Orlando, Florida is well known as the location of two mega theme parks – Disney World and Universal Orlando. However, the city has so much more to offer to families than just parks. So, when the theme parks get too repetitive, parents should consider trying one of Best non-theme park Family Activities on our list.
For Outdoor Lovers
Lake Eola in downtown Orlando is a beautiful hide away from the otherwise busy metropolis. Here, visitors can relax by the water watching the swans and other wildlife. In addition, families can rent paddleboats for fifteen dollars every half hour. They do have a nearby restaurant called the Relax Grill where one can get delicious lunch and dinner items.Those visiting on Sundays can walk around the farmer’s market for an impressive variety of local produce, foods, drinks, and art.
The Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve
This 440-acre nature preserve stands as a microcosm of Florida’s natural wildlife. It too is a hidden gem away from the bustling city, with plenty of shaded spots to help escape the hot Florida sun. Furthermore, visitors can observe the state’s iconic wetlands in a serene and soothing environment.
Leu Gardens serves as yet another natural paradise within the city, encompassing over fifty acres of distinct gardens. The property of the gardens was formerly owned by Harry P. Leu, who donated it to the town in 1961. Onsite, visitors can tour the Leu historic home preserved as an example of turn-of-the-century lifestyles. The museum and gardens are open from nine AM to five PM every day of the week.
For Animal Lovers
Anyone who loves sea creatures will love Discovery Cove!
This park near Sea World lets teenagers and adults swim with sea life, including tropical fish and dolphins. Here, visitors can also learn about Florida ocean life while getting up close to some amazing animals.
For those who like big reptiles like our son, Gatorland is the perfect destination. The venue is home to crocodiles and alligators, including rare albino alligators. Moreover, visitors can enjoy the onsite 1200 foot tall Zip Line or the petting zoo.
For Sports Fans
This great sport is played while driving a bumper car, or Whirlybug, on a court! It is primarily a lacrosse -like game played in a few locations in the US and Canada. Luckily, Orlando is one of these places where visitors can enjoy this fascinating sport! The Whirlydome at 6464 International Dr offers the ideal location to try out WhirlyBall and grab a bite to eat. Kids must be at least twelve to participate and at least four feet and six inches tall.
Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf
This pirate themed mini golf course at 8501 International Drive provides patrons with plenty of fun and challenges. Visitors can hit their ball through pirate ships, dungeons, and caves. Parents should be aware that occasionally a cannon fire sound goes off as guests play, which can be surprising!
For Adventure Seekers
This indoor go-kart track features high speeds and quick turns, perfect for thrill-seeking teens. Visitors who are at least fifty-six inches tall can opt to drive an adult kart that can go up to fifty miles per hour! Teens under the age of eighteen need to get a waiver from their guardian before driving any kart.
This amazing experience at 6805 Visitors Circle simulates the feeling of freefalling and floating over the air while enclosed in an indoor wind tunnel. Visitors wear a helmet and a special suit and fly freely through the tunnel with no parachute or jumping required. Visitors need to schedule a flight time ahead of time and plan to arrive an hour early. There is a flight demonstration before the flying experience to teach participants the proper body positioning and instructor signals. The entire experience lasts about an hour and forty-five minutes.
For Fun Seekers
The CityWalk outside Universal Orlando is a perfect place to enjoy Orlando’s outdoor entertainment and shopping. There are plenty of restaurants and merchandise stores to occupy visitors of all ages as an IMAX movie theater and live performances on selected nights or other forms of entertainment.
Blue Man Group
Many have heard of the Blue Man Group, where men painted blue perform an interactive show that combines technology, music, and comedy. The first show was started in Las Vegas, but now Universal CityWalk features its own Blue Man Group theater, THewith nightly performances.
Dave and Buster’s
Parents and kids can experience the fun of a Chuck E Cheese atmosphere with a more grown-up touch at a Dave and Buster’s. Here, visitors can play a wide variety of arcade games and win tickets while dining at a full-service restaurant. When players accumulate enough tickets, they can redeem them for prizes.
Bowling fans will love Splitsville in the Disney Springs area. This luxury bowling alley features an extensive dining menu and live entertainment as well as posh bowling lanes. Visitors can enjoy weekend bowling specials at $20 per person for an hour of bowling. They also offer an early bird special for unlimited bowling at $12 per adult for those who arrive before twelve thirty PM.
For Knowledge Seekers
Kennedy Space Center
This center, which has been the US space mission launch site since 1968, houses just about anything related to space exploration. Visitors can discover interesting exhibits displaying equipment and items used for exploring space. There are also several IMAX films available and a space flight simulator that is just like the one real astronauts use to train. On selected dates veteran astronauts attend ‘Meet the astronaut’ sessions and on-site answer questions.
Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
The world’s largest collection of Tiffany Glass is located right in Orlando at this museum. The Morse features jewelry, pottery, decorative lamps, and glass windows done by Louis Comfort Tiffany. These stunning art pieces are a sight to behold for any visitors wishing to learn more about the art style.
As mentioned at the beginning of our post, when most people come to Orlando they come to visit Universal or Disneyworld. However, for those looking for a theme park that’s a little different, WonderWorks is the ticket!
This 35,000 square foot amusement park is all about edutainment, combining education and entertainment with over a hundred hands on challenging exhibits.
What’s most interesting is that WonderWorks is designed to look like it’s upside down when you first enter! In fact, upon arrival, visitors need to pass through an “inversion tunnel” to realign themselves right side up and enjoy the six wonder zones.
To make it more unusual, the venue even has a “backstory” explaining its shape.The story that makes everyone smile is that it used to be a top secret laboratory in the Bermuda triangle that was ‘carried over’ to Orlando after an experiment went wrong, landing upside down!
Of course, this post is only a partial list of what is available to do while in Orlando. In fact, VISIT FLORIDA has a brand new page dedicated to things to do in Florida perfect for planning your next trip.
Autism Travel Tips:
- When traveling to Florida parents remember to pack sunscreen, bug spray, and ponchos since weather can be somewhat unpredictable.
- Splitsville, Dave and Buster’s and the Blue Man Group can be challenging for noise sensitive kids. In most cases, noise-canceling headphones can help.
- The Space Center is very popular with families, so booking tickets and events ahead is best to avoid standing in line.
- For iFly and Discovery Cove it is best to let staff knows of any challenges your kid might have with balance or following directions, so they are aware and accommodate any special needs better.