Central Florida's Hidden Gems: Kid-Friendly Adventures Beyond the Mouse Ears

Published on 12 October 2023 at 21:32

Central Florida offers a treasure trove of family-friendly destinations beyond the well-known theme parks. If you're tired of the same old theme park routine and fancy a change of pace, Central Florida has more up its sleeve than just oversized mouse ears and wizardry. Gather the little ones, load up the minivan, and let's explore the not-so-hidden treasures in the heart of the Sunshine State.

1. The Quest for Citrusy Treasure: Ready to embark on a quest for nature's treasure? Look no further than the citrus groves sprinkled across Central Florida. Spend a day plucking juicy oranges at one of the many U-pick citrus farms. Kids love the thrill of filling up their bags, and you'll depart with a tasty haul for your breakfast table. 

2. Dinosaur World: Now, this one's a bit Jurassic! At this prehistoric playground in Plant City, you can roam among over 200 life-sized dinos all nestled in a lush garden.

3. Gatorland: Located in Orlando, Gatorland is a wildlife park and alligator breeding marsh. Kids can get up close and personal with these prehistoric creatures and enjoy live shows.


4. Ziplining Over Safari Wilderness: Ever wondered what it's like to zip line past zebras and witness giraffes from the treetops? Well, Safari Wilderness in Lakeland offers precisely that! 

5. Fairytale Castles and Pirate Ships: Hop on over to Safety Harbor, where Philippe Park hides a delightful secret. In the shade of ancient oak trees, you'll discover the whimsical Ruins, an enchanting spot for little dreamers to explore. Or, if your crew has a taste for salty air, St. Augustine beckons with an enchanting Pirate Ship playground that'll have them searching for buried treasure.

6. Adventure on the Wekiva River: Take a dip into Florida's wild side on a canoe or kayak trip down the Wekiva River. Expect to see lots of wildlife – manatees, otters, and a parade of waterfowl will provide a watery welcome you won't forget. Just don't forget the sunscreen.

7. Airborne History at Fantasy of Flight: Located in Polk City, Fantasy of Flight offers an engaging glimpse into the world of vintage aircraft. Step back in time as you explore impressive collections and watch awe-inspiring aerial performances. 

8. Leu Gardens: The Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando is a stunning 50-acre botanical garden. Kids will love exploring the various gardens, including the butterfly garden and tropical rainforest collection.


9. Silver Springs State Park: Located in Ocala, Silver Springs State Park offers glass-bottom boat tours that allow you to see the underwater life of the springs. It's a unique and educational experience for kids.

10.Bok Tower Gardens: Situated in Lake Wales, Bok Tower Gardens is a tranquil and beautiful place to visit with kids. Explore the gardens, have a picnic, and listen to the beautiful carillon music from the Singing Tower.

11. Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens: Located in Sanford, this zoo features a variety of animals, a splash park, and a fun children's area.

12. Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards: In Clermont, you'll find the Lakeridge Winery, which offers tours and tastings. While it may not seem like a kid-friendly place at first, they often have family-friendly events with live music and food.

13. Exploration Tower: Located at Port Canaveral, the Exploration Tower offers interactive exhibits about space exploration and the area's history. Plus, it provides a great view of the harbor and cruise ships.

14. DeLeon Springs State Park: Near Deland, this state park is famous for its pancakes. You can cook your own pancakes on griddles at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant, and then enjoy outdoor activities like swimming and hiking.

15. Historic Downtown Mount Dora: This charming town is known for its picturesque streets, boutique shops, and lakefront parks. It's a delightful place for a family day trip.

These lesser-known places in Central Florida offer a break from the usual theme park crowds and provide unique experiences for families with kids. Whether you're interested in nature, history, or simply having a relaxing day out, Central Florida has something to offer for everyone.

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