You can’t mention Florida without thinking of all the family fun that comes with it. But where’s best for your one-of-a-kind family? Here’s our rundown of some of the greatest places to make the most of Florida with kids.
From the world-famous attractions in Orlando to the relaxed vibes of Anna Maria Island, Florida is an obvious choice when it comes to vacationing with kids. It’s packed with thrill rides and water parks, boardwalks and beaches, friendly dolphins and soaring seabirds, and plenty of activities geared to children. You can choose to celebrate nature while paddling through mangrove forests or make the most of Florida’s man-made attractions and vibrant city centers. The only difficulty is choosing which of these Florida family vacations is best for you.
A top priority for traveling families is, of course, cost, and we like to help you keep to your budget. For your accommodation, start by checking out the amazing rental properties available across the Sunshine State. Florida is well used to catering to groups and families with members of all ages, so you’re bound to find the space you need at a price that works for you. A private pool, play room, patio—these aren’t just nice-to-haves, they’re extras you’ll often find in a rental, helping you make your family getaway extra comfortable. Most rental properties come with fully equipped kitchens for easy family meals, and many are conveniently located near friendly dining spots where you can feed everyone for a reasonable price.
So, whether you’re the type of parent who happily dons the Mickey ears on day one, or whether you prefer to steer the crew towards relaxed family bike rides on secluded beaches, you’ll find some appealing ideas for Florida family vacations below. And once you decide on a location, you can book all your tours, activities, and attractions right on our site, too!
Yes, this may be an obvious choice, but when it comes to visiting Florida with kids, Orlando is a dream home base for many families. All the big attractions are right there: SeaWorld, Walt Disney World Resort, and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Save your money for the thrilling amusement parks by getting a good deal on your accommodation—like this perfectly reviewed place that sleeps 12 and has its own pool and themed kids’ rooms!
“There’s something for everyone here! Very family friendly, lots of places to dine (the food was great!), and easy to locate rest areas and bathrooms! A great place for young and young at heart, but a MUST for any Harry Potter fan!” — Traveler Review of Universal’s Islands of Adventure
This stunning barrier island destination offers lots of family fun in the great outdoors—cycling, swimming, snorkeling, you name it. Here you can enjoy 15 miles of beach and the peace of being away from the noise and crowds of some of the bigger destinations. Spend some time chilling out on Bowman’s Beach for some world-class shelling, or try Lighthouse Beach, with its historic lighthouse, boardwalk winding through wetlands, and fishing pier. Head for the Sanibel Fish House for relaxed and tasty family dining.
There’s no shortage of opportunities to cool down in friendly Tampa, with flume rides, water shoots, fountains, and plenty more splashy fun to be had for the young—and young at heart. Try Glazer Children’s Museum, Busch Gardens, and the Tampa Riverwalk, with its play fountains. Older children will love the Laser Ops Extreme Gaming Arcade. Take the kids to see sharks, alligators, and otters with pre-booked admission to the Florida Aquarium and check out the Tampa CityPASS, which offers savings on entry to Tampa’s main attractions.
“I took my nephews, ages 5 and 9, to the aquarium. It was just the right size for them. They enjoyed all of the exhibits yet it wasn’t overwhelming.” — Traveler Review of Florida Aquarium
Clearwater Beach is one of America’s absolute favorite sandy stretches, so if you haven’t been, put this Florida gem on your family vacation list. You can treat the family to a bottlenose dolphin-watching tour on a double-decker catamaran, or skip the queues at the Marine Aquarium with advance tickets and see everything from sea turtles to stingrays. The revamped downtown has lots going on in terms of shopping, dining, and year-round entertainment.
The oldest European settlement in the US is yet another prime location for families, what with all the swashbuckling adventures in store at the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum, plus fun town tours courtesy of Ripley’s Red Trains. If you’re a nature-loving lot, book your places on a cruise along the Intracoastal Waterway to spot dolphins, manatees, and all sorts of sea birds. Families with older children may enjoy the spooky Secrets of St. Augustine ghost tour, which offers a thrilling twist on the town’s rich history.
This place is full of child-friendly delights, starting with the Daytona Beach Boardwalk with its rides, arcade machines, and pier, and the Daytona Lagoon, a waterpark that’s perfect for younger children. If you’ve got young motoring fans between the ages of 6 and 13 in tow, they might just love this junior racing experience at Daytona International Speedway.
“My family and I take an annual trip to Daytona Beach and a leisurely nighttime stroll up and down the boardwalk and pier is an absolute must! Games, street performers and the occasional firework make it a good time for all!” — Traveler Review of the Daytona Beach Boardwalk and Pier
Just south of Orlando, Kissimmee is another popular spot for thrill-seeking families frequenting the local amusement parks. Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios, and Fun Spot America are all within easy reach—just grab your passes in advance to make the most of your visit. Kids aged 8 and up get to ride independently and make new furry friends on this small-group horse-trekking tour at Twin Oaks Conservation Area. And when the day is done, there are plenty of family-friendly restaurants to take care of that all-important evening meal.
Set on the coast of the Panhandle, Destin is known for its gorgeous white-sand beaches bordered with emerald-colored waves. It’s a fantastic place for keeping kids entertained. See the sights of Destin by Segway before heading to Big Kahuna’s Water and Adventure Park where you’ll find splashy fun ranging from high-speed to sedate, and go-karting galore at The Track. You could also spot stingrays and dolphins on this Gulf of Mexico cruise or wow the family with a magic show.
Florida’s Space Coast is where beach life meets space adventure. There’s plenty of coastline to enjoy as a family, plus the renowned Kennedy Space Center—that shuttle simulator is sure to get young minds thinking about the wider universe. Before you set off into the sand and surf, consider booking private surf lessons to get the whole family board ready. The Treetop Trek at Brevard Zoo is worth a look, as are the family-friendly eateries lining charming Cocoa Beach Pier.
“We went here with our 3 small boys and they were so amazed. The center is busy and attracts a lot of visitors but is so well organized you don’t feel overwhelmed by people.
There is a lot to do for children and adults of all ages! — Traveler Review of the Kennedy Space Center
Welcome to the Dive Capital of the World! John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park—an underwater park with some of the clearest waters in the state—is a wonderful place to start. A snorkel tour in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary or a kayak/paddleboard tour through the mangroves of Tavernier Creek are great ways to get the lay of the land and create memories as a family. It wouldn’t be a proper Key Largo break without trying the local fruits de mer: the Pilot House Restaurant & Marina is a good family-friendly option.
Sarasota offers a number of ways to explore the area at your own pace—this kayak tour, electric bike tour, and trolley tour, to name a few. Discover the play area for little ones at Siesta Beach, relax in the calm waters of South Lido Park, and meet all kinds of creatures at the Jungle Gardens. For something a bit different, you could book your seats on a Circus City Tour, a fascinating introduction to Sarasota’s circus history.
“The beach at South Lido Park is amazing! At that southern tip, a sandbar forms a shallow pool (about 3 feet deep) where young children can play safely and adults can chill out. At the sandbar you will find all kinds of amazing shells for your collection. Amazing spot for the whole family.” — Traveler Review of South Lido Park
There are 23 miles of beautiful beach here, plus stretches of peaceful water for scenic boat trips, such as this family-friendly sightseeing cruise on a charming paddlewheel boat. Teach the kids to drive (a Segway, that is) on this super-fun tour, or simply rent your own and see the sights of Fort Lauderdale independently.
“Family of four went on a Segway Tour and it was so fun and so easy to learn the Segways. We saw a variety of things along our route and even saw some iguanas hanging out on the bridge supports as we went over the bridge.” — TripAdvisor Review of Fun Center Fort Lauderdale
Time to take things down a notch—you’ve arrived on peaceful Anna Maria Island! Here you’ll find beautiful beaches, great food, and friendly residents. In fact, we challenge you to find a more relaxed spot for a Florida family vacation. You can still cycle, swim, and zipline here, but without the commercialized vibes of some other popular family spots. Children of 12 years and up can join this one-hour dragon boat excursion, where you learn how to paddle as a group and also spot wildlife along the way. Cortez Village provides fresh fish and seafood to the local restaurants, so be sure to stop and try for yourself.
Fort Myers Beach offers a beautiful seven-mile stretch of sand dotted with plenty of family-friendly spots. This sea life-spotting and shelling cruise is a good activity to kick off your visit. From Fort Myers Beach, it’s just a short hop across the water to one of our earlier picks, Sanibel. Cycling or kayaking through the mangrove forest of the JN Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge makes a scenic and educational day trip. If you want to take in a stunning Florida sunset and collect some souvenir shells, this cruise is a great way to end your day.
“Our family (myself, my husband, and our two daughters—ages ten and five) absolutely loved this trip. Not only did we see dolphins jumping behind the boat, we found tons of great shells to bring home.” — TripAdvisor Review of the Fort Myers Coastal Sealife Dolphin and Shelling Cruise
This is a top choice for families who are always on the go. There are so many activities to try out, plus tons of low-cost dining that’s perfect for feeding the brood on a budget. If you like solving puzzles together, you could check out the range of escape room games or see the wildlife at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. Alternatively, grab some bikes and check out the street art scene, the city parks, or the beach.