Isn’t it time to get away? No matter the season, no matter your reason, it’s always a great time to visit the Sunshine State. If you’re planning your next family vacation, consider these seven fun-filled Florida destinations. Based on my own recent adventure, I’m sharing some of my favorite spots for outdoor activities, arts and culture, and accommodations you can indulge in family-style.
One of the best reasons to take your family to Tampa Bay? With CityPASS Tampa, you’ll keep more money in your wallet while still showing everyone a great time. CityPASS Tampa offers a savings of 51% off regular admission to five of Tampa’s top attractions including The Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, and more. Plus, with incredible dining options throughout the city—from waterfront food trucks to Cuban sandwiches in Ybor City to the all-new food hall Armature Works—you’ll eat well. Stay at family-friendly Godfrey Hotel for a waterfront retreat with easy access to downtown, area beaches, and Tampa International Airport.
Combine your exploration of Florida’s Paradise Coast with visits to Naples, Marco Island, and the Everglades. Seek out shells along the beaches of Marco Island or take the family on a guided tour through the Everglades. Catch an up-close look at alligators at the Big Cypress Swamp Welcome Center. Spend the day fishing in the Ten Thousand Islands. Peruse the Fifth Avenue South shops of Naples, and then settle in for waterfront accommodations at Naples Hyatt House. The kids will love the huge pool.
Start your snorkel adventure in Key Largo. Visit John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park for outdoor activities including scuba and snorkel tours. Or relax on a glass bottom boat tour for a laid back marine adventure. Treat the family to fresh local seafood at The Fish House or snack on tacos at Tacos Jalisco food truck. Explore The History of Diving Museum in nearby Islamorada, and then settle in for waterfront accommodations at Kona Kai Resort. I adored the cottage-style accommodations here. Use the resort kayaks and paddleboards in the morning to take in that sunrise in style.
You know Duval Street is where it’s at for people-watching, shopping, and walk-up eateries. Discover more of Key West’s history with a Ghosts & Graveyards Tour. Or dip into literary history with a tour of the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. Join the community for a sunset celebration in Mallory Square, then sample local flavor at Kermit’s Key West Key Lime Shop. Treat the family to a peaceful retreat just outside of downtown in the Stock Island neighborhood. Oceans Edge Resort is perfect for family getaways, with six outdoor pools, paddleboards and kayaks, and waterfront views from every suite.
Want to spend time savoring Miami Beach while having immediate access to oceanfront activities? Book your family vacation at Stanton South Beach for an oceanfront retreat the whole family will love. From water sports to sandcastle-building, it’s all right here. Plus, the pool deck is cozy and you’ll be right next to Lolo’s Surf Cantina so you can fill up on tacos when hunger strikes. After you stroll along to take in art deco architecture, be sure to wander though Lincoln Road Mall for an outdoor shopping extravaganza. Then explore Miami’s Institute of Contemporary Art, which offers year-round free admission.
Want to be in the center of it all while feeling like you have a private retreat? Take the family to The Diplomat Beach Resort for your own little piece of paradise. The resort includes a number of pools and a waterslide for the kids (and, perhaps, kids at heart), along with play areas, immediate beach access, and incredible on-site dining. Everyone will love the fresh coastal cuisine at Point Royal, while the kids will especially enjoy cool house-made sweets at Candy & Cones. When you feel like venturing out, stroll along one of the top rated family beaches in the country at Hollywood Beach. You’ll find a variety of water sports and a friendly vibe throughout the broadwalk zone. Downtown, visit ArtsPark at Young Circle for face painting and free outdoor movie nights.
Enjoy private beach access and a super sized pool at Lago Mar Beach Resort & Club. On-site amenities include a kids play area and tennis courts, free parking, free WiFi, and all without a resort fee. When exploring the area, stroll through the wildlife sanctuary of Flamingo Gardens, or see 20,000 butterflies at Butterfly World. Tour the International Swimming Hall of Fame, or peruse the shops and galleries of Las Olas Boulevard. Then walk along the beach boardwalk until you find yourself the perfect waterfront eatery.
For more travel planning ideas, go to VisitFlorida.com.
A portion of my itinerary was made possible by Florida tourism partners.
Lori A. May is a Seattle-based travel writer.
Photography © CT Shier.