10 Amazing Florida Roadtrip Stops with Kids
These 10 destinations are perfect for a Florida roadtrip with kids! Remember that Florida is SO much more than just Walt Disney World. However, you may as well make a stop for some magic while you are so close 😉.
This list begins at the tip-top of Florida in Destin and finishes at the very bottom of Florida in Key West. It will show you all the best places in Florida to visit with kids for a perfect Florida roadtrip!
You’ll experience everything from a professional sandcastle making lesson, walking a elevated path over a swamp, talking to real-life astronauts and driving the infamous overseas highway.
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Related Post: 13 Perfect Airbnbs Near Disney World for Big Families
Here are 10 Perfect Florida Roadtrip Stops with Kids:
Destin is a perfect first stop on your Florida roadtrip with kids! Because Destin is known for its gorgeous emerald-hued waters you can hang out in and its white sandy beaches to play on. Starting here, you will be able to experience the entire length of Florida on your spring roadtrip!
The first activity to experience with your family in Destin is hanging out at ‘Crab Island.’ Crab Island is no longer an island, but a sandbar in the water keeping the water very shallow. This makes it a highly-visited area for boats to anchor and people to hang out in the water. You can hang out on floaties, play catch in the water, look for dolphins and eat yummy food from your boat!
Crab Island is only accessible by boat. So you can either rent your own boat, or you can book a guided trip! Pontoon boat rentals are the easiest to drive and the most common boat rentals in the area. However, there are many different boat-rental options.
Another top activity in Destin for the whole family is to book a sandcastle building course from a professional! Parents/grandparents are more than encouraged to join because they say the BEST experiences are when the ENTIRE family is involved!
You will have a 2-hour lesson from a sandcastle professional with all the needed tools and guidance. And you will end with an awesome 3.5-foot sand sculpture!
Be sure to take a walk down the Destin Harbor Boardwalk for a relaxing stroll, shopping, and a yummy bite to eat.
Check out these awesome family-friendly excursions!:
Crystal River, Florida
By Karen Warren at Outdoor Adventure Sampler
Swim with manatees with your kids on your Florida roadtrip in Crystal River, Florida! Crystal River is known as the manatee capital of the world, and for good reason. Because in the winter and early spring, hundreds of manatees take refuge in the warm springs of the area.
Tour companies provide all the gear and a guide to help you safely encounter these gentle and endangered animals underwater.
Also, while you are in the Crystal River area, visit the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park to see many native animals and birds of Florida. You can watch the feeding of the manatees and observe their actions from an underwater viewing platform.
Plus Homosassa Springs is the home to Lu, the oldest hippopotamus in North America! It is priceless to watch Lu interact with his favorite park ranger while feeding. And, you can see flocks of flamingos on a boat ride through the park!
After you can have a meal or a drink at the Florida Cracker Monkey Bar to observe the antics of the monkeys on the iconic Monkey Island. Five spider monkeys swing on ropes and jump on the platforms built on this tiny island in the Homosassa River.
Other activities in the Crystal River area include golf, fishing trips, and kayaking or paddleboarding on the many rivers and lakes. Plus you can also cycle the Withlacoochee State Trail.
Walt Disney World Orlando, Florida
Many families devote a week (or more!) to visit all four parks at Disney World. However, you can hit the Walt Disney World highlights in just a day or two! Then you can continue on your Florida roadtrip without the foot fatigue (Walt Disney called it ‘museum feet’) that comes with spending so much time in the parks.
Plus we prefer saving money by staying in an off-resort Airbnb. And you’ll have your car with you anyway, so you can still easily access the parks. Check out these amazing, affordable Airbnbs for any size of family (all with private pools)!
We like to find a balance of planning and spontaneity when we do Disney in a day (or two). You can look at all the rides and shows and rank which ones look like the most fun here.
If you want to be a Disney-geek like my husband you can even research graphs of specific ride wait times to optimize your daily plan!
Each family member can pick a must-see attraction and you can plan the rest of the day accordingly. I would recommend downloading the My Disney Experience app ahead of time to help familiarize yourself with the maps of the parks you want to visit and decide the best order to see things.
As west coast natives, we normally visit Disneyland. Therefore it is really fun for us to experience the attractions that are unique to Disneyworld!
Rides we recommend adding to your list:
- The Flight of Passage ride in Animal Kingdom is an incredible experience (even if you don’t care much about Avatar) and has an amazing queue that makes the wait almost as fun as the ride itself.
- Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway in Hollywood Studios is one of the latest and greatest rides at a Disney park. It is a goofy and nostalgic ride that makes you feel like you are in a Disney cartoon and is great for smaller kids!
- Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance in Hollywood Studios is not unique to Disneyworld but is new and super impressive so I have to include it! Not just a simulator ride like Star Tours or Smugglers run, this takes you directly on the deck of a star destroyer and face to face with Kylo Ren and stormtroopers!
Finally, REMEMBER that you don’t have to ride EVERY ride! Just enjoy the ambiance and soak up the energy of the parks before continuing on to see the rest of what Florida has to offer!
Check this out: 13 Perfect Airbnbs Near Disney World for Big Families
Universal Studios Orlando, Florida
The Universal Orlando Resort is a must-see for any self-respecting witch or wizard on your Florida road trip with the kids. Universal Orlando Resort is made up of two parks: Universal Studios Orlando and Universal Islands of Adventure.
Both parks are full of impressive rides and attractions! However, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is the crown jewel!
Universal Studios Orlando’s Harry Potter section is much larger than Universal Studios in California. For example, Orlando also boasts a bustling Diagon Alley and a Hogwarts Express train ride!
It is an unforgettable experience to walk through the enchanted brick wall and become instantly immersed in the magical shopping street of Diagon Alley.
Plus the Escape from Gringotts and Hogwarts Forbidden Journey rides are incredible! And your kiddos will even stay entertained waiting in line with the enormous amounts of details and magical effects in place.
You will definitely not be disappointed by the newest ride: Hagrid’s Motorbike Adventure. This ride places you in Hagrid’s flying motorcycle and let’s you fly through the forbidden forest and Hogwarts grounds to see all sorts of magical creatures! My husband is particularly excited about this one because it is reportedly the most expensive theme park attraction every built at a cost of over $300 million!!
The most important thing to remember when planning a day trip to Universal is that you will actually need to purchase a ticket to BOTH Universal Studios AND Universal Island’s of Adventure if you want to see all the Harry Potter attractions. You can check the best deals on tickets here.
You shouldn’t have a problem experiencing all the Harry Potter rides, stores and shows in a single day (and still have time to check out some of the other fun rides at both parks). We felt like it was well worth it to pay for admission to both parks to experience all the Harry Potter attractions.
Plus you can ride the Hogwarts Express from one park to the other and stay immersed in the magic!
Kennedy Space Center Cape Canaveral, Florida
Kennedy Space Center is a must-see on your spring Florida roadtrip with your family! Especially if you have major space enthusiasts with you. We visited the Kennedy Space Center (without kids) and it was still SO AMAZING.
At this spring Florida roadtrip destination with your family, you can listen to real-life astronauts in person, see real space shuttles and even catch a rocket launch if you plan accordingly!
Plus, a bus tour through the usually restricted areas will take you past historic launch sites and even some SpaceX buildings! The best part is, all of these awesome experiences are included in your admission ticket.
You should be able to see everything at the Kennedy Space Center in one full day. However, you could easily spend two days here if you or your kids really love space.
Jungly Highlands Hammock State Park
Highlands Hammock State Park in Central Florida is a great outdoorsy stop with your kids on your Florida roadtrip. This state park has more rare species living here than any other state park in Florida! Under the beautiful and jungle-feeling hammock of trees, you can see black bears, the Florida panther, alligators, deer, and many varieties of birds.
A unique trail to try is the Cyrus Swamp Trail. This walk is on an elevated boardwalk over the Cyrus Swamp where you can keep an eye out for alligators.
Or you can rent bikes and bike the 3-mile paved loop or the 6-mile mountain biking trail.
And finally, gain access to restricted areas of the park via a guided tram tour! Tram tours begin running in the fall and generally continue through spring.
Everglades National Park
The top thing you MUST experience at Everglades National Park is a thrilling, guided airboat ride through the Everglade’s lush and unique wetlands. Because this airboat ride will for sure be a highlight on your Florida roadtrip with your kids.
The airboat tour will cruise through the waters at top speeds and spin circles through the grass! However, you will also slow down and be quiet to catch a glimpse of any alligators or other unique critters you can find.
Plus within Everglades National Park, you can rent bikes to ride the 15-mile-loop of the River of Grass. Or you can see that same loop via a 2-hour guided tour in an open tram. Finally, you can enjoy the water of the park by renting kayaks or canoes!
The best time to visit Everglades National Park is from November-April during the ‘dry season’ and ranger-led programs and tours are being held. However, the airboat tours are provided by a third-party company and run year-round.
Miami City, Florida
Miami is often thought of as a party destination, however, Miami can also be a great Florida roadtrip stop with kids! South Beach, Miami has huge sprawling beaches of warm water and soft white sand. Plus colorful lifeguard shacks dot the beach, which makes you feel like you are on a movie set.
Be sure to walk the world-famous Art Deco Historic District located right near South Beach. There are over 800 art deco buildings within one square mile that you can snap some cool pictures of! Or take a guided tour (kids are welcome) to learn more about the history.
And if you are looking to immerse your kids in some extra-special culture, be sure to check out Miami’s vibrant Cuban community: Little Havana.
Check out these great, family-friendly tours near South Beach:
Islamorada is a perfect stop between Miami and Key West on your Florida roadtrip. And, the whole family will love it!
However, the one place you MUST stop is Robbie’s. Because at Robbie’s, you can feed HUGE tarpon by hand that like to hang around their pier. You only pay a small amount for a bucket of fish and then you get to hang out on the pier, dangle the fish over the edge and the incredible tarpon jump out of the water to eat it!
Plus Robbie’s also has an adorable open-air market, and a cute restaurant right on the water.
Key West, Florida
Key West is a total MUST-SEE destination and a perfect topper to EVERY Florida roadtrip with kids. Plus a roadtrip is the best way to experience Key West because you will get to drive the jaw-dropping overseas highway to get there.
Be sure to watch the gorgeous sunset at Mallory Square and enjoy the unique street performers and vendors. And take a walk down Duval Street (during the day is best with kids) and eat the yummiest sprinkle-covered custard around at Boardwalk Frozen Custard.
For an amazing mix of ALL the water sports available in Key West, be sure to book the Fury Ultimate Adventure for your family (kids must be over 3 years old). This is one of my favorite things I experienced in Key West when I lived there for three months.
Check out what’s included on Fury’s Ultimate Adventure:
- Sailing on a spacious catamaran
- Snorkelling in a gorgeous reef
- Jet Skiing
- Banana Boat Ride
- Water Toys, Action Climbing Tower, Water Slide, Trampoline etc.
- Breakfast AND Lunch
And remember to eat as much key lime pie as you can while you are in Key West!
Those are the 10 amazing stops you need to know for your Florida roadtrip with kids!
No matter what you choose to add to your itinerary, I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful sun-filled time. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below! I’m a real person who loves to talk travel.
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