Once upon Orlando, there was a fun and adventurous family that came to visit. They had always dreamed of visiting “The Happiest Place on Earth,” but they didn’t realize there was so much to do in one city! When there are one million and one activities, how is a family to decide? We’ve helped you narrow the top Orlando attractions down; enjoy our Top 10 things for families to do in Orlando!
Top Orlando Attractions for Families
10. Downtown Orlando
Pop into downtown Orlando where you can take a romantic/family-friendly swan boat ride on Lake Eola. Explore the bustling urban corridor where you’ll find plenty of nightlife, dining, and shopping. Take in an Orlando Magic basketball game at the Amway Center. Just minutes from downtown Orlando is the historic Winter Park and the South’s Park Avenue. Park Avenue is famous for its brick streets lined with beautiful live oaks and a mix of modern and historic homes. Each weekend, you’ll be able to dine, shop, and visit a festival or a farmers market. Sadly, many visitors often miss this side of the city, the first of the top Orlando attractions, so be sure to catch the real Orlando downtown.
8. I-Drive 360
The I-Drive 360 entertainment complex is the coolest place you’ll want to visit for an afternoon or evening when not at a theme park or lounging at your hotel pool! The Orlando Eye is a sight to behold and gives you the most amazing views of the city! It’s air conditioned and will take you upwards of 400 feet in the sky! On a clear say, you’ll be able to see all the way to Kennedy Space Center for some road schooling with space exploration! While you are there, visit SeaLIFE Aquarium to see the over 5,000 sea creatures and the coolest 360-degrees ocean tunnel! Pop over to Madame Tussauds and hang with the likes of Jimmy Fallon, Taylor Swift or Pitbull (well, at least their wax doubles will be there!) Take a selfie and let everyone know you visited the coolest wax museum in Orlando! Top off the night at the Sugar Factory and treat your sweet tooth to some amazing sugar concoctions! You won’t know what to eat first, but you won’t forget this place either!
6. See a Show
Equally fantastic, Cirque du Soleil – La Nouba and the Blue Man Group shows are must-sees for the whole family. Each show has had a long-standing presence in Orlando; since 1998, La Nouba has been one of a handful of permanent Cirque du Soleil shows. Its home is a custom-designed, freestanding structure built especially for Cirque du Soleil at Downtown Disney. The exquisite costumes, lighting, music, and acrobatics will leave families in awe and even the youngest of children will enjoy the show. With each act more intriguing than the last, this Cirque du Soleil show will be unforgettable.
Since 2007, the worldwide phenomenon know as Blue Man Group has permanently lived at the Aquos Theatre at Universal CityWalk Orlando. The award-winning show is 90 minutes of non-stop action packed with insane music, art, technology, color, and humor. There is a free meet-and-greet after the show, and kids will LOVE getting to interact with everyone they just saw on stage. Be careful what “zone” you sit in as you might end up wearing some of the show!
Overall, trying to tell you which one to see is like comparing Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera to The Lion King. People enjoy them both, but everyone has one they like just a little bit better. Typically, a vacation to Orlando will probably allow time to see just one show.
Insider’s Tip: If you are going to Orlando during high season, reservations can be made up to six months in advance.
4. Disney Springs
Hold on to your Mouse Ears…Disney Springs is an exciting destination, all on its own. For more than 40 years, Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) has been a fun place for families to go experience magic outside of a Disney theme park. Disney Springs is set to have 150 stores, distinctive dining experiences, and will also elaborate on fantastic entertainment. Architecture, costumes, landscaping, and of course, attention to design detail will have visitors flocking to this unique part of Walt Disney World, as a truly unique part of the overall Disney experience. You will definitely want to stop by and visit this brand new addition to the Disney World family.
3. Discovery Cove
Discovery Cove is an unforgettable experience. As a much quieter and less crowded park, Discovery Cove offers an unbelievably intimate experience in an all-inclusive type atmosphere. There is peacefulness amidst the waters, the animals, the people, and the whole experience. Up-close and personal encounters with dolphins, sting rays, and sea turtles will have families talking long after the vacation ends. Take advantage of snorkeling in the freshwater or play hide-and-seek with thousands of beautiful fish via the SeaVenture. Explore underwater beauty like never before. Children must be age six or older to swim with the dolphins. If this type of water adventure is on your bucket list, book this day in advance, and mark it on your vacation schedule.
Insiders Tip: Unlimited admission to SeaWorld Orlando and Aquatica, SeaWorld’s Waterpark, is included for 14 days surrounding your visit to Discovery Cove. Admission to Busch Gardens Tampa can be added for an additional charge. But having only a limited amount of guests, free food and the unique animal encounters makes this one of our favorite places to visit!
1. Walt Disney World
It’s a destination like no other. A top Orlando attractions post couldn’t be complete without Walt Disney World. When Walt Disney World in Florida opened in October of 1971, “The Happiest Place on Earth” was born. There’s a reason why Walt Disney World’s four major theme parks, Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom, have more than 50 million visitors annually. While current ticket prices are far above the original price of $3.50 on opening day, tens of thousands of visitors still flock to see what Walt Disney dreamed and imagined in real life. Every park, every resort, and every detail has been carefully thought out with your best experience in mind. Trekaroo has the inside scoop for the first time visitor and the veteran to help plan your dream vacation! Everything from ‘where should I stay with my family’ to ‘how can I dine with Elsa’ is covered in our Ultimate Disney Vacation Planning Guide for Families.
With over 450 hotels to choose from in Orlando, families will surely have their choice of places to stay! Hotels in Orlando are nearly as fun as the theme parks for kids as there are hotels with a wide variety of amenities such as character dining (not just Disney characters either), water parks, lazy rivers, and more!
Disney Resorts: Let’s start with the 26 Disney Resorts at Walt Disney World. Disney hotels come in varied price points and varied experiences. Multi-generational families will appreciate the Art of Animation Resort where themed suites are built large for big families. A Disney deluxe resort such as the Animal Kingdom Lodge is nestled on a 46-acre savanna complete with up-close encounters of giraffes and zebras! Of course, staying at any Disney resort allows you a few perks like extra magic hours at the parks, FastPass + selections, and complimentary airport transportation along with the legendary Disney service (AKA Fairy Godmother and Pixie Dust) to help accommodate guests every need.
Places to Eat
Local Top Spots: If you’re in town on a Sunday, head over to the House of Blues for Gospel Brunch. Inspiring and soulful gospel performances fill the house while your plate runneth over with delicious food from the soul food brunch buffet. Make it a night on the town at Universal CityWalk and check out VIVO Italian, where everything is hand-made with love. Emeril’s Tchoup Chop located inside Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando has a beautiful atmosphere and delicious food. The locals might send you over to Winter Park for dinner at the 4 Rivers Smokehouse, the Ravenous Pig, or Luma on Park. Quaint, yet popular, these three foodie destinations will have you glad that you chose to explore the Orlando as a local.
Kissimmee, located just south of Orlando and billed as the “gateway to fun,” offers families spacious hotels, many attractions, and beautiful resorts all within close proximity to Walt Disney World! Experience a different side of the traditional Orlando and jump into a “real Florida” vacation with an air boat ride, an up-close encounter with gators, a zipline safari, or a hot air balloon ride where guests soar above the treetops above Kissimmee’s wilderness. Take a trip back to Medieval Times for an incredible jousting tournament along with a four-course meal fit for royalty. Ride coasters, go-karts, and carnival rides galore at Fun Spot America or stroll through the brick-lined streets of quaint town of Celebration. Dreamed by Disney, Celebration Town Center hearkens back to simpler times from small town America. There’s much, much more to do here than you can imagine and it’s so close to the theme parks, you might not even realize your hotel is in Kissimmee!
Head east 35 miles from Orlando to the Space Coast. Surf the waves on Coco Beach or visit the Kennedy Space Center to see outer space like you’ve never seen before. Driving on the iconic Daytona Beach is always a fun experience too! Spend the night at The Shores and roast marshmallows to the sound of crashing waves. Wake up to the most beautiful sunrise and enjoy a peaceful walk on the beach.
Swim With Manatees
Tips for visiting Orlando
Want more kid-friendly fun in Florida? Check out our top ten things for families to do in Florida!
Lead Photo by: flickr/candaceapril