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Top 12 Things to Do in Orlando With Kids

Living in Florida with a child means I know that trips to Orlando are inevitable. The theme parks offer a lot for kids of all ages to do and see. But the city and its surrounding areas aren’t only about rollercoasters and having breakfast with your favorite character. There are plenty of things to do in “The City Beautiful” that don’t involve heading to an amusement park.

Whether you’re headed to a theme park and want a few additional other things to do or just want to explore, here are some things to do in Orlando with kids.

Leu Gardens Harry P. Leu Gardens
Credit: Harry P. Leu Gardens by © Jillian Cain | Dreamstime.com

Leu Gardens

What Is It? Located just a few minutes from downtown Orlando, Leu Gardens is a tranquil oasis.

Why Do It? It offers visitors the chance to explore 50 acres of gardens and a 19th-century house that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Good to Know: There are also movie nights, story time, and rotating outdoor exhibits within the gardens.

SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium 360 degree ocean tunnel at SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium
Credit: 360 degree ocean tunnel at SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium by SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium

SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium

What Is It? Conservation and animal welfare combined with an exploration of oceans around the world make up SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium.

Why Do It? The aquarium is home to Florida’s only 360-degree ocean tunnel, allowing visitors to experience the life of sharks, turtles, fish, and other ocean creatures while staying completely dry.

Good to Know: There’s also an opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes tour to learn more about the aquarium’s operation.

Rent a Swan Boat at Lake Eola Swan boats on Lake Eola
Credit: Swan boats on Lake Eola by © viavaltours - Dreamstime.com

Rent a Swan Boat at Lake Eola

What Is It? A small lake in downtown Orlando, Lake Eola provides a quiet escape from city life.

Why Do It? Explore it right on the water in one of the city’s famous swan boats.

Good to Know: Available for rent for up to 30 minutes, the pedal-powered boats seat up to five, and pets are allowed as well.

Orlando Science Center Orlando Science Center
Credit: Orlando Science Center by Orlando Science Center

Orlando Science Center

What Is It? Learning is made fun at the Orlando Science Center, one of the best kid-friendly museums in Florida.

Why Do It? With theaters, exhibits and live programs, there’s plenty going on to keep everyone entertained. Little ones can enjoy Messy Science StoryTime, where interactive play also educates, or head to explore the solar system with the Cat in the Hat. Older ones can use virtual reality to steer a plane above Hong Kong. Need a break from being on your feet? Don’t miss out on viewing movies that explore nature, geography and other science-related topics.

Good to Know: There’s also a cafe and coffee shop located onsite for when you need to refuel. 

Crayola Experience Orlando Crayola Experience
Credit: Crayola Experience by crayolaexperience.com

Crayola Experience Orlando

What Is It? Artsy kids will feel at home at Crayola Experience Orlando.

Why Do It? Offering 26 ways to create art or just play and have fun, this 70,000-square-foot experience will keep younger children entertained for hours.

Good to Know: Before you leave, head to the Crayloa Store to create a custom pack of crayons with the little one’s favorite colors.

Tri-Circle-D Ranch Tri-Circle-D Ranch
Credit: Tri-Circle-D Ranch by Tri-Circle-D Ranch

Tri-Circle-D Ranch

What Is It? Located at Fort Wilderness Resort, the Tri-Circle-D Ranch offers fun outdoor adventures.

Why Do It? It allows visitors to visit the stables where the many breeds of horses, including Clydesdales and Arabians, of Walt Disney World live. You can even take a horse or carriage ride.

Good to Know: YSmaller children can take a guided pony ride inside the corral. Older children and adults can take a trail ride through the grounds on a full-sized horse, while families who want to sit back and relax can experience a horse-drawn wagon ride.

Discovery Cove Discovery Cove
Credit: Discovery Cove by Discovery Cove

Discovery Cove

What Is It? Not a traditional amusement park, Discovery Cove, owned by SeaWorld, is an experience that keeps families in and near the water all day.

Why Do It? The day resort allows you to snorkel in the reef, float down the winding river or end the day on the sands of the freshwater bay. You’ll see flamingos, hundreds of birds you can hand feed, rays, and fish. Also included in the all-inclusive price are breakfast, lunch, snacks, and beverages (including alcohol). Lockers, showers, wetsuits, towels, and free parking are also included. For an additional price, swim with dolphins, where you’ll learn more about how they live and their habits.

Good to Know: A Certified Autism Center, the staff at Discovery Cove have special training to work with guests with special needs, and a sensory guide is available for families.  

Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park
Credit: Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park by Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park

Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park

What Is It? An aerial obstacle course for those aged 6 and up, Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park offers adventures based on skill level.

Why Do It? With 97 challenges, a 425-foot zip line, and separate kids’ challenge courses, everyone in the family will have adventures to tell.

Good to Know: While safely strapped in, you’ll be able to try trapeze swings, use balance skills on hanging skateboards, navigate across suspended bridges or practice your best Tarzan yell as you swing from rope to rope.

WonderWorks WonderWorks Orlando
Credit: WonderWorks Orlando by WonderWorks Orlando

WonderWorks

What Is It? Billed as an experiment gone wrong, Wonderworks explores different ‘zones’ of science to help kids learn while having fun.

Why Do It? Situated in an upside-down mansion said to have dropped out of a tornado, the adventure lets visitors see almost 200 exhibits. Become a human lightning rod, feel how cold the water was where the Titanic sunk, see what your shadow really looks like, play a giant floor piano, and even find out what happens when you lie on a bed of nails.

Good to Know: There’s also an indoor ropes course and laser tag to keep the fun going all day.

Mead Botanical Gardens Butterfly on Plant
Credit: Butterfly on Plant by © Gilbert Franco | Dreamstime.com

Mead Botanical Gardens

What Is It? Located four miles north of downtown Orlando, Mead Botanical Gardens is on 48 acres and is a county park that is free to the public.

Why Do It? With examples of wetlands, a native plants garden, a picnic pavilion and a butterfly garden, it’s a peaceful way to escape the city for a few hours.

Good to Know: Bird lovers can pick up a checklist at the information desk to see if they can spot the over 150 birds that have called the gardens home.

Orlando Shakes Orlando Shakes
Credit: Orlando Shakes by Orlando Shakes

Orlando Shakes

What Is It? Working in conjunction with the University of Central Florida, Orlando Shakes produces high-quality productions of musicals and plays near downtown Orlando.

Why Do It? Not only focusing on pieces written by William Shakespeare, but the theater also has a children’s series of age-appropriate shows that run less than an hour.

Good to Know: There are also Saturday classes and summer camps for children and teens to learn more about the world of theater.

Museum of Illusions Head on a Plate Exhibit
Credit: Head on a Plate Exhibit by Museum of Illusions

Museum of Illusions

What Is It? Kids who are interested in magic and the illusion of the eye will be drawn to the Museum of Illusions.

Why Do It? The 50 exhibits teach about the science of the brain and how your mind is fooled into seeing something that isn’t truly happening.

Good to Know: Bring your camera or photo to capture shots of you sitting at a table with yourself multiple times, balls rolling uphill, a reversed room where you can walk on the ceiling, and other options friends and family won’t believe when they see it.

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