20 Orlando Area Tourist Attractions Locals Actually Love

20 Orlando Area Tourist Attractions Locals Actually Love
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Being in the tourist capital of the known universe, there are a few tourist spots that we Orlandoans don’t mind revisiting on occasion. Here are the best ways to let your out-of towner friends check out Orlando the right way.

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Fun Spot Every local knows exactly what is “Huge” in the area. Between the catchy local ads and a lighting package that makes it hard to miss the two Fun Spots in town. With a small gator attraction, one of the best wooden coasters ever built, and the massive SkyCoasters, Fun Spot is a popular, cheaper alternative when locals want an adrenaline rush but don’t want to deal with the massive crowds that fill the theme parks. Photo via funspotamericathemeparks/Instagram

Fun Spot
Every local knows exactly what is “Huge” in the area. Between the catchy local ads and a lighting package that makes it hard to miss the two Fun Spots in town. With a small gator attraction, one of the best wooden coasters ever built, and the massive SkyCoasters, Fun Spot is a popular, cheaper alternative when locals want an adrenaline rush but don’t want to deal with the massive crowds that fill the theme parks.

Photo via funspotamericathemeparks/Instagram

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Graceland in Pine Hills Not really an attraction but still a sight that many locals seem to love. This life-sized recreation of Graceland sits at the end of a cul-de-sac in the back of an unassuming neighborhood off of Hiawassee Road. The first time you find it there’s a feeling of knowing something special about your city. It’s also a fun distraction through the otherwise tedious roads that crisscross Pine Hills. Photo by Adam McCabe

Graceland in Pine Hills
Not really an attraction but still a sight that many locals seem to love. This life-sized recreation of Graceland sits at the end of a cul-de-sac in the back of an unassuming neighborhood off of Hiawassee Road. The first time you find it there’s a feeling of knowing something special about your city. It’s also a fun distraction through the otherwise tedious roads that crisscross Pine Hills.

Photo by Adam McCabe

Haunted Mansion With so many details and such a rich history, this Magic Kingdom attraction is so popular that Disney opened a nearby gift shop dedicated to merchandise themed to the Haunted Mansion. The merchandise is unassuming making it popular with locals who want a few Disney touches in their homes. The ride is a great spot for locals to prove their superior theme park knowledge. There’s plenty of details to point out to non-regular riders. Photo via thehauntedmansion/Instagram

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Haunted Mansion
With so many details and such a rich history, this Magic Kingdom attraction is so popular that Disney opened a nearby gift shop dedicated to merchandise themed to the Haunted Mansion. The merchandise is unassuming making it popular with locals who want a few Disney touches in their homes.
The ride is a great spot for locals to prove their superior theme park knowledge. There’s plenty of details to point out to non-regular riders.

Photo via thehauntedmansion/Instagram

The PeopleMover Visiting a theme park as much as a local does can get tiring, but we all do it because gawking at tourists is oddly fun. Locals love to sneak onto the PeopleMover to “enjoy the views.” This ride (and its Universal sister attraction, Seuss Trolley) is a great spot to catch just enough of a glimpse at the dance party to reconfirm that it’s still a thing. Photo via dahkneedee/Instagram

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The PeopleMover
Visiting a theme park as much as a local does can get tiring, but we all do it because gawking at tourists is oddly fun. Locals love to sneak onto the PeopleMover to “enjoy the views.” This ride (and its Universal sister attraction, Seuss Trolley) is a great spot to catch just enough of a glimpse at the dance party to reconfirm that it’s still a thing.

Photo via dahkneedee/Instagram

The Wheel at Icon Park Deep discounts and plenty of local promotion has meant the former Orlando Eye has quickly become a bit of a right of passage before you can call yourself a true local. There’s nothing quite like (barely) seeing the landmarks you pass every day. The massive light package on the Ferris wheel has also made it a billboard; an always present reminder on the horizon, beckoning to all those workers and residents in the downtown towers. There’s no question where the tourist district is on the horizon now. Photo via theorlandoeye/Instagram

The Wheel at Icon Park
Deep discounts and plenty of local promotion has meant the former Orlando Eye has quickly become a bit of a right of passage before you can call yourself a true local. There’s nothing quite like (barely) seeing the landmarks you pass every day. The massive light package on the Ferris wheel has also made it a billboard; an always present reminder on the horizon, beckoning to all those workers and residents in the downtown towers. There’s no question where the tourist district is on the horizon now.

Photo via theorlandoeye/Instagram

Sky Tower at SeaWorld Just like the Orlando Eye the Sky Tower at SeaWorld Orlando is a hit with locals trying to see if they can see their house. The Sky Tower kicks it up a notch with some classic Sinatra, the same soundtrack for years now, an ever-present anchor to the past. The music serves double duty on the nostalgia for locals; it is almost identical the music that locally launched Olive Garden used to play. As of lately, the tower has also become a bit more of thrill due to ‘what if’ thoughts of it breaking down. Last time it broke the riders got free food at the end and just imagine the story you could tell on Facebook. Photo via busch_studios/Instagram

Sky Tower at SeaWorld
Just like the Orlando Eye the Sky Tower at SeaWorld Orlando is a hit with locals trying to see if they can see their house. The Sky Tower kicks it up a notch with some classic Sinatra, the same soundtrack for years now, an ever-present anchor to the past. The music serves double duty on the nostalgia for locals; it is almost identical the music that locally launched Olive Garden used to play. As of lately, the tower has also become a bit more of thrill due to ‘what if’ thoughts of it breaking down. Last time it broke the riders got free food at the end and just imagine the story you could tell on Facebook.

Photo via busch_studios/Instagram

Weeki Wachee Springs While not in the Orlando metro area proper, this classic attraction is fully embraced by the community. From references inside Universal’s Cabana Bay Resort, to the nods in local tourism marketing, this mermaid-filled natural spring is loved by Orlando. Weeki Wachee Springs was transformed into a state park in 2008 but many of the attractions remain, including the water park. This roadside attraction is no longer owned by ABC and it surely isn’t as popular as it was in the 1960s, but the local tourism history will live on with the mermaids. For a full day of awkward state parks, you can add a visit to Homosassa Springs State Park where you can meet Lu the Homosassa Hippo. Because nothing says “The Real Florida” like mermaids, a water park and a hippo.

Weeki Wachee Springs
While not in the Orlando metro area proper, this classic attraction is fully embraced by the community. From references inside Universal’s Cabana Bay Resort, to the nods in local tourism marketing, this mermaid-filled natural spring is loved by Orlando. Weeki Wachee Springs was transformed into a state park in 2008 but many of the attractions remain, including the water park. This roadside attraction is no longer owned by ABC and it surely isn’t as popular as it was in the 1960s, but the local tourism history will live on with the mermaids.
For a full day of awkward state parks, you can add a visit to Homosassa Springs State Park where you can meet Lu the Homosassa Hippo. Because nothing says “The Real Florida” like mermaids, a water park and a hippo.

Bok Tower Bok Tower is another one of those local attractions that the usual tourists overlook in their quest for thrills but this National Historic Landmark is a must-see for anyone who has the time to visit it. The tower has long been an icon of Central Florida. At 205 ft. tall it towers over the beautiful gardens surrounding it. Swans, Sandhill Cranes and numerous other birds call the gardens home.

Bok Tower
Bok Tower is another one of those local attractions that the usual tourists overlook in their quest for thrills but this National Historic Landmark is a must-see for anyone who has the time to visit it. The tower has long been an icon of Central Florida. At 205 ft. tall it towers over the beautiful gardens surrounding it. Swans, Sandhill Cranes and numerous other birds call the gardens home.

Daytona Speedway Few things are more old-school Florida than cheap beer and loud cars. The Daytona International Speedway may have recently remodeled but at its’ core, there’s still plenty of old school, rough around the edges Florida. The speedway is an interesting visit even when there’s not a race but the low cost of race tickets means that it’s easy to convince non-race fans to make an afternoon of it. A new Bass Pro Shop is now being built across the street making this one epic ‘True Florida’ experience.

Daytona Speedway
Few things are more old-school Florida than cheap beer and loud cars. The Daytona International Speedway may have recently remodeled but at its’ core, there’s still plenty of old school, rough around the edges Florida. The speedway is an interesting visit even when there’s not a race but the low cost of race tickets means that it’s easy to convince non-race fans to make an afternoon of it.
A new Bass Pro Shop is now being built across the street making this one epic ‘True Florida’ experience.

Morse Museum When out-of-towners ask locals what “real” culture Orlando has this privately-owned museum in Winter Park is usually on the list. With the largest collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany works in the world, this museum is a great place to take those who seem unimpressed with the theme parks. During the winter, the Morse offers free Friday evenings but the prices are some of the cheapest of any attraction in town any time of the year. Photo via Morse Museum/Instagram

Morse Museum
When out-of-towners ask locals what “real” culture Orlando has this privately-owned museum in Winter Park is usually on the list. With the largest collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany works in the world, this museum is a great place to take those who seem unimpressed with the theme parks. During the winter, the Morse offers free Friday evenings but the prices are some of the cheapest of any attraction in town any time of the year.

Photo via Morse Museum/Instagram

Mango’s I-Drive This nightclub-style restaurant is already a popular spot for many Dr. Philips area locals, and other locals are also making this Miami mainstay a part of their regular Orlando outings. The high profile process of getting Mango’s opened helped make this a local household name well before it ever opened its doors. Photo via Mango’s/Instagram

Mango’s I-Drive
This nightclub-style restaurant is already a popular spot for many Dr. Philips area locals, and other locals are also making this Miami mainstay a part of their regular Orlando outings. The high profile process of getting Mango’s opened helped make this a local household name well before it ever opened its doors.

Photo via Mango’s/Instagram

Ron Jon Surf Shop It might just be a giant gift shop but with over 50,000 sq. ft. this shop has, at least, a few cool things for everyone. Being opened 24/7 means that it’s a great spot to swing by after a day at the beach. A surf museum also calls the shop home. That museum is a great way to gain a better appreciation of our local surf history. Giant sculptures, live music, salt water fish tanks and more help make this a great place to explore.

Ron Jon Surf Shop
It might just be a giant gift shop but with over 50,000 sq. ft. this shop has, at least, a few cool things for everyone. Being opened 24/7 means that it’s a great spot to swing by after a day at the beach. A surf museum also calls the shop home. That museum is a great way to gain a better appreciation of our local surf history. Giant sculptures, live music, salt water fish tanks and more help make this a great place to explore.

Old Town While tourists seem to be skipping Old Town, locals are rediscovering it. With cheap drink specials, live music and entertaining parade of lost British tourists. The car parades still happen numerous times each week. Old Town is both a reminder of the tacky tourist traps of Orlando past and a nice distraction from the high-cost entertainment options that seem to now be taking over so many parts of the area. Photo via Old Town/Instagram

Old Town
While tourists seem to be skipping Old Town, locals are rediscovering it. With cheap drink specials, live music and entertaining parade of lost British tourists. The car parades still happen numerous times each week. Old Town is both a reminder of the tacky tourist traps of Orlando past and a nice distraction from the high-cost entertainment options that seem to now be taking over so many parts of the area.

Photo via Old Town/Instagram

Eola Swan Boats We can’t let all the fun remain in the tourist district. Swan boats of some type have called Lake Eola home for nearly a century. It’s a great way to spend a few minutes seeing Orlando from a new perspective. Locals love to use the swan boats to get an up-close view of the famous Linton Fountain.

Eola Swan Boats
We can’t let all the fun remain in the tourist district. Swan boats of some type have called Lake Eola home for nearly a century. It’s a great way to spend a few minutes seeing Orlando from a new perspective. Locals love to use the swan boats to get an up-close view of the famous Linton Fountain.

Dinosaur World Even if they don’t go there, most locals seem to have a bit of an affinity with this odd roadside attraction famous for its life-sized dinosaur statues that sit alongside I-4. The attraction is a popular spot for local social media personalities. A trip to Tampa just wouldn’t be the same without some odd sights along the way. Photo via Dinosaur World/Instagram

Dinosaur World
Even if they don’t go there, most locals seem to have a bit of an affinity with this odd roadside attraction famous for its life-sized dinosaur statues that sit alongside I-4. The attraction is a popular spot for local social media personalities. A trip to Tampa just wouldn’t be the same without some odd sights along the way.

Photo via Dinosaur World/Instagram

Anything with Manatees Sure it’s not a single attraction but manatees are a big deal here. One of the best ways to getting the attention of locals is with manatees. The yearly manatee gatherings are a popular sightseeing visit for locals, many of whom adopt manatees and go see them regularly. Sadly some manatees are injured. Those manatees call everywhere from SeaWorld to Epcot home. These gentle giants that resemble floating rocks are the sacred (sea)cows of Florida eco-tourism.

Anything with Manatees
Sure it’s not a single attraction but manatees are a big deal here. One of the best ways to getting the attention of locals is with manatees. The yearly manatee gatherings are a popular sightseeing visit for locals, many of whom adopt manatees and go see them regularly.
Sadly some manatees are injured. Those manatees call everywhere from SeaWorld to Epcot home. These gentle giants that resemble floating rocks are the sacred (sea)cows of Florida eco-tourism.

Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto This interactive bar at Disney’s Polynesian Resort is a popular place for annual passholders to meet up. Most of the drinks come in take-home tiki mugs that are a great way to start or add to that signature mug collection that every locally seems to have. Photo via Disney

Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto
This interactive bar at Disney’s Polynesian Resort is a popular place for annual passholders to meet up. Most of the drinks come in take-home tiki mugs that are a great way to start or add to that signature mug collection that every locally seems to have.

Photo via Disney

E.T. Adventure at Universal Studios Orlando It might smell like a locker room, but this ride remains the lone attraction from the opening days of Universal Studios Florida. The ride has enough unique scenes to keep maintain some re-ride ability. Locals also are always thinking of new funny names to have E.T. try to say. Photo via Universal Studios

E.T. Adventure at Universal Studios Orlando
It might smell like a locker room, but this ride remains the lone attraction from the opening days of Universal Studios Florida. The ride has enough unique scenes to keep maintain some re-ride ability. Locals also are always thinking of new funny names to have E.T. try to say.

Photo via Universal Studios

Captions by Ken Storey

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