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Orlando may be distinguished for its thrilling theme park adventures and family entertainment, but tucked within the City Beautiful is a booming cultural view. Explore science, art, and history at one of the city’s top museums, and bring a picnic, as a some even boast some of the area’s most good grounds, serene lakes, and age-old oak trees. Great for art connoisseurs and families alike, these museums top the list of the ideal in Orlando. Here are the best museums in Orlando.
Get to know about the best museums in Orlando
Settled in the middle of the Mills 50 District in lovely Loch Haven Park, the Orlando Museum of Art nestles itself among age-old oak trees and sprawling green lawns, ideal for a picnic. Housing a different collection of art in all media, the museum prides itself on its modern emphasis on contemporary collections. At least 12 exhibitions, sure to appeal to any art fan, rotate through annually, and recently, the works of children’s book author-illustrator Eric Rohmann graced the walls of the museum as well as an exhibit brimming with paintings and artwork spanning over 200 years. Appreciate “Orlando’s Original Art Party” the first Thursday of every month from 6–9 P.M., complete with a cash bar and offerings from some of the excellent local cafés. Closed Mondays.
Experience roof-shattering winds of a Category 1 Hurricane, get up close and personal with some of Florida’s native inhabitants such as live alligators, or gaze at the Rings of Saturn with Florida’s largest publicly accessible refractor telescope when you spend the day visiting the Orlando Science Center.
With four floors of hands-on science beckoning visitors to explore, thrill seekers can instantly go to the depths of the ocean with sense-altering 3D movies in the astounding 8,000-square-foot (743-square-meter) Cinedome, while movie buffs can enjoy Hollywood films in a unique 3D experience. The Orlando Science Center offers an array of visiting exhibits and events as well, such as The Science of Wine and Science Night Live. The museum hosts free lectures throughout the year. Closed Mondays.
At the Orange County Regional History Center, you can experience life in Orlando, once known for its citrus farming and cattle, as it was long before Walt Disney famously set his sights on it. Travel through history in the restored 1927 brownstone courthouse, located in the heart of the city, and turn back the clock thousands of years to see how Florida’s indigenous people lived. Discover the life of early pioneers who slept on pillows stuffed with moss, or even step into modern times by visiting Courtroom B, the very place where notorious serial killer Ted Bundy allegedly carved his name into a desk as he sat on trial. The history center also offers other ongoing exhibits and educational events to the public.
Don’t be misled by the quaintness of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, which boasts over 5,000 objects and is the only teaching museum in Orlando. From European to American art, visitors can marvel at portraits from the likes of Louis-Michel van Loo to over 300 works in different media from international contemporary artists. If the free admission, tours, and interactive play stations aren’t reasons enough to visit, the museum sits within the picturesque architecture of Rollins College and is steps away from outdoor cafés and independent boutiques along Winter Park’s Park Ave.
Want to create history as appealing to children as it is to adults? Serving it up inside a renovated 1926 firehouse is a perfect start. The Orlando Fire Museum exhibition the history of the City Beautiful’s bravest along with an owner of old equipment that includes an array of active fire engines: LaFrance equipment from the early 1900s, a 1919 ladder truck and another from 1926 to name a few. Additional artifacts on display include helmets and other instruments along with lithographs. Volunteer guides here are left Orlando firefighters; they know their stuff. This vacant attraction is open on Friday and Saturday; contributions for its upkeep greatly appreciated.