When you visit Orlando, you think about Disney vacations or Universal Studios Orlando, you may not think “museums” — the lovely selection of quality museums is often overlooked in favor of the area’s huge tourist attractions. If you are looking for something educational and fun to do on your Orlando vacation, then one of these local museums is just what you need.
Visiting Museums in Orlando
There are several great reasons to visit museums in Orlando. If you love history or art, you’ll find plenty to explore here. You’ll also enjoy being away from the crazy crowds that flock to the major theme parks – the museums tend to be quieter destinations with calmer crowds.
A museum trip is a great way to add an educational component to your trip, whether you are traveling with kids or simply want to learn something new yourself. Best of all, many of the area museums offer free or inexpensive admission, so you can have a fun outing for a minimal cost – something that is hard to come by in the Orlando area!
Our Favorite Orlando Museums
Here are a few of our favorite art and history museums in Orlando, with a brief description of what each one has to offer. Click on the links for more detailed information about each attraction, including hours, fees, if any and tips to help you figure out which museums you’ll likely enjoy most.
Kennedy Space Center
The Space Center is home to an IMAX theater, interactive NASA simulators and plenty of space-themed memorabilia and attractions. You’ll find plenty of astronaut and space themed fun here, and can easily make a day out of a Space Center visit.
Orange County History Center
Restored in 1927, the original Orange County Courthouse is ranked as the top museum in Orlando, and it’s easy to see why. If you want to learn more about how Orlando grew from a little citrus town into the huge metropolis it is today, you should head to the history center. The center offers 5 floors of collections and exhibits and has many hands-on educational activities.
Orlando Museum of Art (OMA)
The Orlando Museum of Art is a must see for fine are fans – from the 20 foot glass sculpture that marks the entrance to one of the largest collections of African art in the South, you’ll find plenty to see and appreciate at OMA
Orlando Science Center
From weather activities to flight simulators and everything in between, the Orlando Science Center is a favorite destination for school groups and home schoolers. Exhibits, a planetarium and a nice variety of hands-on activities keep families coming back year after year.
Water Ski Hall of Fame
This wonderful attraction is located on Lake Grew half way between Orlando and Tampa, just 30 minutes South of Disney World. The Water Ski Hall of Fame and the Water Ski Educational Foundation are housed in the same building.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
This will likely be the oddest museum you’ve ever seen – and may even be one of the most bizarre and memorable places you go on your Orlando vacation. The “Odditorium” is easy to spot – just look for the building that seems to be sinking into the ground. Housed inside is a wacky collection of oddities, from a two headed cow to a dryer lint portrait of the Last Supper (really!). Kids and adults with a love for offbeat destinations will love Ripley’s!
Harry P. Leu Gardens
One of Orlando’s most beautiful destinations, the 50 acre park that makes up the Gardens includes a Butterfly Garden, constantly rotating and changing art exhibits, an art gallery and shop, and the Leu House Museum. Learn about horticulture and art in a natural setting, and enjoy an oasis of calm in the busy city of Orlando.
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art
If breakables make you nervous, this may not be the place for you! This fascinating art museum hosts the largest and most complete Tiffany collection, so expect to see a lot of exquisite glasswork and jewelry. This is a great destination for the art inclined or for folks who want to learn more about Tiffany glass, but is not a family friendly destination.