Looking for things to do around Orlando airport? Traveling to Orlando can be an exciting experience, especially when you consider all of the attractions and activities available just a stone’s throw away from the Orlando International Airport (MCO).
While many visitors immediately flock to renowned theme parks such as Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, there’s a wealth of lesser-known gems in the area to explore. With a variety of options catering to different interests and time constraints, you’ll never be short of entertainment during your trip.
Delve into the world of alligators at the nearby Gatorland or visit the fascinating Orlando Science Center and the beautiful Harry P. Leu Gardens for a more relaxed atmosphere. For those seeking a cultural experience, the Orlando Museum of Art and The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art are fantastic destinations within 30 minutes from the MCO airport. Whether you’re on a quick layover or planning a longer stay in the city, Orlando has endless possibilities to make your visit memorable and enjoyable.
As a Florida resident who has traveled to Orlando countless times, I can personally vouch for the abundance of attractions and activities that this city has to offer. Using my experiences and knowledge, I’m confident in guiding you through an unforgettable time during your stay. Just remember to embrace all the potential adventures that await you because there are tons of things to do around Orlando airport.
Orlando Airport Overview
Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the primary airport serving the city of Orlando and its surrounding areas. It is a major hub for domestic and international flights and offers a wide range of amenities and services for travelers.
When you arrive at the airport, you’ll be greeted by a spacious and modern airside area. The airport has four airsides (A, B, C, and D) connected to the central terminal by automated people movers. Each airside has its own selection of shops, dining options, and other amenities, making your wait for your flight more enjoyable.
Orlando International Airport has an extensive network of gates to accommodate the large volume of flights that it handles daily. The airport layout consists of two terminals, Terminal A and B, each divided into two airsides. Terminal A consists of Airside 1 and 2, while Terminal B houses Airside 3 and 4. In total, there are 129 gates spread across the four airsides.
Transportation in Orlando
Getting to and from the Orlando Airport is convenient with various transportation options available. The following are some of the ways you can travel to and from the airport:
- Rental Cars: There are multiple rental car agencies available at the Ground Transportation Level (Level 1) of the airport. You can choose from a variety of rental car options to suit your needs.
- Shuttles & Taxis: Many hotels in the area offer complimentary shuttle services for guests. Taxis and ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft are also available for pickup at designated areas within the airport.
- Public Transportation: The local LYNX bus service provides affordable transportation from the airport to various parts of Orlando. Route 42 connects the airport to the Florida Mall and the International Drive area, making it a convenient option for reaching popular attractions.
By familiarizing yourself with the layout and transportation options at Orlando International Airport, you can ensure a seamless and enjoyable travel experience in this bustling hub.
Theme Parks and Entertainment
Walt Disney World
Only a short drive from Orlando International Airport, Walt Disney World offers a magical experience for visitors of all ages. With four separate theme parks, two water parks, over 20 resort hotels, and two entertainment districts, there’s something for everyone. At the heart of Walt Disney World is the Magic Kingdom, where you can explore iconic attractions such as Cinderella’s Castle and Space Mountain. Besides that, you’ll find Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, each offering unique attractions and experiences.
For movie lovers and thrill-seekers, Universal Studios is another must-visit destination near the airport. Universal is home to two theme parks: Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. America’s film and TV-based theme park, Universal Studios Florida, features immersive experiences like The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, Transformers: The Ride-3D, and The Simpsons Ride. At Islands of Adventure, you can explore themed islands such as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade, Marvel Super Hero Island, and Jurassic Park.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
If you’re interested in space exploration, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex provides a fascinating and educational experience. Located about an hour from the airport, this renowned destination offers a glimpse into the history of NASA and space travel. Explore exhibits like the Space Shuttle Atlantis, the Astronaut Hall of Fame, and the Apollo/Saturn V Center. You can even have lunch with an astronaut or take a behind-the-scenes tour of the facilities.
For a unique local experience, consider visiting Gatorland. Just a short drive from the airport, this park offers a closer look at Florida’s most famous reptile, the alligator. With live shows, alligator breeding marshes, and a thrilling zipline experience, Gatorland provides both entertainment and education for visitors.
When you’re ready to make a splash, several water parks near Orlando Airport will keep you cool and entertained. Both Walt Disney World and Universal offer water park options – Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach, and Universal’s Volcano Bay. Each park features various water slides, wave pools, and lazy rivers to help you beat the Florida heat.
|Attraction||Distance from Airport (Approx.)|
|Walt Disney World||17 miles|
|Universal Studios||16 miles|
|Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex||51 miles|
|Water Parks (Typhoon Lagoon &Blizzard Beach, Volcano Bay)||14-18 miles|
Shopping near Orlando Airport
Orlando International Premium Outlets
Orlando International Premium Outlets is a popular shopping destination located just 17 miles from Orlando International Airport. Here, you can enjoy a wide range of high-end and designer-brand stores such as Nike, Coach, and Polo Ralph Lauren. The outlet mall offers a variety of deals and discounts, making it a great place to find some bargains during your stay in Orlando.
To help plan your visit, we’ve included a table with the approximate distance from Orlando International Airport:
|Shopping Destination||Distance from Airport|
|Orlando International Premium Outlets||17 miles|
Mall at Millenia
Another excellent shopping option near the airport is the Mall at Millenia, located approximately 16 miles away. This upscale shopping center offers a luxurious atmosphere and an impressive selection of stores, such as Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, and Apple. The mall also features plenty of dining options, so you can refuel in between your shopping sessions.
Here’s a table showing the approximate distance between the Mall at Millenia and Orlando International Airport:
|Shopping Destination||Distance from Airport|
|Mall at Millenia||16 miles|
During your visit to Orlando, make sure to set aside some time to explore these fantastic shopping destinations. With both the Orlando International Premium Outlets and the Mall at Millenia nearby, you’ll be sure to find everything you’re looking for and more.
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and birdwatchers. Explore the diverse ecosystems while hiking through trails or taking a scenic drive. Keep an eye out for various birds, including endangered species such as the Florida scrub jay and wood stork.
For a unique experience in the Apopka area, head to Kings Landing. Rent a kayak or canoe and paddle down the beautiful Rock Springs Run, surrounded by lush flora and fauna. Remember to bring your fishing gear to catch some fish in the pristine waters.
Lake Buena Vista
Lake Buena Vista offers an array of water sports activities for you to enjoy. From kayaking and paddleboarding to fishing and boating, there’s something for everyone at this popular spot near Orlando.
Golf enthusiasts can find a number of top-notch courses within a short drive from Orlando Airport. Tee off at signature golf courses designed by world-renowned architects and enjoy the beautiful scenery and challenging courses.
|Activity||Approximate Distance from Airport|
|Lake Buena Vista||15-25 miles|
|Water Sports||10-30 miles|
Make the most of your time by exploring the variety of outdoor activities available near Orlando Airport. You’ll find exciting opportunities for adventure, relaxation, and connecting with nature. Enjoy!
Dining and Nightlife
Restaurants at the Airport
When you’re at Orlando International Airport, you have a few dining options available to satisfy your hunger. For a casual yet tasty experience, consider grabbing a bite to eat at McCoy’s Bar & Grill, located within the Hyatt Regency at Orlando International Airport 1. This is just 1.3 miles from the airport 2, making it a convenient option.
Another choice is an all-American meal available at a restaurant located only 0.2 miles from Orlando Intl Airport 3. With reviews praising the taste, you can’t go wrong here.
Bars and Clubs on International Drive
Looking for lively nightlife near the Orlando airport? Check out these popular bars and clubs along International Drive, a hotspot for dining and socializing. Here’s a table with three notable bars, along with their approximate distance from the airport:
|Jesse Black Saloon||5|
|Olive Garden Sand Lake||5|
For a fun club experience, seek out Jesse Black Saloon at 333 East Oak Ridge Road, which is about 5 miles away from the airport .
Although not a club, Olive Garden Sand Lake is another good option for those who prefer a more relaxed bar setting, also located approximately 5 miles from the airport 1.
Remember, when exploring the nightlife on International Drive, it’s important to plan your transportation and stay responsible for your safety. Enjoy your time dining and socializing near Orlando Airport!
Educational and Cultural Experiences
Harry P. Leu Gardens
Discover the beauty of the Harry P. Leu Gardens, located just a short drive from the Orlando Airport. These 50-acre gardens are home to various plants, flowers, and magnificent landscapes. Explore the numerous themed gardens, attend one of their gardening classes, or enjoy a leisurely stroll through this lush oasis. It’s a perfect place to relax and learn about nature.
Space Exploration Exhibits
Immerse yourself in the exciting world of space exploration by visiting various exhibits around Orlando, such as the Kennedy Space Center. Discover the history and future of space travel through interactive exhibits and engaging shows. Get up close and personal with the Space Shuttle Atlantis, participate in simulated space missions, or stand in awe of the massive Saturn V rocket.
Astronaut and Rocket Launch Programs
Experience the thrill of an astronaut or witness a live rocket launch by participating in various programs offered in the area. Attend the Astronaut Training Experience at the Kennedy Space Center, where you’ll learn about the rigors of space travel through hands-on training. Additionally, time your visit to coincide with a scheduled rocket launch for an unforgettable display of technology and power.
|Entity||Approximate Distance from Airport|
|Harry P. Leu Gardens||13 miles|
|Space Exploration||55 miles (Kennedy Space Center)|
|Astronaut programs||55 miles (Kennedy Space Center)|
|Rocket Launch programs||55 miles (Kennedy Space Center)|
One of the most affordable transportation options near Orlando Airport is the Lynx bus system. This public transportation provider operates a vast network of buses throughout the area, helping you reach various attractions and destinations with ease. Check the schedules and routes in advance to plan your trip accordingly.
For a more personalized travel experience, you can opt for private transportation services. Many companies in Orlando offer chauffeured services, allowing you to travel in comfort and style. These services typically offer a range of vehicle options, such as luxury sedans and spacious vans, to suit your needs. Private transportation is an excellent choice if you prefer discretion and a tailored travel experience.
If you’re traveling with a group or have a significant amount of luggage, an SUV transfer service may be the best option for you. Companies like Best Luxury Transportation provide transfers from Orlando Airport to popular destinations, such as Port Canaveral, for up to six passengers. This option combines the comfort of private transportation with the convenience of a larger vehicle, ensuring a hassle-free start to your Orlando adventure.
Retail Stores inside Orlando Airport
Magic of Disney
While waiting for your flight at Orlando International Airport, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Magic of Disney store. Here, you can find a wide array of Disney-themed merchandise, including apparel, accessories, plush toys, and collectibles. It is an ideal spot to pick up a last-minute souvenir or a gift for a loved one back home.
If marine life and aquatic-themed souvenirs pique your interest, make sure to stop by the SeaWorld Shop. This store offers numerous SeaWorld merchandise, such as clothing, hats, toys, and home décor items. You can also find unique gifts like exclusive animal plushies that will remind you of the cherished moments from your Orlando adventure.
For the motorcycle enthusiasts, the Harley Davidson shop at Orlando International Airport is a must-visit. The store showcases an impressive collection of branded apparel, accessories, and collectibles. You can treat yourself or a loved one with iconic Harley Davidson items such as t-shirts, hoodies, hats, mugs, and keychains. This store is a perfect stop to get your hands on some classic motorcycle souvenirs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Kill time options near Orlando Airport?
If you have a few hours to spare, consider visiting Gatorland, which is close to Orlando International Airport. This attraction offers a unique opportunity to see alligators and other wildlife up close, providing an interesting and educational experience while you wait for your flight.
Activities with luggage Near Orlando Airport?
While many attractions near Orlando International Airport may not accommodate luggage storage, there are some options to keep your belongings safe. Consider renting a locker at the airport or using a luggage storage service off-site. This way, you can enjoy nearby activities without worrying about your luggage.
Waiting for flight activities?
Inside Orlando International Airport, there are various activities to pass the time while waiting for your flight. Check out the Kennedy Space Center Store to explore space-themed merchandise, or explore the numerous shops and restaurants available. Additionally, the airport often showcases live music and art exhibits for your entertainment.
Shopping close to Orlando airport?
The Orlando International Airport itself has a variety of shops, including souvenir stores and specialty boutiques. Nearby, you can find more shopping options like The Florida Mall and Orlando Vineland Premium Outlets, both within a short drive from the airport.
Eating places near Orlando Airport?
There are numerous dining options within the airport, ranging from fast food to sit-down restaurants. Explore the options available in your terminal, like Cask & Larder, which offers delicious Southern cuisine, or grab a quick bite at familiar chains like Starbucks and Wendy’s.
Parks close to airport?
If you wish to enjoy some fresh air and nature while waiting for your flight, consider visiting one of the many parks near Orlando Airport. Moss Park, located about 10 miles from the airport, offers picnic areas, hiking trails, and waterfront views, making it a perfect spot to relax and unwind before your journey.
Recap: things to do around Orlando airport
During your time near Orlando Airport, you have several worthwhile activities to choose from. If you have a couple of hours to spare, consider visiting Gatorland, a unique theme park that’s surprisingly close to the airport. Its focus on alligators and crocodiles makes it a fascinating and different experience from the usual Orlando theme park fare.
Within a 30-minute drive of the airport, you’ll find Universal CityWalk, an entertainment complex filled with shops, restaurants, and various attractions. For a more educational outing, consider visiting the Orlando Science Center and the Orlando Museum of Art. Both offer an array of exhibits and experiences that are suitable for all ages.
For those who enjoy nature and the outdoors, take a stroll through Harry P. Leu Gardens or enjoy the picturesque scenery of Lake Eola Park. Art aficionados should visit The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, which houses an impressive collection of works from American artists.
If you’re interested in water sports or boating, Boat Tree Marina is only 4.5 miles from Orlando Sanford International Airport. The marina offers boat rentals and tours that allow you to explore the beautiful waterways around Sanford.
While waiting for your flight, you can also relax at the Delta Sky Club located within the airport grounds. The club offers comfortable seating, complimentary Wi-Fi, and refreshments to make your layover more enjoyable.
Remember that you have many options to choose from when spending time near Orlando Airport. Whether you’re into theme parks, nature, art, or simply relaxing, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this vibrant area.