Sun, sea, sand, and year-round warm, balmy weather, Florida is a popular go-to destination for visitors wanting to escape colder climes. But it’s not only the great weather and beautiful beaches that attract thousands of tourists every month – the state offers a plethora of attractions, activities, and adventures for all tastes. From arts and cultural excursions to watersports and land-based recreational events, here is a list of fun and exciting places to see and explore with the kids in the state of Florida.
Located in east Pasco County 45 minutes north of Tampa next to the Green Swamp, Florida's second-largest wilderness area, Giraffe Ranch, a 47-acre licensed working ranch and native wildlife preserve that is home to several exotic species, including giraffes and domestic cattle. The preserve features beautiful landscapes including ephemeral wetlands, lush pastures, native orchids, and live oaks, and is inhabited by animals from around the world such as giraffes, camels, rhinos, Brazilian tapirs, and pygmy hippos. Visitors can experience the animals up close on guided safaris on specially designed 4-wheel drive vehicles, camel-back, llama-back, or Segways. The ranch aims to preserve species that are endangered and encourage an interest in conservation and preservation of the eco-system.
38650 Mickler Rd, Dade City, FL 33523, Phone: 813-482-3400
2.Museum of Arts and Sciences
© Museum of Arts and Sciences
The Museum of Arts and Sciences (MOAS) is dedicated to the fields of arts and science and is home to over 30,000 objects, items, and artifacts, ranging from astrology to original artworks from African to Cuba. Located on the 90-acre Tuscawilla Preserve, the Smithsonian-affiliated Museum features a state-of-the-art planetarium, one of the most significant collections of Cuban paintings in the United States, the Schulte Gallery of Chinese Art, the Dow Gallery of American Art, and the Prehistory of Florida Gallery. The Charles and Linda Williams Children's Museum is a hands-on science center, which houses professionally designed immersive exhibits that demonstrate various principles of science in a variety of fun and immersive displays.
352 S Nova Rd, Daytona Beach, FL 32114, Phone: 386-255-0285
3.Naples Botanical Gardens
The Naples Botanical Garden is a 170-acre world-class garden paradise and botanical garden that is home to a wide variety of plants from around the world. Established to develop and preserve the productive floral ecosystems and kingdoms between the 26th latitudes, the gardens boast an award-winning horticultural design with an array of different gardens, including Irma’s Garden, Kapnick Brazilian Garden, LaGrippe Orchid Garden, Kapnick Caribbean Garden, and the Lea Asian Garden. The Water Garden features several beautiful water features and tranquil ponds, and the Chabraja Visitor Center offers an array of information about the gardens and the flora that make up the habitats within it. The Naples Botanical Garden offers a range of educational programs, classes, workshops, and community outreach programs for visitors of all ages.
4820 Bayshore Dr, Naples, FL 34112, Phone: 239-643-7275
4.Manatee Observation and Education Center
© Manatee Observation and Education Center
The Manatee Observation and Education Center is an environmental education and wildlife viewing center in downtown Fort Pierce, which is dedicated to coastal awareness. The Center straddles the saltwater Indian River Lagoon and freshwater Moore's Creek, a freshwater tributary and historically renowned for being a gathering place for Florida manatees who come together in the warm runoff water from the disused Henry B. King Power Plant. The Center aims to inspire an interest in these gentle giants, as well as the coastal environment in which they live and the conservation of Florida's diverse habitats. The Manatee Observation and Education Center is open Tuesday through Sunday.
480 N Indian River Dr, Fort Pierce, FL 34950, Phone: 772-429-6266
5.Avalon State Park
Located on North Hutchinson Island and four miles north of Fort Pierce Inlet State Park, Avalon State Park is a new seaside park with over a mile of undeveloped beachfront. The park offers a variety of recreational and outdoor activities such as swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, beachcombing, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and picnicking at sheltered picnic tables overlooking the beach. The park also provides a vitally crucial protected habitat for many species of wildlife, including endangered sea turtles, like the Atlantic green, the loggerhead, and the leatherback. It also protects and preserves several protected species of plants such as the inkberry, the giant leather fern, the naked wood, and coastal vervain.
N Hwy A1A, Fort Pierce, FL 34949, Phone: 772-468-3985
6.Blue Spring State Park
Blue Spring State Park is a state park located west of Orange City and a popular tourist destination that offers an array of outdoor recreational activities from hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and canoeing to swimming, fishing, camping and wildlife watching and is one of the best places in Florida to see manatees in the wild. The constant 72-degree waters of the St. Johns River, which rests at the center of the park, is home to more than 500 manatees, along with other wildlife such as a variety of wading birds, ospreys, eagles, and kingfishers, and plenty of fish. Blue Spring Park serves as a haven for these gentle creatures who come to the park to birth their calves in a protected area in the summer. Visitors to the park can see the manatees on guided canoe, kayak, or riverboat cruises.
2100 W French Ave, Orange City, FL 32763
7.Boca Raton Children's Museum
© Boca Raton Children's Museum
The Boca Raton Children's Museum is dedicated to education and learning through educational exhibits, activities, programs, and events. Founded in 1979 by the Junior League of Boca Raton, the Boca Raton Children's Museum was the State of Florida’s first children’s museum and features a variety of themed permanent and traveling exhibits for children of all ages, including The Sensory Room, Pirate Ship, The Grocery Store, Scallywag Falls, Living Well, and the Wanna Be Center. The Museum also offers educational programs to children, as well as workshops, classes, and the community outreach program known as the Traveling Museum. The Boca Raton Children's Museum is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday afternoons with mornings reserved for school groups.
498 Crawford Blvd, Boca Raton, FL 33432, Phone: 561-368-6875
8.Clearwater Marine Aquarium
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The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is an animal sanctuary dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of sick and injured marine animals in Clearwater, Florida. Founded in 1972 and based in a former water treatment plant whose pools are ideal for the rehabilitation of the animals, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is currently home to a variety of marine animals, including Atlantic bottlenose dolphins, green sea turtles, great white pelicans, cow nose rays, North American river otters, and nurse sharks. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a permanent home to these animals as once they have been rescued and rehabilitated, they remain at the sanctuary for safety. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is located at 249 Windward Passage in Clearwater and is open to the public daily from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm. Activities at the Aquarium include boat cruises and kayaking trips, children’s camps, documentaries, and films shown in the Aquarium’s Spectrum Theater, and Behind-the-Scenes tours. Visitors can also enjoy animal experiences and learn more about feeding, caring for, and animal husbandry, along with self-guided or group tours of the facility.
249 Windward Passage, Clearwater, FL 33767, Phone: 727-441-1790
© Dinosaur World
Dinosaur World is a family-friendly museum chain of three outdoor dinosaur theme parks around the country that feature over 150 life-size dinosaur sculptures designed and created by Christer Svensson. Based in Plant City, Florida, Cave City, Kentucky, and Glen Rose, Texas, Dinosaur World is home to numerous life-size dinosaur statues posed in habitats that reflect their natural environments when they existed ranging from lush tropical jungles and grassy savannahs to tranquil lakes. The park has several shady areas for picnicking as well as play areas for children, and attractions at the park include a ‘Fossil Dig’ where kids can dig for real fossils at a sand table and take their favorite three home. Other attractions include the Dinosaur Walk; Dino Gem Excavation; interactive shows like that Exploration Cave Show and Triviasaurus Rex Game Show; and an Animatronic Dinosaurs Display, among others.
5145 Harvey Tew Rd, Plant City, FL 33565, Phone: 813-717-9865
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© Disney World
Officially known as the Walt Disney World Resort, Walt Disney World is a world-renowned entertainment complex that offers a wealth of entertainment, theme parks, and fun for the whole family. Located in Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, Florida, Walt Disney World spans 27,258 acres and features four massive theme parks, two water parks, 27 themed resort hotels and nine non-Disney-themed hotels, several championships and designer golf courses, a camping resort, and the outdoor Disney Springs shopping center. Theme parks include Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the two water parks include Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach. Walt Disney World is the most visited vacation resort in the world and the flagship destination of Disney's worldwide corporate enterprise.
Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, FL 32830, Phone: 407-939-5277
11.Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park is a U.S. National Park on the southern tip of Florida that consists of 1.5-million-acres of beautifully preserved wetlands made up of coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes, and pine woods. The most significant tropical wilderness of its kind in the world, these wetlands are home to a wealth of animal and bird species, including 40 species of mammals, over 300 species of fresh and saltwater fish, and 350 species of birds. The marshlands are also home to endangered species of animals such as the leatherback turtle, West Indian manatee, and the ever-elusive Florida panther. The Everglades National Park has been declared a World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve, and a Wetland of International Importance.
40001 State Road 9336, Homestead, FL 33034, Phone: 305-242-7700
12.Fern Forest Nature Center
The Fern Forest Nature Center is a vast 250-acre preserve and urban wilderness area that features deeply shaded forest and lush tropical jungle-like habitats that are home to a variety of fauna and flora, including over 30 types of ferns and other native plants. Established in 1979 around the original floodplain of Cypress Creek, the Fern Forest Nature Center protects habitats that have almost vanished due to overdevelopment. The center can be explored on four easy hikes along a wooden boardwalk that winds through the different habitats from lush wetlands and swamps, along Cypress Creek, through a maple forest, and past a butterfly garden.
201 S Lyons Rd, Coconut Creek, FL 33063, Phone: 954-357-5198
13.Gold Coast Railroad Museum
© Gold Coast Railroad Museum
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum is dedicated to exploring and preserving the history of the railroad industry and promoting historical trains and railroads. Located next to the Miami Zoo, the museum was built in 1956 on the former Naval Air Station Richmond (NASR), which boasted three miles of tracks and is one of three Official State Railroad Museums in Florida today. The museum houses several interactive displays, exhibits, movies, and artifacts, and over 30 historic trains including the Florida East Coast ‘113’ engine and the Western Pacific ‘Silver Crescent.’ Visitors to the museum can take a journey back in time with rides on vintage trains, standard gauge railway cars, and in the cab of the train's locomotive.
12450 SW 152nd St, Miami, FL 33177, Phone: 305-253-0063
The HistoryMiami Museum, formerly known as the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, is dedicated to telling the story of the history of Southern Florida. Founded in 1940 as the Historical Association of Southern Florida, the museum is the largest of its kind in the State of Florida and features four permanent galleries that house both permanent and traveling exhibits, and an Archives and Research Center. The museum has a collection of more than 37,000 artifacts that range from prehistoric archaeological finds to 20th-century Afro-Cuban folk art and over a million historical images. The museum is also home to the South Florida Folklife Center, the Education Center, and the City Tours program and offers several educational programs that focus on the importance of the past in shaping Miami's future.
101 W Flagler St, Miami, FL 33130, Phone: 305-375-1492
15.Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
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Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway on East Sunrise Boulevard, the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park offers a stunning tropical oasis in which to enjoy a range of activities and local wildlife watching. Once home to Hugh Taylor Birch, who donated the estate to Florida’s public, the park is home to an array of wildlife, including turtles, marsh rabbits, and the gopher tortoise, as well as over 200 species of birds. A mile-long freshwater lagoon provides the perfect place to enjoy swimming, fishing, canoeing and wildlife watching while other recreational activities include hiking, cycling, inline skating, and Segway Tours. The park has a lovely little beach and several picnic areas scattered throughout the site, and a group/youth campground offers clean camping sites and modern ablution blocks. Located within the Art Deco-style home of Hugh Taylor Birch, the Terramar Visitor Center features intriguing exhibits about Hugh Taylor Birch and the history of Fort Lauderdale, as well as displays of the park's wildlife, ecology, and ecosystems. The Visitor Center is open on the weekends and during holidays.
3109 East Sunrise Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304, Phone: 954-564-4521
16.Indian Temple Mound & Museum
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Located in historic Fort Walton Beach, the Indian Temple Mound, also known as the Fort Walton Mound, is a rich archaeological site that preserves a large platform mound that was built about 850 CE by the Mississippian Pensacola culture. The designated National Historic Landmark is one of three surviving mound complexes in the panhandle, the others of which can be found in Lake Jackson Mounds and Letchworth Mounds state parks. The mound was built by a hierarchical society and was at the center of religious political and social activity in its time and served as the platform for the temple and residence of the chief. The mound is still considered a sacred burial ground today, and more can be learned about it by visiting the Indian Temple Mound Museum, which explores the history of the mound.
139 Miracle Strip Pkwy SE, Fort Walton Beach, FL 32548, Phone: 850-833-9595
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17.Jacksonville Hands On Children's Museum
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The Hands On Children's Museum is dedicated to motivating children of all ages to learn through discovery and play with a variety of interactive and hands-on exhibits. The family-friendly museum promotes hands-on participatory learning through role-playing, observation, problem-solving, creative construction, inquiry, and free play. Interactive exhibits at the museum include a radio and television station, a grocery store, a castle, an emergency, and fire rescue station, and several play areas. The Hands On Children's Museum also offers a variety of educational programs and field trips for school children and groups and has a sizeable scholarly figure called ‘Stuffee’ who has soft removable internal organs and offers a fun and interactive for students to learn about the body systems.
8580 Beach Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32216, Phone: 904-642-2688
18.Kennedy Space Center
The John F. Kennedy Space Center is NASA's primary launch center of human spaceflight and one of ten National Aeronautics and Space Administration field centers. Established in 1968, the John F. Kennedy Space Center, formerly known as the NASA Launch Operations Center, was responsible for the launch operations for the Apollo, Skylab, and Space Shuttle programs. Unique facilities at the center include the Launch Control Center, the 525-foot tall Vehicle Assembly Building for stacking NASA's largest rockets, a Space Station factory, the Operations, and Checkout Building, and a three-mile-long Shuttle Landing Facility. A Visitor Complex houses an array of exhibits that explore the history of the facility and the vital role it has played in the space race.
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19.Pushin Water Kayak Charters
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Pushin' Water Kayak Charters offers authentic kayak fishing experiences in South Florida. The locally owned and operated company uses top-of-the-line Hobie Fishing Kayaks powered by Hobie Mirage Drive pedal systems allowing for a hassle-free experience. The company offers a range of guided fishing trips, including offshore, inshore, freshwater, shark, bottom, and eco-fishing tours, and all equipment is such as rods, reels, artificial lures, live bait, water, and ice, along with digital pictures and videos documenting the day. Inshore Kayak Fishing Charters meander vast mazes of mangrove-lined estuaries, while other trips fishing in and around Boynton Beach, Jupiter, Pompano Beach, Stuart, and West Palm Beach.
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20.Replay Amusement Museum
© Replay Amusement Museum
The Replay Amusement Museum is a unique, interactive museum in Tarpon Springs that is dedicated to amusement games and is home to a fascinating collection of pinball games, video games, vintage arcade games, and jukeboxes. The interactive and “playable” museum is a giant throwback arcade and retro gaming emporium that takes visitors back in time to an era before digital and houses more than 100 arcade and pinball games in their original cabinets, video games, jukeboxes, and other amusements, and the world’s biggest pinball machine. Guests are encouraged to ‘play’ for free in a safe and educational environment.
119 E Tarpon Ave, Tarpon Springs, FL 34689, Phone: 727-940-3928
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21.Tampa Bay Automobile Museum
© Tampa Bay Automobile Museum
Located in Pinellas Park in the Tampa Bay Area, the Tampa Bay Automobile Museum is dedicated to the history of automobiles with a fascinating collection of historic cars from the 20th century, which were donated by French entrepreneur, Alain Cerf. The world-class collection showcases the creativity and imagination of engineering through the ages and includes classic automobiles such as rare early front-wheel-drive cars, several Citroën cars, a rear-engine Mercedes-Benz, and several rear engine Tatra cars, and the only surviving car by French engineer Émile Claveau. The collection is also home to a full-scale working replica of the fardier of Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot - the first self-propelled mechanical vehicle.
3301 Gateway Centre Blvd, Pinellas Park, FL 33782, Phone: 727-579-8226
22.The Dalí (Salvador Dalí Museum)
The Dalí, also known as the Salvador Dalí Museum, is a world-renowned art museum in St. Petersburg that is dedicated to the works of famous artist Salvador Dalí. The museum houses an unparalleled collection of Salvador Dali artwork and the largest collection of Dalí's works outside Europe, including oil paintings, including the masterpieces The Hallucinogenic Toreador and The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus, over 100 watercolors and drawings, and over 1,300 photographs, sculptures, and objets d'art. The museum also houses special collections related to Dalí's life, and a library with more than 7,000 volumes, catalogs, and sound recordings, and the donated collection of New York collector and Dalí archivist, Albert Field. The Dalí offers a variety of educational programs, workshops, and community outreach programs.
1 Dali Blvd, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, Phone: 727-823-3767
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23.Tree Hill Nature Center
Situated in Lone Star Road in the center of Jacksonville, the Tree Hill Nature Center is a 50-acre urban wilderness preserve and park that provides a perfect place for visitors to connect with nature. The preserve features several different ecosystems, including hilltop and wetland areas filled with a variety of fauna and flora, mixed hardwood swamps, southern mixed hardwood forests, and freshwater streams. Other facilities at the Tree Hill Nature Center include an indoor nature center with interactive exhibits, a learning laboratory, nature trails, and wildflower gardens, and wildlife viewing areas. There is also an amphitheater and an outdoor laboratory, and the center is open from Monday through Saturday, year-round.
7152 Lone Star Rd, Jacksonville, FL 32211, Phone: 904-724-4646
24.Universal Studios Florida
Based at the Universal Orlando® Resort, Universal Studios Florida® is a production studio and theme park that focuses on the entertainment industry, especially movies and television. One of the most visited and best-known theme parks the United States, Universal Studios Florida® features an array of attractions such as Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley, MEN IN BLACK Alien Attack, TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D, Fear Factor Live, and The Simpsons Ride. The Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™ is a fun ride that combines 360 degree rotating screens and moving cars, while the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit® is hailed as being Universal Studio’s most hair-raising ride, which shoots straight up from the ground on a massive tower, before spinning around the series of loops to pumping music.
6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819, Phone: 407-363-8000
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25.Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
Nestled on the shores of Biscayne Bay in the affluent Coconut Grove neighborhood of South Miami, the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, previously known as Villa Vizcaya, is a rambling Italianate mansion that once belonged to industrialist James Deering, of the Deering McCormick-International Harvester fortune. Built in the 1910s in a time when Miami was choked with trees instead of traffic, the beautifully maintained 34-room mansion is surrounded by acres of serene European-style gardens packed with ornate fountains and statuary, some of which date back to antiquity. The villa features an ornamental breakwater that was carved out of Florida limestone in the shape of an oversize Venetian barge and is studded with a variety of decorative sculpture – the pièce de résistance of this magnificent abode.
3251 S Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33129
25 Fun Things to Do in Florida with Kids of All Ages
- Giraffe Ranch, Photo: cromary/stock.adobe.com
- Museum of Arts and Sciences, Photo: Museum of Arts and Sciences
- Naples Botanical Gardens, Photo: Gary/stock.adobe.com
- Manatee Observation and Education Center, Photo: Manatee Observation and Education Center
- Avalon State Park, Photo: JavierArtPhotography/stock.adobe.com
- Blue Spring State Park, Photo: jctabb/stock.adobe.com
- Boca Raton Children's Museum, Photo: Boca Raton Children's Museum
- Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Photo: Andriy Bezuglov/stock.adobe.com
- Dinosaur World, Photo: Dinosaur World
- Disney World, Photo: Disney World
- Everglades National Park, Photo: jayyuan/stock.adobe.com
- Fern Forest Nature Center, Photo: Richard/stock.adobe.com
- Gold Coast Railroad Museum, Photo: Gold Coast Railroad Museum
- HistoryMiami, Photo: HistoryMiami
- Hugh Taylor Birch State Park, Photo: Andrew Kazmierski/stock.adobe.com
- Indian Temple Mound & Museum, Photo: Monkey Business/stock.adobe.com
- Jacksonville Hands On Children's Museum, Photo: Monkey Business/stock.adobe.com
- Kennedy Space Center, Photo: Peter/stock.adobe.com
- Pushin Water Kayak Charters, Photo: Jacob Lund/stock.adobe.com
- Replay Amusement Museum, Photo: Replay Amusement Museum
- Tampa Bay Automobile Museum, Photo: Tampa Bay Automobile Museum
- The Dalí (Salvador Dalí Museum), Photo: jllwainright/stock.adobe.com
- Tree Hill Nature Center, Photo: micromonkey/stock.adobe.com
- Universal Studios Florida, Photo: BUSARA/stock.adobe.com
- Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Photo: travelview/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Peter/stock.adobe.com