When most people think of Florida, they think of Walt Disney World or one of the many beautiful beaches that lines every inch of coast. And while those things are great and should be done once, there are SO many more things to do with kids in Florida that’s not Disney or the beach that it would be doing the state a disservice not to mention them. I grew up in Florida, so while I probably could have made this list into 100 things to do with kids in Florida that’s not Disney, I figured I should probably just stick to five.
There is something downright magical about Mother Nature. And when she decides to really impress…man does she ever. One of those stunning times is seeing bioluminescence up close and personal. It is an experience that everyone should have once in their lifetime. If you happen to be on the Space Coast of Florida for your next vacation, then you can be one of those lucky people. The Indian River Lagoon near Cocoa Beach, Florida comes alive at night with a spectacular show of lights that will awe the young and old alike. Dip your hand into the water as you kayak through and watch as the water glows around you. Look out into the distance and catch tiny laser beams of light darting away from your kayak as the fish disturb the water while they swim quickly away. This is one experience you don’t want to miss and one that is an adventure for the whole family. There are quite a few tour operators that offer this amazing bioluminescence tour, and most have year round options. Here are a few in the area: BK Adventure kayaking, Finn Expeditions, A Day Away Kayak Tours, Calypso Kayaking, Cocoa Kayaking, Sobe Surf
See The Manatees And Go For A Swim In The Springs
Florida might be known for its soft, white sand beaches, but its fresh water springs are just as beautiful. In fact, Florida boasts over 700 springs which is actually the largest concentration of springs anywhere. The water is at a constant 72 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a perfect way to cool down in the hot summer months. Many of the springs have water activities such as kayaking and paddle boarding or just lazily floating down one of the many rivers. If you happen to visit Florida in the winter months, be sure to check out Blue Springs as the manatees from the nearby intercoastal waters will swim into the springs in order to stay warm. You can sometimes see large groups of them floating majestically throughout the spring here.
If a splash and a bite to eat is more your style, than head over to Deleon Springs for breakfast and grab some pancakes at The Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill and Griddle House. The batter is brought to your table where you get to cook it on the grill in front of you! Afterwards, the kids will be excited to splash around in the cool waters of the spring. They also offer ecological tours that are fun for the whole family and will give you a great sense of “old” Florida.
Watch A Rocket Launch And Visit Kennedy Space Center
Have a space nut in the family? Then you absolutely MUST make a stop at Kennedy Space Center. Time it to see a launch of one of the SpaceX rockets and your kids will be bragging to their friends back home for months! While the area directly around Kennedy Space Center can get VERY crowded, you actually don’t need to be right up front. It’s a great experience to see the launch up close, but if you are short on time and don’t have all day to get there early, then head to one of the nearby beaches. As long as it is a clear day, the rocket launch can be seen miles up and down the beach. If you happen to be extra lucky and make it for a night launch, grab a pizza and head to the beach for a picnic before watching the show! The next day head over to the Space Center and let the kids see the rockets up close and personal and learn all about the space program. They have some great activities and programs you can book including breakfast with an astronaut for the older kids! Planet Play is also a great kids play area where they can pretend to be among the stars while cooling off in the hot summer months. More information can be found on the space center website as well as the launch schedule!
Everglades Airboat Ride
Nothing will quite get your adrenaline pumping like an airboat ride as you fly past Florida’s notorious reptiles. Whether you love them or hate them, alligators are awe-inspiring and an airboat ride is the perfect way to see them…safely! Fun for all ages this is a great way to spend the day away from the beach and the crowds of more touristy areas. This is definitely one of those things to do in Florida with kids that is NOT Disney and can actually be done all year round! Check out our article on Everglades National Park if you want to plan a more detailed itinerary!
Most people don’t think of lions and giraffes when they think of Florida. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that those animals are probably the LAST ones you would think of. However, towards the southern portion of the state in Palm Beach County lies a 600 acre drive-through wildlife park that has won a ton of awards. Pack the kids up and let them enjoy over 1000 different animals safely from your car while the zebras and wildebeest gallop freely throughout the park. If you are lucky you may even have a close encounter with one as it crosses the road in front of you! It’s definitely a unique experience and you can feel good that you are contributing to a more natural environment for these rescue animals rather than the traditional zoos.
Do you have any favorite things to do with kids in Florida that’s not Disney or the beach? Leave a comment below and let us know!
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