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100 Things You Must Do in Orlando 

An updated list (in no particular order!) of things every person who lives in Orlando should do at least once.

An updated list (in no particular order!) of things every person who lives in Orlando should do at least once.

1. Visit the Billy Manes memorial mural at Burton's (801 E. Washington St.) and bask in the radiance.

No. 1 - IMAGE VIA THE BILLY MANES LEGACY MURAL/FACEBOOK
  • Image via the Billy Manes Legacy Mural/Facebook
  • No. 1

2. Create classic Orlando food combos that should exist but don't, like Chuan Lu la zi chicken on a Lazy Moon pizza slice, or Black Rooster's pork-fat taco atop a bowl of Pho 88 rice vermicelli.

3. Take a date on a swan boat tour of Lake Eola (boat rentals are in the park near South Rosalind Street and East Robinson Avenue).

4. Take advantage of MAYL, the OCLS home delivery service. That's right, the Orange County Library System will actually deliver books to your front door for no charge (ocls.info).

5. Go to the new Discover Downtown, the renovated information center (201 S. Orange Ave.) and shop for O-town swag by local makers, like coloring books, plush stuffed swans, and hats and T-shirts.

6. Arrive early enough to grab a front-row couch seat while doing dinner and a movie at the Enzian (1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, enzian.org).

7. Plan your own SunRail pub crawl: Start by hitting a bar or two in downtown Orlando, ride the rail up to Winter Park, then head to Sanford where SunRail is a short Uber ride away from the bars and restaurants along First Street. Don't forget to stop drinking in time to catch the last train home. (sunrail.com)

8. Go to an improv show at SAK Comedy Lab, but don't sit in the front unless you like public humiliation (29 S. Orange Ave., sak.com).

9. Visit the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp (cassadaga.org) to get your tarot and/or aura read, shop for crystal balls, take a ghost tour, and perch on the Devil's Chair. A more unique day trip is impossible to find.

10. Lose yourself in the visceral, testosterone-chugging, fossil fuel-incinerating joy of Monster Jam, every January at Camping World Stadium (campingworldstadium.com).

11. Creep yourself out at the Orange County Regional History Center (65 E. Colonial Blvd., thehistorycenter.org) by gazing upon Ted Bundy's name carved into a desk, supposedly by Bundy himself as he was tried in the Orange County Courthouse for the murder of Kimberly Leach. (The History Center says he didn't do the carving, but you gotta admit, it's still spooky to think of him sitting there.)

12. While you're at the History Center, pay your respects to Julius "July" Perry, the 1920 lynching victim who received a commemorative marker in Heritage Square this year.

13. ALSO while you're there, donate a buck or two to get Billy the Swan restuffed. Billy was one of the original Orlando swans, back when they swam in Lake Lucerne, not Lake Eola, and he ruled the roost from 1910 to 1933. After his death he was stuffed, but has since fallen into disrepair and, according to the History Center, "he will need a specialist in historical taxidermy to bring him back to his former glory."

14. Speaking of taxidermy, read local author Kristen Arnett's Mostly Dead Things (tinhouse.com), a novel about love and taxidermy. She's headed for the big time and you'll be able to say you read the Orlando native's work way back when.

15. Kayak a bioluminescent lagoon. In the summer through early fall, the Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon near Titusville are full of bioluminescence after dark – every movement in the water produces an eerie, sparkly light.

16. Pay your respects to the 49 victims of the mass shooting at the gay nightclub Pulse (1912 S. Orange Ave.). Dozens of people visit this site every day to bring flowers, teddy bears, balloons and even painted rocks. But please, no smiling selfies.

17. Go to an Orlando Pride soccer game, our team in the National Women's Soccer League. Starring the A-team of Ali Krieger, Ashlyn Harris and Alex Morgan, all members of the U.S. Women's National Team, the club has set NWSL attendance records in our soccer-crazed town. (Season runs April-September; Exploria Stadium, 655 W. Church St., orlandocitysc.com)

18. Pop in a DVD or VHS of Orlando taekwondo legend and amateur filmmaker Y.K. Kim's 1987 cult masterpiece Miami Connection. Revel in the songs of Dragon Sound and the over-the-top fight scenes, then record yourself reenacting key moments as they were filmed on the mean streets of Orlando (and send us the video).

19. Camp out in front of Park Ave CDs (2916 Corrine Drive, parkavecds.com) for Record Store Day in April for the most fun you'll have in a queue in Orlando – with live music, comedy, food trucks, giveaways and more, it feels more like a party than a ridiculous waste of time.

20. Find a new show to love on the Rollins College student-run radio station, WPRK (91.5 FM) – no longer "the best in basement radio" since they moved aboveground in 2019, but still the best. Also, one of the last surviving terrestrial student stations in the country.

click image No. 27 - IMAGE VIA THE ALFOND INN/FACEBOOK
  • Image via the Alfond Inn/Facebook
  • No. 27

21. Attend Orlando's epic and outrageously colorful Come Out With Pride parade (comeoutwithpride.com).

22. Browse acres of antiques at one of Renninger's Antiques Center's multiple extravaganza events (20651 U.S. 441, Mount Dora; renningers.net). Start out on the sprawling lawn and then work your way up to the impressive collections housed in two separate buildings.

23. Throw away your umbrella and get soaked on purpose during the inevitable summer-afternoon downpour.

24. Take a pedicab back to your car after partying downtown; admire your driver's calves.

25. Argue over where College Park begins and ends with another longtime resident, but don't even get into the whole Mills 50/Colonialtown/ViMi thing.

26. Go to a reading at the Kerouac House (kerouacproject.org) and see the unassuming College Park room where Dharma Bums was written.

27. Get some culture while smashing a cocktail: Take a happy-hour tour of the stunning collection of contemporary art at the Alfond Inn (300 E. New England Ave., Winter Park, thealfondinn.com).

28. Instead of taking the boring way around, do/see/ride all the Harry Potter attractions at Universal Orlando (6000 Universal Blvd., universalorlando.com) in the order of Harry's journey in the books: Gringotts Money Exchange to Diagon Alley to the Hogwarts Express and so on and so forth for seven damn books.

29. Discover the impossibly scenic nearby oasis that is Orlando Wetlands Park (25155 Wheeler Road, Christmas, orlandowetlands.org), a breathtaking wildlife preserve and one of Central Florida's most picturesque parks.

30. Get dressed up and do dinner and a show, all on the same block: See a play at Mad Cow Theatre (54 W. Church St., madcowtheatre.com) and eat a swanky supper afterward just steps away at Kres Chophouse, the Rusty Spoon or ... Jersey Mike's Subs (no judgment!).

31. Learn Spanish. Whether you're reading a menu, listening to the radio or helping someone with directions, it's time to stop pretending that Florida is a monolingual state.

32. Take a leisurely 45-minute trip east on picturesque Colonial Drive to get your Christmas cards postmarked in Christmas, Florida.

33. See as many movies as you can at the Florida Film Festival, almost three decades old and still going strong (floridafilmfestival.com).

34. Ride an airboat and gawk at gators at Black Hammock Adventures (2356 Black Hammock Fish Camp Road, Oviedo, theblackhammock.com). Riding airboats is a quintessentially Central Floridian activity, as is slugging a few beers after your experience.

35. Buy plants from Leu Gardens (1920 N. Forest Ave., leugardens.org) at their annual plant sale, a massive flora and fauna bonanza that takes place every March. Spend some time exploring the gorgeous formal gardens while you're there.

36. Order your Pub sub online (at publix.com) and scoff at the crowd in line as you stroll in and pick it up with no waiting. Follow @PubSubs_on_sale on Twitter so you always know when there's a bargain.

37. Watch a rocket blast off into space at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (Kennedy Space Center, State Road 405, Titusville, kennedyspacecenter.com). Make sure you reserve a spot early because tickets go quickly for this jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring event.

38. Feed a fuzzy giraffe or meet a rhino at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens (3755 Seminole Blvd., Sanford, centralfloridazoo.org) from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

39. Get married at the Acre (4421 Edgewater Drive, theacreorlando.com), one of the coolest wedding venues in Orlando – or just wait for someone to invite you to their wedding there.

40. Remember why Shakespeare is known as the greatest English-language writer in history by experiencing one of his plays, transformed and performed by the 30-year-old Orlando Shakespeare Theater company (812 E. Rollins St., orlandoshakes.org).

click to enlarge No. 47 - PHOTO BY MATTHEW MOYER
  • Photo by Matthew Moyer
  • No. 47

41. Take the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, a two-hour self-guided tour that will lead you through 11 miles of nature preserve where you will definitely see at least a majority of the area's 362 species of birds here as well as alligators, bobcats, otters, and other wildlife. (sjrwmd.com)

42. Plan an East End Market food crawl: What with hyperlocal Bird of Paradise, Lineage Coffee, cheesemonger La Femme du Fromage, ramen house and bar Domu, healthy breakfasteers Farm-Haus, Skyebird's raw foods, the carnivorous delights from Hinckley's Fancy Meats and the half-pound, chip-studded insanity that is a cookie from Gideon's Bakehouse, there's almost too much to choose from (3201 Corrine Drive, eastendmkt.com).

43. Go to a Grapefruit League game – of the Major League Baseball teams that come to Florida for spring training, the Atlanta Braves, Detroit Tigers and New York Yankees all stay relatively near Orlando. See game schedules at floridagrapefruitleague.com.

44. Experiment with the high-tech tools at the Dorothy Lumley Melrose Center (101 E. Central Blvd., ocls.info). Record a podcast, set up a photo shoot, make your own movie – whatever you do, don't neglect this resource.

45. For true Orlando bragging rights, manage to snap a pic of Carrot Top on his Vespa in Winter Park traffic.

46. Pet a tarantula at Jungle Adventures – and a scorpion, and a baby gator, and a big slithery snake (26205 E. Colonial Drive, Christmas, jungleadventures.com).

47. Attend a show by our city's scrappiest and punkest indie wrestling federation, Mayhem on Mills, boasting the best and strangest of our area wrestling scene. Absurdity and athleticism and alcohol have never been so perfectly balanced.

48. See a Broadway musical at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts (445 S. Magnolia Ave., drphillipscenter.org). The venue itself is impressive – all modern, sleek interiors and pleasing acoustics – but it's the excellent programming that really makes a splash.

49. Follow the city's Significant Trees Map (cityoforlando.net), a loop that travels through various parks as grand as Loch Haven Park and as humble as Big Tree Park, and give your favorite a hug.

50. Enjoy Walt Disney World in the altered state of your choice.

51. Drink a Duff and eat a giant Lard Lad doughnut at the Simpsons' Springfield at Universal Studios (6000 Universal Blvd., universalorlando.com).

52. Pub crawl as a zombie during Audubon Park's Zombietoberfest (audubonparkgardens.com), but drink beers, not brains.

53. Learn about cricket and rugby from the British expat community, which is strangely significant in this part of the state. The best way to do this is to head to one of the area's British pubs: Try the Bull & Bush (2408 E Robinson St.), Murphy's Arms (6582 International Drive) or St. Andrew's Tavern (1119 State Road 436, Altamonte Springs).

54. Go to at least one show at the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. It's the longest-running fringe festival in the United States (orlandofringe.org). Don't forget to drink a beer or catch a live band on the Fringe Lawn.

55. Explore the expansive collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany at the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art (445 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, morsemuseum.org). Be blown away by the completely gorgeous chapel interior that's been reconstructed inside the museum. Even better, it's free to get in on Friday afternoons (4-8 p.m.) November through April.

56. Take the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour (312 E. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, scenicboattours.com), which takes you through an amazing series of lush, narrow canals that connect the Winter Park Chain of Lakes. If you've ever wondered whether this tour was worth checking out, the answer is yes – do it.

57. Gawk at the show dogs strutting their stuff at the AKC Eukanuba National Championship, which takes place at the Orange County Convention Center every December (akc.org/nationalchampionship).

58. Eat a bánh mì in the Mills 50 district. This Vietnamese sandwich is king in this neighborhood, and you have plenty of options to choose from. We suggest you start with Boston Bakery & Café (1525 E. Colonial Drive), Banh Mi Nha Trang (1216 E. Colonial Drive) or Anh Hong (1124 E. Colonial Drive).

59. Use a 3-D printer to make your dreams come true at "fabrication laboratory" Factur (520 Virginia Drive, factur.org).

60. Go shopping at Magic Mall for the best mixtapes and affordable gold (2155 W. Colonial Drive, magicmallplaza.com).

click image No. 67 - IMAGE VIA SKYCRAFT
  • Image via Skycraft
  • No. 67

61. RSVP on the website and join one of Greenwood Cemetery's Moonlight Walking Tours, where you'll see the final resting places of people with last names like Bumby, Carr and Tinker (1603 Greenwood St., cityoforlando.net/greenwood).

62. Marvel at the beauty and delicate scent of a night-blooming cereus. The cactus flower known as Selenicereus grandiflora unfolds only at night and sometimes only once a year. They're so beloved in Orlando that there's a Facebook group devoted to tracking them down.

63. It doesn't matter if you're vegan or the biggest carnivore in town – after you stagger out of a downtown bar, there's no more welcome sight than the Vegan Hot Dog Cart. Wolf down a Holiday Dog; in the morning you'll be glad you skipped that run for the border (facebook.com/theveganhotdogcart).

64. Do a train shot at Ivanhoe Village's Hammered Lamb (1235 N. Orange Ave., thehammeredlamb.com), where the shots are complimentary for bar patrons each time the train rolls past the back patio.

65. Devour oysters at Lee and Rick's Oyster Bar (5621 Old Winter Garden Road) until someone discovers a pearl. The world may not be your oyster, but the pearl, now that you have a claim to.

66. See a show at Timucua (2000 S. Summerlin Ave., timucua.com). This unique music venue is actually in the home of local musician Benoit Glazer and his family, but don't by shy – it's an acoustically pleasing, fully functional venue with three tiers of seating for a crowd of up to 150. Most shows are free, but you're expected to bring a bottle of wine to share. A pittance for such a gorgeous experience.

67. Try to build a robot out of random items from the looks-like-a-mad-robotics-engineer's-laboratory-just-exploded electronics surplus shop, Skycraft Surplus (2245 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, skycraftsurplus.com). But do it soon if you want to see the iconic rocket and flying saucer out front.

68. Attend an Orlando City Council (every other Monday) or Orange County Commission meeting (every other Tuesday).

69. Catch a drag show, play trivia, or pose on the pool deck at the famous Parliament House (401 N. Orange Blossom Trail, parliamenthouse.com).

70. Drink your way around the world at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, and don't miss the live chef demos (disneyworld.disney.go.com).

71. Take a twirl through the Florida Prize in Contemporary Art at Orlando Museum of Art, an annual celebration of the best new artists working in Florida (2416 N. Mills Ave., omart.org).

72. Complete a feat that has only been accomplished by the few, the proud, the elite drinkers among us: Start at the Brass Tap and have a drink in every bar on Mills Avenue until you hit Wally's. This one gets harder and harder every year, so eat some tacos along the way.

73. Conquer your fear of heights by riding the 400-foot tall observation wheel overlooking I-Drive – currently known as "the Wheel at Icon Park," but that's the third or fourth name in seven years. Just head south, you'll see it.

74. Drink a beer you've never had before at Redlight Redlight (2810 Corrine Drive, redlightredlightbeerparlour.com), still the OG craft beer hub even with all the new breweries we've sprouted. Ask a knowledgeable bartender to recommend one or just close your eyes and point.

76. Chug a yard of beer out of a big glass boot while the crowd cheers you on at Hollerbach's Willow Tree Café (201 E. First St., Sanford, willowtreecafe.com).

77. Visit the West Art District and marvel at the thousands of square feet of mural art. Then go back a month later and see all new work covering up what you saw last time (1011 W. Central Blvd., westartdistrict.com).

78. Play with the interactive sculpture "Light Waves" on the Magnolia Street side of the Orlando Public Library. See if you can puzzle out the directions to unlock a special sound and light show just for you.

75. Go to Lake Eola Park and lounge on the 40-foot-long "Muse of Discovery" sculpture's hand.

79. Pet a panther at Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge (10525 Clapp Simms Duda Road, facebook.com/btnwildlife), or any other Florida rescue they've taken in to rehabilitate, from ring-tailed lemurs to fallow deer.

80. Jump feet first into the shockingly (but also refreshingly) cool springs at Wekiwa Springs (1800 Wekiwa Circle, Apopka). Or reserve a cabana at Wekiva Island and make new friends while partying your ass off (wekivaisland.com).

click image No. 93 - IMAGE VIA POM POM'S TEAHOUSE & SANDWICHERIA/FACEBOOK
  • Image via Pom Pom's Teahouse & Sandwicheria/Facebook
  • No. 93

81. Muster your courage (and your best bedroom dance moves) to demonstrate your vocal prowess at Big Daddy's (3001 Corrine Drive, bigdaddysorlando.com) nightly karaoke.

82. Order the biggest slice you've ever seen at Lazy Moon Pizza (11551 University Blvd. or 1011 E. Colonial Drive, lazymoonpizza.com) – or for a real experience, order (and finish) the gigantic 30-inch pizza.

83. Reserve the chef's table at Luma on Park (290 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, lumaonpark.com). From the moment you're seated under the spotlight and served some off-menu tidbit or other (truffle popcorn is a frequent amuse-bouche), you'll have a play-by-play view of all the haute kitchen action.

84. Dive into Nona Adventure Park, a water-based sporting center with a 60-foot-high climbing tower, a cable-rigged wakeboarding system, and an inflatable obstacle course (14086 Centerline Drive, nonaadventurepark.com).

85. Wander the grounds of Orange County's first National Historic Landmark, the eccentric, gorgeous, Mayan Revival Maitland Art Center (231 W. Packwood Ave., Maitland, artandhistory.org).

86. Vote in a local election instead of just complaining about the way things are (ocfelections.com). You can still complain, but only if you participate.

87. Indulge in a perfectly done steak at Linda's La Cantina (4721 E. Colonial Drive, lindaslacantina.com), which has been in business in Orlando since 1947.

88. Pick a side and cosplay at MegaCon as either a DC or Marvel character, then get in the huge group photo with some star creators (megaconorlando.com).

89. Visit Holy Land Experience (4655 Vineland Road, holylandexperience.com) on its annual free day. Every year the Biblical-themed amusement park is required to open its doors to the public for free in exchange for property-tax exemptions. The annual event is chaotic and crowded, but the experience is ... well, it's something.

90. As soon as it gets hot out (so, like ... May 1), go to Icebar Orlando (8967 International Drive, icebarorlando.com), belly up to the iceblock bar, and refuse to leave until November.

91. Make a Parramore day of it: Visit the Wells' Built Museum (511 W. South St.), stuff your face at Nikki's Place (the cornbread! 742 Carter St.), flip through vinyl at Re-Runz Record store (642 W. Church St.), have a beer at Broken Strings Brewery (1012 W. Church St.), get ice cream at Goff's Drive-In (212 S. Orange Blossom Trail), then end up at Stonewall Bar (741 W. Church St.) for a show or a cocktail.

92. Force yourself off your couch and then elbow your way into Lil Indies (1036 N. Mills Ave.) in Mills 50 on a Wednesday night and check out Orlando soul firebrand Eugene Snowden's "10 Pints of Truth" weekly residency. Boozy and broken-hearted in all the best ways.

93. Slide behind a table at the Milk District's Pom Pom's Teahouse & Sandwicheria (67 N. Bumby Ave., pompomsteahouse.com) on a Friday or Saturday late night. The food is delicious, the place is packed to the gills, and spirits will no doubt be high. All. Night. Long.

94. Relive the glory days when Orlando Live Events was Orlando Jai-Alai during the one week a year that they still host live jai-alai (this year, that's July 8-12). Wear your best Miami Vice suit, push up your sleeves, and let the betting slips fly (Orlando Live Events, 6405 S. U.S. Highway 17-92, Fern Park, orlandoliveevents.com).

95. Scarf down a couple of roast beef sandwiches and some Beefy Spuds (tater tots) in the parking lot of Beefy King (424 N. Bumby Ave., beefyking.com). Unrepentantly get a stranger to take a picture of you underneath their iconic sign.

96. Drown in pulchritude at the Weeki Wachee mermaid show (weekiwachee.com). Plus plunk down a few coins and get yourself a kitschy Mold A Rama wax mermaid figure from one of the few vintage machines left in Florida.

97. Visit Stonewall Orlando near the witching hour on a Tuesday night to see the spine-chillingly gorgeous local drag family, Black Haus (blackhausproductions.com), stage their weekly Creature Feature show. Fake blood complements every shade of lipstick, you'll find out.

98. Surrender to your inner Parrothead at Margaritaville, where you can eat cheeseburgers and search for your lost shaker of salt to your heart's content. So far there's no tattoo parlor, so you'll have to get your "Mexican cutie" ink elsewhere (margaritavilleresortorlando.com).

99. Flex your thumbs at Arcade Monsters, where you'll find dozens of classic arcade games, pinball tables and consoles, along with beer, wine and snacks. They operate on a pay-by-the-hour system, so you don't even need to bring your quarters (15 Alafaya Woods Blvd., Oviedo, arcademonsters.com).

100. Watch Florida's raptors get some TLC at the Audubon Center for Birds of Prey rehab center in Maitland. Open to the public, the center's gazebo houses birds currently in rehabilitation and man-made wetlands (1101 Audubon Way, Maitland, fl.audubon.org).

BONUS: 101. The next time a friend or relative calls you and says they're in Orlando for a convention or visiting the theme parks, use this list to show them the REAL Orlando. feedback@orlandoweekly.com

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