Courtesy of Visit Orlando
When it comes to travel destinations where catering to kids comes naturally and family fun is a city-wide modus operandi, Orlando hardly needs an introduction. Home to nearly every variety of theme park you can imagine (including world-famous Walt Disney World Resort) as well as great restaurants, pretty nature parks, and tons of outdoor fun, Orlando delights visitors of all ages and rewards those who seek out its lesser-known attractions. Start planning your next trip to Orlando now.
Here are 23 of the best things to do in Orlando with kids.
Related: 17 Free Things to Do in Orlando
1. Snorkel at Wekiwa Springs State Park.
The gorgeous fresh water bubbling up from underground at Wekiwa Springs State Park stays a cool 72 degrees year round and looks positively Caribbean with its green and blue hues. Scope it out at this park 14 miles north of downtown Orlando, where camping and snorkeling adventures await in a slice of the real Florida.
2. Ride the Sunrail between Winter Park and Orlando.
In a city dominated by cars and theme park shuttle buses, give the kids a taste of the rail life by boarding the commuter Sunrail train that runs between downtown Orlando’s Church Street District and the cute town of Winter Park (among other stops).
3. Rent a swan boat to cruise around Lake Eola.
Downtown Orlando’s centerpiece lake, the park-lined Lake Eola, is best explored while getting a leg workout with the family aboard one of the giant swan-shaped boats that move along by pedal power. Kids will love getting an up-close view of the fountain in the center of the lake as real swans paddle around them.
4. Go back in time to the wreck of the Titanic.
Kids and adults who are obsessed with the most legendary shipwreck of all time will get a kick out of Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition, where costumed actors and re-creations of rooms aboard the Titanic take you back to that fateful 1912 voyage. There’s even a replica of the Grand Staircase.
5. Travel the world at Epcot.
Walt Disney World’s EPCOT theme park has amazing rides inspired by real-life and fictional locations. But Soarin’ Around the World is always a crowd pleaser as you take the kids to fly high above some of the Earth’s most iconic landmarks, including the Great Wall of China, Egypt’s pyramids, and even Walt Disney World itself. Plus, a walk around World Showcase will introduce them to the sights and flavors of destinations around the world.
6. Spend Sunday at the Orlando Farmer’s Market.
Staged every Sunday around Lake Eola, right in the heart of downtown Orlando, the beloved Orlando Farmers Market lures locals and visitors to shop for Florida produce, kick back in the beer garden with live music, or let the kids run off some steam in the park’s onsite playground.
7. Go for a family bike ride along the West Orange Trail.
Start your rail-trail cycling adventure along the roughly 22-mile-long West Orange Trail in the cute and historic town of Winter Garden. West of Orlando, it’s got a great downtown area full of shops, breweries, and cafes right along the bike trail. You can rent bikes for the whole family at Bikes & Blades.
8. Tube down a river at Kelly Park Rock Springs.
The Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico steal the show throughout most of Florida, but the Orlando area is all about its many beautiful lakes and freshwater springs. At Kelly Park Rock Springs, you can rent an innertube, kayak, or paddleboard to navigate the cool waters of the free-flowing natural spring that feeds the river as you float past turtles sunning themselves atop rocks and wading birds.
9. Hang out in the cool, futuristic community of Lake Nona.
Right near the Orlando International Airport, the master-planned lakeside community of Lake Nona makes for a fascinating family visit to see spots like the art-filled gardens of Lake Nona Wave Hotel and, coming in the near future, a vertiport home to flying taxis. The town center always has something going on, whether it’s a farmer’s market, festival, or live band, making Lake Nona great for a family outing away from the theme parks. Park your car in the garage and stroll out to restaurants and shops.
10. Sip Butterbeer at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Can you really say you’ve done the Orlando theme parks if you missed snapping a selfie with a Butterbeer mustache at Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Find it served hot or cold for kids of all ages in Diagon Alley at The Leaky Cauldron and The Hopping Pot, among other Butterbeer locales,
12. Spend the day snorkeling at Discovery Cove.
There’s no ocean in Orlando, so there are no wild coral reefs to explore. But as you’d expect with all the magic at hand in these parts, you can still snorkel in a reef-life environment at Discovery Cove, where the all-inclusive rates wrap in snorkeling gear so you can fin out amongst the parrot fish and blue tangs of The Grand Reef. Your food and drinks are also included throughout the day.
13. See manatees at Blue Spring State Park.
During the cooler months in Florida, manatees often gather by the dozens if not hundreds at Blue Springs State Park, roughly 34 miles north of downtown Orlando. It’s worth a day trip to view these gentle animals. You can walk along the boardwalk and look for the manatees all around in the crystal-clear water as they float by.
14. Paddle the headwaters of the Everglades at Shingle Creek.
Most people don’t know that the headwaters of the Everglades start far north of South Florida’s famous national park. Near Orlando in Kissimmee, you can head out into the Everglades’ headwaters on guided eco-tours with The Paddling Center at Shingle Creek while floating through a flooded cypress forest and scouting for deer, otters, and alligators.
15. Get a bird’s-eye view of Disney World in a hot air balloon.
Early-morning hot air balloon rides with Painted Horizon Hot Air Balloon Tours that take you over the Disney World area in Central Florida give you a whole new perspective on this part of the state. Kids have to be at least seven to ride in the balloon, which means they’ll remember this experience for life.
16. Stay at a resort with an epic on-site waterpark.
You can keep the theme park-style fun going during a family trip to Orlando even when you’re back at your hotel. When you stay with the family at the Orlando World Center Marriott, the resort fee gives you access to the sprawling lagoon-style pool as well as River Falls Water Park, with its lazy river, aqua playground, and three multi-rider water slides.
17. Snap an iconic photo in front of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom.
Does anything say you’ve ticked off the ultimate family trip to Walt Disney World like a photo snapped in front of Cinderella Castle, the iconic centerpiece of Magic Kingdom? The answer is no. Do it for Instagram, do it for posterity. Just do it. And the only way to make the snapshot even better is if you’re all smiling at the camera in matching outfits or mouse ears, of course.
18. Take a behind-the-scenes tour at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Lions, giraffes, and elephants, oh my! A visit to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park is as close as you can get to a safari feel without actually venturing to Africa. And when you book a behind-the-scenes tour, it’s all the more fascinating, with opportunities to see white rhinoceroses, giraffes, and other animals during intimate experiences across the park’s open savanna.
19. Take a boat tour through a beautiful chain of lakes.
Scout for turtles, alligators, and wading birds while ogling some of Orlando’s most beautiful lakefront homes during scenic boat tours through Winter Park’s pretty chain of lakes. Winter Park Scenic Boat Tours cruise you through canals aboard comfortable pontoon boats with plenty of shade during hour-long tours. Kids under two years old ride free.
20. Sink your teeth into the most delicious cookies.
Cookies that weigh nearly half a pound and take 24 hours to make draw families to Gideon’s Bakehouse, with locations at Disney Springs and East End Market. Seasonal cookie varieties are usually on offer, but you’ll never go wrong with the original chocolate chip cookie. Infused with various varieties of vanilla, it’s utterly sinful.
21. Dine alongside your kids’ favorite characters.
Let your kids break bread alongside their idols during character dining experiences at restaurants and hotels around Disney World. Character dining is one of the most worthy Disney splurges with appearances from princesses, Mickey and Minnie, and more.
22. Ride a Ferris wheel.
Views of the Orlando area from 400 feet up in the air await when you take a ride on The Wheel at ICON Park. During the 18-minute ride, kids stay glued to the observation windows to spot lakes, theme parks, and even firework displays (if you time your ride right).
23. Expose your kids to a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Orlando’s dining scene is better than ever, both at the theme parks and in more neighborhood-y locales around town. Take a break from the turkey legs and pizza to expand your kids’ culinary horizons with a special family dinner at one of Orlando’s top restaurants. In 2022, the city landed its first Michelin-starred restaurants. Among those to try are the Spanish-inspired Capa, omakase hotspot Kadence, and seafood and steak star Knife & Spoon inside The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes.