Florida perpetually tops the list of popular family destinations in the United States. With its warm climate offering a respite from winter in other parts of the country, world-famous theme parks, and abundance of nature-oriented vacation spots, it’s no wonder more than 100 million visitors make the trek each year.
While potential visitors may have Mickey Mouse and warm beaches in mind when planning a trip to the Sunshine State, there is actually much more to see and do. Here’s a look at the many family-friendly areas and activities Florida offers in each of its three main regions—the north, central, and southern parts of the state.
History buffs will love a visit to St. Augustine, America’s oldest city. A walk down George Street evokes the feeling of walking back in time. Kids will delight in a visit to the Alligator Farm, which offers an amazing collection of alligators and other animals, as well as numerous shows.
While so many visitors never leave the I-95 corridor and Atlantic beaches when traveling to Florida, the Panhandle offers several beach-friendly destinations as well. Pensacola and Destin, with their soft, white sand beaches and crystal clear ocean waters, consistently rank high on the list of favorite family beach destinations.
Putting the area’s most popular attraction aside (Disney World), there are plenty of fun family destinations in the central part of Florida. Beach lovers are drawn to the beautiful and fun areas of Clearwater Beach and Siesta Key Beach. Those traveling with younger kids will find hours of theme park fun at Legoland. Families seeking adventure will enjoy tubing through Kelly Rock Springs as well.
For those looking for a city adventure, Miami is undoubtedly the crown jewel of South Florida. With an abundance of interesting and hip neighborhoods to discover, beaches flanked by vibrant cafes, restaurants and clubs, and the beautifully-emerging graffiti art scene in Wynwood to explore, the city offers endless opportunities and countless things to see and do.
Venturing beyond Miami, families can enjoy a trip to the Knaus Berry Farm for the most delicious cinnamon rolls or a day spent exploring the Everglades via the 15 mile paved Shark Valley bike trail. Heading further south, the magnificent Florida Keys beckon with nearly 100 miles of opportunity for water activities. Stop in at Dolphin Plus for a swim with Dolphins – an unforgettable experience kids will remember forever. Enjoy the splendid beaches at Pennekamp State Park, or Bahia Honda.
Finally, a trip to South Florida would not be complete without a visit to Key West. Although the southernmost point in the U.S. has a reputation for partying and debauchery, during the day, it is a fantastic, family-friendly destination, offering the feel of a Caribbean island without the hassle of leaving the States.