Family Vacations to Florida

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Florida Family Vacation Guide

Florida needs no introduction – it’s the state of year-round sunshine where theme parks were as good as invented. But there’s a lot more to family vacations in Florida than white-knuckle rides and Cinderella’s Castle.

Why Go?

  • Warm Winters

    December temperatures in southern Florida are between 63°F and 70°F.

  • Family Activities

    Orlando has more theme parks than any other US city, and Disney World is Florida’s largest single employer.

  • The Florida Keys

    The Florida Keys have a Caribbean climate. There are up to seven direct flights from Miami to the Bahamas daily; flight time is 55 minutes.

  • Everglades National Park

    The Everglades National Park is the largest sub-tropical wilderness in the US and covers over 3,700 square miles in the south of Florida.

  • Beaches

    Florida’s Gulf Coast has 10 of the U.S.’s top 25 beaches, including Clearwater, Siesta Beach and Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs. There are many more beautiful beaches to discover.

  • Coastal Area

    Florida’s 1,300 mile coastline is the second-longest in the U.S. (after Alaska), and it’s the only state to have shores on both the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic.

Where to Go

Family-friendly Florida is packed with vacation accommodations, from all-inclusive and theme-park resorts in Orlando to beautiful, beachy estates on the Gulf Coast and luxury hotels along the waterfront in Miami. Many larger resorts offer independent villas, apartments and family suites too.

Orlando Area

With more theme parks than any other U.S. city, some of the state’s largest designer outlet malls, immense resort hotels and endless chain restaurants, Orlando is Florida’s family-vacation capital.

  • Disney World, Blizzard Beach, Epcot Centre, Sea World and Universal Studios are all based in Orlando.
  • Kissimmee is at the heart of theme parks and family hotels.
  • The beautiful beaches and resorts at St. Augustine are perfect for families, and just over an hour from Orlando if you want a more balanced vacation.

Take Me to Orlando

Gulf Coast

The warm, sunny beaches and pretty towns along the Gulf of Mexico are a very different vacation experience from Orlando. Water activities, cute seaside resorts, museums and galleries, excellent family restaurants and stunning clear-blue seas are the main attractions here. A week in Orlando and a week on the Gulf is a great combination for families, and works well if you have teenagers and younger kids.

  • Gulf Coast islands like Sanibel and Captiva are ideal for laid-back beach vacations with babies and toddlers.
  • Clearwater is a lively seaside town with incredible beaches – Clearwater Beach is number three in the US’s top five best beaches.
  • St. Petersburg is called the “Sunshine City” and has lots going on for older kids and teenagers. And it’s just half-an-hour from Clearwater’s beaches.
  • Naples is the city for sailing and dolphin-spotting. Nearby Bonita Springs is a pretty resort town for familie, and home to excellent Barefoot Beach, where you’ll find one of the largest gopher tortoise preserves in southwest Florida.
  • With 16 miles of picturesque beaches, balmy sunsets and a laid-back Florida vibe, the Bradenton/Anna Maria Island/Longboat Key area is a hidden treasure on Florida’s west coast, ideal for a fun-filled family getaway.
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Alpha city Miami is thrilling to visit and packed with sights, from Little Havana to South Beach. It’s big and bold, so not the choice for a simple, sand-between-your-toes trip. But teenagers love the energy, fantastic and fascinating places to eat, amazing galleries and museums, historic districts and sheer color of Miami. If you’re thinking of a two-base Florida trip with older kids, put Miami last or you’ll never drag them away.

  • Take a guided city tour, it’s the best way to see lots if you’re spending less time here.
  • Spend a day on South Beach – it’s a legend – but try Bal Harbour Beach for pure white sands and no crowds, or North Shore Open Space Park for huge green areas and walking trails on the sand. It’s regularly voted Miami’s best city beach.
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Florida Keys

The mysterious and lovely Florida Keys are a good choice for easygoing outdoor adventure, world-class water activities and Caribbean weather. Not every Key is ideal for families, so choosing a base and visiting the others is the best way to work a vacation here.

  • Key Largo is a lot of fun for kids, with several attractions and superb outdoor activities (on and off the water). It’s also right on the edge of the Everglades, has the US’s only living coral reef and is one of the state’s top scuba diving areas. Family hotels range from international brand resorts to quaint and local here, and it’s the northernmost Key, so closest to Miami.
  • Gorgeous Islamorada is a string of little islands with the most beautiful white sand beaches on the Keys. Just over an hour’s drive from Miami, the area has a mix of luxurious waterfront resorts, family-friendly hotels and cute family guesthouses.
  • Key West is the southern Key and most colorful by far. There are few beaches, but deep-sea fishing is the stuff of legends (one of the reasons Hemingway had a home here) and the pretty town couldn’t be more charming and friendly. Not the best place to stay for families, but wonderful to visit even if just for a day – it’s a little more than an hour from Islamorada and you get to drive across the stunning Seven Mile Bridge.
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Fort Lauderdale

Greater Fort Lauderdale is a vibrant destination with several attributes that truly make it an ideal family friendly destination. With 23 miles of Blue Wave certified beaches that are home to warm ocean waters, the destination experiences year-round tropical climate, averaging 77 degrees Fahrenheit and 3000 hours of sunlight a year.

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Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach is located on the Florida Panhandle with 27 miles of white-sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico.

Take Me to Panama City Beach
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What to Do

  • Disney World, Orlando

    Kids will get to live the dreams they’ve been having all childhood at Disney World. Pro tip: Cut down on wait times by booking ahead for rides and experiences, as the lines can seem endless.

  • Seaworld, Orlando

    If you don’t have an issue with the concept, Seaworld is one of the top Orlando attractions. The Dolphin Nursery is enchanting.

  • Blizzard Beach, Orlando

    Orlando is packed with waterparks, but this one is exceptional. Expect to go more than once.

  • Everglades National Park

    You can dip into the edges, explore by car or be guided by experts on boats and trains – it’s all spectacular, strange and unforgettable for youngsters.

  • Miami Seaquarium

    About as close as you can get to everything marine, from penguins to dolphins via dozens of other sea creatures. The Seaquarium conservation center and the team are amazing with kids.

  • The Dali Museum, St Petersburg

    World-class collection of the artist’s work, awe-inspiring building and a great list of family activities and events with surreal themes – naturally.

  • Key West Shipwreck Museum

    Not in the same league as the Orlando offerings but very well done, lots of interesting things to see and do and very interactive.

  • Miami Zoo

    A cageless environment with surprisingly big wildlife, considering. The zoo is very safe and well managed and regularly has the cutest babies in residence.

  • Pérez Art Museum Miami

    This award-winning art gallery and exhibition space has events year-round and the building alone is worth a visit.

  • Gatorland, Orlando

    You’ll get about as close to these prehistoric beasts as you want to, but the keepers aren’t so cautious, and alligator-wrestling is just one bold performance here.

Educational Value for Kids

  • Visit Little Havana for Viernes Culturales on the last Friday of every month between 7 pm and 11 pm. This wildly colorful and exciting district goes into overdrive, with everything from music and dance to street food, theater, performance and art – it’s a very family-friendly celebration and kids fit right in.
  • Take the two-hour train journey through the Everglades’ Shark Valley.
  • The Gulf Coast beaches are made for water activities, and you’ll easy find beginners’ courses for kids as young as five.
  • Visit Wynwood Walls, Miami’s permanent (but constantly evolving) street-art exhibition in the city’s Wynwood District.
  • Take the glass-bottomed boat tour of the U.S.’s only living coral barrier reef, in Key Largo.
  • The Loggerhead Marinelife Center on Juno Beach is dedicated to rehabilitating injured turtles and returning them to the wild.

Getting Around

Rent a car to travel around outside cities. Downtown Orlando and city-center Miami have excellent public transport. If you’re planning to stay in more than one area, domestic flights connect most of Florida’s cities. And you really can’t get about the Keys without driving.

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