Central Florida – Beyond the Theme Parks
Central Florida is a popular destination for visitors from around the world. There is much more to this region besides theme parks and nightlife. Take a break from the expected and experience some of the Top Landmarks of Central Florida.
Pulse Nightclub Memorial
1912 South Orange Avenue, Orlando
This memorial sanctuary provides a tribute to honor the 49 victims of the senseless attack of June 12, 2016. Visitors are welcome to this sacred space to pay respects and to reflect on the tragedy with a goal of healing themselves and the community.
There are several ways for visitors to reflect and engage. A memorial wall is a place where flowers and mementos of love and support can be left. You can sign the digital guest book or take time to reflect in green space Survivor Grove.
For more details about the memorial and the work the One Pulse Foundation is doing to further honor victims and survivors visit here.
Orange County Regional History Center
65 East Central Boulevard, Orlando
This interesting museum is located in the historic Orange County 1927 Courthouse. This landmark building is a fun place to learn about the pre-theme park story of Orlando. Visitors of all ages will enjoy checking-out the interactive exhibits that cover 12,000 years of history!
The museum offers a lot of community events, including old-fashioned family board game nights. For a list of events and programs visit here.
Lake Eola Park
Eola Drive at East Central Boulevard, Downtown Orlando
This oasis in the middle of Downtown Orlando has been a popular spot since 1888. Enjoy a cruise on one of the iconic swan-shaped paddle boats (available for rent). Get your steps with some laps around the .9-mile lake path. Or just enjoy some quiet time relaxing and enjoying the view of the Orlando skyline. This is a great place to come on weekends for fresh produce and craft items from local vendors.
Insider Tip: The popular spot gets crowded on weekends and evenings. Parking can be a challenge. As with many urban areas pay attention to your surroundings and stay in well-lit areas with others.
Church Street Station
99 West South Street, Orlando
Historic Church Street Station centers around the 1889 Orlando Railroad Depot. The area has been transformed into a retail and entertainment complex. During the day it’s a quiet place to check out the funky architecture of the many historic buildings.
At night the area comes alive as the party crowd comes out to play. Bring the family for an early dinner and maybe even a ghost tour! Later in the evening the area comes alive as the younger party crowd comes out to play.
Insider Tip: Parking can be very challenging and pricey.
8375 International Drive, Orlando
Icon Park is home to over 40 restaurants, bars, and shops. The obvious landmark of this entertainment complex is “The Wheel.” This 400-foot observation Ferris wheel lights up the night sky. Hop on for an incredible view of the surrounding area including theme parks, and natural areas.
Insider Tip: Check online for discounted tickets and related offers.
This charming central Florida town was established in 1887. Check out the quaint architecture of the buildings that now house cafes and shops. Or check out some of the town’s world-class museums.
For a different perspective, hop on a guided boat tour of the this landmark community. Or rent a bike and explore this bicycle-friendly community.
Start planning your Winter Park visit here.
1000 Holt Avenue, Winter Park
In the middle of charming Winter Park is Rollins College. A visit to the 135 year-old campus is a great way to enjoy an afternoon of art and nature. Stroll the campus to check out the amazing architecture and stained glass windows. Stop in the recently remodeled Alfon Hotel to see their lobby art collection. Grab lunch at one of the campus eateries and enjoy a quiet lunch overlooking the lake. The historic Knowles chapel is open to the public for services.
Insider Tip: Classical music lovers will want to check out the annual Bach Festival. Get info here.
Fans of author Zora Neale Hurston won’t want to miss this small central Florida town where she was raised.
Eatonville was one of the first African American self-governing municipalities in the United States. Established in 1887, town have valuable stories to tell.
The beautifully restored Mosley House Museum (11 Taylor Avenue) was built in 1888. Here visitors can view artifacts and learn the town’s history.
Each winter Zoraphiles flock to the area for the annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival that celebrates her works and life.
The Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts offers a tribute to the author and scholar’s life and legacy. It focuses on the work of artists of African descent. Check out the museum’s website for hours and current information.
Learn more about this historic community and plan your visit here.
Historic Downtown Mount Dora
Mount Dora is a beautiful time capsule. Known for its antique shops and festivals, the area is steeped in history.
The Highland Avenue Historic District is a National Register of Historic Places landmark. The area features many lovely buildings that represent different architectural styles.
Be sure to check-out the stunning Queen Anne style 1893 Donnelly House at 535 North Donnelly Street. Note that the house is only open to the public on occasion, however you are welcome to peek in the windows.
Don’t let Mount Dora’s love for old stuff fool you. The town also boasts an interesting Modernism Museum (145 4th Avenue). This popular venue features unique exhibits that change throughout the year.
You can explore this historic lake-front community by guided boat or Segway tour. Start planning your Mount Dora visit here.
Mount Dora Lighthouse
Gilbert Park, South Tremain Street at Liberty Avenue
The adorable inland town of Mount Dora is well-known for its history and antique shops. But let’s not forget Mt. Dora’s lighthouse!
Created from found materials, this 35-foot lighthouse has been helping area boaters navigate Lake Dora since 1988. It is a true landmark since it is Florida’s only registered inland navigational aid.
You can check-out the lighthouse from the marina or a boat tour. For an even more adventurous experience try a seaplane tour!
1 Legoland Way, Winter Park
Legoland Florida is a thriving modern theme park. So, what makes it one of the top landmarks of central Florida? When the park was being redeveloped, they took great care to preserve and honor the community’s history.
Legoland is built on the site of one of Florida’s oldest attractions, Cypress Gardens. The botanical garden opened in 1936 and was famous for its swimming and water ski shows. In 2011 the park was transformed into Legoland Florida.
Visitors can still explore the beautiful botanical gardens from the 1930s and enjoy a re-vamped version of the water park. Learn more about these historic gardens and start planning your visit here.
Bok Tower Gardens
1151 Tower Boulevard, Lake Wales
Bok Tower Garden is the perfect place to visit to get in touch with nature and yourself. The 205-acre sanctuary has been a peaceful escape for visitors since 1929.
The centerpiece of this landmark is the amazing 205-foot tall “Singing Tower.” The tower plays beautiful bell melodies every half hour. At 1:00 and 3:00 each afternoon you can enjoy full concerts. While the tower itself is not open to the general public, sitting outside in the gardens, observing the birds and fountains is elevating in its own right.
Visitors can also explore several walking and nature trails Pinewood Estate, a 1930s mansion. Learn more about this unique Florida landmark here.
Child of the Sun/Florida Southern College Campus
840 Johnson Avenue, Lakeland
Head back to college to check out one of top landmarks of central Florida. Architecture and art fans will enjoy exploring the world’s largest collection of structures designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
They were designed in 1938 at the request of the college president who wanted to make the campus a worldwide landmark. His idea worked, and now the collection has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
Visit the Tourism and Education Center on campus to check out Wright’s sketches, and photos about the design process. You can tour the campus on your own or make a reservation for a guided tour.
Enjoy the Unusual
Exploring the world sometimes means breaking-away from the routine. Central Florida has a lot to offer outside of what you might expect. Take some time to check out the unique top landmarks of Central Florida. You’ll be rewarded with great adventures and special memories.
**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).
Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.