You might be wondering why Disney World isn't #1 in this attractions list for Orlando. First of all, Lake Eola Park is a great way to see the "real" Orlando- it's located in the middle of downtown where tourists and locals alike gather for everyday activities, and it's free! There's a fantastic Sunday farmers' market, and it's the perfect venue for a romantic stroll, a play date with the kids, an afternoon jog in the sun, or a fun swan-feeding experience. Go for a ride in one of the swan boats and circle the majestic fountain in Lake Eola's center. Enjoy the sunset on the lake and the art sculptures spattered throughout the park, then head to one of the many restaurants conveniently located close to the park.
It's difficult to mention Orlando without also mentioning Walt Disney World. There's a reason so many flock to the area for their vacations: with the diversity in entertainment available to all who enter the grounds, who wouldn't want to spend a day here? Universal Studios offers the newer attraction being The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (whether you've read the books or not you will be in awe), and if the fictional fun isn't for you, there are always the roller coasters in Universal's Islands of Adventure!
See the center that has been the place of launch for every single manned space flight from the U.S. since 1968! Clear away an afternoon to explore it; it's free and has something for everyone. There's an early space exploration exhibit as well as a rock garden and multiple tours of areas such as the Launch Control Center.
Literally and figuratively Discovery Cove is an oasis. Relax on a float down the waters of the lazy river and admire the waterfalls and the tropical landscape. Snorkeling is the best way to appreciate the lovely fish here, and doing the dolphin swim is a MUST before exiting the cove. Birds will fly to you and even land on you in the tropical bird section if you have food for them. The ticket price at first glance seems hefty, but it includes a complimentary breakfast at the park, as well as open tickets to Aquatica and Busch Gardens.
Dining and shopping is the name of the game at Thornton Park. This park is part of what makes up the true "downtown Orlando." Hit the shops and rest at one of the many popular restaurants available. One of the most stylish-looking districts with its brick-lined streets, you can be sure to find great photo opportunities as well as a relieving break from the hustle of the city, even though you're practically in the center of downtown. Take a walk through the residential neighborhood and see the charming houses built Florida "cracker style" (wrap around front porches).