Orlando is home to more than a dozen theme parks, all of which attract families with children. The biggest and most famous is Disney World with Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and the many other associated parks and attractions. Then there’s Universal’s parks, which are also increasingly popular with the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The list keeps going on, because in addition to these mega parks, there is also Sea World and Lego Land to explore.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the isolated, constructed worlds of the mega parks that you forget all about the rest of Orlando. It has a lot to offer: lovely tree-lined neighborhoods, a rich performing arts and museum scene, several fantastic gardens and nature preserves, fabulous cuisine; and a delightfully slower pace without the crazy crowds. Florida’s mega tourist destination offers a variety of fun things to do with kids of all ages other than the obvious options. Whether you live in Florida or are just visiting, Orlando is a great destination for families on both short and extended stays.
But often, family vacations can be hard. Saying in small hotels, dealing with all of your luggage, finding things to do that don’t cost a fortune, and getting the entire clan from place to place… all of this can become taxing and challenging. So, we have assembled the following tips and advice to help you make your Orlando vacation less chaotic and more relaxing.
Find family-friendly accommodation
Since Orlando has so much to offer you’ll want to make sure your accommodation does too; enter Orlando timeshares. Conveniently located close to (or at) Disney World, Universal Orlando, and Seaworld, timeshare resorts in Orlando are the perfect choice for families who want to stay in the thick of it all in style and comfort. Depending on which resort you choose, units range in size from studio, 1-, 2-, 3-, and 4-bedroom suites. They often include kitchens, spacious living areas, multiple full bathrooms, and balconies overlooking astonishing views. On-site amenities are also plentiful; if you choose to stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas, for example, your entire family will delight in sparkling swimming pools, a spa, gift shop, and restaurant. There are even roaming Giraffes and Wildebeests! We recommend finding an Orlando timeshare through a private owner on SellMyTimeshareNow.com. They offer resales and rentals that are available at a significant discount. If you’re looking for a great place to stay, check out Casa Del Mar.
Rent strollers and baby gear
As a family entertainment hub, Orlando has a lot to offer in terms of renting gear for babies or younger children. You can rent strollers, play pens, high chairs, fold up cots, and more to help make planning and packing for Disney World, a lot easier. Many of these companies will deliver the strollers and other equipment to your hotel or resort on the first day of your arrival and pick them up when you leave. This saves you the trip, the time, and the space in your car. This is a great option if you’re flying into Orlando instead of driving. Check out Orlando Stroller Rentals, BabyQuip, or Baby Wheels Orlando for more information.
Also, if you’re flying with kids, not only can packing for a baby get a little challenging, but so can the flight itself. Make sure that you take plenty of snacks and activities for the plane ride. Also, if you want to try to get your kids to sleep on a plane, check out these options for toddler travel beds for airplanes. Another alternative is to take your car seat with you on the plane, and mount it onto the airplane seat. This is a great option for babies and some toddlers, as it lets the child sit and sleep comfortably while also staying safe. Here are some recommended travel car seats for a 1-year-old (and other ages, too). Also, check out this list of FAA approved car seats for more information. After all, if your kid is happy, then you’ll have a happy vacation.
Activities for Kids, Beyond Disney
We all know the main attractions in Orlando, but did you know that there are so many more things to see and do, especially with kids? Many of these activities are also very affordable and even free. The following activities offer plenty of fun if you need a break from Disney or Universal for a few days. Also, check out our experience regarding how much you need to plan for your Disney trip.
Kids Town at the Orlando Science Center
KidsTown has taken over the second floor of the Science Center. The family-favorite exhibit designed for children ages 7 and under features 11,000 square feet of skill-based activities. These activities encourage kids to invent and create, build and test, spark their curiosity, make discoveries, and author their own experience. This is a great opportunity for kinds to not only have fun, but also learn while they do.
Popcorn Flicks in the Park
The city of Winter Park produces a cinema series foe the public to enjoy. The Popcorn Flicks in the Park series features classic films for the whole family. These films are usually held on the second Thursday of each month in Winter Park’s beautiful Central Park and they are free and open to the public. Bring a blanket, a picnic or snacks, and some family and friends and enjoy the show. Popcorn Flicks are typically scheduled at 7PM or 8PM, but may not start until sunset to provide an optimal viewing experience.
Icon Orlando 360
Icon Orlando 360 is an entertainment destination with several attractions to enjoy. Here you can take a ride on Icon Orlando (previously the Orlando Eye), the tallest observation wheel on the east coast, for a fabulous view. At Icon Orlando you can also explore the oceans of the world at SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium. This is also where you’ll find Madame Tussauds where you can get silly with some historic or iconic celebrity wax figures.
Medieval Times Dinner and a Show
Travel through the mists of time to a forgotten age with a tale of devotion, courage and love—at Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament. Imagine the pageantry and excitement that would have been yours as a guest of the queen ten centuries ago. That’s exactly what you will experience at North America’s most popular dinner attraction. See an exciting show featuring heroic knights on spirited horses displaying the athletic feats and thrilling swordplay that have become hallmarks of this unique entertainment experience.
Get the adrenaline going!
Roller coasters aren’t the only way to get your heart pumping in Orlando. Try some different activities that you’re sure to remember. Swing like Tarzan at Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park, take a safe climb on the Rock Wall at the Oviedo Recreation Gym, Zipline over gators at Gatorland, or go tubing in the free-flowing natural spring at Kelly Park. You can even try to learn how to wakeboard or paddleboard at Orlando Watersports Complex. Or try kayaking or canoeing on Shingle Creek with a Master Naturalist.
Get Creative at Mennello Museum
Enjoy free admission, a mini-tour and craft stations where kids can test their creativity at Mennello Museum on the second Sunday each month. Or let them expand their building imagination during the monthly mini build events at the LEGO Store at Disney Springs. They can also create their own crayon label and make masterpieces of color at the Crayola Experience.
Relax at Leu Gardens
Relax in a 50-acre botanical oasis or take in a story time, movie night or special family events at Leu Gardens. Feed giraffes at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens. Take a Sunday stroll, buy some fresh flowers, and taste local flavors at the Orlando Farmers Market. Or pack a lunch, bring your bikes, and put on your swimsuit for a family fun day at Dr. Phillips Community Park.
Explore a Museum
Be amazed in the many rooms of wonder at the Great Magic Hall, walk through hundreds of odd exhibits at the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Odditorium, see over 400 real animal skeleton at SKELETONS: Museum of Osteology, or discover where chocolate comes from and taste chocolates from around the world at The World of Chocolate museum. There’s plenty to see and do at Orlando museums!
Let the little ones run around and play indoors at Grammy’s Indoor Playground. Or they can Milk a cow or take a pony ride at Green Meadows Petting Farm. If the kids are interested in camping, try a catered camping experience at Makinson Island. Or let them go play in what is known as “Castle Park,” a large wooden playground that excites kids imaginative play.
Learn Something New
Learn the basics of good nutrition and healthy food prep with a family cooking class at Kids Cooking Connection. Take a catch and release fishing excursion with a professional fishing guide at Grande Lakes. Learn how to fly through the air at Orlando Circus School. Or become a pastry chef at Farris and Fosters. You can go home with all kinds of new skills when in Orlando.
See a Show
The Orlando Repertory Theatre gives children a great introduction to theatrical performances. You can also attend a special family performance or class at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Maybe even introduce your kids to improve with family friendly shows at SAK Comedy Lab. Or for even more fun and entertainment, laugh, eat, and be amazed at the Outta Control Magic Comedy Family Dinner Show. You can even enjoy a combination of senses with art, technology, and music at the Blue Man Group Show.
Go for a Ride
Train-obsessed kids will enjoy their free ride around the city on the SunRail. Or, for a relaxing ride, take the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour for a unique tour on a pontoon boat through local lakes. For a good look at the surroundings, hop on the I-Ride Trolley to explore International Drive. Or try paddling the waters of Lake Eola on a Swan Boat. You can even go for a ride with a different view with a scenic ride above the clouds on Orlando Balloon Rides. Try something different by playing basketball in a bumper car at Whirly Dome or have a family race on the multi-level go-cart course at Fun Spot.
No matter how you choose to visit Orlando, keep in mind that once you work out the complex details of the trip, of taking a family trip is absolutely worth the effort. Your children will create memories for a lifetime, and so will you!
See also: Planning a Trip To Disney World.
Bryan has visited exactly one more country than his wife, and she won’t let him forget it! Also an avid photographer, he enjoys entrenching himself within the local culture in order to learn more about the people of a place. He is the co-founder of Budget Your Trip and loves a good adventure, an exotic meal, or a passionate conversation about global events.