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A winter sun holiday is appealing for obvious reasons, but a winter break with the kids doesn't have a mean a huge resort, rowdy kids clubs, sprawling buffets and cabaret. We've rounded up the best winter sun destinations with soul, character and authenticity, so that you can have a holiday with more than just sun this winter.

Think beaches for penguins instead of just paddleboards; World Heritage cities with great urban beaches; islands at the heart of real-life aquariums; or just somewhere you’ve never been and kids will remember forever – for all the right reasons.

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1/6 Islamorada, Florida Keys

Islamorada is a tiny chain of islands less than two hours from Miami on the iconic Overseas Highway through the Florida Keys. Winter sun shines on the Gulf of Mexico here and there’s not a white-knuckle ride in sight. Sounds impossibly romantic? It is and kids love it. The beaches are big, white-sand playgrounds trimmed with nodding palms and known for mile-apart sun loungers. The overall theme is complete freedom. And the only waterpark is natural and one of the world’s best for deep-sea fishing, sailing, swimming, diving and snorkelling – or learning how from the experts.

The Moorings became almost famous recently as a paradise setting for the Netflix series, ‘Bloodline’. But no dark drama lurks round the historic resort in real life. It’s all just lush, tropical gardens and beachy, barefoot fun - if you want extra excitement, Miami or Key West are easily doable days out.

How to get there: In December British Airways flies from London Heathrow direct to Miami from £820 return

Travel time: The flight from London to Miami takes around 10 hours

Discover the best things to see and do on your Florida holidays.

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