Although many people associate Orlando with Walt Disney World, there is a whole other world of amusement beyond the park gates – and some of it may be even more appealing than the wonders of the Disney parks. Yep, I said it! There are just so many more things to do in Orlando for teens!
A record-setting 75 million people travelled to Orlando, Florida in 2018, and can you believe nearly six million of them were international visitors? Year after year, Orlando is the most popular U.S. destination, and although it may have started with a mouse, it certainly didn’t end there!
Even if you have visited the Orlando area with your youngsters in the past, it can be an entirely new (and amazing) experience to visit Orlando with teens. In this post I am going to give you all the best spots to visit in Orlando with teenagers…and include the best theme parks too!
Theme Parks in Orlando for teens
If we’re to be honest, it’s quite difficult to visit Orlando with teenagers and resist the urge to pop into a theme park. Most of the main tourist areas will find tall roller coasters and fireworks always in view, and that’s a hard temptation to ignore.
And there is nothing wrong with a little theme park fun while visiting Orlando with teenagers who love a day out like that. All the parks (even Disney) are not just for little kids. Orlando attractions like those at the Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld have all done well to include a large range of activities and shows for all ages.
Each has its own set of thrill rides that are designed to thrill even the hardest teen traveller to please. You may find some rides are height restricted. This may affect the tweens in Orlando a little more than the older teenagers in your group.
The big rides are usually off-limits to tweens due to safety, so although your teens may no longer be interested in taking flight with Dumbo or twirling in the Tea Cups, they may appreciate a thrilling ride with Aerosmith on the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or a launch on Space Mountain.
One thing you don’t have to worry about is having a lack of Orlando activities for teens and tweens with all on offer.
Disney’s new Star Wars inclusion has universal appeal for all ages, and some of the younger amusements throughout the resort are still great for a good dose of nostalgia between thrills. After all, you’re never really too old for a photo with Mickey Mouse, are you?
Thrill rides beyond the parks
Even if you plan to visit the Orlando theme parks, make sure to save time for fun outside of the park gates. If you know that your crew only cares about the adrenaline rush, it may not make much sense to devote even one full day to a theme park visit for a roller coaster or two when you can find free-standing attractions outside of the parks.
Some of these are even more intense, and they’re more convenient for a quick but fulfilling stop. They’re also much more cost-effective than a theme park day!
Orlando is home to a 400-foot observation wheel, a 450-foot swing ride, a 328-foot slingshot ride, the world’s tallest SkyCoaster (300 feet), hot air balloon rides, zip lines, helicopter tours, and even indoor skydiving!
If your teen is seeking a new rush, Orlando is the place to find it, and if you have the courage to ride along, you’ll find the makings of a memorable bonding moment on your Orlando vacation.
The best thing about these adventures with teenagers is that they’re generally not built for one – and they all make for fabulous photo and video captures! You can’t go wrong when you discover Orlando’s more mature amusements!
Gaming for the whole family
If thrill-seeking is not on the top of your list of things for teens to do in Orlando while questing for epic vacation adventures never fear! Orlando is one of the most popular U.S. destinations for gamers, coming in second to Seattle. There are plenty of places for a generationally-appealing family game day (or night), depending on the style of challenge you desire.
Go Karting in Orlando with teens
In the main tourist drag, you will find some of the best Orlando activities for teens. It’s here you can find entertainment centres that combine sports and games like I-Drive NASCAR Indoor Karting,
Andretti Indoor Karting & Games, and Topgolf. These epic fun centres offer any combination of bowling, golf, go-karts, video games, dining, and more, so there’s sure to be something for everyone.
Combine all the best things to do in Orlando for teens
You want fun, have thrill-seekers and you need food all in one. You can combine dinner with multiple floors of state-of-the-art gameplay at Dave & Buster’s, or check out Arcade City at the ICON Orlando entertainment complex or the Happy Days Family Fun Center at Old Town for a simpler, coin-op gaming experience.
The Pointe Orlando and Disney Springs complexes each offer new high-tech virtual reality game centers for themed, immersive, multi-player challenges.
The best thing about visiting any of these venues is that they are located in entertainment complexes that are also home to unique eateries, shops, theaters, and live performers. They are one-stop shops for a full evening of family fun.
Animal Adventures in Orlando
You never outgrow wildlife, and Florida has plenty of that. Long before the theme parks took over, roadside attractions like Gatorland preserved natural habitats to build exotic animal attractions around. These facilities give a more authentic view of the real Florida, behind the magic of the parks.
The Orlando-area is still home to many working farms, wildlife preserves, and attractions centred on expansive lands and the swamps of the Florida Everglades. There are a variety of ways to experience these wild adventures.
One of the top wildlife draws in Orlando are alligators. Aside from Gatorland (where you can even sit on the back of one), you can catch alligator sightings almost anywhere – hotels, mini golf courses, and of course in the wild – but there’s nothing like catching a glimpse of one on a guided airboat tour!
Multiple companies in the Central Florida area take visitors skimming out on the waters of the Everglades where the wildest of the region’s residents roam freely. There’s nothing more Florida than an airboat tour.
Not all animal adventures in the area seem so “Florida” in nature, however! Who would think you could go on a safari, or a jungle adventure, or an arctic trek in Florida? You can! While some of these experiences are housed within theme parks, there are plenty of animal experiences that are far-removed from the hustle of the tourist beat.
Many experiences include opportunities to interact with the animals one-on-one during your visit. In Orlando, you can swim with a dolphin or lion cub, hug a penguin, feed grapes to a lemur, ride a camel, or paint with a sloth. Is there really much of anything that can top that?
Day-trip to new horizons
Nothing beats an old-fashioned road trip, but we all know that too much togetherness comes with its own headaches as well. Even if you fly into Orlando and rely on public transportation or ride-sharing to get around locally, consider renting a car for an excursion day.
In Orlando, you are less than two hours’ drive away from dozens of award-winning beaches on the Atlantic Ocean. A day trip to Gulf Coast is just the thing to do.. Each coastal community has its own personality and charm, and frankly – you just can’t have a bad day at the beach! But which beach to choose?
The Gulf Coast beaches are the best for a quieter experience. These beaches offer soft white sands and clear blue waters, with plenty of opportunities for shelling and natural recreation.
Our favorite Gulf Coast beaches are Clearwater and St. Petersburg, while Captiva and Sanibel Island are definitely worth a little extra driving. As a teen, I spent many summer getaways on these islands, and they were the very best times of my life.
On the Atlantic Coast, Orlandoans tend to flock to Cape Canveral and St. Augustine when they want an “extra” beach experience. These locations are not just known for their beaches, so they’re a great choice if you want options. Cape Canaveral is home to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
Here visitors can discover the history of space exploration. In St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city, guests can journey through the history of a different sort on cobblestone streets with horse-drawn carriages, artsy vendors, street music, and historical architecture.
Escape rooms in Orlando Florida
Teens visiting Orlando who love escape rooms are in luck. Orlando has really taken to the escape game craze. There are countless options for fanatics of the phenomenon, and your whole family can take on a themed room of your choice for a true test of family cooperation and teamwork.
For those new to Escape Rooms, this is a quick run down.
An escape room, also known as an ‘escape game’, is a physical adventure game in which players solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints, and strategy to complete the objectives at hand.
Escape rooms may consist of a large, single room, or span multiple rooms. Players are given a set time limit to unveil the secret plot which is hidden within the rooms. If your teen likes this stuff it is definitely one of the top things to do in Orlando with teenagers.
Find below three of the hottest and most exciting Orlando Escape Rooms waiting for you.
Cinema’s in Orlando
A trip to the cinema to watch the latest blockbuster is a good activity to have up your sleeve for a rainy day or just an evening activity in Orland with teenagers. There are 32 Cinema complexes in and around the Orlando area. You will have no trouble finding a seat and screen. Trip Advisor has a good list of the best cinemas in Orlando
Please find below a map of the Orlando Cinemas located in the central area of the city
10 pin bowling in Orlando
Nothing like a good bit of family competition to get everyone going. 10 pin bowling in Orlando is a great family activity for all. You will find bowling alleys all over the city for your family to have some fun at. Bowling can make Orlando for young travellers fun.
In Orlando, you can easily find a bowling alley. Most Bowling alleys will feature restaurants, amusements and even go-karts at the Andretti indoor karting and games centre.
AMF serve you pitchers and pub grub while bowling and Splitsville is an upmarket swanky chain of bowling alleys.
The map below will point you towards a night of fun and family competition in Orlando Florida
Where to stay in Orlando
Orlando has no shortage of hotels and vacation homes. It can be a bit dizzying to figure out where to aim your search to stay near it all. If your goal is to spread out your experiences, there will be some driving involved. Many of the most worthy experiences are not right in the middle of the tourist zone, but they’re not too far to not be worth it.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense to pay a premium rate to stay on Disney property if your plans stand to take you beyond the Disney gates. The fact of the matter is that they are really no better than a standard hotel when it comes to the accommodations.
You will pay three to four times more because of the Disney-themed lobbies, cartoon-ish pools, and Disney transportation. Off-site lodging is generally the smarter way to go.
If you have teens, it’s worth considering to stay on International Drive. There are many walkable amusements from this area’s top hotels, and the accommodations can’t be beaten. They’re fairly priced, and you’ll have easy access to main roads and attractions.
Vacation homes in Orlando are worth considering as well if space is your most prominent concern. There are a wealth of reasonably-priced, lovely vacation homes located in the areas of Davenport, Clermont, and Haines City, which is convenient to the Walt Disney World Resort, but off the beaten path just enough.
Orlando and Central Florida, in general, can be a rewarding destination for the whole family, and it’s certainly not a location that is just for kids by any means. If you think you’ve been there – done that, you may want to consider doing it again, the big kid’s way!
How to get to Orlando
Orlando Airport is located 6 miles from the city centre, Orlando is the busiest airport in Florida and the 10th busiest in the United States.
You can easily get an airport transfer, taxi or Uber to your hotel. The local bus located on the A-Side of the Terminal, on the Ground Transportation Level (Level 1), at Commercial Lane spaces A38-A41 can drop you off at
- Downtown Orlando
- International Drive
- Florida Mall
- Destination Parkway
- Premium Outlets
- Orange County Convention Center
- Sand Lake Road SunRail Station
All destinations above cost $2
You can travel by train from many major Northeastern US cities to the Orlando or Kissimmee, Florida stations. Delays are common and this trip will take you over 18 hours. Depending on your budget this may be a good option.
Highways in the United States and Florida are of good quality. Traffic can sometimes be a nightmare though. Driving to Orlando or hiring a car at the airport is a great option for your trip.
Weather in Orlando
May through to September is the summer months for Orlando. In this time the temperatures rise to other 30 degrees and the humidity is high daily. The summer is actually the wet season in Orlando. You can expect rains, thunder and lightening regularly in the afternoons.
From Christmas through January and February is the peak time in Orlando. In this time you will get pleasant days at around 23°C and chilly evenings around 10°C. In March and April, the temperature starts to warm up with average highs rising to a blissful 25°C in March and 28°C in April
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