Some inspiration for a future family getaway to the Sunshine State
With winter officially over and the coldest days behind us, many of us are casting our eyes towards summer; and after a year of staying put, when it comes to making plans, we are dreaming big! Sunshine State is ready and waiting with tons of family fun for everyone! Here is just a small sampling:
A popular destination for Canadians of every age, and it’s no wonder why – Tampa Bay offers just about everything you could want in a sun getaway. For family fun, be sure to check out The Florida Aquarium and learn all about the intricate nature of Florida’s aquatic ecosystems. Here you’ll find more than 20,000 aquatic plants and animals on display, including four sharks in the enormous coral reef exhibit. The aquarium also offers dolphin-spotting expeditions into Tampa Bay several times a day.
If you are looking for outdoor fun, the Myakka River State Park has something for every age. Go hiking, canoe amongst the gators, bike the trails and more – with all the equipment you might need available to rent on-site. Kids love the 100-foot-long Myakka Canopy Walkway. There’s also a Tram Safari and a Pontoon Tour on the expansive Lake Myakka – great opportunities to get up-close views of local flora and fauna.
Westgate River Ranch
For families looking to include multiple generations, Central Florida’s Westgate River Ranch is a great option. The largest dude ranch east of the Mississippi, the ranch lies on 1,700 lush acres in the heart of the state’s cattle lands, offering cowboy-themed accommodations ranging from tent camping and a lodge, to luxury two-bedroom cabins, glamping tents and luxe teepees. And debuting in March 2021, the new Luxe Conestoga Wagons and Signature Glamping tents will be welcoming visitors. Recreational activities include horseback riding, airboat rides, zip-lining, swimming, skeet shooting, nature hikes and more.
Florida’s Sports Coast
Every summer brings with it bay scallop season to this Gulfside destination. Limited to just 10 days, this is a fantastic Florida fishing experience that is fun for the whole family. Charter a local fishing captain for the day and head out to the Gulf of Mexico for an underwater adventure. All it takes is a snorkel, an underwater bag and fins.
“Relax, You’re Here.” That’s the motto for this super-cute beachfront town on Florida’s southeast coast. The perfect family-friendly seaside vacation spot, Lauderdale-By-The-Sea offers beautiful white sand beaches, low-rise hotels right on the sand, and fantastic diving, with water teeming with marine life less than 100 yards off the beach. Go snorkelling, paddle-boarding and more.
In an area known as ‘Florida’s Adventure Coast,’ you get a perfect blend of outdoor fun and Southern hospitality. For the cycling enthusiasts of any age or skill level, the area offers a variety of scenic rides, including the Withlacoochee State Trail, which runs 74 kilometres through three counties. Paddling is another popular pastime here, with many popular canoeing and kayaking trails to experience the State’s natural beauty close up, including the Bayport-Linda Pederson Paddling Trail that waves through a dynamic tidal ecosystem home to a wide array of birds, including ospreys and bald eagles. You might even spot a manatee!
Home to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, every August families can participate in the Center’s Hatchling Release program, a unique experience that allows visitors to learn about sea turtles and the nesting and hatching process. The program begins with an after-hours experience to view the current patients in the Center’s outdoor Sea Turtle Hospital, followed by a presentation, and ends with a trip to the beach to see LMC staff release sea turtle hatchling into the ocean. Visit marinelife.org for more information.
Located in Santa Rosa County, between Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach, Navarre Beach borders Gulf Islands National Seashore, offering almost 13 kilometres of undeveloped Gulf-front. Perfect for idyllic beach days with every member of the family, this is also where four out of the world’s seven sea turtle species nest, the park is also home to towering dunes, migratory birds, and miles of trails. Barrier islands overlooking Santa Rosa Sound create protected waters and critical wetland areas too.
Thriller Miami Speedboat
For anyone with a “need for speed,” this outfit offers a 55-foot power catamaran that takes visitors on a high-speed, off-shore adventure providing an ultimate sightseeing experience in true ‘Miami Vice’ style. Departing daily from Miami’s Bayside Marketplace in the heart of downtown, this 45-minute sightseeing tour offers views of the city and its spectacular skyline from the water. Click here for more information.
Big Kahuna Adventure Park
Located in Destin, this newly renovated park offers days full of family fun every summer. This includes the Honolulu Half Pipe, which pumps 17,000 gallons of water per minute for guests to catch the perfect wave; or the Sky Coaster, where guests can reach almost 100 km/h as they fly 100 feet into the air. On solid ground, the Tropical Mini Golf includes 54 challenging holes on three landscaped courses. Visit bigkahunas.com for more information.
To find out more and for travel inspiration for your future Florida gateway, head to VISITFLORIDA.com.
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