Best Family Vacation Destinations in Florida
With an estimated 116.5 million visitors in 2017, it is safe to say that the Sunshine State is a pretty popular vacation spot. Florida boasts sub-tropical and tropical climates, making it welcoming for travelers year-round. Some come seeking the beautiful white sand beaches along the panhandle or bright blue waters of the Atlantic. In search of kid friendly places to visit? Orlando is the place to be. From amusement parks to national parks, Florida has something for everyone. Plan your Florida vacation on a budget or spoil yourself with a luxury family vacation. Find Cheap Flight Tickets
into several of Florida’s airports with round-trip tickets for about $200. Couple that with Cheap Rental Cars deals and hotel deals or vacation rentals, you can save some serious cash on your vacation. We’ve put together a list of our recommended top places to visit in Florida.
Amusement Parks and Theme Parks
1. Walt Disney World- With an average of 56,000 visitors daily (that’s over 20 million each year!), Walt Disney World, comprised of Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Typhoon Lagoon, and Blizzard Beach; offers up plenty of magic for the whole family. Popular Disney World attractions and rides include Cinderella’s Castle, Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and drinking around the world in Epcot’s World Showcase. This of course, is only the beginning of the list. Depending on the park, you can start your day at 8am and finish up with fireworks. The last park closes at 11pm. That makes for a full day. You’ll want to plan for at least 3 days to experience it all. Don’t forget your fast passes to optimize your time in line for popular attractions. You can dine with your favorite Disney characters or get all dolled up in the Bippity-boppity boutique to enhance your experience.
2. Universal Studios- This theme park and production studio is based on popular television and blockbuster movies. Universal is the 6th most visited theme park in the U.S. and saw 10.2 million visitors in 2017. At Universal Studios Orlando, patrons are inspired to “ ride the movies”. Many of the park’s attractions feature the original actors reprising their roles from movies like: Men in Black, The Fast and the Furious, Transformers, Despicable Me, The Mummy, Shrek, and The Simpsons. Take a ride on the Hogwart’s Express. Enjoy a butterbeer at The Leaky Cauldron, and visit Ollivander’s Wand Shop in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Diagon Alley will leave you vexed.
3. SeaWorld Orlando- This Florida theme park offers roller coasters, rides, shows, tours, attractions & family-friendly activities for thrill seekers & animal lovers. With nearly 3.9 million visitors last year, it was the 11th most visited US theme park. Popular Orca shows will be phasing out sometime in 2019 but will still be on display and part of the ongoing educational programs SeaWorld provides. SeaWorld, along with numerous hotels and its sister parks, Aquatica, and Discovery Cove, make up SeaWorld Parks and Resorts.
4. Busch Gardens Tampa- Busch Gardens is one of the most popular attractions in the Tampa area. This African theme park is home to all kinds of exotic animals and proudly claims to be one of the largest zoos in North America. You can see lions, tigers, elephants, giraffes, gorillas, and much more. Safari style tours in open-air vehicles offer an opportunity to see some animals, like giraffes, zebras, rhinos, and ostrich roaming freely. Other tours take you behind the scenes and offer a chance for close-up encounters with penguins, or a closer look at tigers and elephants. Beyond the animal encounters, Busch Gardens also features all kinds of thrill rides. While the wild and fast roller coasters get most of the attention, you can also find rides for smaller children.
1. Everglades National Park- Everglades National Park is comprised of 1.5 million acres of wetland and is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. The park has 3 separate entrances that are not connected in different areas of south Florida. With the vast array of activities and so much wildlife to see, planning your trip to the Everglades is important. Everglades NP is home to several endangered wildlife species such as the American crocodile and the manatee. Enjoy traditional camping activities such as hiking, camping, biking, canoe or kayaking, and fishing; but you can also get your feet wet with off-trail hiking also known as slogging or take part in a real world treasure hunt by geocaching. Everglades airboat tours are also popular among visitors.
2. Dry Tortugas National Park- Home to hundreds of shipwrecks, Dry Tortugas National Park is an ideal place for scuba diving and snorkeling. Beautiful coral reefs and stunning marine life are just a couple of reasons to check out this National Park. You can camp at Garden Key or just relax on the beautiful sandy beaches. Dry Tortugas National Park is only accessible by boat or seaplane. You can catch one of the daily ferry rides or via private seaplane charter from Key West. Book your excursion while visiting the Florida Keys and check out one of the nation’s largest 19th century forts, Fort Jefferson.
A Little Art, A Little History
1. St Augustine- St Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement within the borders of the continental United States. The Historic District in St. Augustine is the heart of the city. This is where guests will find a majority of the city’s restaurants, shopping, hotels, and attractions. The Historic District is the oldest part of the city with many buildings dating back to the 1700s. Even the streets are laid out as they would have been centuries ago. St Augustine is home to two national monuments: Castillo de San Marcos and Fort Matanzas. If that is too much history for you, take a walk or relax along beautiful St. Augustine beach.
2. Miami Beach- Wide beaches stretch from North Shore Open Space Park, past palm-lined Lummus Park to South Pointe Park. The southern end, South Beach, is known for its international cachet with models and celebrities, and its early-20th-century architecture in the Art Deco Historic district with pastel-colored buildings, especially on Ocean Drive. The Art Deco District is the largest collection of Art Deco architecture in the world with hundreds of buildings built between 1923 and 1943. Head down to South Beach after dark for some of the best nightclubs and nightlife in the city.
3. St. Petersburg- St. Petersburg is a city on Florida’s gulf coast, part of the Tampa Bay area. It’s known for its pleasant weather (hence its “Sunshine City” nickname), making it popular for golfing, boating, fishing and beach-going. Its waterfront parks host the Dali Museum, is housed in a unique modern building designed to match the creativity of the artist himself.; the Museum of Fine Arts, with works ranging from ancient to contemporary; and Mahaffey Theater, home of the Florida Orchestra.
4. Fort Myers- Fort Myers is popular for its beaches, fishing, shopping. Don’t miss the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford winter estates. Back in 1916, Ford bought land in downtown Fort Myers, next door to Edison, his mentor. You can tour the homes and outbuildings, see where Edison conducted experiments, wander through the palm-lined grounds, and learn about Edison’s famous botanical experiments. The Edison Botanical Research Lab, one of the most impressive portions of the tour, is a designated National Historic Chemical Landmark. You and your family can experience one-on-one natural encounters, play on top-notch Fort Myers beaches and treat yourselves to endless family-friendly attractions, restaurants and resorts in Fort Myers and surrounding areas along southwest Florida’s sunny Gulf Coast.
Rockets, Planes, and Cars
1. Kennedy Space Center- The John F. Kennedy Space Center is a historical landmark and has been the primary launch center for human spaceflight. Located on Florida’s Space Coast, this huge complex is where space exploration has made history. Today, you can see rockets and the Space Shuttle Atlantis, meet an astronaut, and learn about missions to space. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is divided into mission zones, each of which features interesting displays and interactive exhibits focused on specific themes. Displays are designed with all ages in mind, making this an engaging experience for adults or families. Located about an hour and a half from Orlando, it is an easy day trip excursion. You can also find cheap hotel deals in nearby Titusville.
2. National Naval Aviation Museum- The National Naval Aviation Museum is a military and aerospace museum located at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. The museum is devoted to the history of naval aviation, including that of the US Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.. Its mission is “to select, collect, preserve and display” appropriate memorabilia representative of the development, growth and historic heritage of United States Naval Aviation. The Naval Aviation Museum is also home to the Blue Angels. The museum at NAS Pensacola has a viewing area for visitors to watch the team practice. The team visits the museum to answer questions and sign autographs after most Wednesday practices.
3. Daytona 500 International Speedway- The Daytona 500 race is one of the most famous and most important in the NASCAR Cup Series, kicking off the racing season each February. It is held in Daytona Beach at the Daytona International Speedway, and it attracts huge crowds every year. The Speedway was built in 1959 to move auto racing off the beach. Previously, races and land-speed competitions were held on the hard-packed sand of Daytona Beach. If you can’t make the race itself, you can still take a tour to explore the Speedway.
4. Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing- Located in Ocala, Fl, Don Garlits Museum chronicles the history of the sport of drag racing. Some 90 racing cars can be seen in the Drag Race building, while a further 50 vehicles are in the Antique Car building. Many of the Garlits “Swamp Rat” cars are here, but he also turns out to be a pack rat with an accumulation of cars and memorabilia from other top names in the sport. The iconic cars of Dean Moon, the Mooneyes gas dragster and the Moonbeam sports car are on display.The museum is home to the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame. Plan your day with an early start and you can also tour the Daytona Speedway which is only about an hour and a half away.