Florida is made for family fun!
Tourists continue to flock to the Sunshine State to make vacation memories that will last a lifetime. With world-class theme parks, pristine beaches, an array of child-friendly attractions and stunning parks and trails to explore the great outdoors, Florida is the ultimate family playground holiday destination. There is so much to see and experience in the Sunshine State; family fun is everywhere.
Here is just a sampling:
Winter haven: The world’s first Peppa Pig Theme Park has partnered with The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) to earn its accreditation as a Certified Autism Center (CAC) since opening in February 2022. IBCCES is working with the Peppa Pig Theme Park to conduct staff-wide autism sensitivity and awareness training and make more tangible updates to the in-park communications. The extended commitment will require the Park to continue ongoing staff training past its grand opening to ensure that team members have the requisite knowledge, skills, temperament and expertise to interact with all families and children with learning difficulties specifically for those with Autism. In addition to staff training, IBCCES conducted an in-depth review of the new Park to develop a detailed Sensory Guide. This guide features a review of every attraction by providing insight into how a child with sensory processing issues may be affected by the five senses. Special offers and vacation packages are available https://www.peppapigthemepark.com/florida/places-to-stay/vacation-packages/.
CENTRAL FLORIDA: Situated in the heart of Central Florida, the dramatic, 260-acre landscape of Safari Wilderness sets the scene for an unforgettable family adventure. Located halfway between Tampa and Orlando, this family-owned, working ranch offers an up-close encounter with herds of roaming exotic animals — and now, guests can stay a little longer. Safari Wilderness recently launched an accommodation option with ten beautifully appointed safari tents. Throughout the property, located within the Green Swamp, the second-largest wilderness area in Florida (after The Everglades), guests can enjoy close-up encounters with wildlife, local waterfowl and upland birds. In addition, overnight guests have the exclusive opportunity to experience organised sundowner safaris, bird watching safaris, and mountain bike excursions.
DESTIN-FORT WALTON BEACH: Families looking for the ultimate, fun-filled getaway should look no further than Destin-Fort Walton Beach. Signature sugar-white sand beaches, vibrant emerald-green waters, and warm weather set the scene for an unforgettable escape with endless activities for all to enjoy. Families can enjoy educational and adventurous experiences, from exploring marine wildlife at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park to stargazing and camping at Henderson Beach State Park. Along with 20 miles of coastline, plus protected bays and bayous, the best way to explore Destin-Fort Walton Beach is on, and in some cases, under the water. The destination’s expansive ocean areas and beaches make water-based adventures welcoming and possible for every family member. Think kayaking over the stunning crystal-clear water, endless shelling, surf lessons, and perhaps a family-friendly dolphin tour on the Southern Star Dolphin Cruises.
CRYSTAL RIVER: Meet our gentle manatees, tackle some incredible fishing, explore lakes and rivers, hike through unspoiled forests, go scalloping, or explore our parks and attractions. However you enjoy Crystal River, Homosassa, Inverness, and Floral City, your family will leave with great memories and a desire to return soon.
Whether walking the boardwalk at Three Sisters Springs, dining along King’s Bay or during a Manatee Tour, encounter Crystal River and Homosassa’s most notable locals, the manatee. Families can book a tour to swim alongside manatees in their natural environment or a kayak tour where they can spot their noses when they come up for air. It’s an unforgettable experience best enjoyed with loved ones in the Manatee Capital of the World.
ST. PETE/CLEARWATER: St. Pete/Clearwater’s record-breaking 361 days of sunshine per year greet families with the perfect place to make long-lasting vacation memories. Fun in the sun is guaranteed at St. Pete/Clearwater, as host to some of the nation’s top beaches (including St. Pete Beach, recently named the #1 beach in the U.S. according to TripAdvisor). Fort De Soto Park’s North Beach is much-loved for its family-friendly features. Venture beyond the pirate ship-themed playground onto the beach to find a tidal pool perfect for little feet to wade in. Visitors will also find bike rentals for the park’s six-mile paved trail (including surrey bicycles that seat up to eight!), a mile-long beach, and a fishing pier.
Curious kiddos can come face to face with St. Pete/Clearwater’s aquatic ecosystem on Get Up and Go Kayaking’s tour of Shell Key Preserve. This crystal-clear kayaking adventure takes guests through the mangroves to see a wide variety of fish, including snook and sheep fish, and many diverse birds nestling in the trees. Paddle by the bird sanctuary where guests commonly see Great Blue Herons, Pink Roseate Spoonbills, and Anhingas swimming alongside the kayak!
Kids will be fascinated by rescued marine life at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, former home to beloved late dolphin Winter from the “Dolphin Tale” movies. Be sure to stop by Winter’s memorial and exhibit to learn more about her rescue, prosthetic tail, and personality. And, kids will delight in visiting rescued dolphin Hope, star of “Dolphin Tale 2,” and her friends PJ and Nicholas.
AMELIA ISLAND: As generations of visitors have discovered, Amelia Island is a special place for families–a destination full of exciting activities to be enjoyed together, creating lasting memories. Favourite family pastimes on Amelia include river cruises, nature programs, fishing, jet-skiing, kayaking, hiking the trails of Fort Clinch State Park, horseback riding on the shore, Segway Safaris, and of course, miles of gorgeous beaches. Fort Clinch is one of the best-preserved 19th-century forts in the country, where daily tours with period reenactors depicting garrison life bring the fort to life. Sunbathing, swimming, and beachcombing are popular on the park’s beach. Hikers and cyclists can enjoy a six-mile trail through the park and view some of the tallest dunes in Florida. Self-guided nature trails provide opportunities to learn about and observe native plants and wildlife. Two full-facility campgrounds and a youth camping area provide overnight accommodations for a family adventure.
Kids of all ages enjoy taking an exciting Segway tour of Amelia Island with Kayak Amelia or Omni Amelia Island Plantation. Kayak Amelia offers excursions through Fort George Island, one of the most ecologically and historically significant places along the nation’s East Coast. The Omni Amelia Island Plantation also offers daily Segway tours at Amelia’s Wheels. Guests can enjoy one of several Segway tour options, including tours through the maritime forest to the beach or discovering wildlife around the resort.
MARTIN COUNTY: Tucked away along South Florida’s enchanting Atlantic Coast exists an idyllic slice of paradise called Martin County. A true hidden gem of the Treasure Coast, with more than 20 miles of uncrowded beaches and over 100,000 sprawling acres of parks and conservation lands. A magnet for multigenerational getaways, this is a place for unwinding and reconnecting.
Tired of entertaining the kids yourself? No problem! The Children’s Museum of the Treasure Coast offers a variety of spaced-out attractions and events for the kiddos! The kids can do it all from being a supermarket manager, mechanic, firefighter, veterinarian, or doctor for the day! Not only can your kids spend the afternoon learning and exploring the museum, but they can also participate in the museum’s ever-changing calendar of events. For example, the museum hosts special Sensory Friendly Days for children with Autism. These days, the museum limits the number of guests and modifies its lights, sounds, and other aspects to create a safe and inclusive environment. As a result, it’s one of the most popular spots for curious little ones (and big kids, too!).
To learn more about all the child-friendly adventures waiting to be discovered in Martin County, check out the Kids By Kids video series.
JACKSONVILLE: This popular city has plenty to offer and entertain all ages, from the littlest to the teens, from interactive museums and endless outdoor activities to one of the nation’s largest sweet shops. Families with kids, teens and adults of all ages will have a blast in Jax. One of the highlights is exploring the most extensive Urban Park System in the U.S. Jacksonville’s outdoor attractions extend beyond its 20 mile beaches and include 450 city parks, seven state parks and two national parks, plus dozens of unique gardens and an arboretum. The 80,000 acres of parks provide plenty of room for visitors to safely social distance outdoors with activities such as eco-tours at Kingsley Plantation and Kayak Amelia, one-of-a-kind hiking at Betz Tiger Point, where visitors can catch a glimpse of dolphins and rare birds and biking the Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail, famous for its populations of hawks, storks and kingfishers.
To find out more and travel inspiration for your future Florida gateway, head to VISITFLORIDA.com.