Orlando, situated in central Florida, covers more than 100 square miles and is a sought-after vacation destination for many, attracting greater than 50 million tourists each year. If you live in the Orlando area or are planning a trip there with your children, you'll find plenty of exciting family activities to keep everyone happy and busy.
One big draw for Orlando is the amazing theme parks that are located there. You could take your kids for a day at Universal Studios (universalorlando.com), where your family can enjoy thrilling rides, like the Simpsons Ride, Revenge of the Mummy, E.T. Adventure and Woody Woodpecker's Nuthouse Coaster. Take in one of the shows while you're there, such as "A Day in the Park with Barney" or "Animal Actors on Location." Alternatively, head over to one of the Walt Disney World parks (disneyworld.disney.go.com). At Magic Kingdom your children can ride the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad or splash and play in the Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station. You can also enjoy parades, fireworks and concerts and meet your favorite Disney characters.
Enjoy a sunny day in central Florida by spending the day at one of the area water parks. At Wet 'n Wild (no website; 6000 Universal Boulevard, Orlando; 407-363-8000) your children can play the day away at Blastaway Beach, a kids' water play area with slides, kids' pools and interactive water spray features. Your older kids can check out the bigger water slides and rides, like The Storm, Disco H20 and Bomb Bay. As another option, spend the day at Aquatica (aquaticabyseaworld.com), where visitors can float down the Loggerhead Lane lazy river, race on the Roa's Rapids and go through Tassie's Twisters. Walkabout Waters covers 15,000 square feet and is packed with activities for kids, like spray features, rope bridges and slides. Your kids might also enjoy Kata's Kookaburra Cove, where you'll find a beginner body slide, kids water rides and plenty of spraying water to keep you cool.
Make plans to visit the Central Florida Zoo (centralfloridazoo.org) to meet some of the 400-plus critters that live there. In the Animal Adventure Children's Zoo, your kids can meet and feed sheep, llamas, alpacas and goats. Step inside the Herpetarium to check out an assortment of reptiles and amphibians. While you're there, take a ride on the railroad, play on the KABOOM playground or go 'round and 'round on the carousel. You could also meet and learn about an array of animals at Sea World Orlando (seaworldparks.com). Sit down and enjoy one of the amazing shows, such as "Pets Ahoy" or "Elmo and Abby's Treasure Hunt." Get up close with some of the animals with the Dolphins Up-Close Tour or Sea Lions Up-Close Tour. Make your way through exhibits like the Dolphin Nursery, Shark Encounter, Wild Arctic and the Stingray Lagoon.
Turn a day of fun into a learning experience by visiting the Orlando Science Center (osc.org). Your family can explore this amazing facility, enjoying exhibits like Adventures with Clifford, NatureWorks, Science Park, KidsTown and DinoDigs. Participate in programs at the science center, such as early childhood workshops and science competitions. Learn all about space exploration at the Kennedy Space Center (kennedyspacecenter.com). The Shuttle Launch Experience will give your family an idea of what it is like to strap into a real space shuttle and launch into space. Other exhibits include Exploration Space, the Children's Play Dome, Hubble Telescope Exhibit and the Rocket Garden. Special events take place throughout the year at the Kennedy Space Center, like visits with real astronauts.