21 Unique Orlando North Experiences for Out-of-Towners: Beyond Theme Parks

Want to show your visiting family and friends the unique charm of Florida? From paddling through the tranquil Wekiva River to feeding alligators or giraffes, this guide offers a plethora of choices. Imagine the thrill of kayaking down serene waterways, the fun of navigating through the World’s Largest Indoor Obstacle Park, or the delight of zipping around the city by golf cart. These 21 unique activities are not just about having fun—they’re about creating unforgettable experiences and stories that will be cherished for years. Ready for an adventure that’s out of the ordinary? Let’s dive in and explore the best of Orlando North!

1. Kayak at Wekiva Island 

Launch your kayaking adventure at Wekiva Island, a popular starting point for exploring the serene waters of the Wekiva River. Paddle upstream to the enchanting Wekiwa Springs State Park, where crystal clear springs and rich wildlife await. Bring your own gear or rent directly at Wekiva Island. This journey offers a tranquil escape into nature, perfect for out-of-towners seeking a unique Florida experience. Pro tip: enjoy a refreshing craft beer while listening to live tunes at The Tooting Otter, Wekiva Island’s premier bar.

2. Bike Along Sanford Riverwalk  

Sanford Riverwalk presents a picturesque biking trail along the shores of Lake Monroe, which connects to the St John River. Visitors can rent bikes from Bicikleta & Pedal Driven Co. and enjoy a leisurely ride with breathtaking views of the lake and the vibrant Sanford marina. It’s an ideal way to explore the area’s natural beauty and local culture.

3. Ride a Horse on Hidden Palm Ranch’s Trails

Hidden Palm Ranch in Sanford offers guided horseback rides along scenic trails. It’s a fantastic way to experience the natural beauty of the area, suitable for riders of all levels, including beginners. They also offer a ‘Horse Experience’ for those more comfortable loving on a horse than riding them.

4. Golf Cart in Historic Downtown Sanford

When in Sanford, do as the Sanfordites do! Experience the charm of Historic Downtown Sanford in a unique way by renting a golf cart from Sanford Tours & Experiences. Cruise through the quaint streets lined with historic buildings, artisan shops, and cozy cafes. It’s a fun, relaxed way to take in the local sights and sounds.

5. Attend a Concert at Crane’s Roost Park

Crane’s Roost Park, a one-mile paved loop and outdoor amphitheater in Altamonte Springs, hosts various concerts and events throughout the year. It’s a great spot to enjoy live music in an outdoor setting, surrounded by the beautiful backdrop of Crane’s Roost Lake.

6. Shop in Downtown Lake Mary

Downtown Lake Mary is a shopper’s paradise, featuring a collection of boutique stores, local artisan shops, and delightful eateries. The area combines a small-town feel with a sophisticated array of shopping options, perfect for an afternoon of browsing and dining.

7. Visit the Goldsboro Museum

The Goldsboro Museum in Sanford is a must-visit for history enthusiasts. Goldsboro, America’s second-ever Black-incorporated township, offers a deep history going back to 1891. The museum offers a deep dive into the rich cultural and historical heritage of one of the oldest African-American communities in the United States. Daily public tours are held at 2pm.

8. Feed Giraffes at the Central Florida Zoo

The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens offers a unique and interactive experience where visitors can get up close and personal with wildlife. Feed giraffes, touch rhinoceroses, ride a train and even zip line through the Central Florida canopy. These are unique opportunities to get up close with majestic creatures, making it a hit with both kids and adults.

9. Dine on a Steamboat Down the St. Johns River

Take a leisurely steamboat ride down the St. Johns River on the beloved Barbara-Lee. This scenic journey offers a glimpse into Florida’s natural beauty and wildlife, and it’s a relaxing way to spend an afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The St. Johns Rivership Co. offers luncheon, dinner, and dance cruises for a fun date night or evening with the family.

10. Encounter Butterflies and Quail at Lukas Nursery 

Lukas’s Nursery in Oveido features a breathtaking ‘butterfly encounter’ where visitors can walk among a variety of vibrant butterflies, button quail, and colorful finches. It’s an enchanting experience, especially for nature lovers and photographers. Learn about Florida nectar plants as you feed and interact with wildlife in this 4000 sq ft conservatory.

11. Hike the Black Bear Wilderness Trail

Who says you can’t hike in Florida? This seven-mile looped trail provides a rugged, natural setting for hikers to explore the diverse ecosystems of Central Florida. The trail is known for its wildlife sightings, including the elusive black bear, making it an exciting adventure for nature enthusiasts.

12. Golf at Mayfair Country Club

If Central Florida is famous for one sport, it would be golf. Mayfair Country Club presents a premier golfing experience with its well-maintained, challenging 18-hole course. Surrounded by stunning natural scenery, it’s a favorite among golf enthusiasts visiting the area. Who knows, you may rub shoulders with one of the several PGA golfers who frequent this course.

13. Ride the Free Trolley to the Sunrail in Sanford

Enjoy a ride to the Sunrail station aboard the totally free and incredibly charming Sanford trolley. The trolly actually runs on a continuous loop of eleven stops, including the Visitors Center, Sanford Museum, and Georgetown Square.  It’s a quaint and convenient way to travel around the city, offering a unique perspective of the local streetscapes.

14. Visit an Orlando North Farmer’s Market

Orlando North offers several farmers’ markets where visitors can enjoy local produce, artisan crafts, and gourmet food. These markets are a great way to experience the local culture and cuisine. Popular markets include Sanford Marketplace at Magnolia on Saturday mornings, Lake Mary Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, Longwood Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings , Oviedo Farmers Market at Lawton House on the 1st Saturday of every month, and the Geneva Heritage Farmers Market on the 3rd Saturday of every month.

15. Birdwatch at the Geneva Wilderness Area

The Geneva Wilderness Area is a haven for birdwatchers, offering a chance to see a wide variety of bird species in their natural habitat. The area’s trails and observation points make it an ideal spot for nature observation. Visitors also report sighting gopher tortoise, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, and grey fox.

16. Airboat at The Black Hammock

Experience the thrill of an airboat ride at The Black Hammock in Oviedo. Skim across the waters of Lake Jesup, known for its large alligator population, and enjoy an exhilarating ride while exploring the local wetlands. An absolute must for out-of-towners!

17. Go on a Sanford Ghost Tour

Discover the historical and cultural gems on a guided walking tour of Sanford. Sanford Tours and Experiences hosts four regular tours: the Sanford Ghost Tour, Sanford’s Haunted Brewery Tour, Sanford Craft Beer & History Tour, and Downtown Sanford History & Architectural Tour. These tours offer insights into the city’s rich history, architecture, and local anecdotes, making them a fascinating activity for visitors!

18. Play in the World’s Largest Indoor Obstacle Park

Brace yourself for Planet Obstacle, the World’s Largest Indoor Obstacle Park! Founded by two Cirque du Soleil veterans, this 50,000 sq ft indoor obstacle park offers a fun and challenging experience for all ages. It’s a great place to spend a day, especially for those looking for an active indoor activity.

19. Feed Alligators at Congo River Golf

Congo River Golf in Altamonte Springs offers a unique mini-golf experience complete with massive waterfalls and rocky cliffs with the added opportunity to feed live alligators hot dogs on a stick (yes, you read that right). It’s an exciting twist on a family-friendly activity, combining adventure with entertainment!

20. Drink from Das Boot at Hollerbach’s German Restaurant

Hollerbach’s German Restaurant is known for its authentic German cuisine and lively atmosphere complete with authentic Polka tunes. A highlight is drinking from ‘Das Boot,’ a large beer glass meant to be shared, which adds a fun and memorable element to the dining experience.

21. Rollerskate at Semoran Skateway

Semoran Skateway provides a classic roller-skating experience, complete with music and disco lights. It’s a fun, nostalgic activity for families or groups looking for a relaxed evening out. Check their website for a schedule of themed time blocks, including Family Fun Night, Rhythm Night (16-and-up), Tiny Tots, and Old School Jams. Semoran Skateway also offers “Skate School” for those looking to hone their craft.


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