Monday, April 14, 2014

Orlando Reality Check: Escaping the Theme Parks

The Space Shuttle Atlantis…baby alligators,  endangered manatees and even classes for budding artists.  There’s a lot more to see and do in and around Orlando than visit the theme parks.  
No need to settle for coasters on an Orlando vacation
Just ask kids and their parents who live here. Here’s just a sampling of what you can do outside the theme parks.

Our Family's Favorite Day Trip

The Kennedy Space Center is now home to the Space Shuttle Atlantis and a new $100 million exhibit. This is the place where kids can be an astronaut by operating the Astronaut Training Simulator, meet an astronaut, stand beneath the 36-story Saturn V moon rocket and walk through re-creations of modules used as part of the International Space Station.

Space Shuttle Atlantis has new home at Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Top Art Museum

The Orlando Museum of Art offers families special kid-friendly guides to interpret the exhibits and drop-in classes for kids. There are also special tours for those with special challenges. 

Best Nature and Eco-Activities


This is where the kids can milk a cow, cuddle a chick, go on a hayride, get up close to piglets, goats, sheep, and more.

Blue Spring State Park. Every winter, endangered Florida manatees flock to the Blue Spring waters, and this 2,600 acre state park is the place to learn all about them from the park rangers, have a picnic, go on a hike, fish, canoe or take a River boat tour. 

Boggy Creek Airboat Rides Race through swamps and across lakes, past turtles, native birds and even alligators.

 Video of Boggy Creek Airboat Rides

For Kids Who Love How Things Work

WonderWorks: Here’s your chance to put yourself in a giant bubble, play with an oversized version of lite brite, play a keyboard with your feet or leave your shadow behind. Kids—and parents love the “Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show” with all-you-can-eat pizza and salad.  

Orlando Science Center: Kids won’t want to leave when they can watch baby alligators, turtles and snakes at NatureWorks, unearth dinosaur fossils and replicas at DinoDigs and farm faux oranges and fix cars in the pint-sized KidsTown.  

The Science Center has regularly scheduled hands-on experiments for visitors to try together.

 And don't forget.  May is an especially good time to visit—great weather, deals and less people.

Guest post by Eileen  Ogintz, the author of the syndicated column Taking the Kids and the Kid’s Guide to Orlando, part of the Kid’s Guide Series from Globe Pequot Press

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