Florida has long held the title of “Most Kid Friendly Vacation Destination” due to an abundance of theme parks and miles of sandy beaches. Ranging from the large theme parks around Orlando to nature oriented kid programs in the Everglades, there is so much to see and do that your kids will love! On your next Florida vacation, give your kids a little something out of the ordinary and experience all that the Sunshine State has to offer!
A great way to beat the Florida heat is to spend a day at one of the state’s many water parks. Adventure Island, located in Tampa, is a mid-sized park that caters to kids of any age. Parents and young children will enjoy the pool and beach area, Paradise Lagoon, where guests can relax and stay cool in the water. North of Tampa in Weeki Wachee, visitors will find Buccaneer Bay, the only spring-fed water park in Florida. With water rides, mermaid shows, animal shows, riverboat rides, and scuba experiences, it’s sure to delight. Families will love Wild Waters in Ocala due to its natural feel with giant oaks shading the entire park. There is a kid’s cove for the little ones, a wave pool, and plenty of huge slides for older children and adults. Disney has two parks in Lake Buena Vista that offer totally different experiences but with the same kind of excitement. Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon are both known for having the newest and most exciting rides and cater to preschoolers, young children, teenagers, and adults with lazy rivers, looming slides, and surfing rides. Florida’s oldest water park, Wet ‘n Wild, located in Orlando has plenty of rides, new and old, including an area where the young and young at heart can go tubing, knee boarding, or wakeboarding. There are also plenty of slides and pools for toddlers and small children. There is also Rapids Water Park in West Palm Beach, Shipwreck Island in Panama City, Adventure Island in Jacksonville Beach, and so many more! The opportunities to beat the heat at one of Florida’s water parks are endless and can be found just about anywhere.
Orlando Theme Parks
An article about hot kid spots in Florida could not be written without mentioning the Orlando theme parks. It all started with Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort. This charming park starts with a walk down Main Street USA with shops, restaurants, and street performances. This park is perfect for all ages with rides and shows catering to every age group. Younger children will love Mickey, Minnie, and all the other characters while an older crowd will enjoy the rides and roller coasters. Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center takes a trip through different nations with rides, performances, and hands-on activities. Disney MGM Studios is a backstage pass to see how and where Disney/MGM movies are made. Hold on to your seat for the Tower of Terror, watch the voyage of The Little Mermaid, and ride with Aerosmith on the Rock ‘n Roller Coaster. The younger crowd will love Disney’s Animal Kingdom with safari rides, animal shows, and Disney characters to share the day. Universal Studios and Universal Studios Islands of Adventure cover all the bases with rides, shows, good eats, performances, and great characters while letting their visitors “experience the movies”. Enjoy the roller coasters at Islands of Adventure while Universal Studios takes you behind the scenes. Get lucky on JAWS, watch Indiana Jones save the day, and experience Earthquake-The Big One. SeaWorld Adventure Park will thrill the kids with tanks, aquarium, and exhibits about sea life and thrill the older crowd with rides and roller coasters. The Waterfront is SeaWorld’s own seaside community with restaurants, entertainment, and shops. Enjoy Orlando: it is what children’s dreams are made of.
Aside from water parks and Disney-centered Orlando, Florida has many other attractions that children of all ages will enjoy. For older kids and teenagers, make at stop in Tampa for Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. This park is full of wild roller coasters, exciting water rides, and shows. The draw for younger children, however, is the zoo-like experience with their exotic animals. Enjoy safaris and exciting train rides to see the gorillas, gators, giraffes, tropical birds, and beasts. The Kennedy Space Center is a way for kids and adults to have fun while learning about the past, present, and future of space exploration. Children of all ages will enjoy meeting astronauts, touring space shuttles, watching films in the IMAX theatre, and being able to touch a piece of the planet Mars. Head to Crystal River and Homosassa between November and March to swim with the manatees and learn about these prehistoric creatures. If the family is looking for a laid back activity, look no farther than the Ichetucknee. This north Florida river is powered by a natural spring to give the perfect inner tube ride, complete with one of the best scenic views around. The Everglades are full of wildlife in its natural habitat. Shark Valley is a 15-mile bike loop that takes you past, not sharks, but alligators, big and small. Kids will love seeing the gators up close and, not to worry, they will not bother you as long as you do not try to feed them! Looking for other adventures? Sail with pirates in St. Petersburg and Clearwater, look for scallops in the Gulf of Mexico in Keaton Beach, Panama City Beach, or Steinhatchee, or swim with sea creatures at the Theatre of the Sea in Islamorada of the Florida Keys.
On your next trip to Florida, experience all that the state has to offer its smallest visitors. With the world’s most popular theme parks, the nations most watermarks, plenty of natural habitats to explore and learn about, and great family-friendly vacation rentals, Florida lacks nothing for kids looking to have fun.