Orlando is a mecca for family travelers looking for thrills, chills and spills in the major theme parks in the area. The many Disney, Universal and SeaWorld attractions there can easily fill more than a week or two’s vacation time, and some people never tire of them through repeated trips.
They are “the” major draws to the area, but they’re not the only games in town. Don’t overlook Orlando’s other options for entertainment and recreation. Some are old-school, most have less line-ups, a few are educational, a couple are nature-loving, others are budget-friendly and several are even (gasp!) free. Take a break from lining Mickey’s pockets and consider a few of these other Orlando activities when in the area.
1. Orlando Science Center
For sixty years, the Orlando Science Center has been a place that inspires curiosity and exploration. Truly one of the great activities for Orlando families, the Science Center encourages learning in a fun way. We’re the perfect educational activity, fun and knowledge all under one roof. There are hundreds of hands-on interactive activities, curiosity-testing displays and in-depth demonstrations to engage all ages form Pre-K through 12th grade (even grown-ups). Exhibits, labs, an observatory, a giant domed theater, planetarium shows and live performances make for fun immersive experiences about nature, dinosaurs, astronomy, forces and more. You don’t have to tell them it’s educational.
777 E Princeton St, Orlando, FL 32803
2. Shingle Creek Regional Park
Shingle Creek Regional Park is an urban oasis at the Headwaters of the Florida Everglades and is designated as one of “America’s Great Outdoors”. Imagine exploring a nature park with no motorized train, animatronic creatures or faux folliage around. Instead, you explore by kayak, canoe, SUP or foot using your very own muscle power. A paddling eco-tour through Shingle Creek will take you to the headwaters of the Everglades. You may spot bald eagles, wild turkey, great blue heron, yellow-bellied slider turtles, white-tailed deer, river otters – maybe even alligators. It’s amazing how this extensive parkland of picnic spots, hiking trails, boardwalks and waterways is hidden right in the midst of Orlando’s urban corridor.
925 S Bass Rd, Kissimmee, FL 34746
The family owned and operated park opened in 1949 and features affordable family fun while showcasing thousands of alligators and crocodiles including four extremely rare leucistic “white” alligators. The free-flight aviary, petting zoo, one of a kind animal shows, natural alligator breeding marsh, and the “thrilling” Screamin’ Gator Zip Line will ensure your day will be filled with Fun, Smiles and Special Memories!
Try your hand at gator wresting or be a trainer for the day. To compete with the big boys they have recently added one thrill ride here, a 12,000 ft. zip line that zooms above a live alligator pool.
14501 S Orange Blossom Tr, Orlando, FL 32837
4. Tubing in Kelly Park
Kelly Park features a free-flowing natural spring (68 degrees year round), full-service concession, picnic pavilions and playground. Tent and RV camping are available at this park. At this nature reserve you’ll find a real river that’s perfect for tubing. Rent an inflatable ring and chill away an hour or two drifting along the crystal creek in this pretty state park just north of Orlando.
400 E Kelly Park Rd, Apopka, FL 32712
This is a popular indoor entertainment amusement emporium for the mind with 35,000 square feet of “edu-tainment” that makes a great rainy day option or day off from Disney. It’s still an action packed sensory overload with 4D rides, a glow-in-the-dark high ropes course, laser tag options and more, but it’s loads of fun. The first thing you’ll notice is that the building is upside-down. Not to worry, pass through the inversion tunnel and everything will be righted. There are a hundred exhibits to wow you, including a tesla coil, bed of nails, bubble lab, a chance to design your own roller coaster or don a space suit and more. The core price is reasonable but can add up if you opt for extras.
Pointe Orlando, 9067 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
6. Leu Gardens
Each garden is designed specifically to further our mission: inspire visitors to appreciate and understand plants. A half-day respite from the theme-park madness may be just what your family needs to recharge batteries before another day in the fray. This tranquil botanical garden is a 50-acre oasis of rose bushes, camellias, azaleas, tropical plants, flowering trees, citrus groves and butterfly habitats. It’s located near downtown on Lake Ivanhoe.
1920 N Forest Ave, Orlando, FL 32803