Florida for Kids
Think of Florida and chances are you’ll conjure images of cartoon heroes and silver-white sandy beaches. And, there are few that enjoy that combination more than children. Make no mistake, Florida knows which side its tourist toast is buttered, and across almost every town and city in the Sunshine State, the priority remains the same; children and families are at the forefront of nearly everything Florida does.
And while that makes it an ideal family destination, it also makes planning a holiday here pretty daunting. So, once you’ve enjoyed all the fun Mickey and Co can muster, and lazed on some of the world’s best beaches, what’s next?
From wildlife reserves and State parks, to aquariums and zoos, the natural world and its inhabitants are a Florida staple. Unleash the inquisitive explorer in your little ones as you set off on family-friendly adventures. Tread raised boardwalks at the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, west of Naples, to discover alligator swamps, or hold-tight aboard the thrill of an air boat as you zip through the Everglades National Park. Visitors to Sarasota or Port Charlotte can combine both activities with a trip to nearby Myakka River State Park, which also offers 57 square miles of wetlands, prairies and woodland and is popular for hiking, fishing and camping.
For a walk on the slightly tamer side, take a trip to one of the State’s many zoos or aquariums. The Lowry Park Zoo, in Tampa, is repeatedly rated the best in the U.S. by Parents Magazine, and houses more than 1,500 animals in 56 acres of natural habitat. For marine life, Clearwater Marine Aquarium offers a educational slant. As a working marine animal hospital, its mission is to restore and preserve the marine environment through leadership in education, research and the rescue, rehabilitation and release of marine life.
And for those days when the sun doesn’t shine (yes, even in Florida...although it’s a rarity!), head indoors to one of the specially developed Children’s Museums. These pop up across the State, educating young minds through imaginatively developed, interactive installations on everything from science to history. Two of the best, again reside in Tampa. The newly-opened Glazer Children’s Museum promises to “grow your mind” with its 170 “interactivities”, while the Museum of Science and Industry, houses 450 hands-on activities, alongside an IMAX Dome Theatre and The Saunders Planetarium.
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