It seems like almost every where we go, there is always a local history museum around to tell us the story of how a town, or area was formed. Orange County is no different in that regard. Where they do differ is that the Orange County Regional History Center is great family entertainment for locals and tourists alike. We found this local museum in the heart of downtown Orlando to be a great asset to local history buffs and visitors that want to know about the area. Located in the old Orange County courthouse, I can’t believe I worked a few blocks away for almost half a decade and had no clue it was even there!
We have been wanting to visit the Orange County Regional History Center for quite a while now, but had found that many weekends we have needed to stay fairly close to home with a new baby either on the way or actually with us, so it’s been nice traveling abroad the past few weekends. We decided to checkout this downtown museum on a Sunday which offered some mixed emotions. As I said, I worked just a few blocks away for many years and never really had any issues with the neighborhood. Granted I was always around a ton of other people and the streets were always bustling. The Sunday we happened to visits though, really the only folks around were homeless. While I’m not one to be overly concerned, I don’t think my wife would have been comfortable if it was just her and the two boys by themselves. If this is a concern, you may want to visits during the week when there is much more activity in the local neighborhood. An added bonus of going on Sunday however, is that there is no charge for street parking in downtown. The parking garages are still operating and charge a fee, so you could save up to $10 by just parking on a side street if you wanted to.
Because we were a bit early since the Orang County Regional History Center opens at noon on Sundays, we walked about a block or so away and grabbed some lunch at the local Subway. I swear, it’s really hard to beat a $5 footlong for lunch! I shared mine with my oldest, and relaxed a bit with the Mrs. fed Micro-Me (That’s our newest addition). On our way back to the Orange County Regional History Center, we noticed a crowd gathering, as there were Wold Cup festivities planned for that afternoon. We noticed the streets started to fill up with people and the area didn’t seem so bad.
Even though we only walked a few blocks, we were glad to be back in the air conditioning. It was a really hot day out, and somehow metro areas don’t ever seem to get a breeze. We gladly paid the slight admission charge for the wife and I, and we embarked on our adventure! Right off the bat, I knew we were in for something special as the very first exhibit we encountered was interactive and fun for my little guy. It was a mockup of a command console for a rocket launch, as well as a mock space capsule. He enjoyed flipping switches, turning dials, and even climbing into the capsule to play Space Invaders. Apparently they also have a sense of humor at the Orange County Regional History Center!
Up to the 4th floor we went! That’s right, there are four floors full of exhibits and fund things to do and see. We started at the top and worked our way down. So what sort of exhibits do they have there? Well for starters they do have traveling and changing exhibits all the time. They were between exhibits at the moment so we only were able to checkout the permanent displays of the Orange County Regional History Center. That’s alright by us! We stated out learning about the natural history of the area including native people’s, and then later learned about frontier living. Of course no Florida museum could be complete without some information on the citrus industry and how railroads and steam boats helped shape our local economy. We particularly enjoyed the displays regarding orange packaging.
Since we were visiting on a Sunday, it was almost like we had the entire place to ourselves! We ran into a few other Orange County Regional History Center patrons, but for the most part we were on our own. For the first time ever it was quite alright if my little guys were loud! This was an awesome bonus when we visited the courtroom! We had free rein, and our little guy was able to sit wherever he wanted! Jury seats, the defendant’s table, it was really cool!
Later we checked out exhibits that explained how Walt Disney shaped Orange County, forever changing the local economy. If you are planning a trip to Disney, be sure to checkout the Orange County Regional History Center first. Your little ones might appreciate the mouse a bit more. They also featured information about the previous Orlando Naval Station and lost of other local points of interest. We even checked out a model of Ft. Christmas, which was pretty cool because we have been there! They had a very small children’s area with books and a table, but keep in mind that the Orange County Regional History Center isn’t really child centered. Don’t get me wrong here, kids are welcome and encouraged to visit, but don’t expect it to be like a children’s museum or anything.
So was it worth going? Absolutely! My philosophy is that no time spent with you family is a bad time. It took us about two hours to go thorough everything at the Orange County Regional History Center and we stopped to read a bunch of the displays. If you read every sign and all the information, then you will be there for the entire afternoon. The Orange County Regional History Center should be on your list of places to visit even if you have no personal connection to the area’s local history. It’s great to see how Orange County has blossomed throughout the years!
A few more words for thought on the Orange County Regional History Center: They also participates in the Bank of America / Merrill Lynch Museums on Us Program! The first full weekend of every month, if you have a card from either of these banks, you can get FREE admission for the card holder! That could save you up to $12, or more if you and your spouse have a card! The family membership for the Orange County Regional History Center listed below at $75 used for thee Dyett Factor calculation, also gives you access to a reciprocal membership program called Time Travelers, that gives you free or discounted admission to a number of museums and locations throughout the US. The next level up of $150 also gives you privileges through various other reciprocal museum networks, so if you have a membership elsewhere, be sure to see if they offer a discount, don’t be shy!
Orange County Regional History Center Details:
|Date(s):||All Week||Time(s):||M-Sa 10am-5pm / Su 12-5pm|
|Address:||65 East Central Blvd. Orlando, FL 32801|
|Estimated Cost For A Family of 4:|| $52 (2 Adults, 2
Children W/ City Parking)