Located five minutes or so from downtown, Loch Haven Park (900 E. Princeton St., 407/246-2287, 5 a.m.–sunset daily) is a far more rewarding destination, housing museums, theaters, and a science center on its expansive grounds.
The Mennello Museum of American Folk Art (407/246-4278, www.mennellomuseum.org , 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Tues.–Sat., noon–4:30 p.m. Sun., $4 adults, $3 seniors, $1 students, children under 12 free) is housed in a beautiful, lakefront mansion. Founded in 1998 primarily as an exhibition space for a clutch of Earl Cunningham paintings donated by local philanthropist Marilyn Mennello, the museum diligently strives to give folk artists the respect they deserve.
Cunningham’s works still form the centerpiece of the Mennello, but a wide variety of visiting exhibits make it an essential stop for fans of somewhat nontraditional art.
The Orlando Museum of Art (407/896-4231, www.omart.org , 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Tues.–Fri., noon–4 p.m. Sat.–Sun., $8 adults, $7 seniors, students, and military, $5 children 4–17, children 3 and under free) features a respectable collection of pre-Colombian artifacts and American artwork by the likes of John Singer Sargent and Georgia O’Keeffe.
The Orlando Museum of Art’s African art exhibit is truly remarkable, presenting as artwork an array of fabrics, beadwork, masks, and other items that many museums would treat as anthropological items.
After gawking at folk art and artifacts for a while, the kids in your posse will likely be tugging your arm, begging for a foray to the Orlando Science Center (407/514-2000, www.osc.org , 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Sun.–Fri., 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Sat., $17 adults, $16 seniors and students, $12 youth, children 2 and under free). Like many such interactive museums, the exhibits at the Orlando Science Center are part hands-on fun, part subtle science lesson.
The NatureWorks area is the most unique, with the complexities of various Florida  ecosystems explained and illustrated, often with live animals. (Yes, those are alligators.) Other exhibits dedicated to dinosaurs and fun demonstrations of scientific principles, as well as the IMAX theater and planetarium, will be familiar to anyone who has visited other kid-centric science museums.