Family trips in Florida are popular for a reason. Orlando, the capital of Orange County, is a great family tourist destination. Although the city is known worldwide for its theme parks, hotels and tourist attractions, there are countless things to do in Orlando with kids that don’t necessarily involve Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. Wondering what else to do around Orlando? Check out these ideas for family activities in Orlando that your kids will enjoy!
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Even if you’re not a theme park fan, there are still plenty of reasons to visit Orlando. There are a lot of outdoor things to do in Orlando that will ensure a lovely family vacation. Road trips from Orlando, sightseeing, camping, playing sports, and even visiting beaches near Orlando, are just some of the options you can choose from.
Before you go
Of course, each holiday requires some pre-trip planning.
- Plan ahead: Determine basic aspects of the trip, such as length of the trip, meals and accommodation (if necessary), this will help you save time and money. If your kids are fussy eaters, make sure to bring some of their favorite snacks!
- Keep track of your location: An ideal way to get around Orlando without getting lost (especially if it is your first time here), is to download an offline map app. These applications help you to be aware of your location at all times, even with no internet connection or Wi-Fi. You just have to remember to download the app before traveling.
- If you’re thinking of renting a car in Orlando make sure to reserve it in advance, so you can avoid last minute inconvenience. Take care to choose the right vehicle for your family. Most large families prefer a minivan or SUV. Also check our post with more tips for renting a car in the US.
- Emergency kit: Carry a first aid kit that contains bandaids, sterile gauze, antiseptic solution or wipes and antibiotic ointment. This will solve any small emergency on the road. You should also have a backpack with water and snacks on hand.
Best Orlando day trips
So, if Disney World and Universal Studios aren’t your cup of tea, where should you go instead? Let us give you some tips for alternative fun things to do in Orlando with kids.
Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens
There are many fun things to do in Orlando with kids but a day interacting with animals is always a kids’ favorite. Located approximately 30 minutes north of Sanford, Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens will impress children with more than 350 animals, including an insectarium and a herpetarium. It also includes 23 ac (9.3 ha) botanical garden with native flora.
Young children will especially love the Barnyard Buddies Children’s Zoo, where they can see and even feed domestic animals, including alpacas, goats and llamas. And a ride on the miniature train can’t be missed. Also, as Orlando can get to be really hot at certain times of the year, the Wharton-Smith Tropical Splash Ground at the zoo offers the kids a wild refreshing time full of water splash. Admission to the splash ground is included in your entry ticket.
The Kennedy Space Center
The Kennedy Space Center is not in Orlando as it is usually believed. It is actually located in Cape Canaveral but if you hired a rental car this should not be an issue at all. Visiting this attraction is considered to be one of the best family activities in Orlando. And the best part? It’s suitable for both kids and adults. What kid wouldn’t go crazy to see a NASA rocket, or see the real space taxi Atlantis or Apollo 11 or the lunar module.
This is a great opportunity to teach your kids about the past and the future of life in space. And, let’s be honest you, know you will enjoy it too. This is one of the most exciting places to visit around Orlando.
Wekiwa Springs State Park
Another sought-after day trip you can easily do with your family in Orlando is a visit to Wekiwa Springs State Park. This is one of the most beautiful Orlando springs located within 30 minutes from International Drive. Once here you can enjoy a barbecue, canoe trips, swimming and fishing or walking the trails. The park’s thirteen miles of trails offer the opportunity for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. There are also canoes and kayaks available for paddling along the Wekiva River and Rock Springs Run. Nature parks in Orlando can hardly compare to this paradise. A trip to Wekiwa Springs is without a doubt one of the best weekend getaways in Florida.
New Smyrna Beach
Most kids love the beach! Especially during a busy family vacation, a beach day can offer you both the fun and the relaxation your family needs. One of the best beaches near Orlando is New Smyrna Beach. About an hour’s drive from Orlando, this white-sand beach is a popular seaside getaway for Orlando’s locals. Fishing, surfing and swimming are popular activities along the coast. Vehicles and bicycles are allowed on some parts of the beach. If you like turtles, you can sneak out to the Canaveral National Seashore, about 30 minutes by car from New Smyrna, and see the sea turtles born and sneak into the water (this normally takes place between May to November).
Conclusion: Orlando with kids
There’s no time better spent than the time you spend with your family. However, finding a vacation or a getaway that all members of the family can enjoy equally, almost seems an impossible mission. With all the things to do in and around Orlando you’ll have no trouble making your family trip to Orlando fun and enjoyable for the whole family. While part of the city’s popularity is due to the famous theme parks, there are many more things to do. There are parks, nature, wildlife, culture and much more. In fact, there is so much to do, you will want to plan your trip ahead of time so you’ll know where to go and what to see and do when you get there.