5 family-friendly places to visit in Orlando, Florida — beyond the theme parks

1. Ripley's Odditorium

Notice the name is "odditorium" instead of "auditorium." That alone should clue you in to the, well, oddness you can experience at Ripley's. Shrunken heads? Check. An authentic vampire killing kit? Check. A façade that looks like it's falling into a sinkhole? Check again. Ripley's Odditorium in Orlando is one of several Odditoriums around the U.S. and was started by Robert Ripley, who collected bizarre items from around the world during his career.

2. WonderWorks

Passersby around WonderWorks usually do a double take because the building looks like it's upside down. That wild-and-crazy look foreshadows what visitors will see and do inside, in what could be best described as an interactive science museum meets play area meets dinner theater. (Orlando attractions know how to pack a lot in one place.)

3. The Orlando Eye

Passengers on the Orlando Eye watch an interactive 4-D video about Florida and then board an air-conditioned capsule where they spend about 20 minutes viewing Central Florida from the 400-foot Ferris wheel.

4. Skeletons: Animals Unveiled

When you hear the phrase "skeleton museum," you may not think that's a place where you'd spend a fun few hours — but think again. Skeletons: Animals Unveiled, in the I-Drive 360 complex, features more than 400 animal skeletons and is only the second skeleton museum in the U.S., along with the Museum of Osteology in Oklahoma City. (The same family operates both enterprises.)

5. The World of Chocolate Museum

If you think chocolate should be a major food group, then this place is for you. Museum guides start off with a short intro on cacao (a plant from which chocolate is made) before showing you how chocolate has been enjoyed throughout the centuries.

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