Best Places to Visit in Florida with Kids
Here at Florida Travel with Kids, it’s pretty obvious that we, well, travel Florida with kids. So, if you’re looking for the best places to visit in Florida with kids, you’re in the right spot!
Taking the kids to Florida on vacation has practically become a must. After all, there is Disney, Universal, and tons of beaches. And don’t forget about all the sunshine and warmth! But, how do you decide where to go? I recommend beginning with these best places to visit in Florida with kids.
There are plenty of kid-friendly areas in Florida. Some have theme parks, while others have beaches and national parks. The options are endless with family-friendly Florida destinations. So, which family vacation spots in Florida will make it to the top of your list?
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Best Places to Visit in Florida with Kids
Here are the best places to visit in Florida with kids, in no particular order (but one of our favorites is first!)
Clearwater is one of the most family-friendly Florida destinations. This small town is on the Gulf Coast. A half-hour drive from Tampa or St. Petersburg. Since it is a small town, you won’t feel as rushed to see everything during your visit.
The beach has soft white sand and sparkling blue water. When you are at the beach, you can spend your time paddleboarding, parasailing, or just hanging out on the beach. You can also check out 30 Things to do in Clearwater with Kids
There are plenty of parks near the beach, as well as restaurants. One of our favorite attractions to visit in Clearwater is the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Other kid-friendly activities include a pirate cruise, dolphin-watching tours, and mini-golf.
Before leaving Clearwater, you will want to walk along Pier 60 at sunset. The views are Instagram-worthy! Clearwater is also home to some of the best shelling beaches in Florida.
Hotel Recommendation: Hyatt Regency Clearwater
I love how vibrant Key West is, so I know kids will love the area as much as adults do! Stay away from Duval Street at night, and you will enjoy every moment of your visit.
Duval Street is exciting enough during the day. At night, your focus should be on the Sunset Celebration inside Mallory Square.
Your daytime hours in Key West can be spent on a catamaran dolphin tour. Or you can visit the Ernest Hemingway Home. The kids will love all the cats. The Conch Train and Key West Butterfly, and Nature Conservatory are two more ideas to add to your list.
If spending time just in Key West isn’t enough for your family vacation, you can always make a road trip of the Florida Keys. There are 42 bridges connecting all the islands. The most popular bridge is the 7 Mile Bridge.
Drive all the way from Key Largo to Key West and see how many adventures your family can have! A few that automatically come to mind include feeding tarpons in Islamorada, riding a glass-bottom boat at the John Pennekamp State Park, and visiting the Turtle Hospital.
Hotel Recommendation: The Marker Key West Harbor Resort
Okay, so I might as well get Orlando onto this list of the best places to visit in Florida with kids. We all know that Orlando is one of the most family-friendly Florida destinations. It’s one of our family’s favorite places in Florida; in fact, we’re even annual pass-holders at Universal!
The main reasons that Orlando is so popular with families are the theme parks, mainly Disney World and Universal Orlando.
If you want theme park tips, check out 25 Free Things at Disney World, Star Wars Land vs. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, First Timer Tips for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and more park tips.
When you tire of the theme parks, there are still plenty of fun family options in Orlando. You can take a hot air balloon ride or take a walk on a walking trail. Mini golf, kayaking, and bike riding are other options you may want to find time for during your stay.
You can also get a City Pass and visit places like Gatorland, Madame Tussauds, and more. By the way, not everything in Orlando is expensive! 50 free things to do in Orlando will give you some ideas on how to visit Orlando on tighter budget.
Sanibel Island is one of the best family vacation spots in Florida. This is an excellent location if you want to spend time away from the crowds with your family.
Time on this barrier island is best spent in the water or on the sand. The best activities on Sanibel include swimming and snorkeling. Shelling on Bowman’s Beach is also quite fun.
Fishing is best at the pier. And long walks along the boardwalk will take you through the wetlands. Don’t forget to take a little time to visit the lighthouse on Lighthouse Beach during your vacation in Sanibel.
Although Hurricane Ian sadly hit Sanibel island in 2022, the re-opening efforts are happening! Check out the best things to do in Sanibel and Captiva when they are ready to welcome visitors again.
Hotel Recommendation: Sundial Beach Resort & Spa
Captiva Island is right next to Sanibel Island. It is simple to combine a visit to these two islands during your Florida family vacation.
It is all about the outdoors while staying on Captiva Island. Families can spend their time sailing, snorkeling, and participating in other water sports. On land, you can get all bike rides or go birdwatching.
One of the best places to see birds, and other native wildlife, is the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge. This Florida nature preserve is over on Sanibel Island. I recommend beginning your visit at the Visitor Center.
The Wildlife Drive is four miles long. If you do not want to drive this on your own, you can sign up for one of the tram tours. There are also three walking trails and two canoe launches.
The best thing about Sanibel Island is there is plenty of action at night. Live music is played in many the restaurants and bars. However, you will need to have a babysitter with you to leave the kids at the hotel for a couple of hours.
Hotel Recommendation: ‘Tween Waters Island Resort & Spa
There are more theme parks located in Tampa, which is why that area is growing in popularity for family vacations in Florida. When you choose this family-friendly Florida destination, you can visit Busch Gardens and Dinosaur World. Legoland is also a quick one-hour drive from Tampa.
No child can resist a few games at Laser Ops Extreme Gaming Arcade. And the whole family will love seeing the gators, sharks, and otters at the Florida Aquarium.
Tampa is also one of the best places to visit for sporting events. I recommend planning your visit so that you can watch a Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game, a Tampa Bay Rays baseball game, or Tampa Bay Buccaneers football game.
Hotel Recommendation: Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay
One of the best things to do at Daytona Beach is simply to spend the day at the beach! There is plenty to do there when you are not in the water or building a sandcastle.
Start by walking along the Daytona Beach Boardwalk to see what’s around. Then play the games and go on the rides. If you can’t get enough of the water, the Daytona Lagoon’s waterpark should fill that void.
Teenagers, or any child that loves cars, will want to visit the Daytona International Speedway. I recommend planning your vacation coinciding with race day if possible. Especially if your family loves watching racing on television.
There is a lighthouse nearby, which is worthy of a visit. The Marine Science Center will teach your family all you need to know about the local marine life.
Hotel Recommendation: Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach
Destin is your best option if you search for a family vacation spot in Florida with a relaxed vibe. This is one family-friendly Florida destination with plenty to keep your family occupied while having a little downtime.
The entire family will love spending time at Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park. Although, the kids will prefer the waterslides while you spend your time in the lazy river.
Another action-packed day can be spent go-karting at the nearby track. Other family-friendly activities include pirate cruises and dolphin tours. We even have a blog post with 32 things to do in Destin with kids, so make sure to check it out.
Marine life is also everywhere at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. Although, you will probably focus on the dolphins and penguins the most.
When you need to relax at the beach, you have options. I recommend venturing over to Henderson Beach State Park or Crystal Beach for different views.
We also love nearby Navarre, so check out The 20 best things to do in Navarre with kids.
Hotel Recommendation: Hotel Effie Sandestin
Delray Beach is one of Florida’s best places to visit with older kids. This beach town is located within Palm Beach County. There are numerous beaches in town. They are all perfect for those lazy beach days you have been craving.
Another outdoor must-see is the Wakodahatchee Wetlands. Many wildlife live within the wetlands, so it is the best place to wander around to see native animals. Other animals can be seen at the Sandoway Discovery Center.
An afternoon of shopping is possible when you take the time to visit the Pineapple Grove Arts District. There are also art galleries amongst the boutiques. So, you may be able to sneak the kids into one or two without them realizing it.
Don’t worry; afterward, you can reward them with a few games at the Silverball Museum. There are more than one hundred pinball machines and video games to choose from there.
Hotel Recommendation: The Seagate Hotel & Spa
The palm tree-lined streets of Naples all lead to fancy homes that are worth millions. Those homeowners all love to play golf, so there are so many golf courses in the area.
This may be a family vacation, but don’t be surprised if dad (or maybe mom!) requests to be relieved from the “family vacation” for a few hours. It’s hard to resist a round or two in beautiful Naples.
Long walks on the beach are a must while visiting Naples. You can see dozens of dolphins out in the water from the beach. When you are not on the beach, you may find yourself doing a little shopping in one of the many boutiques.
The Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is one of the must-see attractions in Naples. So, if your kids want to see critters, visit there along with the zoo.
Check out Unique things to do in Naples Florida for even more family-friendly Naples activities.
Hotel Recommendation: La Playa Beach & Golf Resort
Fort Myers Beach
Fort Myers Beach offers seven miles of sandy shoreline and sparkling water, perfect for swimming. This is one of the best places to visit in Florida with kids because there are quite a few family-friendly activities.
Swimming, pirate cruises, and dolphin tours can all be done at the beach. And when you need a little time out of the sun, there are a few shops at the beach to purchase some souvenirs.
Of course, you can always head away from the Gulf of Mexico for a day and go into the city. That is where you will find attractions like the IMAG History and Science Center, GameTime Arcade, and HeadPinz.
We love the wall murals at Manatee Park!
However, one of the more exciting attractions in Ft. Myers is Manatee Park. I recommend renting a kayak to see these creatures in their natural environment.
Baseball lovers will want to visit when the Mighty Mussels play in JetBlue Park. The Mussels might not be Major League. But they play a good game!
Hotel Recommendation: Diamond Head Beach Resort
Another great place to see manatees if north of Tampa in Crystal River. Check out 16 things to do in Crystal River with kids to learn more.
Panama City Beach
A traditional beach vacation is what you will find when you choose Panama City Beach as your destination in Florida. This is one of the best places to visit in Florida with kids if you want to spend days and nights near the water.
You may want to venture out on a dolphin tour or pirate cruise when you are not swimming. Or you can change your scenery and do a few water activities at Shipwreck Island.
Hiking through St. Andrews State Park is a must, as is shelling on Shell Island. If it rains during your Florida vacation, Ripley’s Believe It or Not and WonderWorks will have their doors open for your family.
Hotel Recommendation: Holiday Inn Resort Panama City Beach
Miami often gets a bad rap because the nightclubs and spring break parties get talked about the most. There are plenty of family-friendly activities in Miami, though. So, it should be right near the top of your list of family-friendly Florida destinations!
When visiting the Museum of Illusions, your entire family will get a few laughs. Marine life is everywhere at the Miami Seaquarium. And you won’t want to forget to grab a few souvenirs when shopping near Biscayne Bay.
However, the highlight of any trip to Miami is a side trip to the Everglades. Jumping into an airboat to see the gators is more exciting than anything else in this vibrant city.
Grab a City Pass and visit the zoo or ride to an airport at a discount.
Hotel Recommendation: Loews Miami Beach Hotel
St. Petersburg may be small, but it’s action-packed like the bigger cities are. Thanks to the pink streets, Pinellas Point is always at the top of my list. But once you have wandered around that area, you may be more than ready to relax on sandy St. Pete Beach.
Of course, if you still need to see the sights, the Sunken Gardens and Boyd Nature Preserve are nearby, as are the Salvador Dali Museum and Great Explorations Children’s Museum.
During your time in St. Pete, you must visit at least one of the outdoor markets. The local foods are amazing, and you can eat as much as you want while live music plays in the background.
Hotel Recommendation: The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club
There aren’t as many people vacationing on Amelia Island. This is perfect if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the real world with your family.
You can spend days enjoying the sun, sand, and surf on the thirteen miles of beaches. Or you can wander through the Historic District and visit the local museums. Thanks to all the boutiques, a little shopping adventure may be in order when downtown.
My favorite activities on the island are horseback riding on the beach, kayaking, and taking one of the many boat tours. There are even walking history tours if your family is interested in learning more about the island.
Hotel Recommendation: The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island
Anna Maria Island
This island is only seven miles long and only a few blocks across. It’s so small that you may think it is too small when you arrive for your family vacation. However, this family vacation spot in Florida has plenty for everyone to do.
The kids will love ziplining all day long without waiting in line for hours to take their turn. The dragon boat excursion is also a hit, but be prepared to book that adventure early. It’s popular with the locals too.
Hotel Recommendation: Cedar Cove Resort and Cottages
Jacksonville is a larger city in Florida. While it doesn’t have the theme parks like Orlando and Tampa, there is still plenty of things to do for the younger crowd. At the top of your list, you may want to consider the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. More animals can be seen at the Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary.
There are twenty-two miles of beaches in Jacksonville. Each mile offers stunning views and lots of space on the sand. You may even want to do a little fishing while you are there.
You will find multiple parks in this city. None of them are as incredible as Little Talbot State Park, though. This park is perfect for hiking. Plus, you can sign the kids up to be a Junior Ranger for the day. They’ll love being “in charge”!
Hotel Recommendation: Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront
Unique tours are plentiful in the city of Sarasota. Your family will be thrilled to take the electric bike tour, kayak tour, and even the trolley tour. Each one offers a different view of the city and the beach.
Siesta Beach is the best beach for families. There is a play area for everyone tired of the sand.
Exotic animals can be seen at Jungle Gardens, and quiet time is available at South Lido Park. The John & Mable Ringling Museum is a beautiful place to learn about a few of Sarasota’s famous residents.
If you plan on making your own meals or want a few quick snacks, you must check out the local farmer’s market.
Hotel Recommendation: The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota
Fort Lauderdale is another one of the crazy spring break destinations in Florida. That doesn’t mean you should leave this location off your family vacation list! After all, there are quite a few family-friendly attractions and activities available to keep you all busy and happy.
Most of your time will be spent out in the Atlantic Ocean. Whether your family chooses to swim, snorkel, jet ski, or scuba dive depends on the day and your mood. If you want to stay dry, you can always board the paddlewheel boat for a sightseeing cruise.
The largest outlet mall in the country is located in Fort Lauderdale too. So, you know you must spend a few hours shopping at Sawgrass Mills! Or at any of the shops that line Olas Boulevard.
Hotel Recommendation: Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa
One of the best and most popular places to visit Florida with kids is the Space Coast. All families seem to love the idea of exploring space. So what better way than to discover it through the Kennedy Space Center!
As soon as you have had your science lesson, you can head over to Cocoa Beach for fun in the sun. Surf lessons are a must at this beach, as is a stop at the Ron Jon Surf Shop.
Another beach experience is available during long walks on the Indialantic Boardwalk. If you prefer to see animals while walking around, you could always do the Treetop Trek at the Brevard Zoo instead.
Don’t miss 33 fantastic things to do in Cape Canaveral Florida for more ideas.
Hotel Recommendation: International Palms Oceanfront Resort Cocoa Beach
St. Augustine is one of the oldest cities in the US. History is everywhere, yet no one in your family will be bored during your visit. The kids will love the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Castle of St. Mark. You will want to spend a little extra time at the Fountain of Youth.
We have an entire post with things to do in St. Augustine with Kids if you need more ideas!
The St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum is a must-see for everyone. An abundance of pirate-themed activities, dinners, and cruises are only some of what you will find yourself doing during your visit.
No vacation in Florida is complete without heading out to see the dolphins and manatees. I recommend a cruise on the Intercoastal Waterway if you want to see these creatures and many different sea birds while in St. Augustine.
The history of this city also means there are ghosts around every corner. To learn more about these ghosts, you must take the Secrets of St. Augustine Ghost Tour.
Hotel Recommendation: Hilton St. Augustine Historic Bayfront
Kid-friendly Florida Destinations
These are the best places to visit in Florida with kids. Each area offers unique experiences. Only you will know which of these family vacation spots in Florida will work best for your next trip away from home.
I hope this list of the best places to stay in Florida with kids helps you plan your next vacation.
If you’re planning to visit any Orlando theme parks, I highly recommend buying your tickets through Undercover Tourist. There are a lot of really scammy sites out there, so make sure you’re booking through an approved partner (like Undercover Tourist.)
About Florida Travel With Kids
Florida Travel with Kids was started by a family who loves to travel the state of Florida with kids! This site will help you explore the fun state of Florida and all of the kid-friendly activities you’ll find here.
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