Florida Memory Makers: 12 Unforgettable Adventures in the Sunshine State

Romona Robbins Photography / Getty Images

Romona Robbins Photography / Getty Images

When my husband and I moved to Minnesota, we knew that a lot of travel was in our future if we wanted to see our families regularly. Instead of hauling a week’s worth of clothes and toiletries back and forth across the midwest multiple times a year, we’ve worked out a pretty good method that makes family visits still feel like vacations. Every year, all of us Midwesterners meet somewhere warm and sunny. Needless to say, Florida has been our destination of choice several times. We’ve explored some of the big family attractions the state has to offer and some of the less traditional must-see destinations.

If a family vacation is in your future, consider some of these kid-friendly, all ages activities in Florida. Whether you want to hike, camp, ride coasters, experience animal encounters, or scuba dive, your family can do it in the Sunshine State. Check out of a few of my favorite destinations.


Biscayne National Park

Vibrant coral reefs are closer than you might think. Biscayne National Park is located close to Miami. Your family can canoe, enjoy a boat tour, hike on trails, and even scuba. Can’t squeeze it all into one day? Camp and spend the night.

Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory

Little kids and teens alike will find something to love. They’ll learn how insects eat, migrate, and breed along with watching butterflies go through metamorphosis. The Wings of Imagination art gallery is a must-see.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm

Learn about crocs, gators, reptiles, and fossils at the “only place in the world where you can see every live species of crocodilian.” Wildlife shows and archaeological digs are accompanied by conservation education. Everyone in the family can even have a chance to snuggle up to a baby alligator.

Kelly Park, Rock Springs Run

Explore more than just the ocean in Florida. Kelly Park’s hot springs and stream are perfect for a tubing. Or, snorkel, hike, and swim before a night of family-friendly camping.

Highlands Hammock State Park

Immerse your family in this swampland park’s rich biodiversity. Panthers, bears, and birds make their home alongside 1,000-year-old oak trees and lush ferns.

Mote Marine Laboratory

Manatees, sharks, and sea turtles await your family at this aquarium. Kids will learn about plastic pollution and conservation in entertaining, educational ways,

Blue Springs State Park

Aquamarine-hued waters welcome your family in this lush, secluded spring. It’s no wonder that hundreds of manatees call this 2,600 acre park home. Your family can camp, snorkel, scuba, and explore along the largest spring that originates from the St. Johns River.

The Ringling Museum

If The Greatest Showman mesmerized your kids, bring the film to life with a visit to The Ringling Museum. See if your family can fit into a clown car, pretend to tame a tiger, and try trapeze walking. Bright colors fill every inch of the museum, including the live theater performance.

Daytona International Speedway

My daughters have the need for speed. If your kids crave it, too, visit the Daytona Int’l Speedway. Car and motorcycle races, guided tours, and autographs all await NASCAR enthusiasts.

Kennedy Space Center

Experience a shuttle launch, step inside a simulator to feel what it’s like to be inside NASA’s iconic shuttle, and build a rocket at this out of this world destination.

Disney World

No family vacation bucket list would be complete without this globally-recognized theme park. Mickey Mouse and crew are constantly updating their amusements, rides, and attractions to make it easy to create unforgettable memories. Make way for Stormtrooper parades, gawk at the wonders of Pandora, and fall in love with the savannah during a safari.

Universal Orlando Studios

Older kids, teens, and adults alike will all love stepping into the movies at this theme park that’s tailored to the cinema. High-tech, 3D rides are worth the wait for each ride. Don’t forget to take your favorite Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, or even Slytherin to ride the Hogwarts Express through The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.


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