10 Orlando Attractions that are Changing the Face of the City

Lake Eola in Downtown Orlando
Photo: Rodrigo Suarez via Flickr

Most people know Orlando as a fabulous place to visit – food, fun, rides, and magic. In fact, last year alone, more than 60 million people made the trip out here. That’s nearly two Canadas and seven New York Cities, visiting just one city.

Most of the draw is Disney World, Universal, and SeaWorld – the big parks. But believe it or not, a lot of the most exciting things happening now and over the next few years aren’t at any of these places at all. Beyond the big parks, new and extraordinary attractions are adding to the city’s flair. Here are just eight of these amazing Orlando attractions beyond the theme park grid.

1) Orlando Eye

The Orlando Eye on International Drive
Photo: Trevor Cohen

Standing at over 400 feet tall, this new Orlando attraction has truly changed the city’s skyline forever, and most definitely for the better! Similar to the London Eye, air-conditioned, glass encased capsules allow each rider to see the city and beyond in the most spectacular fashion. This new addition is attracting tourists and locals alike (it’s on our family’s summer to-do list!). Want a closer look? Take a photo tour of the Orlando Eye.

What you need to know
Phone: (866) 228-6438
Address: 8401 International Drive #100, Orlando, FL 32819

2) I-Drive 360: Hub of New Orlando Attractions

Cool new Orlando Attractions Planned at I-Drive 360
Photo: I-Drive 360

Home to the aforementioned Orlando Eye, this new entertainment complex is filled with multiple new attractions and restaurants. Adding to the fun are Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum and the massive Sea Life Aquarium. With several new items in the works, such as a 400-piece animal skeleton exhibit, this spot is poised to become Orlando’s next biggest destination, blending fun, food, and entertaining educational experiences.

What you need to know
Address: 8445 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819

3) SunRail

Traveling outside of the I-Drive area just became much easier! It’s the perfect option for a unique day trip around Central Florida, especially since you can avoid tolls and traffic, and have the added bonus of enjoying Olando’s scenery in comfy, cool train seats. Hop on the Sand Lake train station, and check out all that Downtown Orlando has to offer. Shop, dine, and enjoy the beautiful gardens of historic Winter Park, or venture further for a cooling swim at the sparkling waters of Gemini Springs.

What you need to know

4) Orlando City Soccer Games

Fans cheer at an Orlando City Lions soccer game
Photo: Orlando City Soccer Club

With their inaugural season off to a fantastic start, watching an Orlando City Lions soccer game is a great experience. The enthusiasm of our fans is something you’d expect to find in Europe, where soccer is the national sport of many countries. The energy is palpable and the footwork on the field is quite fancy. Currently playing at the Citrus Bowl, Orlando City recently announced that they’ll be funding their own state-of-the-art stadium, planned to open in the summer of 2016. If you’re visiting during the season (early-March to late-October), this is an event you don’t want to miss!

What you need to know
Phone: (407) 440-5700
Address: 32805, 1 Citrus Bowl Pl, Orlando, FL 32805

4) East End Market

East End Market Orlando Restaurants
Photo: East End Market

A foodie mecca, East End is a market filled with local goods and treats. From locally grown produce and baked goods, to sushi and specialty coffee, this market is an excellent sampling of Orlando’s food scene. The perfect day trip would be to head to East End, grab some smoothies from Skyebird or a coffee from Lineage, and some baked good from Old Hearth Bakery, then head next door to Leu Gardens to enjoy their picturesque gardens. Then stop back at East End for lunch at Txoxos Basque Kitchen. Their Spanish-inspired food is simply delectable! Be sure to grab a book from a local author at Bookmark It.

What you need to know

5) Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
Photo: Orlando Sentinel

Downtown Orlando’s latest addition to its entertainment scene, the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is home to incredible acts, and the building itself is an architectural masterpiece. From musicals to ballet, Broadway shows and opera, you’ll have the chance to experience a variety of performances. You may even catch a Disney Theater production! It makes for an excellent evening, paired with a tasty meal at one of the many restaurants in walking distance. Stop by after for a gourmet popsicle from The Pop Parlour while you stroll around the stunning Lake Eola .

What you need to know
Phone: (844) 513-2014
Address: 445 S Magnolia Ave, Orlando, FL 32801

6) Artegon Marketplace

Artegon Marketplace new mall in Orlando
Photo: Artegon

Orlando has always been a prime shopping spot with outlets galore. But Artegon Marketplace offers a new kind of shopping experience – something for more than just hardcore bargain hunters. With boutiques, artists, and craftsman, an indoor ropes course, and unique handmade foods alongside big names like Ron Jon Surf Shop and Bass Pro Shops, it’s a great family spot for a rainy Florida afternoon.

What you need to know
Phone: (407) 351-7718
Address: 5250 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819

7) New Spots on Restaurant Row

Cedars restaurant on Orlando's Restaurant Row
Photo: Cedars

Whether you’re looking for an adult’s night out or a quality spot for a family dinner, Restaurant Row has a spot for you. For a kid-free evening, hire a babysitter and head to the Pharmacy , a speakeasy-inspired restaurant and bar, or Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar for Mexican-inspired food with a lively and vivid atmosphere. For some family friendly fun, Lime and Bonefish are excellent choices. If you want to try some ethnic cuisine, Bosphorous , a Turkish restaurant, and Cedars , a Lebanese restaurant, are delicious. New places are always popping up, so drive down Restaurant Row (aka Sand Lake Road), and stop wherever strikes your fancy.

What you need to know
Address: 7468 W Sand Lake Rd, Orlando, FL 32819

8) Quantum Leap Winery

Tasting room at Quantum Leap Winery in Orlando
Photo: Quantum Leap Winery

Florida’s only sustainable winery, Quantum Leap is located in downtown Orlando. It’s an urban winery featuring wines from sustainable vineyards around the world. Their goal is to reduce the carbon footprint of wine making, so they utilize eco-friendly alternatives to produce, package, and distribute their wine.The tasting room has an extensive wine list, and a number of exquisite art pieces line the walls (available for purchase). This spot is definitely growing in popularity and a unique Orlando attraction.

What you need to know
Phone: (407) 730-3082
Address: 1312 Wilfred Dr, Orlando, FL 32803

Photo: Marriott's Grande Vista

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About Lisa Curzon

A lover of creativity, Lisa finds writing, cooking, and crafting to be forms of therapy. When she isn't blogging for Orlando Moms Blog or Wed and Wanderlust, she is busy capturing memories with her munchkin around Orlando, planning a Moms Night Out, trying to get her food to taste like her Jamaican mother's dishes, or on a foodie adventure with her hubby.