Top 10 Family Fun Activities in Orlando Beyond the Theme Parks

Let’s face it, when most of us hear “Orlando”, we instantly picture dazzling theme parks, beloved characters, and the unforgettable joy of a roller coaster ride. And while those parks are undoubtedly epic, there’s a whole other side to Orlando just waiting to be explored.

Away from the loop-de-loops and fairy tale castles, the city hides spots perfect for a family day out—think of serene nature trails, hands-on museums, and hidden cultural gems.

Whether you’re an Orlando native or just visiting, these top 10 off-the-beaten-path activities will show you a side of the city you might’ve missed in the theme park excitement. Ready to venture into the other magical parts of Orlando?

Let’s dive in!

1. Orlando Science Center

Glass Walkway Orlando Science Center surrounded by trees

Step into the Orlando Science Center and feel the magic of learning that’s way more lively than just pages in a book. At every corner of this expansive space, there’s something to touch or try that’ll leave both kids and adults buzzing with excitement and new questions.

1.1 DinoDigs: Transport yourself to prehistoric times in this exhibit, where kids can uncover fossil replicas and stand beside life-sized dinosaur skeletons. It’s as close to a Jurassic adventure as you can get without a time machine!

1.2 Planetarium: Gaze at the stars, planets, and distant galaxies in the Crosby Observatory. With state-of-the-art projection and captivating shows, it’s an interstellar experience right in the heart of Orlando.

1.3 Live Science Shows: Beyond the exhibits, the center brings science to life with thrilling live demonstrations. Watch as chemistry experiments erupt in colors, or physics principles defy gravity right before your eyes.

Step into a universe filled with stars, feel Florida’s natural heartbeat, or get playful with magnets. At the Orlando Science Center, science isn’t just textbook stuff – it’s an adventure for all, from toddlers to grandparents!

2. Lake Eola Park

Swans in the Lake Eola Park, Orlando Florida at Night

Tucked away in downtown Orlando’s lively pulse, Lake Eola Park is that peaceful corner where city sounds fade and nature’s charm takes over. It’s not just another city lake; it’s a pocket of joy and tranquility.

2.1 The Famous Swan Boats: Ever dreamt of floating in a swan boat? Here’s your chance! Glide through the lake in these adorable swan boats and get a fresh view of Orlando’s skyscrapers. It’s a serene ride with a sprinkle of enchantment.

2.2 Playground Adventures: Got little explorers with you? Watch their eyes light up at the sight of the park’s modern playground. It’s where giggles are louder, and shoes get a bit sandy – all in the name of fun.

2.3 The Linton E. Allen Memorial Fountain: You can’t miss the heartbeats of Lake Eola – its iconic fountain. As daylight dims, the fountain bursts into colors, dancing to tunes, painting a magical picture against the evening sky.

2.4 Events and Festivals: Lake Eola isn’t just about quiet moments; it knows how to party! From artsy fests to foodie events, there’s always something buzzing. Peek at their events calendar – who knows, you might just walk into a lively local celebration!

So, if your idea of a good day is floating on water, lounging with a favorite novel, or simply soaking in nature’s vibes, Lake Eola Park is your urban retreat in the heart of Orlando.

3. ICON Park

Red Glowing Ferris Wheel at ICON Park, Orlando Florida at night

Picture this: soaring high above Orlando, the city’s sights spread out beneath you, while the thrill of heights adds a dash of excitement. Welcome to ICON Park, where The Wheel invites you for this captivating experience. But the fun doesn’t stop when your feet touch the ground again!

3.1 The Wheel: As you ascend in the comfort of an air-conditioned capsule, the panorama of Orlando unfolds. From those heady heights, you can play a spotting game, trying to identify city landmarks, or just revel in the sweeping vistas.

3.2 Dining Delights: Got a grumbling stomach? ICON Park is ready with a smorgasbord of eateries. Whether you crave a gourmet meal, a quick snack, or a sweet treat, options abound. It’s a feast for the palate as much as the eyes!

3.3 Retail Therapy: Meandering through the complex, you’ll discover boutique stores offering unique finds. It’s the perfect spot to hunt for souvenirs or simply indulge in a shopping spree.

3.4 Family-Fun Attractions: Beyond The Wheel and the shopping, ICON Park is dotted with entertaining attractions for kids and adults alike. It’s a hub of laughter, challenges, and memories waiting to be made.

4. Gatorland Orlando

Man Touching Aligator at Gatorland, Orlando Florida

Delve into the wild, untamed corners of Florida without straying too far from Orlando. Gatorland, fondly known as the “Alligator Capital of the World,” promises a day of adventure, amazement, and close encounters of the reptilian kind!

4.1 Gator Galore: The star attractions? Thousands of alligators and crocodiles, sunning themselves, gliding silently, or just showing off their toothy grins. Every moment here is an Instagram-worthy shot!

4.2 Petting Zoo: And if reptiles aren’t the only animals on your list, there’s more! Stroke the soft fur of friendly creatures at the petting zoo. It’s all about gentle touches and delighted giggles.

4.3 Bird’s Paradise: Listen to the melodies of the feathery residents in the bird aviary. With each chirp and flutter, it’s nature’s concert at its best.

4.4 Adventure Trails: And for the daring, Gatorland offers more than just viewing. There are adventure trails and unique experiences that let you witness these magnificent creatures in action.

So, whether it’s the lure of gators, the charm of fluffy animals, or the songs of birds, Gatorland promises a wild, unforgettable journey for everyone.

5. Crayola Experience Orlando

Ever wondered what the world would look like painted in the bold and vibrant colors of your imagination? At the Crayola Experience, you’re handed the palette and the canvas. Dive into a kaleidoscope of colors and activities that promise hours of fun and boundless creativity.

5.1 A Palette of Activities: With over 25 unique experiences, kids (and the young at heart) can swirl, draw, paint, and mold. Fancy a crayon with your name on it? Or maybe you’re keen on turning that doodle into a real-life piece of art? Here, imagination takes center stage.

5.2 Melted Crayon Spin Art: Melt, pour, spin! It’s mesmerizing to watch as melted crayons take shape into spin art masterpieces. Don’t forget to dry and take your creation home as a colorful memento.

5.3 Crafty Workshops: At scheduled times throughout the day, in-house experts host workshops, guiding visitors through unique craft projects. It’s not just about the end result but the joy in the journey of creating.

5.4 Colorful Play Zones: When fingers need a break from crafting, various play zones beckon. These interactive zones offer physical fun, all while remaining dipped in Crayola’s colorful theme.

6. Madame Tussauds Orlando

Step into the glitzy world of stardom, where the lines between reality and fantasy blur. At Madame Tussauds, you’re not just a spectator; you become a part of the tableau, rubbing shoulders with wax figures so lifelike they could wink back at you!

6.1 Star-Studded Encounters: Whether you’ve dreamt of striking a pose with Hollywood heartthrobs, sharing a stage with legendary musicians, or shaking hands with influential leaders, this place turns those dreams into photo opportunities. And oh, the tales you’ll have to tell!

6.2 Behind The Velvet Rope: Ever wondered how these figures are crafted with such detail? Peek behind the scenes to learn about the art and science of wax sculpting. It’s a journey from a lump of wax to a celebrity lookalike.

6.3 Interactive Zones: But it’s not just about posing. Various zones invite visitors to engage, whether it’s strutting down a catwalk, undergoing a superhero transformation, or stepping into a historical setting. Each area is a blend of learning, fun, and hands-on interaction.

7. Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park

Nature meets adventure at the Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park! If your family has been searching for an adrenaline-packed day amidst the natural beauty of Florida’s outdoors, then look no further.

Here, high up in the trees, you’ll be challenged, thrilled, and left in awe of the panoramic forest views.

7.1 Elevated Obstacle Courses: Forget the typical ground-level play. Here, you’ll be climbing, swinging, and navigating through a series of intricate aerial obstacles. Whether it’s the dizzying heights of suspended bridges or the thrill of swinging logs, each challenge adds a unique twist.

7.2 Zip Lines with a View: Feel the rush of wind against your face as you zip from one platform to the next. And as you glide through the air, steal a moment to take in the breathtaking views of the dense Floridian landscape beneath.

7.3 Safety First: Adventure doesn’t mean compromising on safety. At the park, everyone is equipped with a harness and a detailed safety briefing. Plus, trained instructors are always at hand to guide and assist.

7.4 Levels for All Ages: Whether you have tiny tots or daring teens, there are courses tailored to different age groups and skill levels. So everyone gets a taste of adventure, suited to their comfort zone.

8. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

NASA Logo on a Big Globe at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Orlando, Florida

A stone’s throw away from Orlando, the Kennedy Space Center invites families to embark on a cosmic journey like no other. This is where science, history, and wonder fuse, offering a glimpse into the vast universe and humankind’s endeavors to explore it.

8.1 Launch Experience: Feel the ground shake beneath you and the roar of engines as you get a simulated experience of what it’s like during a shuttle launch. It’s as close as one can get to the real thing without actually being on a spacecraft!

8.2 Meet the Astronauts: Ever wondered what it feels like to float in space or how astronauts eat and sleep aboard a shuttle? Here’s your chance to ask them! Regular sessions allow visitors to meet and interact with real-life astronauts.

8.3 Exploration Exhibits: Step into a world of space wonders and get hands-on with some cool displays. Ever been curious about those moon landings or what’s next for Mars? This place spills all the space secrets!

8.4 Atlantis Shuttle Up Close: Imagine standing right under the Atlantis shuttle, which has actually zoomed through space. It’s truly something to feel tiny beneath this big hunk of space tech and hear tales of its space adventures.

8.5 Rocket Garden: Stroll among some real biggies! In the Rocket Garden, you’ll find rockets from NASA’s golden days – think Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. It’s like a walk through a timeline of our space dreams and achievements.

9. Leu Gardens Orlando

Dinosaur at leu gardens orlando

Nestled within Orlando’s buzzing surroundings is a patch of calm: Leu Gardens. Spanning a vast 50 acres, this botanical wonderland is like a breath of fresh air. Here’s what awaits:

9.1 Quiet Strolls Amidst Tropical Plants: Wander through pathways lined with vibrant tropical plants. Every turn is a new splash of color, a new texture, a new scent. It’s nature’s art gallery, with each plant playing its part.

9.2 The Rose Romance: A garden isn’t quite complete without roses. At Leu Gardens, you’ll find a stunning array of these beauties, each one more enchanting than the last. It’s no wonder roses are symbols of love; you’ll surely fall for them here.

9.3 Butterfly Garden Magic: Ever had a butterfly land on your shoulder? Or wished you could see them up close without them fluttering away? The butterfly garden is a riot of color with these gentle creatures flitting about. A pure moment of magic for both kids and adults.

10. Chocolate Kingdom Orlando – Interactive Factory Adventure Tour

Chocoholics, this one’s for you! Dive into the delicious world of chocolate at the Chocolate Kingdom. It’s not just about munching on treats (though there’s plenty of that); it’s about embarking on a cocoa-filled journey.

10.1 From Bean to Bar: Ever wondered how those cocoa beans turn into the glossy bars we love? Hop on the tour and discover all the behind-the-scenes secrets! Watch the transformation, learn about the processes, and maybe, just maybe, sample some fresh off the production line.

10.2 Interactive Chocolate Fun: It’s one thing to watch, and another to do. Here, you can dive hands-on into the chocolate world. Mold, design, and even customize your own chocolate. It’s a delightful mess, but oh so worth it.

10.3 Tasty Learning: Yes, you get to eat while you learn. Try different chocolates, learn about their roots, and see what makes each special. It’s a bit of education, a bit of indulgence, and a whole lot of fun. Perfect for families looking to mix learning with pleasure.


Sure, Orlando is best known for its thrilling theme parks, but there’s a whole other side to the city waiting to be discovered. For the curious minds out there, the Orlando Science Center offers a world of wonder.

And if you’re craving a slice of nature, places like Leu Gardens provide the perfect peaceful escape. Dive deeper into Orlando, and you’ll find it’s more than just rides and fairy tales.

And for the adventurous, there’s the adrenaline-pumping Orlando Tree Trek Adventure Park. If it’s unique experiences you’re after, where else can you dive deep into the world of crayons or embark on a chocolaty journey from bean to bar?

So, next time you pack your bags for Orlando, remember it’s not just Mickey Mouse waiting for you. A world of adventure, learning, and laughter lies in those lesser-trodden paths. Go beyond the usual, and let Orlando’s hidden treasures make your family vacation truly unforgettable. Safe travels and happy exploring!