19 things to do with out-of-towners in Orlando (that aren't theme parks)
The family is here but the Thanksgiving meal is a long way off (or a distant memory). The elders have fully updated you on who has died since you talked last. The young'uns are zombied out on their phones. It's time to break out some of the City Beautiful's best offerings.
As much as they might want to head down International Drive or roll out to Kissimmee for that dang mouse, you have to be strong. It will be worth it to avoid the absolute hell of theme parks during the holidays. Take a look at some of these options to avoid the rush and still send them home talking about their vacation.
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Winter Park Boat Tours/Facebook
Cruise through Winter Park's canals
Scenic boat tours of Winter Park's waterways launch hourly starting at 10 a.m. every single day.
Soar the skiesWallaby Ranch can get guests into the air, even in notoriously flat Florida. Their aerotow system will get you up and moving (and tandem flights are available for the scaredy-cats in your clan)
Shop til you drop
Orlando's Main Street Districts provide a handy map of walkable and fun shopping strolls. Check out the Milk District in particular to avoid the Black Friday rush at the big box stores.
Cooler weather brings many opportunities to scope out Florida's semi-official mascot. The manatees come to Florida's springs and Indian River Lagoon seeking consistent water temperatures. A word of advice, however: give them space. It's hard enough for sea cows out there.
BK Adventure Tours
Light up the nightWhile you're out scoping for manatees, why not take a trip to see the gorgeous comb jellies light up Indian River Lagoon? BK Adventure offers bioluminescent rafting tours to see this phenomenon up close.
Epic Paddle Adventures/Facebook
Dip a paddle in Lake Ivanhoe
The only thing Orlando has more of than theme parks is lakes. Take advantage of the natural bounty of Central Florida with a paddle around the hip neighborhoods on the edge of Lake Ivanhoe.
Take a hike
Authorities in Florida and Orlando can hardly be bothered to stop the never-ending churn of pristine Florida land into endless single-family homes. Luckily, folks with foresight saw to turn tons of Central Florida into permanently protected parkland. Take a hike while the weather is nice and see if the woods are enough to quiet your most irritating relatives.
Get glassy-eyed in Winter Park
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art holds the world's most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany. That's bragging rights, pal.
Mail your Christmas cards from Florida's weirdest town
There's a lot of competition for Florida's oddest place, but it's hard to beat Christmas, a permanent holiday zone just east of Orlando stuck between impoverished Bithlo and the Space Coast. Can't beat that postmark, though.
Photo via Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens
Go wild at the Central Florida Zoo
No one turns down an invitation to feed a giraffe. Or pet a rhino. Or gawk at a 40-year-old gopher tortoise.