Orlando may be well known for its thrilling theme park adventures and family fun, but tucked within the City Beautiful is a booming cultural scene. Explore art, science, and history at one of the city’s top museums, and bring a picnic, as a few 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 best in Orlando.
Get to know about top museums to visit in Orlando
Located in the heart of the Mills 50 District in beautiful Loch Haven Park, the Orlando Museum of Art nestles itself among age-old oak trees and sprawling green lawns, perfect for a picnic. Housing a diverse collection of art in all media, the museum prides itself on its recent emphasis on contemporary collections. At least 12 exhibitions, sure to appeal to any art lover, 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 exhibition brimming with paintings and artwork spanning over 200 years. Enjoy “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 best 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. Check out their website for information.
Fans of Tiffany glass will marvel in the world’s most comprehensive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s works. Situated among the charming boutique-lined, brick streets of Winter Park, the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art houses the designer’s jewelry, leaded-glass lamps, and even his chapel interior from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. If you are in the area during the holidays, the long-held tradition of Christmas in the Park kicks off the holiday season by lighting up Tiffany windows in the city’s local Central Park to the beautiful sounds of the season presented by the Bach Festival Choir and Brass Ensemble concert. In addition to many visiting exhibits, the museum hosts free lectures throughout the year. Closed Mondays.
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With a collection of over 200 works by the award-winning, internationally recognized Czech-born sculptor Albin Polasek, the museum not only offers a reprieve for art lovers but nature lovers as well. Located on beautiful Lake Osceola, the sculptor’s home, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, sits amid breathtaking grounds. Take a guided tour through the three-acre sculpture gardens, find serenity in the chapel, or linger along the tree-lined paths while enjoying one of Central Florida’s spectacular sun-filled days. 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.