With over 60 million tourists a year, Orlando is one of the most visited cities in the US. This central Florida city is home to a number of lakes and is less than two hours from Tampa. Orlando is about an hour away from the beautiful stretch of sandy beach from Daytona Beach to Cocoa Beach. Visitors flock to Orlando for the warm weather, theme parks, nightlife, and fantastic food scene. No matter what your reasons for your family vacation, you'll be glad to visit Orlando with your kids.
Given the city's propensity for theme parks, it's common to come to Orlando with a kid or two or three. Luckily, aside from Disney World, there are tons of things to do with kids in Orlando. In fact, Orlando has something for the whole family, especially the adults that are young at heart.
During peak travel season, Orlando can get extremely busy. This means that you should anticipate crowds during spring break in March and April and in the summer from June to the end of August. With the excessive number of people that travel here, make sure you don't have to worry about your bags, too. Visit any of the Bounce luggage storage facilities in Orlando to store your bags securely. There's nothing worse than worrying about your bags when you're trying to have some family fun.
Walt Disney World Resort
Chances are that Walt Disney World is on your list of things to do whether you're young or old. It's a magical place jam-packed with excitement. But, all this entertainment doesn't come cheap. At least the hefty price offers tons of venues covering more than 40 square miles. Each of the four theme parks can easily take up an entire day of your trip, if not more. The theme parks at Disney include the Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios. If that wasn't enough, the two water adventure parks, Disney's Blizzard Beach and Disney's Typhoon Lagoon can help keep the whole family cool during the Florida summer. If you can afford it, staying in one of the over 30 hotels in the resort area will save you a bunch of travel time. A few miles from the action, Lake Buena Vista Resort is a good option for accommodation that's close, but not too close to Disney.
If your kids are old enough, leave them exploring the rides and games and adults can head to Disney Springs for more age-appropriate entertainment. There's shopping, dining, and live entertainment for something different. But, if you prefer to stay and ride the coasters, that's fine too. Leave Disney Springs for the old fogies.
A complement to Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios is another one of the best things to do with kids in Orlando. Also pricey, a trip to this movie-themed park will immerse you and the kids in all your favorite blockbusters. A highlight of the Universal Studios experience is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Fans can change money at the Gringotts Money Exchange in Diagon Alley, shop at Harry Potter-themed stores, and explore Hogwarts castle. The Harry Potter experience is split between Universal Studios and Universal's Island of Adventure. Lucky for your weary feet, the hogwarts express train connects the two, and doesn't everyone love train rides?
Orlando Science Center
Even kids who aren't passionate about science will find something to amuse themselves at the Orlando Science Center. This hands-on museum offers everyone the chance to learn something new thanks to the interactive exhibits. It's a welcome change in a sea of theme parks and roller coasters, yet still, a fun way to spend an afternoon. The museum spans four floors full of impressive dinosaur fossils, planetarium shows, big-screen movies, and live animals. If you want to get your kids excited about science, the Orlando Science Center is the place for you. Plan to spend a bit for all this learning, though. Adult admission is $21 and kids, depending on their age, will set you back $15-19. Luckily, the young ones under two are free. The price is worth it if it's in your budget as this is one of the best museums in Orlando.
Central Florida Zoo
The Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens is heaven for animal lovers in the family. Home to rare and endangered species and typical favorites like giraffes and the Florida black bear, the zoo is a lovely place to tour that doesn't see the crowds of places like Walt Disney World Resort. The zoo has over 300 animals, so the chances are good that your favorite is here. Kids can feed certain animals and soar in the trees on some of the best zipline courses in central Florida.
If you plan to visit Orlando's zoo, try to purchase your tickets online in advance. This will save you about $2 per person, which adds up as Orlando attractions are quite expensive. Aside from the Central Florida Zoo, the area has stunning botanical gardens and a tropical splash pad for the kids to cool off and burn off even more energy.
Orlando Circus School
One of the more unique Orlando attractions is the Orlando Circus School. Fun for both kids and adults, the school offers programs and single classes on such daring equipment as the flying trapeze and trampoline. Families can hone their aerial skills and if you're good enough, this might be the push you need to take your show on the road.
If you attend the school, make sure your clothes and shoes are comfortable and if you have very young children, this might not be for you. Orlando Circus School is only suitable for kids aged six and up.
Lake Eola Park
Lake Eola is actually a massive sinkhole that goes 80 feet below the surface. This fact might be enough to get your kids interested, but luckily, this park has much to offer. The park features over 50 swans from varying breeds and covers 23 acres. Orlando is so full of theme parks, but sometimes it's nice to be in a simple, old-fashioned park. Lake Eola Park is one of the best free things to do with kids in Orlando, which in and of itself is a refreshing change.
If your feet aren't too tired, opt for a walk around the park on the path that covers just under a mile. The park houses the Walt Disney Amphitheater, so you might get lucky and catch a show. There are paddle boat rentals and playgrounds to keep everyone engaged, and you get all this conveniently located in downtown Orlando.
Another theme park, Gatorland is the self-proclaimed "Alligator Capital of the World." Families curious about these animals will learn everything things about them and see all stages of alligator life. Not for the faint of heart, Gatorland also offers two separate zip line adventures called Screamin' Gator Zipline and Gator Gauntlet Zipline.
Gator land offers education shows and isn't only about gators. They also house wild cats, birds, tortoises, and snakes on their 120-acre property. The park was founded in 1949 by Owen Godwin and his family still owns it. Not only do you get to see gators, but you also get a glimpse at some local Orlando history.
The World of Chocolate Museum
Whoever thought to put chocolate and museums together is a genius. The World of Chocolate Museum is fun for all ages and offers info on how they source their chocolate. The 45-minute tour takes patrons through a sculpture area with over 25 models in solid chocolate of recognizable world landmarks, like the Eifel Tower. You are then rewarded with a chocolate tasting to end the tour. This is a great rainy day activity or ideal when everyone has had too much sun. The draw of chocolate is usually enough to get any kid excited.
Orlando Watersports Complex
If you and your kids love the water, then a trip to the Orlando Watersports Complex is an absolute must. The center offers lessons in wakeboarding, kneeboarding, waterskiing, and wakeskating. The aquapark, which is an in-lake playground is a particular favorite among youngsters. Parents can safely watch their kids in Orlando's best watersports venue from the dock that extends well into the lake. If you're a novice, don't worry; they have a "get up guarantee" so you'll be gliding across the water in no time. This place consistently ranks high in a city loaded with water parks.
Who wouldn't want to combine their love of pirates with a love of golf? Pirate's Cove Adventure Golf is just one of about five mini-golf spots in the area. The brand offers two locations in Orlando, one in Lake Buena Vista near Walt Disney World and one is near the Universal Orlando Resort. Hollywood Drive-In Golf is another awesome location modeled after a traditional drive-in movie theater. The holes are so impressive that the course looks like a theme park itself.
Miniature golf is one of the more affordable things to do in Orlando with kids that can involve the entire family. Opt for a day or nighttime game as this family-friendly activity can easily slot in anywhere in your travel plans.
Ripley's Believe It Or Not
Fans of quirkiness and oddities will enjoy a visit to Ripley's Believe It Or Not in Orlando. While not technically a museum, Ripley's houses rare animal skeletons, shrunken heads, and much more. The space is loaded with weird and unique items, and something is bound to appeal to every member of your group. Life-like wax figures of famous bands and celebrities will have you reaching for your phone to get a photo.
This is a great later evening activity in Orlando as it's open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays and 11 pm on other days. All the weirdness will make for a really fun night for the entire family.
Sea Life Orlando Aquarium
Sea Life Orlando Aquarium is a great way to spend a few hours out of the sun. It has the state's only 360-degree water tunnel that allows guests to immerse themselves in the sea turtles, sharks, and stingrays that swim past. Kids can touch a live sea anemone and meet the resident dolphins at the interactive dolphin pool. The jelly wall exhibit is a mesmerizing photo op in the aquarium, as is the feeding frenzy where kids in Orlando get to feed a swarm of fish.
This aquarium keeps kids and adults engaged with interactive activities and strives to get young people passionate about sea life. It's the perfect combination of fun and educational.
What are the best family activities in Orlando?
Orlando is truly built to offer something for the whole family, but some Orlando attractions are better suited to the group rather than just kids. Kids' activities can be fun for the family, including adults, and the best of the bunch is probably Walt Disney World Resort. With kid and adult areas, it has a broad appeal, and is worth a visit for adults, even if it's just for the sake of nostalgia.
Lake Eola Park is another one of Orlando's family-friendly attractions, as is the Orlando Science Center. A competitive round of miniature golf is ideal family fun and proves that visiting Orlando with kids doesn't have to be boring. Another adventure for the family is the Orlando Circus School, where everyone can participate in fun things to do.
In truth, any of the activities mentioned here can be exciting for everyone, so don't think that Orlando is only a place for the young. With fabulous restaurants and exciting nightlife, the city can be an adult theme park after dark, provided you can get a babysitter, of course.