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Where to vacation in Florida with kids – the itinerary around Orlando

Where to vacation in Florida with kids – the itinerary around Orlando 

Going to Florida with kids is every family’s dream! I put together an interesting itinerary for an independent trip around Orlando. It turned out not to be that easy, as it doesn’t suggest going exclusively to Disney parks every day and riding roller coasters at other theme parks in Florida or trivial trips to Miami zoos.

Vacations in Florida with children

Typically, all vacationers in Florida with kids first thing they fly to Miami and there choose a good beach. There they and stay for the whole vacation or fly on to Orlando with the kids to visit Disneyworld and other theme parks in Florida. It would seem that with only two locations and minimal travel, the vacation is a success! Wouldn’t they be too bored and monotonous?

In my article, I’ll talk about things to do with kids in Miami and Orlando, and I’ll also share a ready-made itinerary around Orlando by car for those who want to take a little road trip after visiting the most interesting theme parks with kids.

What to see in Miami with kids

Although Miami is considered to be the clubbing capital of the United States with beautiful beaches, there are plenty of places to go with your child.

Here’s what to see in Miami with kids:

  • Everglades Safari Park – you can take a boat ride through the Florida Everglades and visit a reptile show. A good option for children, while adults are more suited to Everglades National Park.
  • Jungle Island Miami is an eco-friendly, interactive mangrove island park that is home to lemurs, lions, tigers and other tropical animals. And mangrove forests in the wild, as well as take a tour of the key islands and see the lighthouse at Biscayne National Park.
  • Zoological Wildlife Foundation, a chance to interact with tiger cubs and see white lions and Bengal tigers.
  • Monkey Jungle – A corner of the rain forest and its fidgety inhabitants: monkeys, gorillas and orangutans.
  • Seaquarium is a mega-show with killer whales and harbor seals. And in Discovery bay you can see giant turtles and crocodiles.
  • Butterfly World – a variety of butterflies fluttering in the air to the sounds of classical music. There are also exotic birds and parrots.
  • Grapeland Water Park – an aqua park with small slides that are suitable for very young travelers.
  • Venetian Pool – Pool on the site of the former coral quarry.
  • Rapids Water Park – A water park with extreme slides.
  • Trampoline High – a sports center with banjo-jumping and basketball courts.

As you can see, Miami has plenty of places to go with kids. I also suggest the most interesting beaches to visit with a child for a half day.

  • Lummus Park Beach is a quiet beach that is in the middle of bustling South Beach
  • Matheson Hammock Park Beach – A great place to kayak.
  • Crandon Park Beach – another good beach on Biscayne Key Island

Ready-made itinerary around Orlando

Here’s a ready-made itinerary for 14 days (2 weeks) around Florida that everyone will enjoy:

  • kids will visit many theme parks;
  • dads will see real rockets and learn all about the U.S. space program;
  • and moms will relax on a paradise beach.

Unlike my route to the best beaches in South Florida, this route is based on the interests of children, but does not forget about their parents. It goes through 4 cities in central Florida and involves a bit of driving, but not every day. I’ll tell you which roads on the route are toll roads and where it’s most convenient to stop close to the theme parks.

So, let’s go!

Rent a car in Miami – our experience and tips on how to rent a car at Miami airport

Day 1. We fly to Orlando!

The main thing here is to choose where you are going to spend the night. If you choose to stay in hotels on the territory of the Disney Park itself, then you will get to specially designed rooms with appropriate furnishings for the guests of the magical world of Disney. Other bonuses: you don’t have to wait in line, guests get an extra hour in one of the parks, and transportation is handled. That’s convenient.

But if you don’t want to live in the Disney Resort, but in a hotel nearby, consider the town of Kissimmee, which is much closer to the Disney Park than Orlando itself.

And then all that remains is to decide which park to go to. Only Disney (Disney World Resort) has as many as five different locations!

  • Magic Kingdom is the very first Disney park in Florida, where Cinderella’s castle stands and guests are greeted by Disney characters and everything familiar from the cartoons.
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios – you can find the Jedi from Star Wars here, as well as characters from other full-length cartoons and other Metro-Golden-Mayer products. Basically, it’s a rival to Universal Studios, but it’s part of Disneyworld. And if you want classic Disney characters — Donald Duck, Pluto and others — they live here, too.
  • Epcot is a park for kids who not only want to have fun, but also to explore the world around them in a playful way.
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the world of Disney’s animals. This is where you can meet the characters of the cartoon King Leo or take a ride on the Kilimanjaro safari.
  • Pandora – The World of Avatar is the newest park based on the movie Avatar by James Cameron. Opened just recently.

Day 2-8. Visiting Disney Parks, Universal, and Aquatic Parks.

I won’t even decide for you how much time you and your kids need to immerse yourselves in Disney’s fairy tales. It’s up to each individual. But it will definitely take one full day to visit one park, except for Gatorland (half a day will suffice). The same goes for the other theme parks and Universal Studios Orlando.

Here are the Universal Studios parks, where Spielberg’s aliens, Shrek, the Howarth Express ride, the dancing minions and King Kong rages:

  • The Universal Orlando Resort – This park is dedicated to Universal Studios movies, including many children’s movies.
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – One of Universal Studios most popular parks.
  • Universal’s Volcano Bay – Universal Studios water park dedicated to the cartoon Moana with Hawaiian scenery.
  • Universal’s Islands of Adventure – a park with roller coasters and other attractions where you can take a ride to Hogwarts or go to Jurassic Park and meet dinosaurs.

Just a reminder that there are also great water parks nearby:

  • SeaWorld Orlando is a zoo and water park where Shamu the orca lives, there are also dolphins, sea lions, whales and rays putting on shows.
  • Aquatica is another water park with eight extreme slides and a children’s town, part of the SeaWorld complex.
  • DiscoveryCove – a place where you can swim with dolphins or sharks, feed stingrays and admire tropical birds.
  • Gatorland – A park where you can see an alligator show.
  • Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon – A large wave pool where you can swim with fish and even sharks!
  • Disney’s Blizzard Beach – a park with the tallest water slides!

Day 9. Orlando – Plant City

Finally, we leave Orlando on Highway 4 heading southwest. The best way to rent a car is to make reservations ahead of time. You can get a quote right here. This is the site we always look for a car for our trip to America.

But the magical world of Florida does not end outside of Orlando. A little distance away, you can immediately get into the power of the other theme parks that are located on the way to Tampa. I’ve highlighted the most interesting ones:

  • Legoland, a park with rides and roller coasters near the town of Winter Haven and the largest Legoland in the United States!
  • Dinosaur World – There are over 150 dinosaur sculptures in this park! Located near the city of Plant City.
  • Busch Gardens Tampa Bay – A zoo in Tampa that shows the world of the African savannah. There are giraffes, hippos, cheetahs, and lions!
  • Adventure Island is another water park in Tampa.

Since you have to set aside a day for each of the parks, choose the ones you are going to visit and I will tell you the best places to spend the night.

After arriving at Legoland in the morning, you can spend the day there and then drive overnight to Plant City, which is next to Dinosaur Park.

  • Distance: 35 + 30 miles
  • Travel time: 40 + 40 minutes, so almost an hour and a half
  • A good hotel in Plant City: Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites

Day 10. Plant City to Tampa.

In the morning right after breakfast we go to see the dinosaurs at Dinosaur World, get to know their worlds and be amazed. And closer to evening drive to Tampa.

  • Distance: 25 miles
  • Travel time: 30 minutes
  • Good hotels in Tampa: downtown – Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay and next to Busch Gardens theme park – Hampton Inn & Suites

Day 11. Tampa

This day is spent entirely in Tampa. First we drive to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, which is part of the SeaWorld family of parks. Here you can meet the world of Africa!

In the evening, we walk around Tampa itself. Spend a relaxing evening relaxing at Ybor City, a place with hundreds of boutiques and Cuban restaurants. Or walk Tampa’s long waterfront – the Tampa Riverwalk – which is as much as 4 km long!

If you want to visit Adventure Island Waterpark the next day, add another day in Tampa. By the way, it’s right next to Busch Gardens, so it makes sense to stay there as well.

Day 12 – Tampa to Cocoa Beach

This was the longest drive of the entire trip. Back on route 4 again, coming to Orlando, we turn onto route 528 toward Cocoa Beach (or Cocoanut Beach). There is a toll road. The toll on Florida roads is 6 centers per mile. If you don’t want to pay, you can take the 520 road.

On this day, as a reward for driving across Florida, we just check into a cozy hotel on Cocoa Beach and go to the beach. Don’t forget that moms should get their reward for patience and rest, too.

By the way, if you’ve had your fill of running, tumbling and swimming in and around Orlando itself, and Legoland, dinosaurs and elephants don’t interest your kids as much, you can go straight to the beaches of Cocoa Beach instead of going to Tampa. Then the trip will be almost half as long.

In Cocoa Beach, you can vacation as much as you want.

Distance: 135 miles
Travel time: 2 hours
A good hotel: The Resort on Cocoa Beach.

Day 13. Cocoa Beach to Cape Canaveral

One day can be spent visiting the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, where you can learn all about American space exploration and see where the shuttles took off from. Dads will love it, and so will the kids. And what to hide, many moms love science too!

All in all, this is a true family event! And it’s best to plan your visit in advance and consider that the visit will take all day!

  • Distance: 25 miles
  • Travel time: 30 minutes

Day 14. Cocoa Beach to Orlando

Here comes that sad day when you have to check out of the hotel and turn in the car on your way back to Orlando. It’s not a long drive. But if you need to spend another night in the city for some reason, then you can arrive in the evening and spend the evening in a hotel near the airport.

  • Distance: 60 miles
  • Travel time: 1 hour
  • A good hotel near the airport in Orlando: Hyatt Regency

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