Air Florida Helicopter Charters
8990 International Drive, 407-354-1400, airfloridahelicopter.com
You'll be surprised how exhilarating it is to go up in a 'copter right off I-4. Tours give you a bird's-eye view of the theme parks, the malls, downtown Orlando and more. A variety of tours are available starting at $20.
6805 Visitors Circle, 407-903-1150, iflyorlando.com
Skydive without a plane: Fly in the vertical wind tunnel. Training session and use of flight gear included. Reservations are suggested. Admission starts at $59.95.
The Orlando Eye
8445 International Drive, 407-601-7907, i-drive360.com/the-orlando-eye
The 400-foot-tall Ferris wheel is the center of the I-Drive 360 entertainment complex, perfect for a sunset view of the area. See as far as Kennedy Space Center during the 30-minute, $25 ride.
1805 Deen Still Road, Davenport, 863-424-0070, wallaby.com
Even in flat Central Florida, you can hang-glide – no mountain required. Wallaby Ranch's aerotow system will launch your glider into the air, or for newbies, your tandem flight with an instructor. Prices vary widely based on experience level and equipment rental.
Airboat Rides at Midway
28501 E. Colonial Drive, Christmas, 407-568-6790, airboatridesatmidway.com
You are almost guaranteed to see gators – lots of them – on this popular airboat tour. It's the one we always take visitors from out of town to experience. Open 9:30 a.m. daily, night tours available. Tours start at $40 for one hour.
5800 Water Play Way, 888-800-5447, aquaticabyseaworld.com
SeaWorld's water park. Enjoy a variety of slides alongside animal attractions. Hours vary seasonally; admission prices vary with deals for Florida residents.
6000 Discovery Cove Way, 877-557-7404, discoverycove.com
If SeaWorld doesn't get you close enough, try across the road where you can actually swim with fish and dolphins. Prices vary, but start at $219. Reservations are required.
Wet 'n Wild
6200 International Drive, 407-351-1800, wetnwild.com
Enjoy it while you can: The water park that's served Orlando since 1977 says it's closing Dec. 31, 2016. Experience thrill rides with vertical drops, multi-person tubing rides, toboggan slides and more. If you like your water rides on the milder side, float along the lazy river or splash in the wave pool.
I-Drive NASCAR Indoor Kart Racing
5228 Vanguard St., 407-581-9644, idrivenascar.com
This indoor go-kart race facility isn't just for the little ones – big kids will also enjoy racing the environmentally friendly electric carts around the half-mile track at up to 45 miles per hour. Races start at $18.99.
Orlando Speed World Dragway
19164 E. Colonial Drive, 407-568-5522, raceosw.com/dragway
If you're into drag racing, this is the place to be. Check out street dragsters, motorcycles, old hot rods and even school buses as they go flat-out. Street drags every Friday and Saturday, and drifting events, too. Check the schedule online for events and prices.
Audubon Center for Birds of Prey
1101 Audubon Way, Maitland, 407-644-0190, fl.audubon.org
Get up close and personal with awesome raptors at this rehab center located in a 1920s bungalow on Lake Sybelia. There's a walking trail and aviaries housing injured birds that can't be released back into the wild. Admission: $5.
Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens
3755 NW Highway 17-92, Sanford, 407-323-4450, centralfloridazoo.org
Home to more than 500 animals, not counting the Insect Zoo. They also have a couple of ziplines (check their sports and recreation section for details). Admission: $14.95.
14501 S. Orange Blossom Trail, 407-855-5496, gatorland.com It's a roadside attraction turned eco-preserve. The flesh-eating monsters roam (almost) free, along with many more scary things. Watch them swim, eat, sleep, wrestle and jump. Adult admission: $26.99.
Jungle Adventures Nature Park
26205 State Road 50, Christmas, 407-568-2885, jungleadventures.com
Kind of like Gatorland, but smaller and more intimate, this roadside attraction takes in injured and abandoned wildlife for rehab. Enter through the mouth of the "largest gator in Florida," a 200-footer that used to double as the home of the park's original owner. Inside, you'll see rarities such as a Florida panther and gray wolves. Adult admission: $23.95.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
State Road 405 east of Titusville (or GPS coordinates 28o31'34.10"N and 80o40'45.12"W), 866-737-5235, kennedyspacecenter.com
Space junkies, this complex is worth the drive to Titusville: Take guided tours of launch areas, see historic rockets, ride the Shuttle Launch Experience and see the Astronaut Hall of Fame. It really is rocket science. Check website for admission.
Orange County Regional History Center
65 E. Central Blvd., 407-836-8500, thehistorycenter.org
The 1927 county courthouse includes permanent exhibits from natural Florida through Disney's coming. Traveling exhibits broaden its appeal, and a local history archive awaits scholars. Adult admission: $8.
Orlando Science Center
777 E. Princeton St., 407-514-2000, osc.org
The museum is home to SimMan, a life-sized simulated sick person whose vital signs you can follow until he flatlines, as well as Florida's largest refractor telescope and all sorts of hands-on learning experiences that'll appeal to kids and grown-ups alike. Adult admission: $19.95.
Bok Tower Gardens
1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales, 863-676-1408, boktowergardens.org
A botanical and historical masterpiece designed by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., crowned with a 205-foot bell tower. Open daily 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with singing carillon concerts at 1 and 3 p.m. Adult admission $12; $3 for children.
Harry P. Leu Gardens
1920 N. Forest Ave., 407-246-2620, leugardens.org
Three miles of paved paths wind through gorgeous botanical displays, including the largest formal rose garden in Florida and a butterfly garden. Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; $10 for adults, $3 children.
Mead Botanical Garden
1300 S. Denning Drive, Winter Park, 407-599-2800, meadgarden.org
This green oasis features bike paths, boardwalks and picnic areas full of native plants. The park also features restored wetlands and riparian forests. It's a hidden Winter Park gem. Open daily, 8 a.m. to dusk, free.
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