The Sunshine State is a place of fun, adventure, and beautiful beaches. Enjoy these things to do in Florida with kids to make your travels a fun adventure for everyone.
There’s no better place to get your hands dirty and investigate the science of nature than the state of Florida. It’s chock full of museums, eco-tours, history, and life. There’s something living everywhere you look!
What do you do with your kids to broaden their worlds and keep their minds engaged when you’re in Florida? Check out our list of educational things to do in Florida with kids.
Things to do in Florida with Kids #1
Silver Springs State Park
A trip to Silver Springs is a trip back in time. Long before Florida became a tourist destination, the springs in the central parts of the state were essential to life for the Native Americans. With crystal clear drinking water and abundant life, these springs made life possible for many generations. When development first came to the state, Silver Springs became a central point for relaxation and movie sets.
Thankfully, we can still enjoy Florida’s first tourist attraction. Your family can get a look at the Florida of yesteryear and see the richness of natural life in the springs at Silver Springs State Park.
Silver Springs was once a tourist park, but in recent years the state has been working to return the park to its natural beauty. Your family can get close to nature through canoeing, kayaking, and a trip on the famous Glass Bottom Boats.
The Glass Bottom Boats were a hit for our crew when we visited the park. They loved seeing pieces from movie sets of long ago, and the canoe from over two hundred years ago! They also loved watching for manatees and alligators as we cruised through the dense Floridian forest on our sailing down the Silver River.
Things to do in Florida with Kids #2
What is it like to live life as a Spanish soldier in the 1600s? How do you build a wall out of sea shells to protect an entire garrison? How does it feel to sail in a ship like the Spanish explorers?
Your family will find answers to these questions, and many more, in the city of St. Augustine. One of Florida’s first European settlements and the oldest continually occupied, St. Augustine and the Castillo de San Marcos are a sight to behold. The city of St. Augustine is home to 36 reconstructed buildings, including the Government House and other colonial buildings.
The fort is located on the mouth of the Matanzas River and was completed in 1695. It’s been the center of multiple battles between Spaniards and British, Union and Confederate, and several other nationalities over the course of its lifetime.
A tour of the city, the fort, and the amazing lighthouse that stands on the Salt Run will give your family a good look at a center of development for the state of Florida.
Things to do in Florida with Kids #3
Visit a Science Center
For those rainy Florida afternoons, you can’t beat hanging out at a science center with your family. From Pensacola to Miami, Florida has a plethora of fun and educational science centers for your family. Our favorites for an afternoon of fun and learning are listed here:
– Pensacola MESS Hall
The Pensacola MESS Hall is an atypical museum. The whole design of the museum has been created to get kids involved and personal with math, engineering, science, and stuff.
– Emerald Coast Science Center
The Emerald Coast Science Center is a hands-on center with a STEM Makerspace, animal encounters, adn touchable, workable exhibits.
– Museum of Science and History – MOSH – Jacksonville
With a planetarium and animals native to Northeast Florida, there’s something for everyone at Jacksonville’s Museum of Science and History.
– Kennedy Space Center
Just up the coast from the launchpad for the Space Shuttle and other NASA rockets, Kennedy Space Center takes your family on a journey through the space program of the USA. No study of NASA or space is complete without a visit to the Kennedy Space Center!
– Orlando Science Center
As one of the oldest and most awarded science centers in Florida, the Orlando Science Center seeks to inspire a life of scientific exploration for each student. Your family will find exhibits on technology, health science, STEM ideas, and much more at this distinguished destination.
As a STEAM Learning center in the heart of Tampa, the Museum of Science and Industry is a scientific playground for your family. The museum boasts more than 100 activities to get your hands on, and a planetarium onsite.
*Heads up: MOSI is currently working to relocate to a new site in downtown Tampa. MAKE SURE you check the address before you visit!
– Clearwater Marine Aquarium
– As the home of Winter and Hope, stars of Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2, the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is an interesting place for your whole family to visit. You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the work the Aquarium does to protect and rescue the creatures that make Tampa Bay their home.
– South Florida Museum
A history museum, manatee rescue center and aquarium, and planetarium all rolled into one make the South Florida Museum a strong learning experience for all involved. As the former home of Snooty, the longest living manatee in human care, the Museum is dedicated to the care and preservation of these incredible creatures.
– Loggerhead Marinelife Center
As a facility dedicated to protecting and preserving the amazing Loggerhead sea turtle, the Loggerhead Marinelife Center is an incredible place to learn. Check out one of the guided experiences for a learning opportunity your family won’t forget! Check out the homeschool classes each year for themed marine science classes.
– Museum of Science and Discovery
Fort Lauderdale’s hands-on learning experience will be a delight to your children. They will learn about native Floridian habitats and creatures, take a simulated airboat ride through the Everglades, and even learn about the forces of wind and hurricanes. The highlight of the trip will definitely be the two-story otter exhibit, especially if you have a tween girl!
– South Florida Science Center and Aquarium
Based in West Palm Beach, the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is an incredible science center for families in South Florida. With everything from a laser light show to coral reef explorations, your students will learn about their world from the minute they cross the threshold.
Things to do in Florida with Kids #4
Hang out on the beach
Over 1,260 miles of coastline make up the borders of this state, and there’s something to learn with every mile. On the Atlantic side of the state, migrations of hundreds upon hundreds of sharks occur every year. Over on the Gulf side, there’s a strong possibility of daily dolphin views.
Beaches are idyllic locations for family getaways and fun, but they are also incredible learning locations. It’s one of the few places in the world where everyone can get super close to animals in their natural environments and share their space, most of the time without worrying about injuries.
Beaches are teeming with life. From sea turtle nests to coquinas and sand crabs, life is everywhere around you. In the water, you’ve got everything from tiny minnows to some of the largest creatures on earth. Florida’s beaches make wonderful learning getaway locations.
Things to do in Florida with Kids #5
Take a ride on a bay
Along with beaches, the many bays along the Florida coastline are also filled with life. The shallow bays host grasses that nourish life in abundance. Our favorite bay to visit and learn in is Sarasota Bay. Sarasota Bay earns a place on the list of educational places to visit for several reasons.
The first is the Mote Marine Laboratory. The Mote is a research lab, educational center, and rehab facility in one. Your family can spend hours with the Mote learning about sea life and research.
Our favorite part of a visit to the Mote is the Sarasota Bay boat ride. The pontoon boat will take you and your crew across the bay to one of the small islands along the coast. You’ll see birds and crabs, listen to details about life on the island, and have a chance to dip your toes into the bay. On the way back to the dock, the crew of the boat will drag a net behind you for a few minutes. Once the net is back in the boat, you’ll get a front-row seat to life in the Bay. On our trips, we’ve seen several types of crabs, muscles, a tiny octopus, and even a baby stingray!
The second reason Sarasota Bay is on the list is the depth of the water. Many places in the bay are only 4 to 12 feet deep. If you’re in the area during a month when the water is clearer, you can see straight to the bottom of the bay! Take a jet ski or a boat ride out for a couple hours, and you’ll be able to see all types of life right below you. The fun part is when the dolphins chase the same fish you’re observing.
Florida is a place many families visit for sun and relaxation. It’s also a place filled with learning opportunities to keep your children’s minds engaged and thinking. You won’t go wrong with these things to do in Florida with kids that keep them learning.
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