26 summer bucket list activities to do in Orlando

All of us true Floridians know it's really never not summer in the Sunshine State. But with June just around the corner, it's the perfect time to start making some summer plans to stay cool and avoid  jam-packed tourist traps at all costs.

Lucky for us, Orlando has plenty of summery festivities fit for all ages. Some must-dos are more low-key (like a peaceful picnic) and others are made for thrill-seekers (alligators! roller coasters! hot air balloons!) Either way, Orlando is a pretty good place to spend your summer months.

Here are 26 essential bucket list activities for your summer in Orlando. And if you really want to prepare for sunny days ahead, check out Orlando Weekly's complete Summer Guide.
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Go horseback riding
Various locations 
Live out your wildest Wild West dreams with a guided horseback ride through Central Florida. Some ranches, like Hidden Palms Ranch, offer private rides, if you want to be truly alone (with your trail guide, of course).

Go horseback riding

Various locations
Live out your wildest Wild West dreams with a guided horseback ride through Central Florida. Some ranches, like Hidden Palms Ranch, offer private rides, if you want to be truly alone (with your trail guide, of course).
Go zip lining
8045 NW Gainesville Road, Ocala
Who knew Florida is home to some actually cool zip lining? Zip the Canyons, located in Ocala, takes its bravest guests flying over natural springs as (they say) Florida's only true canopy zip tour. The adventure park offers a variety of zip lining packages, including a late-night ride, as well as horseback riding and kayaking.

Go zip lining


8045 NW Gainesville Road, Ocala
Who knew Florida is home to some actually cool zip lining? Zip the Canyons, located in Ocala, takes its bravest guests flying over natural springs as (they say) Florida's only true canopy zip tour. The adventure park offers a variety of zip lining packages, including a late-night ride, as well as horseback riding and kayaking.
Face your reptilian fears at Gatorland
14501 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando
The 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve is located right here in Orlando, along South Orange Blossom Trail. The preserve was founded 73 years ago by Owen Godwin on former cattle land, and has ever since been a wildlife adventure and adventure park perfect for a summer day of Florida fun.
Matt Keller Lehman

Face your reptilian fears at Gatorland


14501 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando
The 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve is located right here in Orlando, along South Orange Blossom Trail. The preserve was founded 73 years ago by Owen Godwin on former cattle land, and has ever since been a wildlife adventure and adventure park perfect for a summer day of Florida fun.
Get wild on an airboat tour
Get some super-fast and breezy sightseeing done with one of Orlando’s airboat tours. Available on several different Central Florida bodies of water, tours in one of these classic Florida vehicles give you a rare angle to see gators, water birds, and all kinds of flora and fauna.
Photo via Adobe

Get wild on an airboat tour


Get some super-fast and breezy sightseeing done with one of Orlando’s airboat tours. Available on several different Central Florida bodies of water, tours in one of these classic Florida vehicles give you a rare angle to see gators, water birds, and all kinds of flora and fauna.
Discover mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
6131 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee 
Florida: the only state with very, very real mermaids and an iconic state park to visit them in. The springs also offer swimming, kayaking and all the other Central Florida watersports fun you can imagine. (Well, almost all.)

Discover mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park


6131 Commercial Way, Weeki Wachee
Florida: the only state with very, very real mermaids and an iconic state park to visit them in. The springs also offer swimming, kayaking and all the other Central Florida watersports fun you can imagine. (Well, almost all.)
Catch a wave with SeaWorld’s new Pipeline: The Surf Coaster Ride
The park's first and only standing roller coaster opens May 27, to the delight of parkgoers and thrill seekers alike. Be one of the first to catch a wave on this gnarly new attraction.
Photo via SeaWorld/Facebook

Catch a wave with SeaWorld’s new Pipeline: The Surf Coaster Ride


The park's first and only standing roller coaster opens May 27, to the delight of parkgoers and thrill seekers alike. Be one of the first to catch a wave on this gnarly new attraction.
Get high on a hot air balloon ride
12375 FL-535, Orlando
It's fun, it's beautiful, it's quite possibly the ideal summer fantasy. Visit one of Central Florida's many hot air balloon locations and get really, really high for a sunset skyline ride.

Get high on a hot air balloon ride

12375 FL-535, Orlando
It's fun, it's beautiful, it's quite possibly the ideal summer fantasy. Visit one of Central Florida's many hot air balloon locations and get really, really high for a sunset skyline ride.
Catch an Orlando Fringe show while you still can
Only through May 29, Orlando Fringe brings all things artsy and weird to town. It only comes once a year, so make sure to get to a show or two before it's too late.
Photo by Brian Harris/courtesy of Orlando Fringe

Catch an Orlando Fringe show while you still can


Only through May 29, Orlando Fringe brings all things artsy and weird to town. It only comes once a year, so make sure to get to a show or two before it's too late.
Sing your heart out to some live music
Orlando always has plenty of live music, from names both big and small, rolling through town. This summer, though, might just take the cake for shows we're itching to see. And with venues of all shapes, sizes and vibes, there's definitely a show for everyone happening soon.
Photo by Gianna Aceto

Sing your heart out to some live music


Orlando always has plenty of live music, from names both big and small, rolling through town. This summer, though, might just take the cake for shows we're itching to see. And with venues of all shapes, sizes and vibes, there's definitely a show for everyone happening soon.
Glide the waters of Legoland's new Pirate River Quest
Become a pirate (or a Lego brick) for the day and ride this park's newest attraction. It's pretty mellow, so it's a great activity for a more chilled-out thrill in Orlando.
Photo via Legoland/Facebook

Glide the waters of Legoland's new Pirate River Quest


Become a pirate (or a Lego brick) for the day and ride this park's newest attraction. It's pretty mellow, so it's a great activity for a more chilled-out thrill in Orlando.
Stroll through Bok Tower Gardens
1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales
Open 365 days a year, this historic landmark is known for its Art Deco singing tower and nearly 50 acres of scenic gardens to explore. Bok Tower Gardens single-day admission is $17 and will get you access to garden areas and the 3.5-mile Pine Ridge Preserve hiking trail.

Stroll through Bok Tower Gardens


1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales
Open 365 days a year, this historic landmark is known for its Art Deco singing tower and nearly 50 acres of scenic gardens to explore. Bok Tower Gardens single-day admission is $17 and will get you access to garden areas and the 3.5-mile Pine Ridge Preserve hiking trail.
Submerge yourself in the waters of a nearby natural spring
Just a drive away from Orlando are plenty of breathtaking natural springs to cool off in. Devil's Den, for one, is a wild prehistoric spring whose name originates from the steam early settlers saw rising from the cavern.

Submerge yourself in the waters of a nearby natural spring


Just a drive away from Orlando are plenty of breathtaking natural springs to cool off in. Devil's Den, for one, is a wild prehistoric spring whose name originates from the steam early settlers saw rising from the cavern.
Canoe Wekiwa Springs
Wekiwa Springs State Park is the perfect Florida-fied spot to canoe, kayak, swim or just immerse yourself in the Sunshine State's natural beauty.
Photo via Adobe

Canoe Wekiwa Springs


Wekiwa Springs State Park is the perfect Florida-fied spot to canoe, kayak, swim or just immerse yourself in the Sunshine State's natural beauty.
Grab a drink at a local brewery
Orlando is home to plenty of places to quench your thirst for a crisp IPA. From Rockpit Brewing (pictured) to Deadwords to Tactical Brewing to  Ivanhoe Park Brewing and plenty more besides, there's plenty of options for great outdoor OR indoor seating.
Photo via Rockpit Brewing/Facebook

Grab a drink at a local brewery


Orlando is home to plenty of places to quench your thirst for a crisp IPA. From Rockpit Brewing (pictured) to Deadwords to Tactical Brewing to Ivanhoe Park Brewing and plenty more besides, there's plenty of options for great outdoor OR indoor seating.
Enjoy Orlando’s best secret patios for outdoor chillin’
If you look hard enough (or listen to us) you'll find that Orlando is home to some outdoor dining spots that aren't on everyone else's radar. Grape and the Grain (pictured) is a quaint neighborhood wine bar that also offers frequent live music.
Photo via Grape and the Grain/Facebook

Enjoy Orlando’s best secret patios for outdoor chillin’


If you look hard enough (or listen to us) you'll find that Orlando is home to some outdoor dining spots that aren't on everyone else's radar. Grape and the Grain (pictured) is a quaint neighborhood wine bar that also offers frequent live music.
Ride the waves with Orlando Watersports Complex
8615 Florida Rock Road, Orlando
This boat and cable park operation will really take you out of Orlando and into an all-inclusive tropical getaway with thrills and fun fit for all ages. Learn to wakeboard, splash around at the aquapark or just swim around with friends.
Photo via Orlando Watersports Complex

Ride the waves with Orlando Watersports Complex


8615 Florida Rock Road, Orlando
This boat and cable park operation will really take you out of Orlando and into an all-inclusive tropical getaway with thrills and fun fit for all ages. Learn to wakeboard, splash around at the aquapark or just swim around with friends.
Enjoy a Leu Gardens movie night
Harry P. Leu Gardens
For only $7 per ticket, upgrade your summer movie night with Leu Gardens’ Movie Night. Pack a picnic, grab a bottle of wine and bring the whole family for an outdoor movie. Make sure you get there early to claim your spot. The next feature film of the summer is The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), June 2.

Enjoy a Leu Gardens movie night


Harry P. Leu Gardens
For only $7 per ticket, upgrade your summer movie night with Leu Gardens’ Movie Night. Pack a picnic, grab a bottle of wine and bring the whole family for an outdoor movie. Make sure you get there early to claim your spot. The next feature film of the summer is The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), June 2.
Take a day trip to a truly beachside restaurant
Beach days can mean eating whatever greasy, salty, deep-fried goodness is on deck and gulping down a frozen cocktail along with it. Orlando may be pretty landlocked, but it's not too far from great beachside restaurants and bars on both the east and west coasts. But to really take it up a culinary notch while dining seaside, check out our critic's top five recommendations.

Take a day trip to a truly beachside restaurant


Beach days can mean eating whatever greasy, salty, deep-fried goodness is on deck and gulping down a frozen cocktail along with it. Orlando may be pretty landlocked, but it's not too far from great beachside restaurants and bars on both the east and west coasts. But to really take it up a culinary notch while dining seaside, check out our critic's top five recommendations.
Shop 'til you drop at an Orlando farmers market
Various locations
If you want to spend a day in the summer sun while simultaneously shopping and grabbing produce, an Orlando farmers market is the perfect place to go. The Audubon Park Community Market (pictured) happens every Monday from 5 to 8 p.m. at 1842 E. Winter Park Road, and specializes in hyper-local produce. We also love the Lake Eola Downtown Farmers Market on Sundays.
Photo by Rob Bartlett

Shop 'til you drop at an Orlando farmers market

Various locations
If you want to spend a day in the summer sun while simultaneously shopping and grabbing produce, an Orlando farmers market is the perfect place to go. The Audubon Park Community Market (pictured) happens every Monday from 5 to 8 p.m. at 1842 E. Winter Park Road, and specializes in hyper-local produce. We also love the Lake Eola Downtown Farmers Market on Sundays.