How To Do Orlando Like A Local

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Picture this: a vacation where you avoid traffic, know all the best local eateries, and have an itinerary packed with things you can’t find on Google. It sounds like a dream, but it doesn’t have to be. So for those planning their next Orlando vacation, we’re making this dream a reality. 

We’ve gathered the inside knowledge from our long-time Orlandoans to create this how-to guide for tourists. If you want to visit Orlando like a local, keep scrolling for the best local-approved tips. 

Tips For Visiting Orlando

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1. Avoid the I-4 Highway

Don’t spend your valuable vacation time sitting in traffic! Being one of the main highways in Orlando, the I-4 can sometimes be very difficult to avoid. That’s why our first and most important tip for those visiting Central Florida is to plan out alternate driving routes. Use toll roads, find backroads, and avoid the interstate during rush hour.

This makes your drive more scenic, but you’ll avoid sitting bumper-to-bumper for what’ll feel like hours.

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2. Avoid The Touristy Dining Spots

Being a big touristy destination, Orlando is filled with over-the-top eateries that are sure to catch your eye. But we’re here to remind you not to overlook the smaller, local shops you can’t get back home. Avoiding the touristy dining spots is a great way to support local, avoid crazy wait times, save money, and get a taste of those delicious hidden gems that Orlando locals know and love.

If you’re searching for quick, grab-and-go eateries, try: Itsa ChickenTin & Taco, or Hunger Street Tacos. For those looking for a longer, sit-down dining experience, pick one of these from our favorites: The CoopPlant Street Market, or Irish 31 Pub.  

3. Skip The Theme Parks

Orlando is known for its thrilling, crowd-drawing theme parks and water parks. But this vibrant city has so much more to offer. So instead of spending every day of your vacation sweating away in line after line, check out one of these sunshine state alternatives.

Tap into your wild side by visiting Wild Florida—a city escape that offers airboat tours and exotic animal encounters. If you’re feeling like beating the Florida heat, but avoiding the busy water parks, take advantage of the dozens of natural springs in the surrounding areas. Not sure where to go? Check out our guide to the best natural springs near Orlando

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4. If You Visit The Theme Parks, Go During The Week

You don’t want to skip the theme parks altogether on your next vacation? We totally understand! But, there are a few local-approved tips we think you should keep in mind when planning your Orlando, Florida getaway. First, instead of planning your park days on the weekend (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday), try to plan for a weekday!

This will guarantee you’ll have shorter lines, which means you’ll be getting more bang for your buck. Want more tips? Check out our guide here!

5. Explore New Neighborhoods!

Orlando is constantly growing and expanding, stretching far beyond the downtown and theme parks areas. That means there are new places to explore on your next vacation. New areas are packed with delicious restaurants, bars, and even can’t-miss events like farmers’ markets. 

If you’re not sure what areas are fit for your next vacation, you’ll want to check out these local favorites: Winter GardenAvalon ParkSanford, and Celebration.  

6. Try Out a New Spot in Kissimmee

With Kissimmee being home to one of the most popular theme parks, it’s easy to forget about all the alternative activities this city has to offer. So if you want to stay in the Kissimmee area for the duration of your trip, you’re not limited to trying new, out-of-the-box things. From tree-top obstacle courses to water parks, this touristy town has it all.

If you’re in need of some ideas, check out our locals’ guide to fun things in Kissimmee—packed with all the must-try activities for every age and every interest. 

Your Big Day Plans The Best Places To Celebrate A Birthday In Orlando (1)

7. Plan a Date Night in Winter Park

Grab your date. Winter Park is calling your name. Located right outside the Downtown Orlando area, it’s the prime date night location. Pick one of our favorite Winter Park restaurants to enjoy a good meal and some tasty drinks. Then, go on a romantic stroll down the cobblestone, twinkle-lit pathways.  

Orlando locals: if we missed any must-know tips on how to do Orlando like a local, shoot us a message. Vacationers: if you decide to try out one of our local-approved tips, let us know by following us on Instagram @StuffToDoInOrlando and tagging us in your fun Orlando adventures! 

Kailey Boyer

Kailey Boyer

Kailey Boyer is an Arizona native, currently living her best life in Orlando, Florida. She’s passionate about hunting down and sharing all things her beautiful city has to offer. Making the hidden Florida gems accessible to everyone! You can find her exploring Orlando with a camera in hand, typing away in a local coffee shop, or in a packed car heading to the beach.