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Culture Guide for Kids

Photo: iStock

Get your family cultured — and have fun doing it together — at one of these 16 places around Orlando.

Fostering a love of art early in life can have tremendous benefits for children: It boosts self-esteem, sparks curiosity, encourages creativity and requires critical thinking. However, as a parent, it may seem stressful to take your little ones to a museum exhibit or live performance. Luckily, here in Central Florida, we have lots of kid-friendly programs offering low-stress options for artsy kids and their parents. 

Check out these picks that strike the perfect balance between educational and exciting:  

Architecture

Maitland Art Center
Skip the playground and instead check out this National Historic Landmark in the heart of downtown Maitland. It’s dripping in art and history. Founded as an art colony back in 1937, families are free to tour the gardens and grounds for an up-close look at the signature Mayan Revival fantasy architecture. General admission for the Maitland Art Center is $6 for adults and $5 for kids. Plus, guided art gallery tours and youth classes are also available. 


Performing Arts

Orlando Ballet
Fairy tales and family favorites come alive on stage at the Orlando Ballet. To help prevent the youngest kiddos from getting antsy, the company limits its matinee performances to 60 minutes. Upcoming kid-friendly performances include The Jungle Book (October 7–10) and the annual rendition of The Nutcracker (December 3–5 and 16–19). Another unique aspect? The performances are sensory-friendly. These adjustments to sound and lighting effects, including keeping the house lights dimly on, are designed to create a comfortable environment for everybody. 

Orlando Shakes
This acclaimed local theater offers a variety of shows and experiences. While the Children’s Series has been canceled this season, PLAYGROUND got a sneak peek at the upcoming holiday production of A Christmas Carol. The classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his three ghosts comes to life on stage under the direction of one of Orlando’s premier musicians, Michael Andrew. The show runs from December 1–24. Tickets range from $32–$56.  

Orlando Repertory Theatre (The REP)
Consider yourself lucky to be raising kids near this home for outstanding children’s theater productions. Older children may enjoy The Secret Agency on October 23, an action-packed hip-hop performance that “blurs the lines between kids’ music, young adult narratives and universal storytelling.” Every princess will want tickets to The REP’s rendition of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella scheduled for November 12–December 19. Other programming includes Baby & Me, a class that’s full of sensory discovery, movement and music. Also, children between 2 and 3 years old will love Story Stroll, an outdoor journey filled with creative play. 

Kids Fringe Festival
This wouldn’t be an arts guide without mentioning one of the biggest theater art festivals in town! The Orlando Fringe Festival happens every spring. Kids Fringe offers a series of events for younger audiences, ranging from live performances to workshops to artistic activities. Past events have included a DJ experience, bracelet making and more. Also, a Winter Mini Fest is scheduled for January 2022. 


Visual Arts

Orlando Museum of Art
Even the youngest art lovers can stroll the galleries by attending the museum’s Stroller Tours program, a 1-hour guided tour designed for babies, toddlers and their caregivers on select Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. $12 covers one adult and up to four children. The museum also offers family workshops, mobile guides, art adventures and sketching in the galleries for older students. The museum holds Monthly Family Highlights Tours on the first Saturday of every month. 

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art 
This museum is best known for its beautiful collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany glass. While that might not sound very kid-friendly, the museum curators keep families in mind. The Create & Explore family program offers online materials about art history. Museum curators recommend families watch the video Louis Comfort Tiffany The Interior Decorator prior to coming to the museum. After their visit, families can then go home and redesign a room in their house together, taking inspiration from what they learned.

Mennello Museum Sculpture Garden; Photo: @withtheclarks

Mennello Museum of American Art 
Kids will love exploring the property’s sculpture garden and its iconic 350-year-old live oak tree dubbed “The Mayor.” Plus, the second Sunday of the month is Free Family Funday, which includes complimentary museum admission and a take-home art project for the first 20 children.  

Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens
Pack a picnic basket and spend an afternoon at the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens. The museum offers a scavenger hunt for children in the gardens. Families may also appreciate taking a guided tour of the historic home. Admission is $10 for adults, $3 for students K-12. Children ages 4 and under are free. 

Super Awesome Cool Pottery  
Get your creative juices flowing and your hands messy with a Family Potter’s Wheel Class. The experts at Super Awesome Cool Pottery will guide families through the process of creating a bowl from start to finish. The class is available for up to six people, ages 5 and up. The class is available by reservation only and costs $35 per person.

Enzian Theater
Teach kids to appreciate film as art with a Peanut Butter Matinee Family Film. The family-friendly shows take place on the fourth Sunday of the month and are free for kids ages 12 and under. Upcoming films include Matilda and The Wizard of Oz, but the best part arguably isn’t the movie: It’s that kids can build their own PB&J! Kids can choose from a menu offering different types of jelly, peanut butter and bread and lots of specialty toppings like Nutella, Marshmallow Fluff and banana. 

Photo: SNAP! Orlando

CITY UNSEEN
Tech-savvy families can get an interactive taste of modern art with SNAP! Orlando’s CITY UNSEEN Augmented Reality public art exhibition. Download the free CITY UNSEEN app and follow the map to experience fun digital art. The curators’ top picks? The floating pillows on Lake Eola and the portal door at Sam Flax. 


Music

Symphony Storytime 
The Orlando Philharmonic puts on this fun program that brings classic storybooks to life through music at Plaza Live. Kids can wiggle and dance while listening to their favorite fables through the sounds of various instruments. Tickets start at $10, and children ages 2 and under are free. 


Cultural Events

Dr. Phillips Center For The Performing Arts 
Get dressed up and head downtown to this venue that has several kid-friendly shows scheduled for this season:

  • Characters come to life at L.O.L. Surprise! Live on October 21. Beyond the show itself, there’s a Glam Club Pre-Show Party Pass that includes a Makeover Station, a #Hairgoals hair station, a trading card station, snacks, an exclusive gift and themed photo ops. 
  • Disney Princess fans can see their favorite stories on stage at Disney Princess – The Concert on November 9. This show has three VIP packages available that include things like princess karaoke, a costume contest and an exclusive meet & greet. Price and perks vary depending on which package you choose.
  • Young YouTube fans can see their favorite animators on stage when the popular Scribble Showdown returns November 19. Odd1sOut, JaidenAnimations, Domics and RubberNinja battle it out in this improvisational animation game show. Check out the exclusive pre-show Q&A with the artists. 
Immerse; Photo: @grizzleemartin

Immerse  
The most creative minds in Orlando get together to produce the best multi-day art experience we’ve seen in The City Beautiful! On October 15–17, explore 10 blocks of creative expression throughout the streets of downtown Orlando. You won’t want to miss a moment of this incredible event, which includes epic live performances, immersive art and creative encounters around every corner. Families might want to attend during Color Day on Sunday, October 17, where parents and kids become a walking canvas thanks to colored powder, paint and foam to play in. 

Asian Lantern Festival 
This November, the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens will transform at night into the Asian Lantern Festival: Into the Wild! See over 30 different, hand-constructed illuminated lanterns displayed around the zoo. Celebrate the art, beauty and wonder of traditional Asian lantern festivals. Guests of all ages can enjoy this unique event that requires a separate ticket from normal admission. Tickets must be purchased online. Limited tickets are available per night. Select dates November 19, 2021 through January 16, 2022, 6-10 p.m.

 

Written by
Amanda Green

Amanda Green is a native Floridian and mother of two. She enjoys writing about travel, family, adventure, and living the Florida lifestyle. Look for her next time you're outside exploring Central Florida's parks and trails.

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Written by Amanda Green

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