Florida cities have been a favorite family vacation spot for generations. The state’s sandy beaches and warm winter weather keep visitors coming back year after year. And then there are theme parks where kids can be kids.
Each city has something unique to offer visitors, from old Florida charm to metropolitan excitement. This article will highlight the best Florida cities to take your kids for a family vacation they’ll never forget!
Orlando: Theme Park Capital of The World
You can’t talk about Florida family vacations without Orlando. It’s home to some of the best Florida theme parks, like:
- Disney World
- Universal Studios
International Drive is a walkable hub for hotels, attractions, and restaurants. Kissimmee is a short drive away and filled with even more things to do.
Orlando is the perfect place to take your kids, but it’s also an excellent place for parents to have some fun on their own romantic Orlando getaway.
When you’re tired of the theme parks, head up to Winter Garden for a relaxing bike ride on the West Orange Trail or take a boat tour through the Winter Park Chain of Lakes. Afterward, you can stop for a delicious meal at Plant Street Market or East End Market. They’re both great places to find local Florida fare and grown-up food, with plenty of kid-friendly options.
Moreover, Orlando International Airport is one of the ten busiest in the world, with many bargain flights available all year.
St Augustine: The Ancient City
St Augustine is America’s oldest European city and one of the most charming places in Florida.
There are many family-friendly activities in St Augustine that you can enjoy with your kids. Most are either in the walkable historic district or just a short ride away on the Old Town Trolley. Kids love the:
- Potter’s Wax Museum
- St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum
Kids will be kids, but parents can still find a few romantic things to do in St Augustine that the little ones will enjoy. For example, you can go to the Whetstone Chocolates Tasting Tour and learn how chocolate is made while enjoying a sample or two.
There is also St. Augustine’s Not Just A Chocolate Tour, where you walk through the historic district and enjoy tasting the best chocolate and other sweet treats.
You can also do a sunset sail through the harbor with Black Raven Adventures. The little ones will love the pirate ship, while you’ll love taking in the spectacular Florida sunset.
Daytona Beach: The World’s Most Famous Beach
Your whole family will love the Daytona Beach Main Street Pier. It’s part carnival, part beach getaway, and pure fun. Your days will be filled with great food, street performances, and endless activities like classic arcade games and thrill rides. Summer weekend nights are packed with live music and fireworks at the Daytona Beach Bandshell.
Just south of Daytona Beach is the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, a must-see for space buffs of all ages. Explore the interactive exhibits, watch an IMAX movie, or experience a rocket launch from the adjacent visitor center. While there, visit the original Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach, Florida’s unofficial surfing capital.
Key West: The Southernmost Point
Key West is a tropical island paradise at the southernmost tip of Florida. It’s a great place for watersports, including:
- Scuba diving
Older kids will love the laid-back island vibe with chickens and iguanas wandering the streets. They can bike around Key West to see the sights or visit six-toed cats at the Hemingway Home and Museum.
Younger kids will love the Key West Aquarium, the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory, and the Key West Shipwreck Museum. It’s like visiting a Caribbean Island without getting on a plane; nothing beats the sunsets at Mallory Square!
Fort Lauderdale: Venice of America
Fort Lauderdale is a sophisticated, family-friendly city known as the Venice of America because of its 300 miles of canals. It has the crystal clear water South Florida famous for, without the hustle and bustle of Miami.
Stroll the picturesque Riverwalk, shop at Las Olas Boulevard, and take a water taxi through the scenic canals and intercoastal waterway.
Children will be captivated by experiences at the Museum of Discovery and Science, Funderdome, and the recently renovated Flamingo Gardens. Make sure to catch Butterfly World, the largest butterfly park on earth and the first of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.
Adventure-loving kids will have a blast exploring Everglades National Park on an airboat ride and watching the alligator show at Gatorland. You can scuba snorkel at the SS Copenhagen wreck. It’s an underwater museum that’s been popular with divers for decades but is shallow enough for snorkelers to enjoy.
For a transformational experience, book a night to watch baby sea turtles hatch on Ft. Lauderdale Beach. Learn how Sea Turtle Oversight Protection has saved over 400,000 baby sea turtles in the last ten years. The southeastern Florida coast has the world’s most productive sea turtle nesting beaches thanks to naturalists and protection efforts.
Sarasota: Circus City
Sarasota is a fabulous Gulf Coast beach destination for families seeking cultural attractions with a touch of environmental appreciation.
The Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium lets your kids interact with aquatic creatures while learning about marine conservation. Remember to visit The Ringling, which hosts an art museum, circus museum, and more, providing an unforgettable educational experience.
The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circuses came here for their winter headquarters giving rise to the nickname Circus City.
The barrier islands on the Gulf of Mexico in Sarasota are home to fantastic beaches. South Lido Key Beach Park and Siesta Key are laid-back beaches with some of the most beautiful sand in the world. If you’re looking for something unusual, head a little south on the coast to Venice Beach for shark tooth hunting at the pier.
Tampa: Lightning Capital of The World
Located on Florida’s west coast across from Orlando, Tampa offers many exciting family-friendly activities. The Florida Aquarium is home to over 14,000 aquatic animals with interactive exhibits like swimming with sharks. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay features top-notch thrill rides and an African-themed animal park. Adventure Island is a fun-filled water park that offers respite from the heat, while Lowry Park Zoo provides opportunities to see unique wildlife up close.
Across the bay from Tampa are the beach communities of St. Pete and Clearwater. Clearwater Beach is known for its white sand and warm, calm waters. It is widely regarded as one of the best beach cities in America.
St. Pete Beach is home to the Salvador Dali Museum and more beach activities than you can imagine, like banana boats and jet skiing. You can even expand your international cultural knowledge in St. Petersburg by experiencing the Scottish heritage in Dunedin or learning about the Greek roots of Tarpon Springs.
Panama City Beach: The World’s Most Beautiful Beaches
Panama City Beach is a town on the Florida Panhandle with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. St. Andrew’s State Park has over 3 miles of white sand beaches and one of the most popular campgrounds in Florida. You can snorkel, dive on the jetties, or catch a wave by the pier. It’s also home to the Shell Island Ferry to the beautiful dunes of Shell Island.
In town, you’ll find a dog-friendly beach at Pier Park and boat tours out into St Andrew’s Bay, home to the largest bottlenose dolphin population in the world. There are even airboat rides through the cypress swamps and mangroves in the back bays, where you can see the native wildlife up close, including alligators.
Pensacola: City of Five Flags
Pensacola is a city in the far corner of Northwest Florida. It’s famous for its beautiful beaches and its military history. It’s the home of the National Naval Station and the Blue Angels.
The Blue Angels are the official aerobics team of the United States Navy and perform two shows in Pensacola each year with over 40 practice sessions during the summer months.
There is also a fantastic diving site in Pensacola. The Oriskany, or “Might O,” was an Essex-class aircraft carrier that was sunk but is now the main attraction of the largest artificial reef in the world. The depths and currents make it a challenge for beginners, so you should have ample experience before diving here.
Pensacola Beach is on a barrier island that runs parallel to the city. The beach is excellent for swimming and has a long boardwalk with many restaurants. If you’re looking for a more secluded area, try Fort Pickens National Park with its white sand beach, campground, and historic fort.
Final Thoughts on Best Florida Cities To Take Your Kids
These are just nine of the best cities in Florida to take your kids on your next family vacation. Each location offers unique delights catering to different areas of interest for both young and older travelers. Pack your bags, grab some sunscreen, and prepare for an unforgettable adventure in the Sunshine State!
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Featured image credit: Mick Haupt
About the author
Jenn and Ed Coleman
Hi! We are Jenn and Ed Coleman, and together we are Coleman Concierge. It is our goal to inspire you to get out, expand your world, and to seek adventure, even in your own backyard.
We deeply believe in the transformational power of travel. Our tagline is amazing adventures for ordinary people because we believe that you don’t have to be super rich, super fit or super anything to have an amazing adventure. Expanding your comfort zone and trying new things will pay huge dividends in both health and happiness.