Most vacationers know Orlando with its theme parks as a child-friendly travel destination for families, but few know that the city’s cultural offerings can easily keep up with those of larger metropolises. According to localcollegeexplorer, because of the creative environment, more than 360 arts societies and other cultural organizations have settled in Orlando. This is reflected in numerous museums, theatres, art galleries as well as music, dance and film events.
Art galleries and museums
CityArts Factory – With seven unique art galleries, Barnie’s Coffee Kitchen and the SAK Comedy Lab, CityArts succeeds in merging visual and performing arts. Located on Avalon Island in downtown Orlando, the art gallery features monthly rotating exhibitions and twice-monthly artist encounters.
Mennello Museum of American Art – Tucked away on the picturesque shores of Lake Formosa in Loch Haven Park, this museum features temporary exhibitions of American art of all genres and eras, including dedicated exhibitions and traveling exhibitions.
Orange County Regional History Center – Part of the Smithsonian, the History Center tells the rich 12,000 years of the region’s history through interactive exhibits, artifacts, archival materials and special events.
Orlando Museum of Art – The art museum features both traveling and permanent exhibitions of African and American art, as well as lectures, art seminars and children’s events.
Orlando Science Center – Located in 45 acres of Loch Haven Park near downtown Orlando, this science center promises fun for the whole family. Exciting exhibitions, film screenings on giant screens and live programs are offered on four floors.
Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts – Located in Eatonville, the oldest integrated African-American community in the United States, the museum celebrates the work of the local author and other artists of African descent.
Parks & Gardens
Blue Springs State Park – A natural manatee retreat, visitors can see the endangered animals up close and personal in the wild from mid-November through March.
Bok Tower Gardens – The gardens are located 91 meters above sea level on the highest point of the Florida peninsula. A total of 60 bells hang in the bell tower, the largest of which weighs about as much as eight cars stacked on top of each other.
Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens – Home to hundreds of rare and endangered species such as cheetahs, Amur leopards, Indian rhinos and some of the most venomous snakes on earth. Explore the terrain with the ZOOm Air Adventures zip line.
Harry P. Leu Gardens – Leu Gardens includes three miles of paved walkways, a butterfly garden, a tropical garden with a river, bamboo and palm gardens, and an 1880’s house that is now a museum. Admission is free on Mondays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. On the third month of the month stories for small children are told free of charge.
Wekiwa Springs State Park – The many refreshing springs in this national park are ideal for canoeing. In the park, visitors can also go boating, fishing, swimming, camping, hiking, picnicking, and visiting a natural history museum and exhibits at the park’s Nature Center.
Performing Arts & Entertainment
Bob Carr Performing Arts Center –Located in Downtown Orlando, the performance hall seats 2,518. The excellent acoustics make them ideal for concert, theatre, Broadway, symphony, ballet and opera performances as well as for conferences or meetings.
the dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts – In the heart of downtown Orlando is the $429 million Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, which will also host Broadway shows and ballet performances in the future. The arts center consists of three theaters: an opera house, a Broadway theater, and a 300-seat cabaret theater, as well as an outdoor plaza and banquet room.
Mad Cow Theater – Orlando’s premier professional theater performs both classical and contemporary plays and musicals.
Orlando Ballet – Central Florida’s only fully professional ballet company. Orlando Improv – The Improv Comedy Club and Dinner Theater returns to Orlando. The careers of dozens of well-known television and film stars have started here over the past forty years.