While you can easily visit the Orlando area and only visit theme parks, there’s so much in the city beyond the parks. Family fun can be found beyond Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World. International Drive, the main street in Orlando, is filled with restaurants, shops, and activities. Here are some of the best things to do on International Drive Orlando with kids.
Disclosure: We have visited the Orlando area dozens of times – sometimes as part of press trips and sometimes on our own. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. A purchase and/or click through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us.
Things to Do on International Drive Orlando with Kids
International Drive has changed so much over the years. I remember staying there with family when I was younger. While it was always a busy street, it has gotten busier over the years.
If you are interested in including the things to do on International Drive into your family vacation plans, you can either stay at the parks and drive over to the area or stay on International Drive and drive/take a shuttle over to the parks.
Orlando ICON Park
Orlando ICON Park is one of the newer I-Drive attractions. It started with the Orlando Eye observation wheel, which is now known as the Wheel. Rides on the Wheel run for 23 minutes and go 400 feet in the air.
Tickets to the Wheel are available for individual purchase or as part of a combination ticket with other ICON Park attractions. There are also specialty tickets that include the Sky Bar where you can have a drink while on the Wheel.
Another popular ICON Park attraction is the Orlando StarFlyer. This high swing goes up 450 feet and rotates 360 degrees at 45 mph. While I wasn’t able to go on the StarFlyer during my recent Orlando trip, I wished I had. It looks so fun.
There’s also the SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium, part of the SEA LIFE Aquarium chain (see our review of the SEA LIFE Aquarium Arizona). This indoor aquarium offers animal exhibits including a 360-degree ocean tunnel.
This would be a great option for a rainy day, or if you want to get out of the sun for a bit. Tickets can be purchased in advance and are also available as part of a combo ticket.
If you want to do some “celebrity” spotting, you’ll also find Madame Tussauds Orlando. This museum of wax figures is also indoors, so it’s another way to get out of the rain or sun.
The Orlando ICON Park also includes other attractions, including the Pearl Express Train, Arcade City, and the 7D Dark Ride Adventure. The park also offers shops and restaurants.
There are lots of restaurants and quick service spots at ICON Orlando. From the Outback Steakhouse to the Shake Shack, you’ll be able to find something that your family enjoys. If you are just looking for a treat or a quick snack, there’s also the Wheelhouse Market with food stalls, the Sugar Factory, and Ben and Jerry’s.
You can get a discount on ICON Park tickets, including combo tickets at Best of Orlando.
In addition to ICON Park, there are other attractions on and near I-Drive.
The Main Event
This indoor entertainment complex is a small chain with a location right on International Drive. While I haven’t been to this specific location, I have visited a Main Event location elsewhere.
At the Orlando location, you’ll find bowling, a ropes course, arcade games, pool, and virtual reality. Bowling can be booked online in advance and might be a good idea for rainy days or excessively hot days.
Within the building, you’ll also find a full-service restaurant if you get hungry while playing.
Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
This fun, kitschy museum isn’t a must-do, but it can definitely be fun. The Orlando location is 10,000 square feet and includes lots of strange and odd exhibits.
Tickets are available for purchase in person or online. If you buy them online, you’ll get a discount and can skip the purchase line when you arrive. Expect it to take about an hour to go through, so you can also combine a visit here with other things to do on International Drive.
Dave and Buster’s
You’ll also find a location of the popular Dave and Buster’s entertainment complex right on International Drive. It’s a great place to visit if you are trying to avoid the rain or heat. You’ll also find a sports bar with food within the arcade.
Fun Spot America has two locations in Central Florida, including one right in Orlando off I Drive. Activities at this amusement park include roller coasters and other thrill rides, bumper boats, a splash pad, and more.
Even if you are in Orlando to visit the theme parks, you may want to venture outside the parks for a dinner show. You’ll find several options right on International Drive.
The Pirate’s Adventure Dinner is right off I-Drive on Carrier Drive. I haven’t visited the Orlando location but did go to the one in Buena Park. It’s a fun show with acrobatics, singing, drama, and an exciting pirate-themed showdown.
There’s also Mango’s Tropical Cafe, the Titanic Dinner Event, and the Rock Dinner Show at Orlando Forum. Some of these may not be appropriate for younger kids, so I recommend that you review details about the shows before purchasing tickets.
On International Drive, you’ll find a variety of different shops, including gift shops, outlets, and specialty shops.
The Pointe Orlando complex includes restaurants and shops in one area. Shops include jewelry, clothing, and boutique-style shops.
There’s also the Orlando International Premium Outlets, where you can find lots of great bargains. One of the most unique shops within the Orlando International Premium Outlets is the Disney Character Warehouse.
Disney fans will love this outlet, which is filled with merchandise from the Disney Parks and Disney Cruise Line. The selection constantly changes, so if you are in the area it’s worth stopping by to see what is available.
If you forgot anything on your vacation, chances are, you’ll be able to find it somewhere on International Drive.
Restaurants on International Drive
As you drive down International Drive, you’ll find dozens of chain restaurants that offer affordable family dining. Tucked within the chains are independent restaurants.
During my recent visit, I really enjoyed dinner at Mia’s Italian Kitchen. This authentic Italian restaurant offers Italian specialties as well as items that kids will enjoy, like meatballs and flatbreads.
Regardless of your family vacation budget, you will likely find some perfect restaurants on International Drive.
Hotels on International Drive
Most hotel chains have at least one location on or near International Drive in Orlando.
During my most recent stay in Orlando, I stayed at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando International Drive Convention Center. This all-suite hotel is a great option for families who are looking for a little more space as well as kid-friendly amenities.
This particular hotel offers both indoor and outdoor pools. The indoor pool is especially unique and is a good option for rainy days.
Like all Embassy Suites, the International Drive location offers a full, complimentary breakfast. You’ll find things like cook to order eggs and omelets, fruit, bacon, scrambled eggs, pancakes, pastries, and yogurt.
The hotel also offers an evening reception that includes discounted and complimentary beverages and snacks.
Rooms are great for families. The room I had including a separate king bedroom, a living room with pullout couch, a wet bar, a microwave, a refrigerator, and a table. While you wouldn’t be able to cook a whole meal in this room, you could buy snacks to keep in the room.
In addition to the activities located right on International Drive, there are lots of other activities and attractions that are nearby. These include the Crayola Experience, I-Drive NASCAR, TopGolf, and Andretti Indoor Karting & Games.
I Ride Trolley
If you don’t have a car on your Orlando vacation, or don’t want to worry about driving and parking, the I Ride Trolley may be a good option. This trolley goes up and down International Drive and makes stops at many popular attractions.
Tickets can be purchased either for an individual ride, or you can purchase a pass. Note that passes are not offered on the trolley, so you’ll need to buy them at one of these locations in advance.
There are maps online that show the various stops the trolleys make, so you can plan in advance.
Have you visited International Drive? What did you do there?