Orlando for kids By Mimi Slawoff
Things to Do in Orlando go beyond visiting theme parks. (Flickr: Rob Bixby)
Situated in central Florida, Orlando is home to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios Orlando and many other theme parks. These theme parks are a lot of fun and are Orlando’s main attraction. However, there are numerous other exciting things to do in Orlando with kids. It would be a shame to miss out on really cool family-friendly places. Orlando is a big city with a diverse array of attractions, more than you can see in one visit. There are museums, science centers, theaters and nature areas to start. And with so many options, it’s easy to find activities to please every member of the family. Mix it up and surprise your kids with a variety of places to explore on your next family vacation to Orlando.
(MORE: 12 Free Attractions in Orlando for the Whole Family)
Must-See Touristy Things to Do in Orlando with Kids
Among the top things to do in Orlando with kids is a visit to the John F. Kennedy Space Center. This family-friendly attraction has been NASA’s primary launch center for human spaceflight since 1968. Thousands of experiences await families. There’s meeting an astronaut, seeing rockets up close, and touring the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. With average 70-degree temperatures year-round, water parks are among favorite things to do in Orlando with kids. Splash down at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach Water Park. Spend the night at Flamingo Waterpark Resort or CoCo Key Hotel and Water Resort.
Dozens of Theme Parks
Walt Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando are certainly spectacular. But Orlando has dozens of lesser known theme parks beloved to locals. There’s LEGOLAND Florida, Magical Midway, and the two Fun Spot America theme parks. There are plenty of animal interactive theme parks as well, if that’s something of interest. However, do diligent research first. Make sure that the place you visit isn’t abusing or taking advantage of animals for the sake of profit and tourism.
Nutty for Nature
Visit the Kelly Park/Rock Springs in northwest Orlando, take a break from the theme park bustle at Bok Sanctuary, do some tree climbing and zipling at Orlando Tree Trek, or explore the Orlando Wetlands Park to see the local wildlife in their natural habitat. You can also have a picnic at Lake Eola Park, take an airboat ride at Boggy Creek, or feel the Aloha spirit with Paddleboard Orlando. Family-friendly lessons and tours take place in a safe environment year-round.
Exploring Cultural Attractions
For both visitors and locals, a visit to the Orlando Science Center is definitely one of the best things to do in Orlando with kids. The family-friendly center has four floors of fun and educational exhibits, science stations and shows. Local families with young kids recommend WonderWorks. It’s an upside down attraction with over 100 exhibits in six themed zones. Journey through natural disasters, space, and physical challenges. More fun includes laser tag and a multi-story ropes course. Ripley’s Believe it or Not Odditorium – which has many facilities worldwide — is among the quirky things to do in Orlando with kids. Orlando’s Ripley’s, filled with the usual shrunken heads and other peculiar exhibits, looks like it’s slipping into a sinkhole. Theater-loving families can take in a live show at the Orlando Repertory Theatre.
(MORE: Unusual Family-Friendly Attractions in Kissimmee, Florida)
Feasts for Foodie Families
Besides a bounty of family-friendly restaurants, there’s a cornucopia of foodie things to do in Orlando with kids. At the Orlando Farmers Market you’ll find produce, baked goods, prepared food, jewelry, gifts, crafts and more. Even specialty treats for dogs. Tasty things to do in Orlando with kids include Sleuths Mystery Dinner Shows, ideal for families who love to eat and play games. Enjoy a feast while playing detective to solve a crime during a two-and-a half hour dinner show. Or sit back and enjoy a live jousting tournament and classic sword fights at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. Cheer on your knights while feasting on a four-course meal served in a castle-themed space.
Mimi Slawoff of Planetfamilytravel contributed this to MiniTime. She is a Los Angeles-based journalist and a seasoned family travel expert who explores the world with her three children and writes about their journeys.