Photo: VISIT FLORIDA
With its impressive mix of lovely weather, stunning beaches and awesome theme parks, Florida is a premier vacation destination for families, not just in the U.S., but from around the world. Go on safari, visit an Indian reservation, swim with dolphins, or learn to sail. Just want to relax? Take a break from it all and bask in the sun on a beautiful beach. From babies to grandparents, Florida has something everyone will love.
Tips for a First-time Family Visit to Florida
Know What You Want
Is your goal to relax on a family-friendly beach or are you looking for a thrilling theme park vacation? Set some priorities before you go.
Plan Your Time Accordingly
Time is important, especially if you’re going the Orlando/theme park route. The parks are HUGE. Disney World alone is made up of four major attractions, two water parks and more than 40 resorts and hotels. Research which parks you want to visit and how long you think your family will need to do everything you want to do in each.
Beyond the Theme Parks
From a multicultural metropolis like Miami to a 16th-century historical city like St. Augustine, Florida has much more to offer families! Visit a little town like Apalachicola, sample some fresh seafood or go swimming. Explore Space at Cape Canaveral or see alligators at Everglades National Park!
Get a Lay of the Land
Florida is a big state. Northwest Florida offers miles of golden-sand beaches and seaside cottages on the Gulf Coast. Central Florida has acres of citrus groves. Alligator Alley crosses southern Florida from Naples to Fort Lauderdale. There are lots of miles to cover so make sure you get familiar not just with your destinations but where they are within the state.
Don’t Forget to Relax!
Florida offers such a wealth of experiences that your “to-do list” may seem endless, and how can you NOT want to see and do everything? The key is to make sure you earmark a day or two to relax and really enjoy your vacation. Your family, body and mind will thank you for it!
Five Unique Things to do in Florida With Kids
Photo: Miccosukee Indian Village
1. Visit an Indian Village
The Miccosukee Indians were originally part of the Creek Nation, migrating to Florida before it became part of the U.S. While most of the Miccosukees were removed in the 1800’s, about 100 hid out in the Everglades. In 1962, they were officially recognized as the Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida and now number more than 600. Today, you can visit the Miccosukee Indian Village near Miami and experience tribal arts and culture, including the world-famous alligator-wrestling demonstrations. You’ll be spellbound as the wrestlers enter a pit full of alligators and perform rituals handed down by the Miccosukee Indians for generations.
Photo: Guiomar Ochoa
2. Visit the Museum of Ice Cream
Sunshine, lollipops, rainbows and of course, ice cream! The famed pop-up Museum of Ice Cream is keeping its doors open in Miami until mid-May. Bubblegum pink is the theme everywhere. A room with a gold glitter floor has a conveyor belt that sends milkshakes to an ice cream bar. Wow! Another has a banana swing, pink palm trees and a Coconut Cave. Don't miss the Sprinkle Pool, where you can frolic in a pool full of sprinkles.
Photo: Visit St. Pete / Clearwater
3. Explore the Mystical World of Salvador Dali
You can spend the whole day at The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg as you explore the Spanish surrealist's largest collection of works outside of Spain. Young guests can enjoy a game of I-Spy guaranteed to hold the kids' captive. Ask for a checklist as you enter the museum, and challenge kids to find the hidden sand symbols in Dali’s works. Once participants have checked everything off their list, they can turn in the form to receive a surprise. Kids 5 and under enter for free.
4. Visit With Mermaids
Do you have a little one obsessed with mermaids? Are you? Come on, admit it, you both are! Then spend an afternoon visiting with mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. The spring at “Weeki Wachee," named by the Seminole Indians for “little spring” or “winding river" is so deep that the bottom has never been found. Each day, more than 117 million gallons of clear, fresh 74-degree water bubbles up from subterranean caverns. Weeki Wachee, a town in north central Florida about an hour north of Tampa, proudly claims itself as "The Only City with Live Mermaids." Inside the theater at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, located 20 feet below the water’s surface, human mermaids have been performing since the 1940’s. Go take a look!
Photo: Guiomar Ochoa
5. Go Polynesian at the Mai-Kai
Can’t get away to Tahiti or Hawaii? No problem! Take the kids for dinner and a show at the Mai-Kai, a tiki-themed restaurant in Fort Lauderdale that’s been around since 1956. They have a fun Polynesian show and good food. The lush gardens are perfect for family photo ops. You’ll be drawn into the towering A-frame structure by the warm glow of tiki torches out front. Dancers and flame-throwers, many of whom hail from Polynesian islands, perform nightly shows. A visit to the Mai-Kai is like stepping into a fantasy of the past.
~ Guiomar Ochoa
Start planning your family's next Florida adventure now! Go to VISIT FLORIDA to learn more.
This post is sponsored by VISIT FLORIDA. However, we only promote businesses that we genuinely believe in and think will appeal to CertifiKID subscribers.
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