School is officially out and so is the sunshine in Florida, which means it’s time to plan your family vacation. While Orlando is the typical suggestion for a family vacation in Florida, in the summer we suggest you trek away from the crowds and enjoy the state’s array of picturesque state parks, unspoiled beaches and outdoor adventures. Boasting kid-friendly museums, nature treks and natural wonders, visit one of these best summer getaways in Florida for families.
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Captiva & Sanibel Islands (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Beautiful barrier islands and Gulf Coast gems, Captiva & Sanibel Islands are a great place to take the entire family in summer. Embrace the laid-back lifestyle and soak up the stunning scenery, where you can spend your days collecting colorful shells that have washed up on its kid-friendly shores. Ride a bike through J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, go on a high-speed catamaran cruise or escape for a day of exploring Lovers Key State Park.
St. Augustine (Hotel Prices & Photos)
One of the best places to visit in Florida for history, it’s hard to resist the charm of St. Augustine. Founded in 1565, you can take a walk along its cobbled streets and admire the imposing 17th-century Castillo de San Marcos National Monument. Observe a unique albino alligator at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, drink from the Fountain of Youth or see some of the city’s most iconic points of interest on the Old Trolley Tour.
Clearwater/St. Pete (Hotel Prices & Photos)
You’ll be lured in by the beautiful shoreline of the award-winning Clearwater Beach and its nightly sunset celebrations at Pier 60, while St. Pete boasts its own Fort De Soto Park and Caladesi Island State Park that are great for outdoor adventures such as swimming, snorkeling and kayaking. See a collection of Surrealist artwork in The Dali Museum, admire the lush foliage in the Florida Botanical Gardens and meet curious underwater creatures at Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Anna Maria Island (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Anna Maria Island offers an Old Florida ambiance with speeds that never exceed 35 mph. This tiny island offers a tranquil escape from everyday life in summer, where you can take a bike and cruise the seven-mile barrier island, spend an afternoon fishing or hop on a kayak and see if you can spot dolphins and bird rookeries. Play miniature golf at the Fish Hole, climb the pirate ship at Coquina Beach or enjoy a snorkeling, kayaking or dolphin watching excursion.
Tampa (Hotel Prices & Photos)
You’ll find plenty of summer adventures in Tampa, from the theme park action at Busch Gardens to animal encounters at Lowry Park Zoo. Wander around the downtown Riverwalk area, hop in a canoe to spot wildlife found along the Hillsborough River or cheer on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at a home game. Adventure Island’s water slides are perfect when you need to cool off, while Glazer Children’s Museum showcases interactive exhibits for the little ones.
Sarasota (Hotel Prices & Photos)
You’ll find an array of family-friendly activities to enjoy in summertime in Sarasota, from splashing in the waters of the award-winning Siesta Beach to kayaking through South Lido Nature Park. Head to Mote Marine Laboratory to get up close and personal with aquatic life, browse the colorful circus memorabilia at The Ringling or admire beautiful floral displays and the most diverse collection of bromeliads and orchids in the world at Marie Selby Botanical Garden.
Marco Island (Hotel Prices & Photos)
A sun-drenched jewel nestled on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico, Marco Island boasts white sand beaches, quaint seafood restaurants and water-based activities. You’re spoiled for choice with Barefoot Beach, Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park and Naples Beach nearby, while fishing charters, dolphin watching and shelling are also popular in summer. Enjoy water slides at Sun-N-Fun Lagoon, meet otters at Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary or explore interactive exhibits at Golisano Children’s Museum.
St. George Island (Hotel Prices & Photos)
For a tranquil beach escape, head to St. George Island to discover some of Florida’s most unspoiled natural landscapes without the crowds. Nestled in the Gulf of Mexico in Northwest Florida, the entire family will enjoy climbing the 92 steps up Cape Saint George Lighthouse for beautiful views of the island, take a scenic bike ride along the 17 miles of paved bike paths and enjoy a peaceful picnic at the undeveloped beaches on St. George Island State Park.
Delray Beach (Hotel Prices & Photos)
A beautiful coastal town in Palm Beach County, Delray Beach was once voted the “Most Fun Small Town in America” by USA Today. Spend a day collecting seashells at the beach, explore the Japanese-inspired garden at Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens and meet colorful fish and coastal creatures at Sandoway Discovery Center. If you want to learn about the local history, visit the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum to see interactive exhibits, artwork and live performances.
Destin (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Destin is an excellent summer destination for water-loving families, as this jewel on Florida’s Emerald Coast offers plenty of surf and sunshine along its alluring shoreline. Take the kids to explore the fun-filled Destin Harbor Boardwalk, or take a boat out to Crab Island Water Park to spend an afternoon jumping on inflatable slides or go on a Buccaneer Pirate Cruise to go on a treasure hunt and enjoy a water gun fight.
Amelia Island (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Amelia Island is perfect for families looking for a laid-back vacation in summer with an Old Florida ambiance. You won’t find high-rise buildings or big-chain hotels, just miles of picturesque shoreline and mom and pop shops. Explore the area on two wheels, hop on the Amelia Island Trolley for a tour of the town or head out for a sunset sail along the waterfront. Walk along the brick streets of nearby Fernandina Beach or go beachcombing for seashell treasures.
Fort Walton Beach (Hotel Prices & Photos)
A short drive from Pensacola, Fort Walton Beach is an excellent family-friendly destination on Florida’s Emerald Coast. With 24 miles of picturesque coastline, it offers plenty of activities in the summer. Take the kids to see the marine life at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park or explore hands-on exhibits at the Emerald Coast Science Center. Perfect for beach hopping, you can also visit the quiet landscapes of nearby Navarre Beach and Miramar Beach.