The best family-friendly places to stay, visit, and eat in Orlando.
Board the Hogwarts Express and make your way to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Florida.
Soar above Hogwarts with Harry Potter, swing above the streets with Spider-Man, get soaked to the skin on Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges, and experience Skull Island: Reign of Kong and the recently relaunched Incredible Hulk Coaster. The most popular ride may well be the new roller coaster Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Wear comfortable sneakers and plan a day of fun!
The nice thing about Wonderworks is it really does appeal to kids of all ages, and there’s a nice “edu-tainment” slant to the activities. It’s an amusement park—so think plenty of fun—with learning opportunities on top of that. There’s 35,000 square feet of fun with more than 100 hands-on exhibits. Relive the earthquake of 1989 by feeling the power behind a magnitude of 5.3 on the Richter scale. Lay on a bed of nails and get the science behind why it doesn’t hurt (it really doesn’t!). And try moving at the speed of light! Plan to spend at least an afternoon—if not the whole day here.
There’s so much to do at Discovery Cove, it’s hard to say where to start. Go swimming with the dolphins or take an underwater walking tour on SeaVenture, The Grand Reef’s aquatic adventure that allows you to experience sharks, rays, and colorful fish up close and personal. Snorkel with hundreds of tropical fish, relax on a sandy beach, or traverse through a rain forest and cascading waterfalls, before making your way through an underwater cave. Hungry? Be sure to sample the unlimited (and included in the price) food and beverages.
Want lots of experiences in one place? Then ICON Park is ideal. There’s shopping, restaurants, and attractions including the famous 400-foot-tall observation wheel (the massive Ferris wheel was fashioned after the London Eye). The Wheel has some of the best views in Florida—get 360-degree vistas in all directions, while staying cool in air-conditioned glass capsules. At ICON Park there’s also Madame Tussauds Orlando (the world’s most famous celebrity wax attraction), SEA LIFE Aquarium, the quirky Skeleton Museum, and the Orlando StarFlyer—the world’s tallest swing ride.
You can’t visit Florida without taking an airboat tour in the Central Florida Everglades where you’ll learn about the protected marshes, swamps, and rivers that make up this area. You’ll get a chance to see some of the amazing wildlife in this area including alligators, a variety of birds, even eagles, as well as reptiles. With more than 100,000 acres of beautiful wetlands, it’s hard not to be impressed with this natural habitat.
Head to the alligator capital of the world and learn more about these fascinating creatures. Get a chance to see alligators and crocodiles of all sizes, from babies, also known as grunts, to the 14-footers. Plus, there’s an aviary, petting zoo, animal shows, and zip line course. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon.
Main image: The author’s sons at Discovery Cove in Orlando, FL