Planning a family trip to Orlando and considering this quaint city? Well, you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of things to do with kids in Winter Park Florida. Between museums for learning about the heritage of the city, huge green urban parks for running about in, art galleries, and even fancy public splash pads, families with kids of every age will be spoiled for choice.
The suburb of 30,000 residents is located five miles north of downtown Orlando in central Florida’s Orange County. What it’s best known for is its heritage, laid-back atmosphere, sunny weather, and wealth of activities it offers its outdoorsy visitors.
So, whether you’re looking for a change of pace from Disney and the water parks in Orlando, or just a family with wanderlust checking places off their list, this quaint city is likely to surprise you. Read on to learn all about the places to go with kids in Winter Park Florida!
Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
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The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum is located on North Park Avenue in Winter Park. It houses one of the world’s largest collections of Louis Comfort. Some of these treasures include his famous leaded-glass lamps and windows, paintings, pottery, art glass, jewellery, as well as a meticulously restored and preserved Byzantine-Romanesque chapel interior.
Louis Comfort Tiffany, despite being the son of Charles Lewis, the founder of the highly esteemed Tiffany & Co., chose to pave his own way when it came to his career. At this museum, you and the kids will get to learn all about his story and be mesmerised by his art.
The museum’s welcoming staff will help kids understand the science and craftsmanship behind glassblowing, and who knows? Maybe they will even end up picking up a new interest.
Entry is inexpensive, and the museum remains open to the public between Tuesdays and Sundays. You can expect to finish viewing all the exhibits in under two hours. This works out great because there are many other Winter Park Florida attractions and eateries in the area to explore with your kids afterwards.
Central Park comprises 11 acres of shady oaks, pathways flanked by landscaped planters and benches, loads of grassy open spaces for playing, three gorgeous fountains, and a noteworthy rose garden. To a kid’s eyes, it looks like endless space to run and play, and to adults, a small respite from the humdrum of city living.
If you’re planning on a short visit, remember to check the website to see what’s happening when you’re in town. The park hosts several events throughout the year, though most of them are in the cooler months.
Those who suspect their kids might be budding artists should visit during the Annual Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival. Artists, equipped with just chalk and talent, come out to the sidewalks of Central Park to make their masterpieces.
Another event to look out for is the Olde Fashioned 4th of July Celebration. The park is decorated in red, white, and blue, and hosts several family-friendly games, food, and activities.
Central Park is a great place to take the kids to blow off some steam even when there’s nothing happening. Bring a picnic, sprawl out in the shade with your toddlers, or start a game of frisbee with your older kids. If packed lunches don’t appeal to you, don’t worry because there are loads of attractions and restaurants in the vicinity.
Cornell Fine Arts Museum
Situated in the Rollins College campus, overlooking Lake Virginia, is the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. It houses an extensive permanent collection of more than 5,000 artworks, encompassing everything from ancient artifacts to contemporary pieces. Apart from the sophisticated viewing experience this museum offers, it also features tons of educational fun for its younger patrons!
The museum’s unique education gallery offers kids the chance to get hands-on with their art. There, they get to exercise their creativity and expand their curiosity in the field of art. At the museum shop, you’ll find books and museum-published works that your older kids might take a liking to.
Aside from its permanent collection, the museum also hosts rotating exhibitions, ongoing programs, and art-related events. Visiting Cornell Fine Arts Museum is definitely one of the best things to do with kids in Winter Park Florida, if art and culture is what you’re after.
Kraft Azalea garden
Kraft Azalea Garden is a slice of paradise located on the edge of Lake Maitland. Think Disney-level enchanting, with gigantic cyprus canopies covered in hanging moss, a glistening lake, cobblestone pathways, and a semicircle of white colonnades.
Take your kids here to try their hand at fishing and bird watching for the first time. You’re likely to see cockaded woodpeckers, white herons, and bald eagles among other native birds. Bring a kayak to experience the serenity of the lake up close.
Visit the great old banyan tree in the park’s north end between January and March to see the flowers bloom. Really, the entire park makes for a beautiful photo opportunity. If you have some family photos due, don’t forget to bring your camera equipment along!
Tip: Avoid visiting on Saturdays if possible, because the park tends to get crowded with other photo-crazy tourists too!
Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Garden
The Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Garden is a 3-acre garden that dates back to 1949. The living museum is on the National Register of Historic Places and features over 200 artworks by the renowned Czech-American sculptor. Tour Albin Polasek’s property with your kids and learn all about his life, much of which he spent in Florida.
The museum offers guided tours of the estate and outdoor sculpture garden. It also hosts yearly events like the Winter Park Paint Out in the spring and a Chamber Concert Series in the winter. Be sure to check out what’s happening before dropping by.
This destination might be best explored with kids who are old enough to appreciate history and art. However, entry for kids below 4 is free which means they are most certainly welcome as well. One thing’s for sure, your trip to Winter Park with kids would simply be incomplete without visiting this historic location.
Take a Boat Ride on Lake Virginia
One of the most popular tourist activities in Winter Park Florida is exploring Lake Virginia. That’s because its man made canals and calm waters make for a beautiful leisurely boating experience. Those with teenagers who love adventure can make the activity more fast paced by renting a kayak.
If you want something slower-paced, crave some invaluable tidbits of local knowledge, or have a young one in tow, take a full-service scenic guided boat tour! Every pontoon boat ride offers breathtaking views of Winter Park and stories surrounding its most famous sights. Relax and float along below picturesque bridges and canopies of cypresses, palms, and sub-tropical flowers.
Keep an eye out for the occasional gator, and take loads of photos. Mums and dads of sleepy toddlers will be glad to know that the boat rides are free for children below 2.
Hannibal Square Heritage Center
Located in the historic neighbourhood of Hannibal Square, this heritage center is run by the Crealdé School of Art. It showcases Winter Park’s African-American culture and heritage by displaying intergenerational works of art. The center features both permanent as well as traveling exhibits, alongside a variety of workshops, educational programs, tours, and events. Some of these are especially designed for young children.
If you’re still in the process of planning your trip to Winter Park with kids, consider visiting at the end of January to catch the annual Unity Heritage Festival. The festival celebrates the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and features loads of kid-friendly activities and entertainment. The Hannibal Square Heritage Center offers extended hours during the festival, so it really is the whole deal!
The centre also offers eight-week long art classes for children aged 5-10, and day-long school field-trips for grades 4-8. The field trips are open to students from public school, private school, home school, youth groups and touring student groups. So call ahead if you’ve got a small bunch of kids with you!
Wekiwa Springs State Park
Wekiwa Springs State Park, one of the prettiest Springs near Orlando, offers miles of trails to explore and tons of wildlife for nature-enthusiasts to immerse themselves in. However, what makes it especially exciting for kids is the completely natural, crystal clear, emerald waters of the Wekiwa Springs. 72 degrees year-round with a safe average depth of four feet, the gorgeous water body is perfect for families with little ones. Note that there are no lifeguards on duty so parents will need to stay a little extra attentive.
For those with teens looking for a little extra action, the park offers kayaks on rent to explore the waterways. Swim, snorkel, and kayak till you’re all puckered out, then have a picnic under the massive oaks. What sounds better than that on a hot summer day?
The natural oasis is definitely one of the most popular tourist attractions near Winter Park. So try to arrive early to beat the crowds, and definitely avoid the weekends if you can!
Popcorn Flicks in the Park
If you happen to be in town on the second Thursday of a month (yes, any month) and are looking for things to do in Winter Park Florida at night, look no further. Catch a free outdoor movie that is featured by the Popcorn Flicks series at Central Park.
The movies showcased are both older and modern-day classics that are chosen to fit in with the season. Don’t forget to bring a blanket, a couple pillows and a picnic with you for the best cozy family experience!
Florida’s heat ensures that there are quite a few options in Winter Park to get wet and cool off when it gets too much. Downey Park is one of these, except that it has so much more to offer too! Located just off Colonial Drive, this beautiful park features a well-maintained splash pad, two playgrounds, a dog park, a skate park, and bathrooms with changing tables. It also has basketball, softball, baseball and volleyball courts. It’s the perfect place to spend the afternoon when the family is feeling spent from touring!
The park has large open spaces for picnicking and lounge chairs with covered awnings for parents watching their kids. The disabled-friendly playground along with its many seating options make it apparent that the park is designed keeping all kinds of families in mind. Overall, Downey Park is a must-visit if you’re looking for budget-friendly things to do with kids in winter park Florida.
Winter Park Farmers Market
For many families living in Winter Park, Saturday mornings are reserved for the weekly local Farmers Market. And for tourists? It is simply an experience worth having.
Held at the historic train depot, this local gem is hands-down the best spot for both grocery and souvenir shopping. Adults will take interest in the city’s finest local produce, fresh flowers, candles, gourmet coffees, artisanal cheeses and freshly baked bread. Don’t forget to bring your tote and some cash to make purchasing easier.
The market will also undoubtedly bring out the explorer spirit in your kids. They’ll be thrilled to sample the kettle corn, try out the lemon and orange juices, pick out their favorite homemade pastries and stop by the butterfly stand, before grabbing something yummy to eat from one of the food trucks.
The Farmers Market is the perfect community gathering place to visit to understand what Winter Park is all about. After all, people watching is the best way to learn all about the place you’re touring, isn’t it?
The market is open every Saturday (except the third Saturday of March), between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Be sure to arrive early because most shops begin to close up by noon owing to the heat!
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