Are you planning a family getaway to the sunshine state? Check out our list of the top 7 amazing experiences to enjoy during Florida family vacations.
Are you planning a family vacation to Florida?
If so, you’re in good company. Miami and Orlando both made it into the top 10 list for the most visited cities in the US.
With 1,350 miles of beautiful coastline, nearly a dozen theme parks, and scores of world-class golf resorts, it’s no wonder so many families flock to the Sunshine State.
But what exactly are the best places to go for Florida family vacations? Read on to discover our favorites.
1. Walt Disney World Theme Parks
Not surprisingly, Disney World Orlando tops our list as the go-to destination for Florida family vacations.
If you’re thinking that everyone goes to Florida to visit Disney World, you’re probably right. Nearly 138 million visitors walked through the entrance gates of Walt Disney World in 2015.
Does the fact that it’s so popular detract from its appeal? Not at all. In addition to its four main theme parks, you’ll also find world-class water parks, perfectly manicured resorts, and endless dining options.
Your kids are sure to love it, and admit it–part of you wants to relive your own childhood too. Space Mountain, anyone?
2. Island Hopping in the Florida Keys
If the crowds at the theme parks start to get to you, hop in a rental car and head south–as far south as you can go.
Off the southeast coast of Florida, there’s a chain of beautiful islands over 120 miles long. Connected by a two-lane road and countless bridges, the Florida Keys offers one of the most scenic drives in America.
Key Largo welcomes you with snorkeling or boating in John Pennecamp State Park. In Islamorada, the whole family will love the animal performances at the aptly named Theater of the Sea. Afterward, stop in for dinner and a drink at the historic seaside Tiki Bar.
Keep driving south over Seven-Mile Bridge until you reach the one and only Key West. Here you’ll find Ernest Hemingway’s home and Sloppy Joe’s Bar (and other famous bars) along Duval Street. It’s also obligatory to take a family photo in front of Mile Marker Zero–officially the southernmost point in the US.
3. Kennedy Space Center
Do you have any science fans in the family? Next up on our list of Florida family vacations is the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.
Here you’ll find a visitor center boasting historic space crafts and other relics from the dawn of space travel. There’s also a large complex with an IMAX theater and a launch simulator–not for the faint of heart!
There’s also a special exhibit from the early Apollo missions, including moon rocks and a replica of the lunar rover.
Once you’re finished at the Space Center, head over to Bioluminescent Bay on Merritt Island for a nighttime kayaking tour you’ll never forget.
4. Historic St. Augustine
Can you name the oldest city in America? It’s not in New York or Massachusetts or Virginia. It’s actually in Florida–and it’s called St. Augustine.
Located on the state’s northeast coast, this city was founded by Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon in 1513. While he never found the Fountain of Youth, he did succeed in starting the oldest continuously-inhabited city in what would later become the United States.
History buffs and architecture lovers will adore this quaint seaside town. The old fort, Castillo de San Marcos, dates all the way back to the 17th century. And the main street through the city is lined with art galleries, museums, and charming European-style restaurants.
Add this city to your Florida family vacations list–you won’t regret it!
5. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
If Disney World’s Space Mountain isn’t exciting enough for your family, head west to Tampa Bay and its Busch Gardens theme park.
This African-themed park is a walk on the wild side–in more ways than one. Boasting six major rollers coasters and a dozen other (tamer) rides, Busch Gardens is the park of choice for adrenaline junkies.
The park’s appeal isn’t limited to its rides, though. There’s also over 300 acres of “savanna” that animals such as giraffes, elephants, and cheetahs freely roam. You can get up close and personal with some animals via the park’s train system or a personal Jeep tour.
6. Discovery Cove & Sea World
Haven’t had your fill of animal encounters yet? You and the kids are going to love exploring Orlando’s Discovery Cove, conveniently located across the street from Sea World.
If you’ve ever dreamed of swimming and playing with dolphins, now’s your chance. You and your family can enter the water with an experienced dolphin trainer and peacefully interact with these gentle creatures.
There’s also a coral reef where everyone can snorkel with tropical fish and (harmless) sharks. If all of that sounds like too much work, you can also lounge on an inner tube around the park’s Tropical River.
This just might be the pinnacle of Florida family vacations!
7. Everglades National Park
No list of Florida family vacations would be complete without mentioning the Everglades.
This one-of-a-kind ecosystem isn’t just unique to the United States. It’s the only ecosystem of its kind anywhere in the world.
Basically a long, slow-moving river, this park encompasses most of the bottom half of Florida. It’s part swamp, part marshland, part mangroves, and 100% incredible to explore.
Airboat rides through the wetlands are the preferred mode of transportation, where you’re sure to see lots of birds and alligators (don’t worry Mom, it’s safe). If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of an endangered Florida panther or leatherback turtle.
Florida Family Vacations and More
So, which of our activities for Florida family vacations will you experience first?
Whether it’s relaxing on the water or screaming on a roller coaster, you’re sure to have a blast wherever you decide to go.
Of course, Florida family vacations aren’t the only option for families traveling in America. Click here for more helpful travel tips on North America.