Beyond Theme Parks: 4 Orlando Family Attractions
Most people associate an Orlando vacation with hitting theme parks like Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld. For those of us who already live here, we know there is plenty to do beyond those high-profile spots.
Check out these other options for families when heading to the United States to visit the Orlando area:
Orlando Science Center
If you're looking for an educational, and hands-on, experience for your kids then the Orlando Science Center is the perfect way to spend the day. This complex offers four floors of entertainment all geared toward a specific area of scientific research. From the exciting reptile exhibit to the exhilarating hands-on archaeological dig-site called DinoDigs, the Orlando Science Center has an exhibit that appeals to every age group and interest.
Admission is $20 for adults and $14 for children.
While the "City Beautiful" offers many man-made attractions, none are quite as charming, and old-school Florida, as Gatorland. Since 1949, this 110-acre wildlife preserve and entertainment destination has provided a unique and educational glimpse into one of Florida's most mysterious natural predators: the alligator. View gator habitats swarming with these dangerous reptiles or witness stuntmen feed leaping alligators with their bare hands during one of the live shows. Gatorland even presents visitors with the opportunity to glide over live-habitats filled with snapping alligators on the "Screamin' Gator Zip Line."
Admission is $27 for adults and $19 for children.
Take a step back in time to the age of King Arthur with an evening of thrilling sword-fighting competitions and daring stunts performed on horseback. This dinner theater experience pits knight against knight to become the king's champion. While Medieval Times isn't unique to the Orlando area, this location does offer one attraction that sets it apart from all its brothers: a carefully constructed medieval-style village. Visitors can explore this village which houses a realistic medieval torture chamber and a blacksmith shop where a real blacksmith is often seen crafting his wares in full costume.
Admission is $62 for adults and $37 for children, dinner included in price.
Take a much-deserved breather by visiting one of Orlando's best-kept secrets: the Harry P. Leu Gardens. Located just minutes from downtown Orlando, Leu Gardens is a year-round exhibit that makes for the perfect day trip for children and adults. Spread out over 50 acres of lush Florida landscape, visitors can take in all the wonder the gardens offer while learning valuable information pertaining to each plant's role in the ecosystem. Wild rose bushes, tropical philodendrons and exotic stalks of wild bamboo make up the cornucopia of sights to be seen at Leu Gardens.
Admission is $10 for adults and $3 for children.
Whether you're seeking the adventure of a medieval dinner show or the peace and quiet only nature can provide, Orlando has so much more to offer than crowded theme-parks and overpriced attractions. The items on this list are also great ways to supplement theme park plans, and save some money.
Remember that your family can also have a lot of fun just hanging out at the right resort. Check out the reservation specials that Orlando Westgate Resorts offer - with water park, dining, golf, spa options and more right on the property.
Katie Parsons lives in the Orlando area and works with Westgate Reservations and is the creator of parenting blog Mumbling Mommy.