Disney World is great and all – and if you’re visiting Florida with the kids, it’s a must. You’ll never hear the end of it otherwise. But when the sparkle has settled, why not try these alternative family-friendly activities?
Blue Spring State Park
Boating, snorkeling, scuba diving – and manatees. Blue Spring State Park has the largest spring on St. John’s River, and is a certified manatee refuge. The best time to go is between November to March, where on a cold day you might see several hundred of them! The spring has gorgeous clear water and there are plenty of great swimming and picnic spots – though getting in with the manatees is strictly off-limits. For history enthusiasts, there are also tours you can take around Thursby House, built in 1872 at the height of the steamboat era. It’s worth getting there early to avoid the queues if you can.
Daytona Beach Chocolate Factory Tour
The Angell & Phelps chocolate factory next to Daytona beach is a surefire hit. They have chocolate-covered everything, from potato chips and pretzels to cranberries, cherries, popcorn and even bacon. Take the free 20-minute tour and they give you free chocolate samples, while showing you how the chocolate is made. Definitely don’t miss the candy shop on your way out!
Ramona Flea Market
A bustling flea market makes for a great day out, and who knows what you might find? Ramona Flea Market is the second biggest in Jacksonville and is free for children (only 50 cents for adults). It has all sorts of odds and ends, and outside the children can sing in the karaoke bar, ride ponies or jump in the bounce houses. It’s open from 8:00am – 5:00pm on Saturdays and Sundays and is well worth a visit if you like your retro knick knacks. The Cajun boiled peanuts come highly recommended.
K1 Speed Indoor Karting
This is a fantastic place to try if you have slightly older and more adventurous children, as the carts can go pretty quickly! K1 Speed is just as much fun for adults too. They take safety very seriously here, and while the carts can be fast and exciting, they can also be overridden by the staff to avoid collisions. There’s plenty of parking available, and in addition to the indoor track there is also a cafe with racing memorabilia and pool tables, so you can make a real day of it.
Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory
Escape the hustle and bustle at Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory – an amazing cacophony of colour! Gorgeous butterflies, plants, exotic birds and even a couple of flamingoes wandering around give this place an almost magical atmosphere that children and adults alike will adore. If you go into the Learning Center, you can find out all about butterfly anatomy, lifecycle and feeding habits, and get a close-up view of caterpillars and pupae in the intermediary stages. Don’t forget to pop into the Butterfly Gallery to see some original artwork.
Kennedy Space Center
Learn all about the history of space exploration at the Kennedy Space Center, as well as what the future of space travel might hold. There are more than 60 interactive exhibits to try out, as well as a shuttle launch experience, IMAX theater and astronaut encounter. This place is packed full of information, and is well worth spending a good four hours at least, if you can. Be sure to leave some time for the kids to check out the play dome – a space-themed playground where they can slide to the surface of the moon!
However much time you have in Florida, you’re sure to be spoilt for choice with these great, adventurous days out.
Been to Florida before? What activities would you recommend? Let us know in the comments.