The Orlando area is a fun place for families with children to visit and it’s not just because of the reasons you may think. From Kissimmee to Winter Park, no matter if you’re looking to take the kids to see nature or hop in a go-cart to do something a little more fast-paced, there are plenty of fun things for families to do in Orlando that aren’t the theme parks. So save Walt Disney World for another visit and plan your itinerary below!
1. Go back to the times of lords and ladies and take in a dinner theater meal at Medieval Times in Kissimmee. You'll enjoy a four-course meal and watch knights engage in hand-to-hand combat, falcons fly, and horses prance as the Queen and her court watch. Don't forget to cheer loudly for your favorite knight in shining armor.
2. With four floors of exhibits and two theaters, the Orlando Science Center invites visitors in for some exploration, discovery, and fun. Covering a wide range of topics, including food science, dinosaurs, and sustainable living, the center welcomes even the youngest family members to learn more about the science around them.
3. Twenty-eight thousand square feet of 'edu-tainment' makes WonderWorks Orlando fun and educational, all at the same time. The six zones offer areas that show what it feels like to be in an earthquake, a glow-in-the-dark rope course, a giant piano you can play with your feet, and a section that explains how animals inspired Dr. Suess's imagination.
4. Have an adventurous family who's looking to get out on the water? Head to the Orlando Watersports Complex, where you can wakeboard and enjoy the waterpark. There's also an opportunity to take lessons from the experts. Afterward, head to the onsite restaurant to grab lunch and a smoothie.
5. If your family is into all things odd and spooky, Ripley's! Believe It Or Not! Orlando is a must-visit. Structured to look like a Florida sinkhole, 16 exhibit areas include weird Florida, sideshow exhibits, and other strange things you won't see anywhere but at Ripley's.
6. Indoor action is ready to be had at Andretti Indoor Karts and Games. Kids of all ages will enjoy racing in electric go-karts, competing in laser tag, or taking in 10 frames of bowling with a little flare.
7. Have budding artists in the family? Head to the Crayola Experience to funnel their creative juices. Kids can create melted wax art, experiment with color, sculpt with clay, and even create personalized boxes of crayons.
8. Have your kids always wanted to see an alligator live and in person? Take them to Gatorland! From the tiniest babies to rare albino gators, they have all types to see. There's also a petting zone, aviary area, and zip line to enjoy onsite.
9. Drive 25 minutes north of Orlando to see the animals and attractions at the Central Florida Zoo in Sanford. This smaller conservation center houses a wide variety of species, including lemurs, Florida black bears, rhinoceros, snakes, frogs, and bald eagles. There's also an aerial zipline course for the more adventurous members of the family.
10. Home to Florida's only 360-degree underwater tunnel, SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium allows families to see conservation in action. You can watch sharks, fish, and rescued sea turtles and you feel like you're in the middle of the ocean. There are also opportunities to touch sea life in the rockpool exhibit and watch the changing colors in the jellyfish wall.
11. Located about 20 minutes outside of Orlando, the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive allows you to observe local birds and alligators and learn how water levels affect the ecosystem. Audio clips at each stop give more history and context to what's there.
12. Wekiwa Springs State Park is just north of Orlando and is a great place to see the natural springs and enjoy nature. The clear springs are a natural attraction to both humans and wildlife year-round. Families can go for a swim, hike, ride bikes, or go birdwatching to spend the day.
13. Winter Park is built on a canal system around the area's lakes. See them up close on a clear kayaking tour to get an unobstructed view of what's below you while paddling past historical sites. You'll also see plenty of plants and animals native to the area.
14. Looking for an overall view of Orlando? Go up on a helicopter ride to see it from above. Fly by the area's key attractions and get an aerial tour of one of the most popular vacation spots in the country.
15. Take an airboat ride through Boggy Creek and discover an authentic Florida that doesn't exist in some areas anymore. Appropriate for children of all ages, the tour will showcase the tall grass areas home to alligators, egrets, and other wildlife. Afterward, head to the site's park, where you can feed baby alligators and see a replica of a Native American village.
16. Forty-eight acres in Winter Park showcase Mead Botanical Gardens. Free to enter, the gardens highlight plants native to the Central Florida area. There are also butterfly and community gardens to explore.
17. Downtown Orlando is home to Lake Eola Park, where families can take a one-mile stroll around the lake, rent swan paddle boats, view the live swans, or sit and enjoy the quiet of the park.
18. Families with young children crazy about the American Girl series can head to their store to pick up their newest friend or get their doll's hair done. Afterward, head to the American Girl Bistro for lunch or teatime to make the experience even more special.
19. Nature lovers can head to east Orlando to visit the University of Central Florida Arboretum. Self-guided and guided tours are available to learn more about the seven-acre park, which includes gardens, a greenhouse, plenty of planets, and biodiversity.
20. Put the family in eye-defying positions at the Museum of Illusions. Defy the laws of gravity, see yourself in infinity and shrink down to miniature through the art of illusion. Don't forget your camera to capture these fantastic images.
21. Ready to view Orlando from 400 feet in the air? The Wheel at ICON Park gives you a view of the city from an enclosed, air-conditioned capsule. You'll be able to see easy-to-identify parks and landmarks. Much more stable than a traditional Ferris wheel, The Wheel is great for family members of all ages.
22. Take the train fanatics in the family on Ride SunRail. With 16 stops in the metro Orlando area, you'll be able to hop on and off wherever you'd like and see plenty of attractions or grab a bite to eat in any of the cities you'd like to explore.
23. Up, up, and away! It's that easy for your family to be superheroes at iFLY Orlando. An indoor skydiving experience where instructors will teach you how to flip, roll and fly on your back, iFLY allows participants as young as three years old.
24. Covering 14,000 years of history in seven local counties, the Orlando History Center has permanent exhibits covering the cattle and citrus industry, African American history, pioneer living, and the rise of theme parks in Florida.
25. Into quirky landmarks? Visit the World's Largest McDonald's, which is in Orlando. Not your typical Mickey D's, this restaurant offers unique menu items such as cakes, pizza, and sandwiches, in addition to cheeseburgers and fries. There's also the World's Largest Playground and an arcade where kids can win prizes.
26. Your family will forget you're just minutes from downtown Orlando when you enter Leu Gardens. Located on 50 acres, the gardens allow visitors to enjoy plants suitable for the area's correct gardening zone. Keep an eye out for the many flowers, vines, and trees you'll encounter there.
27. Sports lovers will be thrilled to watch an Orlando City SC soccer match. With some of the most passionate fans in Major League Soccer, games are always lively and family-friendly.
28. Everyone loves a good carousel. So head to Carousel On The Promenade to be a kid, no matter your age. Pick the animal you want to ride on this 36-foot ride and then reach for the brass ring as you go around to the music.
29. Home to the world's largest obstacle park, Planet Obstacle in Lake Mary was created by two former Cirque du Soleil performers. With ropes courses, foam pits, a jump area, a trampoline basketball court, bumper cars, and a ninja warrior course, it's a great way to help kids get their energy out. There's also a toddler area so children two and under can join in on the fun.
30. Put on a pair of skates and roll to the music at Astro Skate. Each night has a theme to help get you in the mood. And they also offer lessons if rollerskating is new to the kids (or parents!).
31. Orlando Repertory Theatre is specifically geared toward young audiences, making it a great family excursion for smaller children. Located downtown, Orlando REP offers shows for children of all ages to enjoy.
32. Adults and children can discover more about art at the Crealdé School of Art in Winter Park. With a mission to make art readily accessible to everyone, the school has photographs, oral histories, a sculpture garden, and rotating exhibits.
33. Families that are into pop culture can't miss Madame Tussauds Orlando. This famous museum lets you get up close to take photos with Justice League heroes, Taylor Swift, and many other famous characters and celebrities lucky enough to have been reproduced in wax.