You can’t escape the fact that Orlando is the ‘theme park capital of the world’ but despite that, there are SO many other things to do in Orlando with kids besides the incredible Disney and Universal parks. We LOVE the theme parks, but if you are looking for something a little bit different in-between visits, this family friendly guide offers plenty of suggestions of things to do in Orlando beside theme parks! Whether you are looking for outdoor activities, indoor attractions, museums, fun themed restaurants in Orlando, or must-do’s- we have you covered.
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Things To Do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks
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Whether you need some down time from all the buzz of the parks, perhaps (dare I say it) are not really into amusements parks and rides, or simply need to find some rainy day activities in Orlando, here is a guide of things to do in Orlando with kids besides the parks. I’ve also included activities a little further out too.
Any information I’ve found on discounted tickets is also included under each attraction. If you are USA based try Costco. Costco members can sometimes purchase Legoland tickets at significant discounts. If you are in the UK, try Attraction Tickets Direct and compare the latest deals. If you are planning on seeing a few attractions, it might be worth also checking out the Orlando CityPASS for great deals too.
However, if you do see visit one of the major parks, a good general discount site is Orlando CityPASS. Just like its counterparts in London, New York etc, it offers a discount on multiple attractions including Legoland, Universal and Disney.
Getting Around Orlando Without a Car
If you haven’t hired a car, Uber or Lyft is a great way to get around and some do have car seats. Alternatively, if you are in the International Drive resort area, you can use a service like the i-ride hop on hop off bus which operates from 8:00 AM to 10:30 PM and stops at premium outlets and many key attractions with unlimited rides. Check out the pass details here.
Outdoor Activities in Orlando and Nearby
1. Ride a horse on Safari
Ride along one of the best trails in the area with Florida Wildlife Horseback Safari
During the one-hour tour, riders likely will see some familiar Florida animals like snapping turtles, alligators and snakes. Learn Geology at the Gem Mine, taste local jams, jellies, salsa, hot sauces, hand crafted fresh juice slushies, farm fresh honey and so much more!
4. Head to the clouds in a hot air ballon!
Soar the skies with Orlando Balloon Rides
5. Dash across the Everglades on an airboat ride.
Ever fancied zooming across the Everglades, a bit like the guy from CSI Miami? Ever since I saw him do that on TV, I wondered what it would be like, so when the opportunity arose to visit Boggy Creek Airboat Rides, I leapt at the chance.
The great thing about visiting Boggy Creek, is it’s not ‘just’ an airboat ride. Although that experience is thrilling, whilst you wait kids can go prospecting for fossils and semi precious stones. $7.95 for a huge bucket to sift through and discover ‘treasure’ you get to keep.
Ours included a huge chunk of amethyst and shark teeth! Also check out the baby alligator creche and experience the past Native American way of life.
The actual airboat ride was thrilling for all of us. We spotted 4 alligators, an eagle, a heron amongst other natural wildlife.
Good to know:
- If you have a really tiny baby it is probably not suitable as you need to wear ear defenders.
- When you stop to look in these tropical wetlands, there can be lots of flies so wear long sleeves. (Unlike us who didn’t prepare! It was just a mild annoyance – we didn’t get bitten.).
This was one of my favourite attractions around Orlando other than Disney or Universal.
6. Weeki Wachee Springs
Weeki Wachee is a great day trip from Orlando. A lovely park with a beach, a large natural spring and mermaids! It’s about 1hr 40 minutes from Orlando.
Weeki Wachee Springs is a state park in Florida that is home to the world-famous mermaid shows. The shows are held in a 400-seat auditorium that is submerged underwater, giving visitors a unique view of the mermaids as they perform. The shows are typically 30 minutes long and feature a variety of mermaids performing different water ballet routines. In addition to the mermaid shows, Weeki Wachee Springs also offers a variety of other attractions, including:
- River boat tours: Visitors can take a boat tour of the spring and see the mermaids swimming in their natural habitat.
- Wildlife shows: Visitors can learn about Florida’s native wildlife, including alligators, snakes, and birds.
- Glass-bottom boat tours: Visitors can take a boat tour that allows them to see the underwater creatures of the spring.
Weeki Wachee Springs is a great place to visit for families and adults alike. The mermaid shows are a must-see, and the other attractions offer something for everyone.
The cost of the mermaid show is $13 for adults and $11 for children. Tickets can be purchased online or at the park. The showtimes are 11:00am, 1:00pm, 3:00pm, and 5:00pm. The park is open 365 days a year.
Here are some tips for visiting Weeki Wachee Springs:
- Arrive early to get a good seat for the mermaid show.
- Bring your camera to capture all the underwater action.
- Wear comfortable shoes, as you will be doing a lot of walking.
- Bring sunscreen and a hat, as the Florida sun can be strong.
- Be prepared to get wet! The park is located in a spring, so there is always a chance of getting splashed.
Even Elvis has seen this famous amazing Mermaid Show at Weeki Wachee!
7. Rent a Paddleboard at Wekiva Island or Lake Killarney
9. Gatorland Alligators and more!
Gatorland has alligators and crocodiles of all sizes plus a free-flight aviary, petting zoo, one-of-a-kind animal shows, a zip line, a mini train, splash pad and an off road adventure.
10. Relax in Harry P Leu Gardens.
Spend time wandering around the huge Harry P. Leu Gardens and burn off excess energy or enjoy an ice-cream.
12. Learn about Florida’s amazing ecosystem in the Tibet-Butler Preserve
13. Explore Winter Park.
In Winter Park you will find more than 70 parks, all home to various events, festivals and celebrations throughout the year. Look out for the farmers market and loads of eateries, including the Ravenous Pig (sister to the The Polite Pig). Today, the arts- and culture-filled city of Winter Park includes Rollins College and the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of Natural Art. Winter Park also is a nature lover’s destination. Winter Park is 4.9 miles from Orlando. See some of the many things to do in Winter Park with kids and combine with a Go City pass and Winter Park boat tour here
14. Get up close to unique animals like zebras, elands, and many more at the Safari Wilderness Ranch
15. Interact with lovely Florida native animals with the Exotic Animal Experience
16. Enjoy jet skis with Extreme Jet Ski of Orlando
17. Get a unique view of Orlando with one of the many Helicopter Tours
Try ziplining, horseback riding, camping, and adventuring through the wild on a beautiful nature conservancy in St. Cloud, Florida. Children under the age of 10 are unable to participate in Zip-Line and Horseback Riding Adventures. However, there are many other activities, such as the Trail Buggy Adventure and camping that younger children can participate in.
19. Busch Gardens for thrills and rollercoasters!
Busch Gardens is full of rides and attractions for all the family, include rides, animals and shows.
There are a variety of rides for kids of all ages, from mild to wild. Some of the kid-friendly rides include:
- Cheetah Hunt: This roller coaster is a bit more thrilling, but still fun for kids who are tall enough.
- Air Grover: This spinning coaster is perfect for younger kids
- Sesame Street Safari of Fun: This area of the park is designed for kids under 10 and features rides, shows, and interactive experiences.
Animal encounters: Busch Gardens is home to a variety of animals, and guests can get up close and personal with some of them. Some of the animal encounters available include:
- Walkabout Way: This kangaroo feeding experience is a great way for kids to learn about these unique animals.
- Jungala: This animal-filled area of the park features a variety of animal shows and demonstrations.
Shows: Busch Gardens has a variety of shows throughout the day.
20. Legoland Orlando:
Ideally for kids aged 2-12 this Legoland resort is just 45 minutes from Orlando and Tampa. There are over 50 rides, shows and attractions inspired by the popular LEGO® brands and characters plus a waterpark (separate admission needed.) See tickets and skip the line info here. Peppa Pig Theme Park is just next door.
21. Pirate Golf:
With lush landscaping, and entertaining pirate theming, the Pirate Cove Adventure Golf is a lot of fun. Children under aged 3 go free. Pirate Cove Golf is a pirate-themed miniature golf course located on International Drive in Orlando, Florida.
The course features two 18-hole courses, each with its own unique challenges and obstacles. Guests can expect to find waterfalls, caves, and other pirate-themed elements throughout the course. Pirate Cove Golf is a great place for families and friends to enjoy a fun and challenging day of mini-golf.For other options of fun mini golf in Orlando, see here.
22. Revolution is an off road attraction park.
Attractions include quad bikes (ATV), Mucky Duck (8 wheel amphibious vehicle through the lakes and ponds), fishing, clay shooting and archery.
23. Dinosaur World:
Wander among hundreds of life-sized dinosaurs in a natural setting, where lots of trees provide shade. There are plenty of interactive exhibits and a dino-themed playground at Dinosaur World. Suitable for aged 3+ and unlike other parks cool bags and your own snacks are welcomed! You can combine visits other Orlando attractions for families with combo tickets here.
Bikes and Blades offer hourly rentals; full day rentals delivered directly to your hotel; or guided tours along any of the local trails or through some of the more historic downtown’s.
The hourly rentals start at Mile Marker 0 of this beautiful trail, which now stretches 22 miles along the edge of Lake Apopka and through the quaint downtown of Winter Garden.
25. City Sightseeing on a hop on and hop off double decker bus.
26. Race on Orlando’s best go-kart tracks & fun roller coasters in Fun Spot America.
27. Go Kayaking in glass bottom kayaks at Rock Springs, a short drive north of Orlando.
The blues and greens and guided tours are well worth the visit. Kayaking in glass bottom kayaks at Rock Springs is a great way to see the underwater wildlife of the spring.
The clear bottom of the kayaks allows you to see fish, turtles, and other animals swimming below you. The spring is also home to a variety of plants, which you can also see from the kayaks.
The kayaking tours usually last for 2 hours and are guided by experienced staff. The tours start at Kings Landing, which is located in the Ocala National Forest. Toilets are also here. The spring is clear and shallow, making it a great place for kayaking, even for beginners.
Indoor Orlando Attractions
27. Crayola Experience Orlando.
If you are looking for something different to entertain the kids, wanting to escape the heat of the day or perhaps looking for things to do in Orlando on a rainy day, then the Crayola Experience Orlando could be for you!
Situated in the Florida Mall, you can’t help but notice this bright colourful venue. With the fun available before you even purchase your ticket (you can ‘wake-up’ the sleeping crayons on the wall and make them move) it’s completely geared up to entertain.
You are given 2 silver coins and a plastic bag and up stairs you will find a plethora of activities to entertain. (26 exciting hands-on attractions.). If it is busy, I recommend heading straight to the ‘Melt and Mold’ area. Here you choose a crayon, melt it down and use a machine to mould it into a ring, shark, car or seahorse souvenir.
Another firm favourite activity was Drip Art where you can create a swirly-whirly masterpiece with melted wax. My then 3 and 6 year old made at least 10 of these to bring home and I intend to frame a couple too!
My eldest really enjoyed the ‘Color Magic’ area where you color in a favourite picture, then take it over to the computers to scan it, and turn it into an animated picture.
To burn off some energy, both girls spent some time in the soft play area and also enjoyed the Stomp and Play” zone. This has an interactive floor where you use your feet in a series of fun and colorful games.
With your silver coin tokens you can opt to make your crayon label. Having personalised crayons certainly impressed them both. You can also use your token for Crayola Model Magic and take your creation home with you.
We attempted the new Adventure Lab, which is like an escape room. Before you enter you are handed a tablet which tells you what your mission is.
Once inside, you’ll see various marked activities and challenges that need to be completed. We failed dismally by running out of time, but a lot of fun was had.
Verdict – Perfect place to while away a few hours with a variety of active and creative activities. We visited on a sunny weekday in February and didn’t have to queue for any of the more popular activities.
Price: Approx $24 per person. Under 2’s free
Click here to check for a Crayola Experience Coupon and discount ranging from $3 off to FREE entry for some professions.
Here is a video snapshot of the place too!
29. The Escape Game
Escape Game is a live 60-minute adventure with 5 themed rooms to escape from. Choose from The Heist, Mars, Gold Rush, Classified or Prison Break.
Rooms have a maximum capacity ranging from 6-8 people. The games are suitable for ages 13 and up, although younger players are allowed.
30. Escapology is located on the International Drive.
Choose from the Mansion Murder, Narco, Under Pressure, The Code, Antidote, Budapest Express or the Cuban Crisis. Groups can be 2-6 players. Children under the ages of are advised not to play as they might not understand the games. Check out Groupon for deals!
32. WonderWorks is an indoor amusement park.
The outside building is an upside down design of the White House. There are more than 100 types of display for family and kids to learn and experience.
The 4th floor has laser tag game and walk rope to enjoy. Experience the trembling of a 5.3 earthquake, be blown away by 74mph hurricane force winds, land the shuttle, fly a fighter jet, lie on a bed of nails, design and ride your own roller coaster, play virtual sports, plus much more!
Special features of the attraction include a 4D extreme motion ride, 3 story indoor ropes challenge course, and a nightly magic comedy dinner show. Get tickets deals here.
Too hot? Or in need of things to do in Orlando on a rainy day? The Winter Club Indoor Ski is suitable for beginners or more seasoned pro’s.
This pay as you go indoor karting offers other attractions including a zipline too. Skip the line tickets for Andretti are available here. The youngest drivers must reach 48″ tall. The Zip wire is also 48″ minimum height requirement, whereas the laser tag is 42″. Another option to add to your list of rainy day activities in Orlando.
35. Experience the art of Magic at The Great Magic Hall
36. The Orlando Cat Cafe where you can visit for the price of a coffee and play with cats who are waiting to be adopted.
37. Visit Disney Springs and enjoy some free activities.
Must do Orlando Attractions with Kids
37. Visiting Kennedy Space Center With Kids.
The Kennedy Space Center is SO inspiring to visit and is actual rocket launch zone – you must just be lucky to see one blast off into Space!
Daily admission prices include:
- Space Shuttle Atlantis®
- Shuttle Launch Experience®
- Heroes and Legends featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame® presented by Boeing®
- Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour including Apollo/Saturn V Center
- Journey to Mars: Explorers Wanted
- Astronaut Encounter
- IMAX® Theater 3D Films
- Rocket Launch Viewing (when available)
- Numerous Shows and Exhibits.
The hour or so drive down is completely worth it and the Kennedy Space Center has plenty of parking. (Pay $10 at the gate). We sadly missed a rocket launch by a couple of days but had a great time exploring the site nonetheless.
As you enter the complex, you are suddenly met with the magnitude of rockets. They stand resplendent and etched with history of space. From there we headed straight to the IMAX theatre.
Journey To Space gives an overview of NASA’s past space accomplishments, current activities and future plans. My 6 year old loved it, but the special effects were a bit too much for my 3 year old. I covered her eyes and that helped – and a cuddle of course!
Over at the Journey to Mars, discover NASA’s plans to explore deep space, including Mars, asteroids and once again, the moon. This multimedia exhibit includes a live presentation and highlights what’s happening at NASA right now.
We all had great fun with the interactive games and simulators (we landed a pod on the moon by using thrust power alone!).
The Heroes and Legends hall was inspiring and also hit home how few female astronauts there were/are.
Even in February, the weather was pretty hot, so the small water splash area to cool down was a welcome sight. The girls also enjoyed the space themed outdoor covered play area.
For a completely inspirational and once in a lifetime experience – do try and plan for a rocket launch. A friend recently went and LOVED it. A perfect treat for slightly older kids!
Another option is to organise a Space Pass entrance ticket with Get Your Guide which includes:
- NASA Space Pass
- Buffet style lunch with an astronaut
- Up-close explorer tour
- Admission to Kennedy Space Center
See other attractions and things to do near Port Canaveral here.
The Wheel at ICON Park is a 400 ft tall giant Ferris wheel. We saw this from Orlando’s International Drive tourist district.
The main attraction is the 400-foot tall former Coca–Cola Orlando Eye, is one of the world’s tallest observation wheels, but it’s also home to the IFLY Orlando Indoor Skydiving, Sea Life Orlando Aquarium & Madame Tussauds Orlando.
Shopping in Orlando With Kids
Even shopping can be fun with the plethora of attractions for kids in malls and shopping areas!
40. Find some of your favorite designer brands at Mall at Millennia. There is an indoor soft play area in the food court. If you have time to sneak off whilst dad and the kids are playing, head over to see a personal stylist for some you time!
41. Visit American Girl at The Florida Mall. Any kid who adores dolls will also revel in the American Girl store. Little ones can role play with various dolls, toy strollers, changing stations, play house etc.
All the dolls and accessories (not cheap!) are available to buy. You can not only purchase little girls outfits which match the dolls, but also visit the bistro and dine with your doll! If you haven’t brought a doll, don’t fret as the store will lend you one.
Here is a little glimpse of what’s inside American Girl
42. Catch a movie, shop around or have dinner next to some of the best attractions at Pointe Orlando
43. People watch, pose for photos, play golf, buy souvenirs, enjoy an Escape Room or have lunch at Universal’s City Walk. Book your tickets for Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure and include park to park tickets so you can ride the Hogwarts Express! A must for Harry Potter fans!
Fun Museums in Orlando and nearby
44. St Augustine: US history and pirates and lots more to be found at St Augustine. Featuring attractions such as a pirate-themed museum, the nation’s oldest masonry fort, an iconic lighthouse, zoological parks and archaeological sites, and a host of fascinating historic sites, there’s always something fun to do.
Kids will love the boat rides, the train and trolley tours & the cannon firings. St Augustine is about 1h 52 minutes drive from Orlando but you can organise a St Augustine tour too.
46. The Orlando Science Center is full of educational fun and a great option for a rainy day activity in Orlando. With lots of hands on exhibits for kids of all ages.
Other activities include a climbing structure, giant water table, an air tube system, toddler area, dinosaurs skeletons, a fossil dig area, tornado machine, earthquake bridge and more.
47. Get up close with some of your favorite celebrities and historical figures at Madame Tussauds Orlando
49. Experience America’s history through paintings at the Orlando Museum of Art. See ancient Egyptian relics or modern contemporary art.
50. Taste different types of chocolate at The World of Chocolate Museum
Live Shows in Orlando for Kids
51. The Medieval Times family-friendly dinner attraction is inspired by an 11th century feast and tournament. Guests are served a four-course banquet and cheer for one of six competing in the joust and other tests of skill.
Guests feast on garlic bread, tomato bisque soup, roasted chicken, sweet buttered corn, herb-basted potatoes, pastry of the Castle, coffee and two rounds of select beverages.
There are vegetarian meals are available upon request. Seating is based on first come- first served and shows start at 6pm and 8.30pm. Check the Medieval Times website for discount codes and Get Your Guide for deals
52. Enjoy a rocking dining and entertainment experience with a musical journey of iconic rock and pop artists at ROCK Dinner Show
53. Celebrate art, technology, and music with an incredible performance by the Blue Man Group
54. Catch a Broadway Show at Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
55. Set sail and go on a thrilling and savory adventure at the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure
56. Become a detective and solve the big mystery in Sleuths Mystery Dinner Show
Family Friendly Accommodation in Orlando.
Orlando has ample accommodation for families, with most within easy reach of the main attraction and i-drive. Uber, Lyft, and the i-Tram are all easy ways of getting around. If you are looking for 2 bedroom suites in Orlando, I have rounded up several options, on and off site for different budgets here.
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