Are you considering a family vacation in Orlando? But are you struggling with the fact you may spend every single second at the theme parks? Well, what if I told you there are so many incredible things to do in Orlando that don’t involve theme parks? Today, I am sharing the best things to do in Orlando for an epic family vacation. Adding any of these things to do in Orlando to your itinerary will ensure your family gets to do more than just the theme parks while on vacation.
Disney Springs is a fun outdoor shopping center in Orlando. This is a wonderful place to experience the Disney magic without spending the entire day at one of Disney’s theme parks. Your family can go shopping. You can all dine at a restaurant. Or you can watch live entertainment.
For a more unique family activity, take a ride on the hot air balloon. Talk about a way to make memories during your vacation!
I recommend visiting Disney Springs either early in the day or during the week to avoid the massive crowds.
City Walk is similar to Disney Springs. Except this area is outside Universal’s theme parks. A walk around this area will have you dining at fabulous restaurants or shopping until you all drop.
It does get crowded at City Walk. Especially at night. So, venture over early in the day or during the week if you don’t want to dodge people all the time.
Airboat rides are one of the best ways to see alligators and other native wildlife in Orlando. Early morning rides will result in the animals being the most active. However, rides at sunset provide stunning pictures.
You won’t find too many places in this world where it is legal to swim with manatees. However, when you are on a family vacation in Orlando, you have the option to swim with these creatures over in Crystal River.
Crystal River is an hour and a half from Orlando. But it is the perfect day trip when you want to get away from the city and head out in nature.
Keep in mind that you cannot touch the manatees when you are swimming with them. They are protected creatures, so you must give them their space. However, you may find that one swims right next to you while you are in the water.
I recommend having your camera ready for this family adventure. You will want to capture it all, so you can remember it forever.
These gardens are the perfect place to relax, enjoy a picnic lunch, or run off some energy. I recommend finding a spot in a large area when you arrive. This way you can relax, as you watch the kids run around.
Lake Eola is one of the most beautiful places in Orlando. To see this lake from a different perspective, rent a swan boat. These swan-shaped paddleboats will give your entire family a workout. But they are the best way to get close to the fountain in the middle of the lake.
This is one of the best things to do in Orlando when you need a little downtime.
The Orlando Farmers Market is held every Sunday at Lake Eola. Florida produce is available every week. You will also find specialty foods and artisan goods during your visit.
Your family will love listening to the live music coming from the beer garden.
The West Orange Trail in Orlando is twenty-two miles long. You will find this trail over in Winter Garden. This is to the west of Orlando.
You won’t need to ride from one end of this trail to the other. You can simply ride for as long as you want before turning around. The best part though is you will discover numerous breweries, cafes, and stores along this trail. So, you can stop as often as you want when the kids need a break.
There are plenty of lakefront homes in Orlando. Most of these homes are located on the connected lakes within Winter Park.
I recommend taking an hour-long boat tour of these lakes and canals. This will allow you to see the lakefront homes, as well as some of the native wildlife.
Rainy days happen in Orlando. And when they do, you need to be prepared with indoor activities. Even if it’s just for an hour or two.
Rollins Museum of Art will allow you to escape the rain, or the extreme heat. This museum is full of modern works of art from India and Turkey. Eighteenth century American paintings are also on display.
Okay, so the kids might not appreciate Rollins Museum of Art. But they will love spending time inside the Museum of Illusions! In fact, this museum is one of the best things to do in Orlando with kids.
The whole family can act crazy in all the different exhibit rooms. Over in the Ames Room, the kids will appear to be twice as tall as you are. And in the Reversed Room, you will all need to figure out which way is up, or down.
Other fun rooms include the Symmetry Room, Infinity Room, and Kaleidoscope Room. The all-time favorite space though is the Vortex Tunnel. Make sure you have your camera ready when you enter. You won’t want to miss out on those photographs!
Another fabulous day trip option from Orlando is the Kennedy Space Center. It is approximately an hour from the city.
There are plenty of interactive activities available to your family at the Kennedy Space Center. A guided tour of the Rocket Garden will allow you to see all the changes made within space exploration. Interactive tests are available at the Moonscape exhibit.
Learning about the space shuttle program will be a blast, since you get to hear everything from an actual astronaut.
Just don’t forget to pay your respects at the Challenger and Columbia crew memorial.
I recommend adding a behind the scenes tour for your visit. This way you can also see the launch sites and spaceflight facilities.
ICON Park is a wonderful place to go when you have a couple hours of free time. While there are plenty of things to do at this park, it is the Wheel that will keep your family entertained.
Riding the Wheel will allow you to see much of Orlando from four hundred feet in the air. Each individual capsule is air conditioned. So, you won’t need to worry about the heat during your visit.
I recommend visiting at night when the Wheel is lit up with LED lights.
Most kids love pirates, or mermaids, or both. So, why not make your dinner entertaining one night by attending a pirate’s dinner adventure?
As you are eating your dinner, you can watch the pirates and mermaids perform different stunts. Live music will be playing in the background. There will plenty of action to keep your whole family on the edge of your seats.
The Orlando Science Center is one of the best things to do in Orlando for families. Especially when you are trying to escape the heat or the rain.
The interactive exhibits will allow your kids to learn about so many scientific things. And yet, they won’t even realize they are learning something new, because they will be having so much fun!
Lots of racing action will take place inside the Hot Wheels exhibit. Climbing, splashing, and building will happen in Kids Town. And you may discover a few dinosaur bones in the DinoDigs exhibit.
Take the time to look at the Tiny Green Home. Then imagine trying to live in that small home with your family. Yeah, probably won’t happen! That’s okay, you have a fabulous home to go back to after you finish checking off all these best things to do in Orlando from your list.
Old Town is a charming area in Orlando. Your family will take a step back in time, as you wander through the charming streets. Ride the Ferris wheel or the carousel. Practice your skills at the Rootin’ Tootin’ Shootin’ Alley.
Just make sure you take the time to stop at the Old Town General Store. You’ll find numerous back-in-the-day souvenirs. The kids will love scooping the taffy from the large barrels and sipping out of the old glass bottles of Coke.
Another fascinating place to go back in time is the Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek. You can wander through original buildings that include a general store, schoolhouse, blacksmith shop, and pioneer homes.
Live demonstrations are held on the second Saturdays of each month. So, we will want to plan your family vacation in Orlando carefully if you want to see those.
Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park is one of the best places to go tree trekking in Florida. This is one of the best things to do in Orlando with kids who are adventurous.
A visit here will test everyone’s skills when it comes to Tarzan ropes, swinging logs, suspension bridges, and ladders. There are even ziplines you can ride to see stunning views.
Chocolate lovers will fall in love with the Chocolate Museum and Café in Orlando. Touring the museum will take just under an hour. During that time, you will learn about the history of chocolate, as well as see antique chocolate making machinery.
The tour ends in the tasting room. Everyone will get to sample some yummy international chocolates.
I recommend stopping at the café before you leave. This will ensure you get your chocolate fill, as you dine on pastries, other baked goods, and delicious hot cocoa.
No family vacation in Florida is complete until you have spent a day at the beach. The closest beach to Orlando is Cocoa Beach. It is approximately a one-hour drive.
While swimming and relaxing on Cocoa Beach are popular, there is so much more to do here. Consider fishing off the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier. Take a surfing lesson or go parasailing.
Just make sure you take the time to wander through the nearby shops. You never know what souvenirs you will discover along the way.
Every city seems to have their local ghost stories and Orlando is no different. You can actually take a ghost tour in Orlando to hear some of the area’s best ghost stories.
There are different ghost tours available in Orlando. Some will have you visiting haunted pubs, while others will take you to the ghosts in Church Street Station and the History Center.
Despite the heat in Florida, there are tons of mini golf courses in Orlando. Find one that is close to your hotel and play a round or two.
I do recommend playing mini golf either early in the morning or later in the evening. Most of the mini golf courses are not shaded, so these times will ensure you have a better chance of staying slightly cool while playing.
These are some of the best things to do in Orlando for an epic family vacation. It is possible to add many of these activities to your itinerary in addition to visiting some of the theme parks. All you need to do is let me know what your family is interested in, and I will personalize your itinerary accordingly.
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