3 Days in Orlando with Kids (Minus the Theme Parks): Itinerary From a Local Mom
Take an Orlando trip with Mommy Poppins! As a local (born and raised), I'm here to tell you that there is so much more to do in Orlando with kids beyond the theme parks. If you are visiting Orlando for a long weekend or quick trip and want to avoid the high costs and crowds associated with theme parks, we’ve compiled the perfect three-day itinerary for an Orlando trip with kids. And since the Florida weather can be unpredictable, we've included both outdoor and indoor attractions. Plus, if your kids are older and can hang after the sun has set, we've included evening entertainment options for your Orlando visit.
If you have more time to spend when you visit Orlando, use this list of 100 Things To Do in Orlando with Kids (Other than Theme Parks) to find more family-fun ideas! Looking for a place to stay? Check out our list of the best Orlando hotels for families.
Cool down at the gator-inspired splash pad at Gatorland. Photo by the author
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Day 1: Things to Do in South Orlando with Kids
Start off your Orlando trip with a visit to the Alligator Capital of the World, Gatorland. Gatorland has been a part of the Central Florida community since 1949, preceding even Disney World! In addition to thousands of alligators, this 110-acre attraction is also home to several species of crocodiles, wild cats such as bobcats and panthers, tortoises, birds, snakes, and a petting farm. Be sure to also include one of the fun and educational gator shows into your visit. For those who like a thrill, grab add-on tickets for the Screamin’ Gator Zipline, where you can soar over 130 giant alligators in the breeding marsh!
It's always a good time to make and share art at the Crayola Experience Orlando. Photo courtesy of Crayola
The Florida Mall is a fantastic option for indoor fun in Orlando! Housed inside the Florida Mall is Crayola Experience Orlando, bursting with colorful interactive exhibits and play areas for kids. Crafty kids will enjoy making their own custom crayons, creating spin-art masterpieces, and posing for personalized coloring pages. After all that creativity, kids can burn some energy on the two-story Color Playground. There is also a smaller playground area for babies and toddlers. Eat lunch at Cafe Crayola within the attraction or venture to the mall's food court with a variety of options for all taste buds.
Just outside of Crayola Experience is the Florida Mall Play Park, a FREE indoor play area for kids. If your child loves dolls or stuffed animals, a visit to the American Girl store or Build-A-Bear is a must! Older kids and teens will love Game Park arcade and Space Battle air-soft BB shooting range.
Want to get a taste of the Disney experience at a fraction of the cost? Visit Disney Springs! Browse the Lego store, World of Disney, Star Wars Trading Post, and many other fun shops. Enjoy an immersive dinner experience at either the Rainforest Cafe or T-Rex Restaurant, and end the night with a game of bowling at Splitsville Luxury Lanes.
Day 2: Things to Do Near Downtown Orlando with Kids
Orlando is home to beautiful waterways, and you don't have to venture far to find them! Explore the Winter Park Chain of Lakes on a Scenic Winter Park Boat Tour, paddle the waters of Lake Eola on a swan boat, or rent a paddleboard or kayak for a fun day on the water. During these water adventures you may catch a glimpse of native Florida wildlife such as alligators, manatees, otters, birds, and more.
Visit Orlando Science Center and spend time in the Kinetic Zone exhibit. Photo by the author
Spend hours of family time at the Orlando Science Center, featuring four floors of interactive exhibits and experiences that make learning fun! Kids 7 and under can explore the KidsTown exhibit, which houses five separate play zones; older kids can design and build along with mentors in The Hive Makerspace, exclusively for ages 8 and up. Learn all about earth sciences in the Our Planet exhibit, and dig for fossils in the DinoDigs area. A brand new Life exhibit, featuring live animals showcasing three distinct environments –ocean, rainforest, and swamp–is coming soon.
Snap photos with beloved celebrities and sports heroes at Madame Tussauds at ICON Park. Photo by the author
No visit to Orlando is complete without checking out International Drive. Known as I-Drive, this area is packed with fun destinations, most of which are family-friendly.
The ICON Park entertainment complex boasts rides, attractions, shops, and restaurants. See the sights of Orlando from 400 feet in the air aboard The Wheel at ICON Park, pose with your favorite celebrity or character at Madame Tussauds wax museum, and get up close to turtles, sharks, and more sea creatures at Sea Life Orlando indoor aquarium. Grab dinner at Yard House and a sweet treat at Sugar Factory before you leave.
Also on I-Drive, you can’t miss the iconic, upside-down building known as WonderWorks. This indoor attraction features three levels of Wonder Zones, including over 100 hands-on exhibits designed to spark the imagination. For a fun dinner experience, book reservations for The Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show, housed inside WonderWorks.
Day 3: Fun Day Trips From Orlando with Kids
If visiting during the warm months (which, luckily, is most of the year in Orlando), relaxing at a Florida beach is a must! We’ve rounded up our favorite beaches within a few hours from Orlando, from the coastal breezes of the Atlantic to the calmer waters of the Gulf, so pick your favorite and plan a day at the beach. If you don’t want to venture that far, still have a great day on the water at one of these Central Florida natural springs or an inflatable water park.
Kennedy Space Center is out of this world! Photo courtesy of the center
Another amazing day trip idea (and mostly indoor) is the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. There is something for all ages at this NASA-themed attraction, from the multi-level Planet Play indoor playground, to the brand new Gateway Deep Space Launch Complex. There are also several dining options within the complex, so no need to leave for lunch. Guests can even take a bus tour, which allows exclusive access to otherwise restricted areas of the complex.
RELATED: Best Day Trips from Orlando for Families
Start your meal off with something light and fresh at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Photo courtesy of the restaurant
End your Orlando visit at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk. Enjoy a round of miniature golf, dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. or The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, and dessert at the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium. You can also catch a new release movie on one of 20 big screens with reclining seating at the Universal Cinemark movie theater.