If sun and fun are on your list — and, like, what vacation list are they not on? — check out Florida.
Florida is packed with fun-filled activities. It’s not just the retirement state, although that is commonly its rep. People come from Italy to vacation in Florida. Just think about that… Swim with dolphins or take a boat tour of the Everglades (where there are, hopefully, for their sake, no dolphins) or just relax and sip on a Pina Colada poolside. And that’s before we even talk about the beaches. Remember beaches?
If you’re looking for a place that is off the beaten path, that is serene and laid-back, then Sanibel Island is perfect. The beaches are gorgeous. You will find plenty of water activities to keep you busy or you can enjoy a stroll along the shore to collect some of Sanibel’s amazing seashells.
Pensacola is one of the most family-friendly vacation spots in the whole state. Situated in the Florida panhandle, Pensacola offers pristine beaches and tons of family fun. God, you can scoop it up in buckets, all that family fun! Spend the day relaxing on the beach, snorkeling, fishing, or sailing.
How about taking the kids on a dolphin tour, or a hike on the Edward Ball nature trail? There are plenty of charming shops on Palafox street, and great restaurants. Even the dog will love it here after a trip to the Bayview Park Dog Beach. Don’t have a dog? Get one! Find out more about Pensacola at The Pensacola Local.
Orlando / Disney World
Orlando is the world’s theme park hub. There are something like 70 of them — well, maybe not 70, but a lot. There’s Disney World — that one has been around for a while (but it’s not the original Disney amusement park — that was Disneyland, in Anaheim California). But there’s also Sea World! And The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (#67 on the WONDERLUST 100), and Universal Orlando, where they bill themselves as “The best theme park in the world”, so they’re not short on confidence then. And The Holy Land Experience on one hand and the Curious George Goes To Town Amusement Park on the other. (“I got to pop a monkey into a bag!” says one happy reviewer!) That’s temporarily closed, so, before you rush for the door, call ahead to check when it’ll open again!
There are so many places to stay, and forget about whether the prices reflect the accommodations — they reflect keeping your kids happy, or your inner kid happy to be on site…
Key West is a colorful city that entices you to slow down and enjoy the sights. Stop by Ernest Hemmingway’s old house, stroll down the famous Duval Street or take the kids over to the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory. Key West is one of America’s great peninsulas.
Start at Busch Gardens and enjoy the epic roller coaster rides or the Sesame Street Safari of Fun. Seriously, what safari beats a Seasame Street safari? Go to the Busch brewery for cold brews. Stay for the football season! Tom Brady, 93, is still playing and the NFL changed the rules that no-one can tip over his electric motor cart while he’s throwing the football!
Kids will love the variety of slides, pools, and waterfalls they will find in Destin. By “kids” we mean you, whilst also providing cover should you, in fact, have kids. In addition to its famous white sand beaches, stroll along the Destin Harbor Boardwalk and spend some quality family time fishing. This is where you fish for a family. Throw back the ones you don’t like!
Everglades National Park
With over 1.5 million acres of wetlands, the Everglades is home to hundreds of species of animals. Some will bite your legs off, FYI, so, you know, appreciate the edge of danger to this recommendation. The best way to take it all in is with a guided boat tour, or a tram ride through somewhere rather nonchalantly called “Shark Valley”.
Man went to the moon from Cape Canaveral. Start at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, where, among other treasures, you can see the space shuttle Atlantis on display. The kids will love the Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures. Dinosaurs do not include the early Mercury and Apollo astronauts, by the way. They aren’t technically dinosaurs.
Sarasota is home to the fantastic Ringling Museum of Art. You can head over to the amazing Siesta Key Beach, legitimately one of the best beaches in America, if not the best. Or watch a water skiing show or visit the lush Sarasota Jungle Gardens where kids can feed the free-roaming pink flamingoes. There is no kitsch in Florida.
St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States. The streets are lined with beautiful examples of Spanish colonial architecture, since the Spanish explorers and conquerors built the city, starting in 1565. Take the kids to one of the many forts or a trip to Anastasia State Park. Make sure you visit the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum.
Many Florida vacation destinations await… The state has taken a lot of trashing in recent years — some of it deserved, most of it not — but it remains one of America’s sunniest and most fun places to holiday.
We didn’t even get into Miami… Another day!