When it comes to child-friendly places to visit, not all states are created equal. In Florida, besides Disney World’s theme parks, SeaWorld and Universal Studios, there is Legoland, beaches, animal rescue centers and museums scattered throughout the state.
You have choices when it comes to vacationing in Florida with your family. Where do you go and what activities should you choose? Wherever you go, one thing is certain, Florida will definitely help you create the most unforgettable family vacation ever.
Here are Travelmath’s 5 child-friendly places to visit in Florida:
One: Busch Gardens Tampa
Busch Gardens Tampa is not just a park with roller coasters and fun rides, it is a park committed to creating a space for wildlife. It is actually one of the largest zoos in North America. It is home to 12,000 animals from more than 250 species. More than 30 of these are listed as threatened or endangered.
When you visit the Myombe Reserve you will see endangered animals like the lowland gorillas and chimpanzees. Visitors can see the animals up-close at the designated viewing areas.
Hippos, hyenas, endangered Malayan tigers, Asian elephants, orang utans and Nile crocodiles are some of the animals found in the African theme section of the park. Families can get on the open-air truck and roam the 65-acre land with the chance of spotting zebras, rhinos, ostriches and may be a chance to hand-feed giraffes.
Information: Busch Gardens Tampa
Two: Legoland Florida in Winter Haven
Legoland Florida is the largest Legoland Park in the world. This 150-acre interactive theme park has more than 50 rides, shows and attractions. It has a botanical garden with Legoland Water Park for families with children ages two to 12. So there are activities for children of all age groups.
It is possible to combine a visit to Legoland with Disney World or Universal Studios. Most visitors to Legoland choose their accommodation in the Orlando area because there are more options and closer to a variety of restaurants and shopping centers.
Three: Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Have you seen Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale II? Dolphin Tale was a movie based on Winter, the rescued dolphin’s struggles and being fitted with a prosthetic tail. According to Clearwater Marine Aquarium Winter was caught in a crab trap line and was brought to the center for care and rehabilitation.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a ‘hospital’ for sick and injured marine life. And their aim is to release these marine animals back into their natural habitat. Some that can’t survive in the wild are kept as long term residents. Winter is one example of Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s long term resident.
Visitors can visit The Winter Zone, home to Winter, re-built scenes from the movie and props used in filming Dolphin Tale.
Clearwater is 23 miles from Tampa. Your nearest airport would be Tampa International Airport.
Information: Clearwater Marine Aquarium
Four: The Beach at Siesta Key
Kids can build sand castles, search for sand dollars and swim while you sit back and enjoy the sun while watching them play. Siesta Key is located 65 miles from Tampa and four miles from Sarasota. Occasionally you may see dolphins playing in the water while you are out tossing beach balls with the kids.
A few miles from Siesta Key is the Ringling Bros. Circus Museum. Check out the exhibition of printed advertising using the clown image from the 1850s to the present time.
Five: Plantation on Crystal River Manatee Tours
Crystal River located 87 miles from Orlando is one of the best locations to see the Florida manatee. According to the Save the Manatee organization, Florida manatees are found in shallow, slow-moving rivers, bays, estuaries and coastal water ecosystems of the southern United States. They prefer waters that are about three to seven feet deep.
Manatees are large gray aquatic mammals with two forelimbs, paddle-shaped tail, weighs between 800-1,200 pounds and have wrinkled face and whiskers on the snout. The Plantation on Crystal River offers swimming with the manatees tours like Manatee Snorkel Tour and Manatee and Rainbow River Dive/Snorkel Package.
If you are combining Disney World with the above tours we recommend reading these 3 articles below: