things to do in florida with kids

Take the kids for a private, guided paddle in the Everglades. (Photo: Shutterstock)


Pack, Play and Pamper the Little Ones on a Kid-Friendly Florida Getaway

Beaches that are among the loveliest in the world and a sunny year-round disposition make Florida a natural playground for kids. And while the Sunshine State is an obvious choice for a family vacation, we’re certain you’ll find some surprises among our suggestions for living it up with the littles everywhere from up high in Orlando to a hideaway bowling alley and ice skating in Miami.

Go island-hopping in the Everglades

Guests at The Ritz-Carlton, Bal Harbour can dive into the fascinating environment of the Everglades in total comfort during private island-hopping tours organized by the hotel’s concierge at the nearby Everglades Safari Park.

A private guide unravels the mysteries of Florida’s greatest wilderness as you glide through the river of grass aboard an airboat with your gang. Make memories with your family as you stop at uninhabited islands and ancient Native American campsites on an exhilarating ride that’s timed for sunset for maximum comfort, as well as your Instagramming pleasure.

Double-up with ice skating and bowling in Miami

For a break from the beach in Miami, head to The Miami Beach EDITION for some counterintuitive Florida fun. BASEMENT here might be one of the city’s nightlife hotspots after 8 p.m. (when bottle service begins), but before then it’s open to the under-21 set.

Let the kids test their bowling skills at four flashy lanes where the bowling shoes are super-stylish and the interactive lighting is synchronized with your strike-inducing moves.

Ready for some ice, ice baby? You can rent ice skates for the kids nearby at BASEMENT SKATE, a 2,000-square-foot indoor ice rink where the pop music flows and the neon lights flash. Kids are welcome at both venues before 8 p.m.

Explore Florida’s sensitive ecosystems in Naples

things to do in florida with kids
Learn the wonders of Florida’s ecosystems. (Photo: The Ritz-Carlton)

Resort guests between the ages of 5 and 12 learn about Florida’s unique ecosystems during hands-on morning and afternoon sessions led by a naturalist at The Ritz Carlton, Naples.

The property recently revamped its Nature’s Wonders exhibit area, designed especially for kids, where 11 aquariums house sharks, eels, turtles and more.

Depending on the day, half- and full-day sessions at Nature’s Wonders might include learning about the eating habits of the resident fish, crabs and turtles or heading down to the resort’s beach to dig for clams or drag a net through the intertidal zone.

Session availability depends on the season, so be sure to ask in advance about the program when booking your stay.

Insider tip: The Nature’s Wonders aquariums are open at 4 p.m. every day for an hour, during which guests who aren’t participating in the program have a chance to see the resident marine life.

Get chummy with sharks in Sarasota

Even kids who are fearful of sharks will likely marvel at this chance to get up close with them (while staying dry) at the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota.

The Shark Encounter is a behind-the-scenes program for kids 13 and older, who will join Mote staff to prepare a chummy lunch for the resident sandbar sharks, blacknose sharks and nurse sharks, as well as rays, tarpon and more.

Your kids will then accompany the aquarium’s biologists during a training session, narrated for the public, in which the sharks are taught how to approach targets to feed. For your budding marine biologists, there’s no better inspiration.

Chopper with your crew over South Beach

things to do in florida with kids
Fly high over Miami Beach. (Photo: Getty Images)

Miami’s dazzling, turquoise waters look best from up high. And the whole family will be wowed by the choppers in the South Beach Helicopters fleet, which feel decidedly like airborne limousines.

Sit back in comfort as you fly low over the coastline, scouting the water for dolphins and sea turtles as you skirt the coastline of Key Biscayne, South Beach, Sunny Isles and beyond. Some tours even take in overhead views of Star Island, home to some of Miami’s very rich and famous.

When you return to land, cool down with the kids in your own private plunge pool at the W South Beach’s poolside bungalow — a sprawling two-bedroom, three-story space, complete with rooftop grilling and dining area perfect for post-flight family dinners.

Bask in bioluminescence during a sunset paddle in Naples

Bioluminescence is an amazing natural phenomenon that causes saltwater environs to glow with the chemical energy of microscopic organisms. And during sunset bird-watching and bioluminescence tours with Naples Kayak Company, your kids will be blown away as they watch the kayaks draw trails of light through the water as you paddle.

Trained naturalists are your guides as you head out about an hour before sunset. That coincides with the birds of Rookery Bay — a backwater of the Gulf of Mexico in south Naples — heading home to roost.

After training your eyes on the birds and the pink sky, the real thrill comes when darkness settles in, revealing the sparkling bioluminescent waters all around you.