Looking for something to do with the kids that isn’t a theme park? Here are 25 Orlando Kid-Friendly Places That Are NOT a Theme Park
25 Orlando Kid-Friendly Places That Are NOT a Theme Park
Yes, Orlando is Theme Park Capital of the World. But did you know there’s TONS of great things to do with your kids in this amazing city…without ever seeing the mouse? I have complied a list of some of my favorite and yet to visit places in Orlando that are 100% kid friendly and more budget conscious. And with the new year underway, this is a great list to share with your family and maybe even cross some of these places off your list 🙂 Here’s 25 Orlando Kid-Friendly Places to Visit with your family that are NOT a theme park.
- Winter Park Farmers Market – I LOVE this place. Every Saturday in the heart of Winter Park is an amazing Farmers Market. Lots of great and unique vendors including fresh produce, kettle corn, homemade pasta, plants and more. I have taken my kids here often to roam the streets, people-watch and of course grab great deals on local foods. Don’t miss the Winter Park Art Festival, one of the BIGGEST events in the state.
- The Springs – Central Florida is a wealth of amazing natural springs and state parks. Here’s some of my faves: See the Manatees at Blue Spring State Park – This Manatee refuge features water temperatures that are 72 degrees year round, which is very inviting to the West Indian Manatees. You can walk the wooden walkways to follow alongside a swimming friend. There’s also a huge grassy area for picnics and a playground. We made a day of this as a family and really enjoyed our day! You will need to pay a $6 vehicle fee to enter, so make sure you fill those seats! Such a steal though for a great family day. Canoe at Wekiwa Springs – I did this many years ago with my husband. This was a FUN experience! Canoe down the all-natural Wekiwa Springs, filled with lots of overhanging branches, wildlife and great picturesque views. Grab Pancakes at De Leon Springs State Park/Old Sugar Mill & Griddle House – packed for 2-3 hour wait during peak time, this park is filled with great sights and of course, fabulous pancakes cooked right in front of you. Rock Springs Run State Preserve at Kelly Park – float down the springs or swim in the this fun watering hole.
- Ride the Swan Boats at Lake Eola – If you didn’t know, Lake Eola is the iconic lake of Orlando. In the middle is a gorgeous fountain that lights up at night (if your kids love fountains like mine, this is a must see at night!). For a small fee, you can actually rent a swan shaped paddleboat and check out the lake firsthand! And there’s a great playground, real live swans, and walkway around the lake for a great view from just about anywhere.
- Orlando Science Center/Observatory – recently voted as the fave museum for kids in Central Florida, the Orlando Science Center has had some major upgrades since I first visited. Lots of great hands-on experiences for the kids and of course, education at its finest!
- Splash Parks/Pads – There’s TONS of great splash parks around Orlando, most of them for FREE! And since Orlando has some great weather year-round, you can let the kids run around and get wet just about any time. Downtown Disney, Celebration, Downey, Dr. Phillips, Barnett & Capehart are just a few of the great splash parks in Orlando!
- Pappy’s Patch U-Pick Strawberries – This is definitely up there on my son’s favorite things to do in Florida. Pappy’s is a FUN U-Pick Strawberry Patch. Kids have a great time choosing the ripest, yummiest berries. And who doesn’t love a homemade strawberry shortcake?
- Aloma Cinema Grill – Movie and food? That’s right you can get served your meal and watch your fave recently released films on the big screen at the same time. Frozen was just there 🙂
- Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour – This is definitely on my MUST DO list. I have heard amazing things about this tour! Been around since 1938, this 18 person boat takes a leisurely tour of one of the oldest neighborhoods via a series of lakes.
- Light Up UCF – When Christmastime is here, the University of Central Florida is a buzz with tons of great events. Enjoy a FREE big screen Christmas movie under the stars, go ice skating, enjoy rides and a FUN ice slide. The best attraction is the lights! Watch amazing sparkling lights twinkle in beat to music at the CFE Arena. Make sure to visit UCF too, now the #1 highest student populated school and a top 10 football team in the nation. I also happened to graduate from there 🙂
- Celebration Pie Festival – Just visiting the town of Celebration (aka Americana at its finest) is enough. Originally deemed the town for Disney workers, this pristine town has beautifully constructed homes (right out of a coffee table book), amazing eateries and scenery for everyone. But at springtime, we love coming down for the annual Celebration Pie Festival. For a small fee, you get to enjoy ALL-you-can-eat pie from around the Central Florida area. YUM! Enjoy local shows, vendors and kid bounce houses too. Definitely a MUST see! Come back in winter for the “snow!”
- The Florida Mall – It’s not just a mall. It was named the Florida Mall for a reason. This HUGE mall complex features 1.8 million square feet of shopping space with over 250 vendors. Boasting it’s own hotel and lots of great stores (including American Girl coming in 2014!), this mall gets over 25 million visitors a year (yes, that includes me!)
- Citrus Bowl Parade – The only place in the world to see an amazing parade, right in the heart of Downtown Orlando! Enjoy beautifully decorated floats in citrus, see amazing bands from around the U.S. perform, and lots of other great participants (even Disney & Universal get involved) in this unique parade.
- Green Meadows Farm – This is also on my to-do list. Visit Green Meadow Farm for a one-of-a-kind petting farm experience. With everything from pigs to chickens, watch and learn all about farming right in Orlando. Milk a Cow, Ride a Pony and enjoy a fun day with the family.
- Hit the Trails – Cady Way Trail, West Orange Trail, Blanchard Park Trail – Enjoy scenic biking, walking and running with your families on these great trails. Orlando is more than just tourist traps, there’s some great waterways and natural scenery to enjoy on these long standing trai
- The Color Run – A once in a lifetime race, The Color Run offers an amazing 5k filled with bold color! Get covered in colored corn starch during this fanatical unique race. And definitely an excuse to get the kids dirty 🙂
- Orlando Repertory Theater – There’s more talent and magic than just a mouse. Support local talent from my hometown with amazing shows, musicals and more. They offer great outreach to the local community and youth too.
- Orlando History Center – Visit a place full of 12,000 years of Orlando History as well as many exhibits that kids and adults will love. Located in the heart of Downtown, this is a fantastic venue (I’ve even been for a wedding).
- Pinocchio’s Marionette Theater – Puppet shows come to life with Orlando’s only marionette theater. Definite a wonder for all ages.
- Eat a Gourmet Cupcake at Sweet! By Holly – The Award Winning Holly makes a fab cupcake. Winner of Cupcake Wars and has been featured on many other food networks, this is the only place in Orlando (and only 1 of 2 locations in Florida) to catch these prized cupcakes. We love mini Mondays!
- Volunteer at Give Kids the World – If you haven’t seen Give Kids the World Village, you are missing out on a very special place. Give children with Life-Threatening illnesses memories that last forever with just a little of your time at a beautiful and kid-dreamed place.
- Enjoy Zellwood corn & the Corn Field Maze at Long & Scott Farms – Fall time is amazing in Orlando. Enjoy an ear (or 5) of Zellwood’s sweet corn and walk through the biggest corn field maze in Central Florida.
- Airboat Ride – Ride the amazing rivers of Orlando an catch the Florida gator in their natural habitat. There’s plenty of swampland in Orlando too, perfect for seeing breathtaking scenery. The kids love the boats!
- More Animals! There’s lots more great chances to see wildlife. Central Florida Zoo – Orlando has it’s own zoo, featuring cute twin rhinos, an amazing cheetah exhibit and coming soon, Giraffes. Gatorland – This place is definitely for the gator lover in you.
- Catch an Orlando Sports Team Game – There are lots of great sports teams in the area. See the Top 10 ranked UCF Knights Football, The Orlando Magic Basketball Team at the Amway Center, The Orlando Predators Football and The Orlando Solar Bears Hockey Squad in action.
- Mini Golf – It’s everywhere! YES, there’s tons of great mini golf places in Orlando, most of them have coupons floating around. Congo River Golf is the biggest in the area. But if you love mini golf, you’ll definitely find some great venues for the kids!
So whether you’re a local or a yearly visitor, I hope you can grab some of these ideas for your travels! Hope you love this little round-up of great kid-friendly places to take the kids. Of course there’s tons more great dinner shows and other more pricier things to do. Maybe I’ll do another round-up of places soon.