Everyone comes to Orlando for the theme parks, right? But there is so much more to Orlando beside thrill rides and Micky Mouse. We look at things to do in Orlando Florida for families, with kids or teenagers, that will be fun and maybe even educational. Orlando, and Florida, is one of our favourite places and comes highly recommended by us as a family destination.
At the time of writing, Covid restrictions are in place, so many venues require you to buy tickets in advance or to wear masks. Please check the current situation for yourself as things are changing in a moment.
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Best Things to Do in Orlando Florida
Let’s start with a short-list of the best things to do in Orlando, further down the page we give you more detail on these destinations and fun activities. Central Florida is packed with destinations and things to do and there are many fun day trips to take from Orlando itself. Orlando, in our estimation, is pretty much the most family-friendly place on the planet and it’s somewhere everyone should go, at least once.
- Theme Parks, include, Legoland Florida, Walt Disney World, EPCOT, Universal Studios,
- See wild manatees
- The Everglades, including air-boat rides and boat tours
- The Crayola Experience in Orlando Fl.
- Lake Eola Park in the heart of Downtown Orlando (admission free)
- Fun Spot America Theme Parks in Orlando and Kissimmee
- Disney Springs shopping, dining and entertainment complex (Lake Buena Vista Shopping Village – Downtown Disney)
- Animal attractions, aquaria, zoos, and small animal parks.
- Water parks
- Kennedy Space Centre and Cape Canaveral
- Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tours
- The Titanic Exhibition
- The town of Celebration, built by Walt Disney himself
- Winter Park, a city north of Orlando has further attractions
- 10 Pin Bowling
- Escape rooms and escape games
- Icon Park for amusement park rides, diverse dining, nightly shows, and shopping.
- Quad bike adventures
- Shopping including the Florida Mall and outlet stores
- Buffet Dining
- International Drive, Orlando’s answer to the Vegas Strip
- Movie theatres
- Cycle tours
- Madame Tussauds Orlando
- Amazing resort stays
- Night-time shows, such as Medieval Times Dinner and Show
There are many more things to do and attractions in Orlando, this is a place built for large numbers of tourists and for fun, let’s look closer at some of these places below.
Theme Parks in Orlando
If we’re talking about things to do in Orlando Florida, theme parks come to mind. I could go on writing forever about Orlando’s incredible theme parks. These are some of the best family amusements in the world and you’re going to struggle to choose which to visit.
The United States of America, specifically Florida, is home to world-renowned theme parks. Disney World has four: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot Center, and Hollywood Studios. Walt Disney said when he built the park that it would never be completed and construction continues.
Attendance at all four theme parks have been steadily increasing year after year for decades. A testament to their popularity with families from around the world looking for an escape into Wonderland or Adventureland alike
Disney, is, of course, the classic, but there are even multiple Disney parks to keep you busy. We once visited four Disney parks in one day, just for fun, but we don’t recommend this to fist-time visitors. Pick wisely, based on the age of your family, and your interests.
The Universal Studios have evolved over the years, Back to the Future and Jaws being replaced by Harry Potter and The Simpsons. Diagon Alley and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter are big draws, along with Universal Studios’ Islands of Adventure.
Enjoy iconic shops from JK Rowling’s books and films like Ollivanders Wand Shop and Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes as well as a rollercoaster ride through Gringott’s Bank with all its hidden treasures at Harry Potter Escape from Gringotts. Hagrid’s Hut and Dumbledore’s Office are cool places to explore!
You may well want to cool off in that Florida heat, fear not, there are water parks that will be fun for the whole family. Wet ‘n Wild Orlando had closed down at time of writing, but you’ll find water fun at Universal’s Volcano Bay, Universal Orlando Resort, and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach. Legoland Florida also had its own water park and play area.
Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Centre
If you’re in Florida, you can’t miss the Kennedy Space Centre Visitor Centre. This place is awesome in the true sense of the world. Here you can feel the history, marvel at flimsy machines that made it to the moon, learn about science, and even have lunch with an astronaut. You’ll need to take a tour to see the launchpads and the whole complex, but the museum areas and interactive displays are so, so, good. This is one of the best living museums, it’s still evolving, on the whole planet. Check out tour options below.
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is the first place for human spaceflight launched in 1968. Surrounded by undeveloped land rich in wildlife, t’s only about an hour east of Orlando on Florida’s Atlantic coast.
The NASA launch center in Cape Canaveral has been a significant part of America’s history and is still operational today. On the narrated bus tour you’ll venture out into NASA’s immense compound to visit the launch sites for the Apollo and Space Shuttle missions, combined with views of the surrounding nature reserve to see alligators and bald eagle nests.
Once the largest building in the world, it was used to assemble Space Shuttle components and housed a giant hangar capable of holding multiple space shuttles.
The Vehicle Assembly Building is one of many historic buildings on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center campus. Today, this engineering marvel houses various offices as well as an observation balcony overlooking Launch Complex 39 where early astronauts went into orbit with Apollo missions back in 1969.
Air-Boat Rides and The Everglades
Taking an airboat ride was one of my top bucket-list items and I’m happy to say we ticked that one off in Florida. There are plenty of tours departing Orlando or options to take an airboat ride locally. We loved this tour, if you have to choose just one thing to do other than the theme parks, this would be our top recommendation.
Yes, we have been to Sea World, twice, years ago before it became such a hot potato. These days we can’t promote it. But there are other aquaria in and around Orlando that your family might enjoy. Check out the SeaLife Orlando aquarium.
Other Animal Attractions in Orlando
You get close to gators, manatees, farm animals and more exotic beasts in and around Orlando. We have a selection of local experiences for you below.
The Town of Celebration
Beaches Near Orlando Florida
You can enjoy some of Florida’s finest beaches along the Atlantic Coastline or the Gulf Coast.
A day at Daytona Beach could mean watching surfers and kayakers, while Cocoa Beach is known for its great surfing and fishing opportunities. For those who are more interested in wildlife exploration, there’s Canaveral National Seashore which features beachfront campsites with easy access to nesting sites and migratory bird habitats as well as plenty of hiking trails adjacent to the Kennedy Space Center.
Clearwater Beach, one of the very best beaches in America is just a little bit further to travel. This Gulf coast gem has silky white sand and gentle waves that are shallow enough for children. The sunsets From Clearwater are renowned. We took our toddler here for a wonderful family day at the beach.
Amazing Accommodation for a Great Stay in Florida
Most theme parks in Orlando and Florida have their own themed resort hotels. Staying at one of these destination accommodations will make your stay very special indeed. You’ll get an experience, and perks as guests of the park. For a luxury stay away close to the parks try the following hotels
- Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort
- Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Disney Area Orlando
On a budget? There are many homes to rent, often in wonderful lake-side locations with pools and big enough for even the largest family. We took this option with toddlers and small children, we think it’s easier for young families. As our kids got older we switched to hotel stays. Airbnb works well for this kind of property.
You Won’t Be Short of Things To Do In Orlando!
Orlando is made for us to enjoy and have fun. It’s a top-notch, world-leader in tourism and rightly deserves it’s millions of annual tourists. We’ve enjoyed visiting Orlando with our kids as babies, toddlers, teens and tweens, they honestly never grow out of it.As part of your Orlando trip, do try to see more of Florida, there are loads of fun and adventurous things for families to do in Florida, The Sunshine State. Have fun in Orlando and if you’d like any further information, our comments section is for you to use. Did you save our pin to Pinterest? Thanks for being here.
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Monday 5th of July 2021
Sad that you can no longer endorse or recommend Sea World due to a skewed "documentary ", and/or the "controversies" that sadly misrepresent the company. It's a great park, and their commitment to rescue, rehabilitation, release, and conservation are world class.
Alyson for World Travel Family
Monday 5th of July 2021
It's just not something any of us can get involved in these days Scott. Same as I don't get involved with elephants. I can't remember what I said in the post now, but the controversy levels are so high we put ourselves at risk by going there.