Best Tours and Excursions in Orlando

Best Tours for Orlando Visitors: From Inside Disney to Outside the Box

Whether you’re interested in a new way of visiting your favorite theme park or a fabulous departure from fabricated Florida, Orlando is overflowing with tour and excursion options both on and off the path. Learn the ins and outs of theme parks with special VIP tours at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. Leave the theme parks behind and get a taste of old Florida with an airboat tour at Wild Florida or be a wildlife trainer for a day at Gatorland. If you’re really looking for a out-of-area experience, take a ride on a hot air balloon. Painted Horizons offers sunrise hot air balloon rides. If you're more comfortable with your feet on the ground, take a walking tour through some downtown Orlando bar. Just be warned, this tour has spirits of many kind, if you catch our drift. There's also food tours, scenic boat tours, kayak and paddleboard tours, plenty of ways to see the City Beautiful. 


Universal Orlando VIP Tour Experience

You don't have to be a celebrity to experience a Universal Orlando Resort VIP Tour Experience. Your day will include a Universal Orlando expert touring you around Universal Studios Florida or Islands of Adventure, or both parks. The experience includes exclusive backstage access, insider info and (best part) enjoying the attractions without waiting in line. The VIP Experience includes multiple parties in your group, but if you want to really impressive your date, go for the Private VIP Experience. That's, well, you guessed it, private to just your party. You get to determine the itinerary for the day. Options range from one-day, one-tour to two-days, two-tours.

Recommended for Tours and Excursions because: This is the best way to see all Universal has to offer and not miss a thing.

Michelle's expert tip: The tour includes a photo package to capture all the special moments.

Read more about Universal Orlando VIP Tour Experience →

Enjoy some spirits with your spirits. This three-hour tour includes ghost stories and maybe even some ghostly encounters. The first hour is spent socializing with your group while hearing a few spooky tales. Then the tour will visit three or four different "haunted" bars. This is a walking tour through downtown Orlando so wear appropriate footwear. You'll also have a chance to test out a K2 Meter and attempt to detect spirits you won't find in a glass. Guests must be 21 or up to enjoy these ghostly encounters. Appetizers and drinks are a separate cost from the tour fee. A minimum of six people are needed for the tours.

Recommended for Tours and Excursions because: Amateur ghost hunters and history buffs will dig AGA's various tours, which are infused with a hearty helping of both.

Michelle's expert tip: Similar tours are available in Mount Dora, downtown Deland and New Smyrna Beach.

Read more about American Ghost Adventures →

Walt Disney World officially turned 50 Oct. 1, 2021, lucky for you, the celebration will last more than a year. Take advantage while you can and experience the 50th Anniversary Tour. A VIP Tour Guide will escort your party, up to six people, on a magical day through the parks. You'll visit a few of your favorite attractions, but you'll also get some behind-the-scenes secrets. Your tour will start at one of the first resorts on site, Disney's Contemporary Resort, where you'll learn some Disney history and kickoff your day with a champagne toast. Then a private charter will take you to Magic Kingdom. Lunch is at Be Our Guest Restaurant and then it's off to EPCOT where your get a special treat at the new Space 220 Restaurant and a coveted ride on the recently-opened, Remy's Ratatouille Adventure.

Recommended for Tours and Excursions because: Skip to the front of the line on attractions while learning hidden secrets and a bit of history.

Michelle's expert tip: Cost depends on the time of year and reservations can be made by calling 407-560-4033.

Read more about Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Tour →

South Orlando
Photo courtesy of Visit Kissimmee, Florida

Every wanted to an animal trainer? Not just for any animal. We're talking about alligators. The Train-for-a-day program at Gatorland gives you a peak into what it's like working with dangerous animals. You'll get an up-close experience with baby gators to some of the parks largest alligators and crocodiles. This two-hour tour begins at 8 a.m. and is only available to those 12 and older. The tour group is limited to five people so you'll have plenty of attention. Admission to the park is included in the tour so you'll be able to explore this central Florida institution that has been around since 1949.

Recommended for Tours and Excursions because: There aren't too many places you can learn to be an alligator trainer.

A.D.'s expert tip: Be warned: Your clothes will get dirty. Wear closed-toed shoes and nothing too baggy.

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Wandering Palm Food Tour

Eat good food, support local businesses and even learn a little Orlando history in the process. Come hungry because Wondering Palms Food Tours promises there will be plenty to eat. The tours are in different parts of Orlando including Ivanhoe Village, the Milk District and more. These are walking tours, ranging between ΒΌ a mile to two miles, that happen rain or shine so dress appropriately. You can pick one of the preplanned tours, or tell them what you like and they will plan for you. A guide takes you from restaurant to restaurant sharing fun facts along the way.

Recommended for Tours and Excursions because: This is a great option for bachelor/bachelorette parties, corporate events, celebrations, anytime you want to involve food.

Michelle's expert tip: You'll likely find a hidden gem or finally get to experience that one restaurant you've been meaning to visit.

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If the tours have been going on since 1938, you know they must be good. The Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour takes guests through takes in narrow canals in this quant city located 10 miles from downtown Orlando. Tours are everyday of the week (minus Christmas Day), with one tour leaving at 10 a.m. and another tour leaving at 4 p.m. The hour-long excursion is aboard a pontoon boat and can accommodate up to 18 people. Guests will learn the history of Winter Park while viewing wildlife and a variety of foliage. You'll also pass by exquisite estates in this city founded by wealthy easterners in the 1800s.

Recommended for Tours and Excursions because: Get a beautiful boat tour through central Florida's oldest community.

Michelle's expert tip: Bring cash or check. No credit cards accepted. Admission is $16 for adults and $8 for children ages 2 to 11. Under 2 is free.

Read more about Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour →

Painted Horizons Hot Air Balloon Tours

Take a scenic hot air balloon ride above central Florida. Flights are available seven days a week, weather permitting, and occur early in the morning when the winds are most favorable. Riders must be at least 8 years old and need to be able to get in and out of the basket unassisted, as well as stand the entire flight. Flights are usually about one hour, but the entire experience is closer to three hours. You may be wondering how high you'll go. Well, that depends a lot on wind and weather, but you could get as high as three thousand feet. Balloons won't go up in winds higher than 10 mph.

Recommended for Tours and Excursions because: Escape the chaos of the theme park capital of the world and enjoy a beautiful view from high above.

Michelle's expert tip: Afraid of heights? You should be fine. This is not looking down from a tall building because there is no immediate point of reference to judge your height. It's more like looking out an airplane window.

Read more about Painted Horizons Hot Air Balloon Tours →

This local outfitter runs tours throughout Central Florida, even out to Merritt Island, but in-town excursions through the Winter Park chain of lakes take intrepid explorers straight through the majestic landscape and history of this lovely little town. They're happy to give you an escort, but with the handy map they are happy to provide: it's wholly unnecessary, allowing you and your partners in paddling to slip unencumbered through the waterways, guided by easy-to-read, hand-drawn maps. Navigate through lush foliage, beneath towering cypress and past the area's magnificent estates on a two-and-a-half-hour journey. Tours of the Little Econlockhatchee and other excursions are available, as well. Call or check website for details.

Recommended for Tours and Excursions because: For a peaceful, easy feeling, few things beat kayaking. POM guides are happy to guide your tour or allow you the freedom of a self-guided adventure.

A.D.'s expert tip: Never paddled? Fear not. POMs experts will make you so comfortable you may well decide to go it without guidance.

Read more about Peace of Mind Kayak Tours →

Looking for a different view of the City Beautiful? Paddleboard Orlando will give you waterborne perspective...vertically! And they're pros when it comes to first-time SUP'ers. Offering beginner lessons and peaceful, fun excursions on a wide array of Orlando's lakes and canals; you can sign up for manatee or moonlight paddles, group or private lessons, even nighttime bioluminescence outings. No equipment or experience necessary. This is a passionate operation; they want to get you as hooked on SUP'ing as they are. Private parties and corporate events are available, as well. Paddleboarding is a unique way to experience the aquatic terrain, flora and fauna of Central Florida; definitely worth a try!

Recommended for Tours and Excursions because: SUP is addictive. And easier than you think. Paddleboard Orlando provides a fun, gentle entry into the sport for first-timers.

A.D.'s expert tip: Remember your sunscreen! Even with cloud cover, the water is reflective.

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Wild Florida

An air boat ride at Wild Florida is your quintessential Florida experience. A ride aboard this boat will give you a close-up view of the Everglades including the native wildlife, hello alligators. The experienced airboats captain have trained eyes to spot the gators, as well as plenty of other animals and plants that make up the Florida Everglades ecosystem. Tours range in length from half an hour to an hour. You have the option to do a personal tour with just your crew and can even pick to go on a nighttime airboat ride. Each guest is provided with a life jacket and ear protection, it gets loud! Wondering if this may be too intense for your little one? The fresh air and vibration has been known to put many a kids to sleep. Plus children under 2 are free.

Recommended for Tours and Excursions because: In addition to the air boat rides, Wild Florida also has a drive-thru safari and park with exotic animals.

Michelle's expert tip: Guests are encouraged to book tickets in advance online. They've been known to sell out.

Read more about Wild Florida →


Meet Michelle Spitzer

Michelle Spitzer grew up in South Florida taking many family vacations to the Orlando area. For the past 14 years, she's called central Florida home.

A journalist for more than two...  More About Michelle