the parks. There are so many essential experiences at the parks. You can have epic adventures in the parks or at these local locations. It’s all about what you make of your trip!