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what to do with a 3 year old in Orlando BESIDES Disney World/SeaWorld?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

My work may take me to Orlando in April with my DP and DD (who will then be 3 1/2). Disney World isn't our thing, and we're vegetarian/animal rights people who aren't into SeaWorld, either. But we live in a cold place and letting DD have the experience of going to Florida seems worth considering. What else might we/she enjoy doing in the Orlando area?

post #2 of 13

the beach is great, cocoa beach is about 40 mins away, but is touristy, much like daytone Beach, which is on the same coast (east). There are New Symrna, and places that are not as popoular, but equally as beautiful.

I LOVE Sanibel and captiva islands, which are far down on the west coast, about 4 hours drive from Orlando, but absolutely beautiful.They are known for their beautiful beaches, sunsets and shells.I have been many times.

St. Augustine is in the NE part of the state and is an historical town, touristy, but quaint and small.

Disney does have 2 water parks, Typhoon and blizzard. Typhoon is good for small children, ie younger than 8,9,10.I don't remember when you are going, or how old your child is, but is gets really humid, so to be by a pool or some sort of water is great.

I lived there 9 years ago, before children, so sorry if some suggestions are not good for you. Have fun though :)

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thanks for this! We'll be staying in Deland, so Cocoa Beach is pretty far, but New Symrna Beach is a good tip and only about a half hour away. Thanks for that. With a little one in the car, I think we'll probably want to stick with things about an hour from Deland.


I'll check out the Typhoon water park, too. Has anyone done it with a 3 year old? Is it worth the money at that age? DD tends to be a little tentative -- she likes swimming pools but spends most of her time sitting on the steps. Definitely not one of those kids who will jump in (at least not yet).


Anyone else have Orlando/Deland-area kid-friendly recommendations?

post #4 of 13

I've done Aquatica with my 3yr old (another water park), and the kids area is like a big playground that is wet with small slides.  Typhoon Lagoon is even more low key in the kids area.  Its all real shallow so they are just walking in knee deep or shallower water.  



Other things to do: 

Blue spring park - manatees swim around there that you can see sometimes.   http://www.floridastateparks.org/bluespring/


There are places to go kyaking which my ds really enjoys.  There are also a lot of parks around, you can hike/picnic and that kind of thing. 


Orlando science center is pretty fun. 


Puppet show: http://pinocchios.net/

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 

Oooh, good stuff! Keep it coming!


DD LOVES shows and would probably be really into the marionette theater.

post #6 of 13

I second the suggestion of the Orlando Science center- we went when my dd was 4, and she loved it.  It was a good indoor activity (we went on a rainy day) with lots of hands on kids stuff to explore.  http://www.osc.org/

post #7 of 13

Wow, DeLand! No one goes there ;) (I grew up in Orange City, the next town over.) I recommend Blue Spring, too. It is a gorgeous natural environment (at least the last time I was there). I don't know if it will be warm enough to swim, but the nature trail is really nice, and you can see the manatees this time of year. There's also a large playground on the road leading to the park.  In DeLand, on the western edge, is Hontoon Island State Park. I've not been in years, but I remember it as a kid as a place I just wanted to sit and watch the water and the trees.


I also highly recommend New Smyrna Beach over Daytona. Daytona has the boardwalk and beach driving, which is a novelty and neat, but the locals go to New Smyrna for a reason. If you like space stuff, I'd skip Cocoa Beach for the beach, but go to Kennedy Space Center.

post #8 of 13

My DH's grandma lived in DeLand, and one fun thing we did was go to the airport to watch skydivers and airplanes. It's very low-key. There's a playground and restaurant too, if I remember correctly. We went at the end of the day, and I'd go earlier rather than later if we did it again. Blue Springs is pretty awesome too.

post #9 of 13

We always go to Wekiva springs when we are there. 


post #10 of 13

I've done a lot of hiking there, it's gorgeous!


Originally Posted by Human_Being View Post

We always go to Wekiva springs when we are there. 


post #11 of 13
Gatorland? (kidding)

I would so go to cocoa beach if I was there. It is crowded but man it is nice. Wish I was there right now...cold.gif
post #12 of 13

I lived in Orlando for many years. :)


In DeLand, there's a place called Blue Springs Park where you can see the Manatees hang out if the water temp is below 68.  Even if it isn't, they are sometimes still there.  There's also a place called the Old Sugar Mill at DeLeon Springs (near there) where they have whole grain paincakes that you cook on the table in front of you.  You can add fruit, etc.  Last time I was there, they had veggie sausage too...but I don't know if they still have it.


Winter Park has swan boats which are nice.  There are a bunch of nice places to eat there as well.  


There's a great wooden playground in Winter Park as well.  It's called Lake Island Park.  Totally free.  It's about 5 minutes from Whole Foods.... 5 minutes from the big Chamberlin's (local health food chain).


The Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings in Winter Park is great fun too.  It's near the Train Depot.


Saw that you're staying in DeLand... not too far from there is a great park called Gemini Springs.  Can get there via 17-92 or I-4.  Really nice play area for kids.  Families reserve picnic areas on the weekends for parties as well.  There's an IHOP near by, so sometimes we go for pancakes and then let the kids burn off steam for an hour or two.  


The Sanford Zoo is pretty low-key, but nice... if you're OK with zoos.


If it rains...Chick-Fil-A has a great indoor playground.  There's also a nice one in Lake Mary on Lake Mary Blvd.


Oh and don't forget putt-putt (miniature) golf.  That's always fun with little ones. :)

post #13 of 13

Kennedy Space Center  


I've been dreaming of taking DS.  We did take him to the NASA center near Chinqoteague VA, when he was 2 yo.

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