18 Florida Day Trips That Are Family-Friendly

Sun, fun, and surf –– you can expect all this and more from a family vacation to Florida. When you’ve got a whole family to please, however, you might find yourself stressing out about where to go and what to do on a daily basis. But don’t worry –– there’s no shortage of activities to keep kids of all ages entertained in the sunshine state.

Whether you’re planning for a week away or just a one-day outing, here are some ideas to make sure the whole family is having a great time.

Orlando

Nowadays, there’s maybe one thing above all else that Orlando is known for, and that’s theme parks galore! If you find yourself in or around this popular tourist hub, take advantage of all the chills and thrills to be found in one of its many parks. From Volcano Bay to Aquatica to Legoland, there’s something for everyone.

Walt Disney World

There’s not much to say about this world-famous theme park that hasn’t already been said. You will need more than a day to cover everything Disney World has to offer, so try to choose one of its parks and go from there. The happiest place on earth is sure to bring a smile to both those young and young at heart!

Universal Studios

Movie lovers of all ages will get a huge kick out of a trip to Universal Studios. From the magical world of Harry Potter to the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, this is an attraction you won’t want to miss. With different themed snacks and restaurants across the park, grabbing a bite in between rides is easy –– just try to decide ahead of time where you want to go in this sprawling location!

Discovery Cove

If your family are fans of marine wildlife, Discovery Cove is the place to visit. Swim with dolphins, pet manta rays, and have your feet tickled by gorgeous tropical fish. With a vast array of aquatic wonders at your fingertips, you will find plenty of sights and activities to fill the day with.

Sanibel and Captiva Islands

These islands just off the coast of Fort Myers feature 15 miles of unspoiled, pristine beaches. Bursting with lush greenery, and tropical wildlife, this is a perfect getaway for anybody who is looking to get out of the city to relax and unwind. It’s also known to have the best beaches in the United States for shelling!

Bowman’s Beach

While you’re sure to find no shortage of beautiful beaches on these islands, Bowman’s Beach is one popular destination. It is particularly known for its large scattering of seashells, which offer some fun, free souvenirs for young kids. Make sure to bring some buckets and shovels to build the most decorated sandcastles ever seen!

Lighthouse Beach

Another beautiful beach to check out is Lighthouse Beach. Enjoy fishing, bird watching, picnic areas, and more among the island scenery. You can also throw on a coverup and head to the miles of nature trails to get a glimpse of the iconic lighthouse.

Tampa

Like Orlando, the Tampa Bay area has no shortage of exciting theme parks and attractions to see –– Adventure Island, Dinosaur World, and Legoland, just to name a few. You will also find plenty of educational opportunities for kids curious about the world, from the Glazer Children’s Museum to the Florida Aquarium. Here are just two ideas of where to head in Tampa.

Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens in Tampa is one of the biggest theme parks in the United States, featuring roller coaster attractions as well as fascinating animals. Take nature lovers on the Serengeti Safari to see animals of the African plains up close. Meanwhile, thrill-seekers will love the rip-roaring rides all across the park!

Laser Ops Extreme Gaming Arcade

When a rainy day hits, you might not want to go to a theme park –– that’s when the arcade is a great alternative! Get hearts racing with laser tag, archery, VR gaming, and classic arcade games that everybody can get into. This renowned spot is also ideal for birthday parties and other special occasions.

Clearwater

Clearwater is a city particularly renowned for its beautiful weather and sunny beaches. This is a great place to play beach sports, take a cruise, or just lounge in your new swimsuit while the grandkids build sandcastles in the pearly white sand. This location is great for kids because you can find aquariums, parks, beaches, theaters, and even a fantastic baseball stadium!

Clearwater Beach

As its name suggests, Clearwater beach features wonderfully crystal clear water and miles of soft sand. Safe waters diligently watched by lifeguards make this a great place for the whole family to swim and splash. Off the coast, you can hop on Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise or be dazzled on a dolphin-watching tour.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Bring a bit of education into the day trip with a visit to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium! Here, kids can learn why it’s so important to protect the wildlife and beaches that make Clearwater so special. For fans of marine animals, it will be a marvel to see the giant dolphin habitat, turtles, otters, and much more.

St. Augustine

St. Augustine is home to the oldest city in the US, and with that comes a lot of wonderful history to explore. But don’t worry –– this history will keep even the rowdiest kids entertained. Apart from its tales of ghosts and pirates, St. Augustine also features an active lighthouse, an old powerful fortress, and the enchanted Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park.

St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum

St. Augustine loves to boast about its pirate history, and for good reason. Allow yourself and your family to travel back to the Golden Age of Piracy in this storied museum, which allows for individual as well as group tours and pirate parties. Enjoy artifacts and displays celebrating five centuries of swashbuckling skullduggery!

St. Augustine Ghost Tours

Explore the haunted history of St. Augustine with one of its many renowned ghost tours! Hop on a trolley to hear –– and maybe even see –– some of the iconic spooks of the city. Provided little ones aren’t scared of a bit of eeriness, this is a great place to kick off the Halloween season!

Northwest Florida

Also known as the Panhandle, Northwest Florida is known to be a bit more crowded than other parts of the state –– and more budget-friendly. Here are some fun ways to spend a day or two in this gorgeous locale.

Panama City Beach

This waterfront town offers lots of activities for kids and adults and is known to be the more laid-back cousin of Destin. Find shopping, dining, and entertainment at Pier Park, or just lounge on towels by the calm, friendly waves. The best part about this beach is it’s free! Just bring your swimsuit and a picnic blanket, and you’re good to go.

National Naval Aviation Museum

Granted, an aviation museum might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but if you’ve got older kids who are particularly interested in military and aerospace history, this is a spot you won’t want to skip. You can even experience the excitement of air and space travel with Apollo 11 virtual reality and motion-based flight simulators!

Naples

Naples might be known mainly as the golf capital of the United States, but there are actually tons of other things for families to do in this lush area. Take a break from the golfing and had down to Naples Pier, the Golisano Children’s Museum, the Naples Zoo, or one of these other great attractions.

Lowdermilk Beach

Lowdermilk Beach is another wonderful beach to spend your day trip. Enjoy concession stands, playgrounds, volleyball courts, and several parks within the area. Lowdermilk Park even features gazebos that you can rent for bigger family occasions!

Naples Zoo and the Caribbean Gardens

The Caribbean Gardens is a small world of subtropical and tropical greenery and plant life originating from all over the world. Since its creation, it has expanded to include the Naples Zoo, where a global array of magnificent animals thrive. Experience nature and wildlife firsthand in this slice of the tropics!

Honorable Mentions

An extensive list of all the day trips to take in Florida would likely wrap around the world –– twice! Here are some more ideas of things to do in some of the locations we haven’t mentioned yet.

Fort Lauderdale

This popular travel destination is located on the southeastern coast of Florida. Like many of the other locations on this list, you can find more dazzling beaches and children’s entertainment opportunities in this bustling hub –– but be sure to check out its famous boating canals while you’re there! The Bluefoot Pirate Adventures Boat or the Jungle Queen Riverboat Cruise are great places to start. Alternatively, take a ride on a water taxi or stroll down Las Olas Boulevard.

Siesta Key

Siesta Key is known for having the best beaches for swimming due to its clear, calm waters –– a great place for kids to swim safely! You can also head to the Sarasota Jungle Gardens, Smuggler’s Cove, the Ringling Museum, or the Mote Marine Aquarium for more fun nearby.

Daytona Beach

We have hardly mentioned any waterparks yet on this list, but Daytona Lagoon is one you won’t want to pass up on! For other fun activities, check out the Daytona International Speedway for Nascar Racing, the Marine Science Center for fun learning, or just head down the Daytona Beach Boardwalk for a host of things to do!

Conclusion

There is no shortage of amazing things to do throughout the year in the state of Florida. We have only covered a small fraction of attractions and activities on this list –– and even that handful of things is enough to fill a summer!

Hopefully, there is something on this list that has inspired a great family outing with you and your loved ones. Don’t hesitate to use it as a jumping-off point to explore other things to do in these areas –– you may find some hidden treasures!

Sources:

Caribbean Gardens | The Cultural Landscape Foundation

Our History | St. Augustine, FL

Sanibel Island Shelling: A Local's Guide to Finding the Best Shells | Travlinmad Slow Travel Blog