The 8 Best Florida Family Vacation Destinations of 2022

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“The 8 Best Florida Family Vacation Destinations of 2022”

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Florida is one of the most visited states for a few reasons. The Sunshine State boasts warm weather year-round, pristine beaches along two coasts, and award-winning amusement parks. Pair that with cities and towns teeming with history and culture, alongside some breathtaking natural attractions, and you’ve got an ideal family vacation destination.

For those who are planning their next family vacation in Florida, the choices can certainly be overwhelming. Here, we’ve rounded up eight destinations (hotels included) based on what kind of vacation your family is after. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach all day with the kids, spend days touring museums, or take dozens of rides on exhilarating roller coasters, Florida offers something for everyone.

The Rundown
  • Best Overall: Orlando
  • Best for Culture: Miami
  • Best for Nature: Key West
  • Best for Beaches: Clearwater
  • Best for History: St. Augustine
  • Best for Relaxation: Naples
  • Best Budget: Cocoa Beach
  • Best for Museums: Boca Raton
Orlando
Orlando

Orlando has tons of theme parks and water parks that cater to family members of all different ages. 

What to Do

Orlando sees millions of visitors who flock to the city’s theme parks and other family entertainment attractions. The main draw is Disney World which has four major theme parks: Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. Orlando is also the home of Universal Studios, which features the popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal Studios’s Island of Adventures. 

For younger members of the family, there’s the Legoland Florida Resort and a Peppa Pig Theme Park that opened in February of 2022. Florida’s warm weather also makes it possible to visit water parks nearly year-round. To beat the heat, head to Universal Studios’s Volcano Bay, Seaworld’s Aquatica Adventure, or Disney World’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park. There are also smaller theme parks around the Orlando area like FunSpot Orlando, Gatorland, and ICON park that offer rides, carnival food, and arcade games. 

Where to Stay

The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes is close to the major theme parks and has a complimentary kids’ program, Ritz Kids, which offers supervised activities for kids ages 4-12 from 12-3 p.m. Families can also take falconry classes for up-close encounters with a hawk and go on sunrise safaris to observe the native animals on the property like whitetail deer, bobcats, alligators, and owls. Along with three pools across the resort, there’s a lazy river at the J.W. Marriott Orlando, the second hotel on the Grande Lakes Orlando property. During the summer, the resort offers outdoor movies and a 9 p.m. nightly fireworks show every Saturday.

Miami
Miami

Miami is a worldly city that will give families a chance to explore different cultures through food, art, and museums. 

What to Do

Miami is known as a party destination, but it’s also a family-friendly city that has lots of cultural attractions to offer. Most travelers who visit Miami don’t leave South Beach, but there’s much more to Miami beyond its beautiful beaches. Miami is full of museums that cater to children like Miami Children’s Museum, Jungle Island, an eco-adventure park, and Zoo Miami, the nearly 750-acre tropical zoo with over 300 types of animals. 

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Families can visit the Little Haiti Cultural Center on the weekend for drum classes or take a stroll through Little Havana to taste empanadas or sweet pastelitos. Kids will also love touring Wynwood Walls, a graffiti neighborhood with murals that constantly change. Families should also head to Coconut Grove, the location of Vizcaya, a sprawling Italian Renaissance estate where visitors can tour the grounds and onsite museum. Coral Gables is one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods, and families should visit Versailles Restaurant, one of the oldest Cuban restaurants in Miami, before heading to the Venetian Pool, a unique outdoor pool carved out of a coral rock quarry. 

Where to Stay

The Gabriel Miami South Beach is a gorgeous hotel on South Beach that’s a two-minute walk from the beach. The Art Deco-designed hotel has two pool areas for lounging and a convenient shuttle service to many of Miami’s attractions like the Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science and the Perez Art Museum Miami. The hotel also includes complimentary admission to the Bass Museum of Art Wednesdays and a shuttle service to Wynwood Walls on the weekend.

Key West
Key West

Key West is a tropical vacation spot with access to state parks, nature conservatories, and animal encounters. 

What to Do

Key West experiences great weather year-round, and there are lots of activities for families to see and do that revolve around nature. Located in Old Town, The Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory has nearly 60 species of live butterflies in a climate-controlled conservatory along with a learning center and art gallery. The Key West Aquarium opened in 1935, and the one-story aquarium is just the right size to spend the afternoon feeding sharks or holding sea stars and giant hermit crabs in the aquarium’s touch tank. 

Key West is also the location of some great state parks. Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park covers 54 acres and has a calm beach ideal for swimming and snorkeling. The park also has wooded trails for birdwatching and biking. The most impressive park in Key West is the Dry Tortugas National Park. The park actually lies about 70 miles off the shores of Key West, and it’s made up of seven small islands. The largest is Garden Key, which is the location of Fort Jefferson, the 18th-century fort. Garden Key can only be accessed by boat or seaplane, and trips to Dry Tortugas National Park sell out months in advance, so plan ahead. Once you reach land, you can camp overnight or explore the coral reefs and marine life that surround the park by snorkeling and diving. 

Where to Stay

Southernmost Beach Hotel Resort offers families a centrally located resort with lots of activities. The oceanfront property has three pools with daily activities and competitions like corn hole tournaments and hula hooping competitions. The resort is located in Old Town on the quiet end of Duval Street, and visitors can explore Old Town with the free trolley or on one of the hotel’s rental bicycles. The hotel also hosts ice cream socials, Snow Cone Sundays, and live poolside entertainment at 12 p.m every day. Parents will appreciate the resort’s spa services like the aromatherapy and the hot stone and oceanside massages.

Clearwater
Clearwater

The three-mile stretch of beach in Clearwater is consistently voted one of the best beaches in Florida because of its soft sand and clean, clear water. 

What to Do

Clearwater has some of the best beaches in the state of Florida, and as the name suggests, you’ll find beaches with crystal clear waters. Located near Tampa, Florida, Clearwater is a barrier island with a 3-mile stretch of pristine beachfront, and the shallow water and powdery white sand make this beach a top choice for travelers. Most travelers spend most of their time on the beach, and Pier 60 the activity hub of Clearwater Beach. The 1,000-foot-long pier has a sandbox and playground for kids at its entrance, and it also makes for a great fishing spot. 

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Another great place to catch some waves is Sand Key Park, a secluded 95-acre park beach with picnic tables, cabanas, and a playground. Clearwater’s location on the Gulf of Mexico makes it a great place to watch the sunset over the water. Book a sunset cruise like Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise which offers face painting, pirate stories, and treasure hunts on the two-hour cruise. 

Where to Stay

Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach is a beachfront hotel located within walking distance of Pier 60 and across from the Clearwater Beach Marina. Book one of the resort’s 343 guest rooms or suites which include 12 special  Dolphin-Tale-themed rooms, inspired by the Dolphin Tale” and “Dolphin Tale 2” movies that were filmed in Clearwater. The resort has three restaurants including a sit-down Asian fusion restaurant, a poolside bar and grill, and a lobby bar for coffees, grab-and-go items, and happy hour drinks. 

St. Augustine
St. Augustine

This 400-year-old city offers a glimpse into Florida’s past, and kids will love the various exhibits and museums. 

What to Do

St. Augustine is considered the oldest city in the United States and was founded by Spanish explorers in 1565. The epicenter of St. Augustine is the Historic District, where visitors can stroll down the brick-paved streets, stop by the restaurants and cafes, and visit the Oldest Schoolhouse in the United States which dates back to 1716. 

A trip here should also include a visit to Castillo de San Marcos, a fort that was used to defend Florida against invaders. The fort is open seven days a week, and visitors can choose between formal presentations from park rangers or a self-guided tour.  

Another important stop is Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archeological Park, an attraction that includes indoor and outdoor exhibits that tell the story of the first Spanish explorers and the Native Indians who inhabited the area. Admission includes a cannon firing demonstration, a sip from the “Fountain of Youth,” a natural spring with over 30 minerals, and a visit to the park’s planetarium.

To see St. Augustine’s impressive Spanish Renaissance architecture, book a tour of Flagler College, located in the former Ponce de Leon Hotel that was built by Florida tycoon Henry Flagler. The college is open for tours between 10 a.m and 2 p.m, and since the popular tours are limited to 30 people, guests should purchase tickets in advance.  Other “must-see” museums include Potter’s Wax Museum, Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, and the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum. 

Where to Stay

Embassy Suites by Hilton St. Augustine Beach Oceanfront Resort is a contemporary resort close to all the action in St. Augustine. The oceanfront hotel offers a huge pool, and it’s only 10 minutes away from the downtown St. Augustine attractions. There’s also a turf-lined area for lawn games like cornhole and Connect-4, and the hotel hosts activities throughout the day. A stay includes a complimentary made-to-order breakfast, and there’s also a complimentary happy hour at the end of the day with select beer, wine, and cocktails.

Naples
Naples

The quiet city of Naples is great for families who want to unplug and spend their days relaxing. 

What to Do

Naples was made for resting and relaxing, and the Gulf Coast city is ideal for those who consider laying on the beach and collecting seashells a day well spent. There are many beachfront resorts and hotels to choose from for a relaxing vacation, and the gentle surf and low waves of the surrounding beaches are great for even the youngest family members. Some of the best public beaches are the beaches of Naples Pier, Clam Pass Park, and Vanderbilt Beach Park. 

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Off the beaches, spend the day exploring the 43-acre Naples Zoo and the onsite botanical gardens. Naples also has a collection of peaceful parks and preserves with walking and hiking trails, and many of the parks like the Gordon River Greenway have access to canoes and kayaks for leisurely rides. And if your idea of relaxing is massages and facials, there are spas in Naples that have services for the whole family. Lexi’s Place offers mini manicures and pedicures and guests get a robe and a sparkling drink. 

Where to Stay

La Playa Beach and Golf Resort is one of the top-rated resorts in the area, and it has an 18-hole golf course, a luxurious spa, and a beautiful oceanfront restaurant. The resort also has four pools, and guests can rent kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, and jet skis right at the resort’s beach. La Playa Beach and Golf Resort also offers private cabanas on the beach and convenient babysitting services.

Cocoa Beach
Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach is a small town with great beaches and a variety of budget accommodations. 

What to Do

Cocoa Beach is a small surfing town about an hour outside of Orlando, and there are a lot of budget accommodations and activities for families. Visitors could spend most of their vacation hanging out at the beach or surfing since Cocoa Beach is known for its great waves, and there are surfing lessons available from family-owned companies like Sobe Surf. Cocoa Beach has about 6 miles of beaches, and the Cocoa Beach Pier is also a great place to hang out, grab a bite from one of the many restaurants, or watch a sunset. 

For kids who like to skateboard, the Cocoa Beach Skate Park is a free outdoor park with two bowls and a half-pipe, and there are also bleachers and a grassy area to view the fun. Cocoa Beach is also home to a 24-hour Ron Jon surf shop. The 52,000-square-foot store is the world’s largest surf shop and has everything you need for a day of surfing. Finally, a visit to Cocoa Beach should include a visit to The Kennedy Space Center, where families can watch a rocket launch, tour the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, and talk to an astronaut. 

Where to Stay

Beachside Hotel and Suites is a newly renovated motel-style hotel that comes with a seasonally heated lazy river and a sandy play area for kids. Other perks include a complimentary breakfast to start your day. The accommodations include spacious one-bedroom suites with sitting areas and balconies. The pet-friendly hotel is only a block away from the beach and offers complimentary bikes along with complimentary surfboard and boogie boards to enjoy for the day.

Boca Raton
Boca Raton

Boca Raton has lots of smaller museums for younger kids to explore along with fantastic beach and hotel options. 

What to Do

Boca Raton is a great vacation spot for families, and there are plenty of indoor and outdoor museums for younger kids. Sugar Sand Park is a huge 132-acre indoor and outdoor children’s entertainment center with a playground, treehouses, and carousel rides.

The Children’s Science Explorium is located on the property of Sugar Sand Park, and small kids can play with the interactive exhibits or take a guided outdoor nature walk. On Friday Nights the museum hosts “Friday Night at the Museum” which includes a movie night and experiments for kids ages 7-12. Weather permitting, the Explorium also hosts telescope nights for children over 8, and The Willow Theater puts on year-round family-friendly shows. 

Visitors should also stop by the Boca Raton Museum of Art. Kids get free admission and the museum has large exhibits and events, cultural programs, and workshops. Another great outdoor activity is The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, a traditional Japanese garden and museum that showcases the history and culture of Florida’s Japanese community.

Boca Raton is also close to the Museum of Discovery and Science. The museum is one of the largest in the state and offers hands-on interactive exhibits and movies on the 60 ft high screen of the IMAX 3D movie theater. 

Where to Stay

The Boca Raton is a nearly 100-year-old posh hotel with a kids club, The Banyan Bunch, that caters to kids ages 4-12 with crafts, reading, and playtime. The resort’s Harborside Pool Club has three pools with a floating river and water slides, as well as luxury cabanas with butler service. Older members of the family will appreciate the championship golf course and tennis and pickleball courts along with the property’s private beach.



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