Many people equate “kid friendly Orlando” with Disney World, but Orlando has so many more kid-friendly places to visit than Epcot and Magic Kingdom! From water parks to museums and beaches, we’ve gathered our editors picks for the very best family-friendly things to do in Orlando that are totally worth every second.
photo: Kate Loweth
Gather up your crew for a night of knightly fun at this dinner show and tournament. Cheer on your knight in the jousting competition and see amazing displays of horsemanship and falconry. In truly medieval style, your dinner comes with no utensils! This is a great spot to celebrate a birthday or special occasion in Orlando.
4510 W Vine St.
Sea Life Aquarium
Pretty much every kid loves the ocean, and Sea Life Aquarium will make them feel like they’re part of it. Don’t miss the opportunity to get a dive log book when you check in; it’ll help your kids learn and, if they get it stamped at nine locations, they can turn it in for a Sea Life medal at the gift shop. While every display is pretty magical, kids will probably be extra fascinated by the jellyfish and the touching pool. And of course the real show-stopper is the 360-degree tunnel through an enormous saltwater tank, where you’ll see sharks, sting rays, sea turtles, and fish of all kinds swimming from every direction.
8449 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819
Orlando Tree Trek
Tree Trek gets rave reviews from visitors, and it’s no wonder. This hidden gem is a 15 acre outdoor adventure park takes adventurers through the Florida tree canopy, across swinging bridges, up ladders and zipping along a giant 425′ zip line. There are six different courses for varying skill levels; the 21 kids’ challenges are appropriate for ages 7+, and the beautiful walking path is available for parents and littles who want to observe.
7625 Sinclair Rd, Kissimmee, FL 34747
Uniquely Florida, Gator Land is fabulous for young kids and sure to be one of their top childhood memories. Premium tickets include gator feeding, a train ride, and — amazingly — sitting on a gator. At 110 acres, you’ll find thousands of alligators and crocodiles, an aviary, petting zoo, and a swamp with giant albino alligators. Gatorland is home to the best zip line in the US, according to AOL Travel.
14501 S Orange Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL 32837
Kelly Park Rock Springs
Rock Springs is one of the coolest places to camp in the United States, due in no small part to the hot spring creek that runs through it. The creek and surrounding natural pools stay a comfortable 68 degrees year-round and are perfect for wading or tubing.
400 E Kelly Park Rd, Apopka, FL 32712
photo: Kate Loweth
Let your creative juice run wild at this spot that’s all about everyone’s favorite crayons. Make your own Crayola crayon, animate your drawings, make art out of melted crayons and learn all there is to do with crayons. There’s even a massive climbing structure for the big kids and a smaller one for tots where the kids can climb. Hungry? Grab lunch or popcorn at the on-site cafe.
8001 S. Orange Blossom Trail
Truly one-of-a-kind, Whirly Dome is home to the game of Whirly Ball – essentially lacrosse in bumper cars. If that sounds strange, wait until you see it in person! Kids must be 54 inches tall to play, but younger kids can also enjoy a game of laser tag.
6464 International Dr, Orlando, FL 32819
What’s not to love about free chocolate samples and a factory tour to see how chocolate is made? Tour guides make sure the tour is interactive and entertaining for all ages as they educate guests about the origin of chocolate, how it’s made, and how healthy it is for you (true story!). Your little artists will also love the chocolate sculptures, which feature landmarks like the Great Wall of China and Mount Rushmore and range in size from about 3 feet to over 6 feet.
11701 International Dr suite 400, Orlando, FL 32821
Orlando Science Center
With four floors of exciting exhibits, an incredible giant screen featuring both 3-D films and live programming, the Orlando Science Center is worth a drive. Kids will have the opportunity to dig for dinosaur bones, stand in a hurricane, and climb through the indoor playground, to name a few options. If the weather allows, don’t miss their rooftop observatory.
777 E Princeton St, Orlando, FL 32803
Dr. Martin Luther King’s Memorial Playground
When you see this park, you’ll understand where it gets the nickname “Castle Park.” This park has a unique play structure the kids won’t stop talking about! There are also ample areas to try your hand at fishing, watching the ducks, and strolling around the lakes. Tip: the park is right near the Winter Park Marketplace, where you can grab lunch and do a little shopping, or catch the Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.
255 S Denning Dr, Winter Park, FL 32789
The Best Upcoming Events for Kids Orlando
If you’re looking for events and activities, don’t miss our local Orlando events calendar, which has everything from story times to seasonal activities like apple picking, pumpkin patches, and Christmas tree farms.