Orlando is a family-friendly city, with plenty to keep you entertained! Here are over 30 things to do in Orlando during your family’s vacation.
As someone who has lived in Central Florida for most of my life – I’m not a native, but then who is? – I feel I’ve got a decent handle on at least some of the fun things to do in Orlando! Orlando is a huge city! And for me, it’s kinda divided up into Disney (which in my mind includes all the theme parks), I-Drive (touristy area) and Downtown (local-ish fun). There are a few outlier areas to mention, but we’ll get to that.
I’m Becki from A Book Lover’s Adventures, and I guide book lovers on adventures as we explore the world together one book at a time. If heading to Orlando is only a dream at this point, I’ve got you covered with all these awesome books set in Florida!
But, if you are heading to Florida you’ll want to check out these fun things to do in Orlando! As you’ll see, Orlando is a very family-friendly city, so if you’re bringing the family down for a vacation, there’s plenty to keep you entertained!
Amusement parks in Orlando
Orlando is known for its theme parks, so I may as well start here. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Orlando, these will definitely fit the bill. But, be warned, the theme parks are pretty expensive!
Disney and Universal are, of course, the best-known amusement parks in Orlando, but there are a few more you might be interested in also.
Walt Disney World
The Magic Kingdom
The Magic Kingdom is the icon of the Disney parks, and probably the best known of the fun things to do in Orlando. Cinderella’s Castle has filled many young kids’ dreams for years! This park open right before we moved to Florida, so we were able to see it at the beginning. And wow, has it grown over the years! This park is perfect if you have kids. It’s a long hard day though, so plan your time accordingly.
TIP 1: Come early and leave in the middle of the day to get a rest time in if you have young kids.
TIP 2: If your kids are a little older, they would probably enjoy playing the interactive Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. Stop by the Firehouse on Mainstreet USA and get your free beginner set of cards and instructions.
Epcot (Disney’s Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) is a very different park than the Magic Kingdom. It is considered a more “adult” park though there are things for kids to do. Epcot also always has a special event going on. Two of the more popular are the Wine & Food Festival (held in the Fall) and the International Flower & Garden Festival (held in the Spring) are very popular and worth your time.
TIPS: As with the Magic Kingdom, Epcot has a game for kids to play to make the park more interactive. Agent P’s World Showcase Adventure will take your family all through the World Showcase looking for clues to stop Dr. Doofenshmirtz evil scheme.
Star Wars is definitely the star of the show at Hollywood Studios! With their recently opened Galaxy’s Edge, you can walk through places from the movies. It’s gotten great reviews from Star Wars fans, so if you love Star Wars, you will definitely want to check it out! There are rides and shows and characters from Disney and Pixar’s different movies scattered throughout the park.
TIPS: Plan ahead of time where you want to spend your time and get there early. Hit the shows in the middle of the day when temperatures are on the rise!
Animal Kingdom is like going to a really cool, amped up zoo. There are some thrill rides here, but there are also rides that take you through the animal parks. You can make arrangements to have up-close experiences with animals. You usually have to sign up several months ahead of time, but you can have some really unique experiences. Here is a 1 Day Animal Kingdom Itinerary.
TIPS: Some of the rides will get you wet, so bring a poncho if it’s a nice day!
Typhoon Lagoon is a fun water park with a tropical feel. There is a surf pool, water slides, a lazy river and much more to do here.
Disney has more than one waterpark. Blizzard Beach is another really well done water park with a little bit of everything.
Shopping, dining and entertainment! That’s what you’ll find at Disney Springs. With over 100 shops like the Lego store, 60 dining spots, and 21 different shows and events, you will surely find something to do here. Some of our favorites are the T-Rex Cafe and Splitsville.
Universal Orlando Resort
The biggest draw at Universal is the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This has continued to grow and improve over the years and has become a mecca for Harry Potter fans. Diagon Alley is located in Universal Studios. The best ride here is Escape from Gringotts. When you’ve finished your time at Universal Studios, hop on the Hogwarts Express and head over to Islands of Adventure!
TIPS: The line for Gringotts get long quickly, so head there first then do your walking around once that’s out of the way.
Islands of Adventure
Of all the fun things to do in Orlando, Islands of Adventure is probably my favorite. Along with the Wizarding World, you will also find Suess Landing – big fun for little kids, Marvel Super Hero Island – the Spiderman ride is awesome, Toon Lagoon – fun, but bring a poncho for the rides. You’ll find Hogsmeade in the Wizarding World on this side along with the Hogwarts Castle. The Three Broomsticks is a great place to eat, and try to catch some of the shows.
TIPS: Like with the Gringotts ride, the Hogwarts ride line gets really long really quickly. So, head there first if this is what you really want to do. You can also get a tour through the castle without going on the ride!
Volcano Bay is fun place to unwind and splash around after your hectic days at the parks. Relax on the beach or have fun on the rides. You can rent a cabana or just hang out on the shore.
Universal’s City Walk
Shopping, dining, and entertainment! You can eat at Jimmy Buffet’s restaurant, watch the Blue Man Group perform, or catch the latest movie. There’s also a Voodoo Donuts!
Seaworld is a marine zoological park. A marine rescue center and a theme park! There are a lot of really interesting animals to see, shows to watch, and you can have interactive experiences too! You can dine surrounded by whales or sharks! A very different experience from the other amusement parks in Orlando!
TIPS: If you want to have an interactive animal experience, you will need to make arrangements online prior to your visit. Also, Seaworld has been certified as an Autism Center.
Discovery Cove is a Day Resort. For your price of admission, you can stay all day and enjoy the amenities included with your resort stay. Included is all-day snacks and drinks (including alcohol), breakfast and lunch, feeding birds, swimming with fish. For an upgrade, you can have a dolphin experience unlike anything else! A truly unique experience!
Seaworld has it’s own waterpark in Orlando, Aquatica. It has an amazing play area for kids.
This 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve is a must-see! This privately owned park began over 70 years ago. Along with alligators, you will also see birds, snakes, turtles and wildcats. The shows are worth your time to see. Also, there are zip lines to try and night shows!
Holy Land Experience
The Holy Land Experience is a living, biblical museum and park that brings the world of the Bible to life! It combines the sights and sounds of the biblical world in a unique and interactive way, unlike any other location!
Things to do on I Drive
International Drive is a whole tourist destination outside the theme parks! There are so many fun things to do in Orlando, and I Drive has a lot of them! heck, you may not even need the theme parks, lol! But seriously, with its location right near everything you’ll want to do in Orlando, it’s a great place to spend the day.
ICON Orlando (formerly the Orlando Eye)
This is the tallest observation wheel on the East Coast. On a clear day, you can see the Kennedy Space Center and the Space Coast! This interactive ride is unique and will give you a wonderful view of Central Florida!
Madame Tussauds Orlando
The famous Madame Tussauds Wax Museum where you can see your favorite people both current and historical in life-size wax replicas. From superheroes, to all the James Bonds, to Justin Beiber! You can see them all!
SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium
A fascinating aquarium right in the middle of everything. Make sure you go through the 360 Tunnel and be surrounded by fish, sharks, turtles and even eels. And check out the Jelly Fish wall! The colors will astound you!
SKELETONS: Museum of Osteology
A museum of skeletons! Such a unique experience. Over 500 real skeletons in dioramas that will give you a whole new appreciation of the animal kingdom!
WonderWorks has 100+ hands-on science exhibits plus laser tag, a ropes course & a 6D motion ride. Something for everyone, for sure!
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Orlando
A museum of oddities! Filled with strange, unique and curious exhibits! Get your picture taken with the world’s tallest man. Check out a real shrunken head. Make your own wax hand.
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition
This museum is dedicated to the Titanic. With artifacts and recreations of the ship and guided tours.
Coco Key Hotel & Water Park
When you stay at the Coco Key Hotel, you will receive 4 free water park tickets daily during your stay. With 14 water slides, a huge arcade and a tiki bar, this is fun for the whole family!
Fun Spot America
This amusement park has so much to do! Bumper cars, tilt-a-whirl, a Ferris Wheel, an arcade, a midway and so much more!
The Escape Game
Escape Rooms are a fun way to spend your time. Match your wits against 6 immersive adventures, and see if you can solve the mystery and escape. With difficulty levels range from 6/10 to 9/10, there is sure to be a game that challenges you!
Chocolate Museum & Cafe
Tour the museum and learn all about chocolate. Where it comes from and how it’s made. Check out the sculptures made from chocolate. Learn about wine parings. Then sit in the cafe and have some delicious bites!
The fastest indoor go-kart track around! Buckle up and get ready for some fast fun!
Things to do in Downtown Orlando
Away from the touristy, theme park area south of here, downtown offers visitors a completely different take on entertainment! The fun things to do in downtown Orlando offer history, nature and the arts!
Dr. Phillips Center
A beautiful venue for concerts and shows. It’s worth checking online to see what’s going on at this venue if something worthwhile is going on while you’re here.
SAKS Comedy Club
A fantastic improv comedy club. A fun way to spend an evening – good, clean fun! My kids love going here, so it’s family-friendly too!
Grand Bohemian Hotel
A beautiful luxury hotel in the midst of downtown. Whether you stay there or not, their restaurant Boheme is wonderful and worth making a reservation for! If you happen to be catching a show at Dr. Phillips, this is a great place to start your evening.
Lake Eola Park
This public park is located downtown and hosts many events throughout the year. Whether anything is going on or not, it is nice to walk around or rent one of the paddle boats and go out on the water.
Downtown Ghost Tour
Choose from either the 2-hour tour or the ultimate 4-hour tour. The Downtown Orlando tour is our longest and most requested tour. It includes history, ghost stories and a brief investigation INSIDE some of our most haunted buildings in downtown. Guests will be issued ghost hunting equipment and of course, they can bring their own to the investigation. This is an ongoing investigation for our team and no two tours are ever alike! The tour is great for all ages and is open year-round.
Wells’ Built Museum
Previous the Wells Built Hotel, this building was converted into the Wells Built Museum of African American History and Culture.
Dr. William Monroe Wells built the hotel and a nearby entertainment venue for African Americans visiting Orlando. During the Segregation era, this hotel served as host to several now-famous African American performers. On February 4, 2000, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Things to do in Orlando
You can see why Orlando is one of the most visited cities in the world! Each year Orlando gets over 68 million visitors, will you be one of them? Because there are so many fun things to do in Orlando, we know how to entertain and amuse guests. So, whether you choose to have a magical time in the theme parks or get to know Orlando a little better, we have it all waiting for you!
Guest Author: Becki is the author and host of A Book Lover’s Adventures, a literary & travel blog. She has spent her life in libraries and traveling with her husband and two teens. These days, as a caregiver for her mother, adventures come more from the pages of a book than airplanes.