Best Family Vacations in Florida on a Budget:
Families with children can enjoy cool pools at many Florida resorts.
Regardless of the age of their children, parents face unique circumstances when planning a family vacation. Typically, there is a long list of factors. Parents need to schedule time away from work and are often limited to when children are out of school for the summer or holidays. Then there are the family finances to consider, not to mention trying to plan a vacation that will appeal to everyone’s interests.
Once you have decided when you are going on vacation , other choices need to be made, including your destination, and sometime where you will stay.
How do you decide the best Family Vacations in Florida on a Budget? I narrow it down to destinations that cater to families by offering a variety of family friendly rooms to fit every budget, lots of kid friendly attractions and something to appeal to parents as well.
Fun, food and adventure are all found along the Daytona Beach boardwalk. © Daytona Beach CVB
If your family loves the beach but also loves a fun and lively atmosphere … Daytona Beach is the perfect vacation choice. Where else can you not only ride the waves, but ride your car on the beach and get an amazing view of the ocean from the top of a bike?
The activities along the beach are limitless. Swim, sunbathe and try the fun rides along the Daytona Boardwalk, fish from the Daytona Beach Pier (no fee and no permit) or rent personal watercraft , paddleboards, bikes, scooters, canoes or kayaks.
Of course, the sun and fun doesn’t end at the beach. There are many things to do, such as:
- If you are a car or racing fan , satisfy your need for speed and appetite at the same time at Cafe Cruisin. The race car barbecue is located right across the street from the beach and is a fun place for lunch or dinner.
- The Daytona Lagoon Waterpark and Family Entertainment Center features a full day of fun for the whole family, including thrilling water slides and lazy river, laser tag, go-karts and miniature golf.
Spend an evening just putting it on at the Congo River Adventure Course or Pirate’s Adventure Golf.
- Enjoy a sweet treat when you take a tour of the Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory. Get a free sample at the end of the tour!
Feeling adventurous? Try taking an eco-tour of a zip line at Zoomair Treetop Adventures.
- Warning: Daytona Beach has been trying to market itself recently as a family vacation destination. However, expect heavy crowds during spring break and some inappropriate spring break behavior, including drinking alcohol.
Look for themed rooms in the Orlando area, like this Despicable Me theme at Universal Orlando’s Portofino Bay Hotel .. © Universal Orlando
Orlando has definitely earned the #1 vacation destination title. It’s a family-friendly destination that suits all ages and budgets. If your kids are toddlers or teens, they will tell you that the theme parks – Disney World , Universal Orlando or SeaWorld Orlando – are where they want to spend their vacation.
Some of the family-friendly amenities you’ll find during your stay in Orlando:
- A wide variety of family suites that sleep 6-8 people, including Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s All-Star Music Resort and Nickelodeon Suites Resort .
- Features themed rooms. Just to name a few … My Interpreter at Universal’s Portofino Bay Hotel, Finding Nemo at Disney’s Art of Animation Center, pirate or princess themes at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort or Disney’s Port Orleans Resort or Sponge Bob Square Pants at Nickelodeon’s Orlando Suites Resort.
- Orlando’s International Drive area, known as I-Drive, offers nearby hotels, restaurants and attractions. Most hotels in the area offer free transportation to and from major theme parks. Orlando’s newest attraction , The Eye Orlando , is located along I-Drive, as is the WonderWorks amusement park and Fun Spot. All are kid-friendly!
Plan a trip to Orlando if:
- You and your family like the theme parks.
- Children are into cartoons and TV characters.
- You’re looking for kid-friendly, age-appropriate entertainment.
Add this unique dolphin cruise experience to your family vacation when you visit the Tampa Bay area. © Tampa Bay CVB
Tampa Bay’s top beaches are some of the best in the nation. Plan your stay on or near the beach to take advantage of the sand, sun and surf and travel to area attractions less than an hour away.
There are unlimited ways to spend your days with all the outdoor recreational opportunities you can find in the area. Building a sandcastle, renting jet skis , fishing or a dolphin tour are just a few of the activities you can enjoy.
Whether you stay in Clearwater Beach or not, you won’t want to miss the nightly sunset at the Pier 60 celebration with live entertainment and arts and crafts vendors. Of course, the highlight of the evening is the spectacular sunset. Best of all … it’s free!
When you need a break from the sand, there are plenty of things to do that will be fun for parents and kids alike:
- Enjoy a fun day at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay . Scare seekers will love the rides; they are some of the best in the state. Of course, there are plenty of other attractions (and animals) to please the whole family.
- Check out the winter wonderland of Dolphin Tale fame at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
- The kid-friendly Glazer Children’s Museum of Tampa is located along the river in downtown Tampa. Interactive, hands-on exhibits will keep kids occupied for an entire afternoon.
- Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is one of the best zoos in the country and will be a hit with your preschool and elementary aged children.
- Whether you take a cruise out of Tampa Harbor or not, the Florida Aquarium can provide a break from the Florida heat and is a very interesting way to spend an afternoon.
Plan a trip to Tampa Bay if your family loves the water and being outdoors.
The Palm Beaches
Save until you fly at the luxurious CityPlace in West Palm Beach. © The Palm Beaches
The Palm Beaches, 47 miles of Atlantic coastline and beaches, offer tourists plenty of opportunities for sunbathing, sand and surf. However, perhaps drawing more vacationers is the unique and upscale shopping that many associate with the area, including Worth Avenue in Palm Beach and pet-friendly Downtown Boca Raton. Also worth checking out are Delray Avenue’s Atlantic Avenue and Clematis Street in Downtown West Palm Beach.
When you’re ready to take a break from the beach and shop, there are plenty of kid- and family-approved things to do in the area, including:
- Drive yourself wild at Safari Country Lion , where you can see a variety of animals in their natural habitat from your car. After your safari, take a spin on the rides at Safari World, the adjacent amusement park.
- The Palm Beach Zoo is a Tripadvisor.com Certificate of Excellence winner in 2015 and kids will love it!
- Spend your day splashing and sliding at the largest water park in South Florida. Note that Rapids Water Park is only open seasonally.
- Spend a hot day cooling off in the air conditioner at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium.
- Choose Palm Beaches for your family vacation if you’re looking for a beach vacation with upscale shopping and kid-friendly activities. Note that these vacations may not be the best choice for parents of young children, but more suitable for teens who love to spend time shopping.
Palm beaches have always had a reputation for exclusivity. For many years, the area has attracted the rich and famous? And, perhaps, this has led to the misconception that it is expensive. While there are exclusive areas that are expensive, there are often alternatives that are budget-friendly.
Children walking on the shore along the white sands of Panama’s beach. © Panama City Beach CVB
Panama City Beach, which is 27 kilometers of award-winning white-sand sugar and about 320 days of sunshine, is what keeps families coming back year after year. You’re sure to have fun whether you’re building sandcastles, pulling a motion picture at your hotel or just soaking up the sunshine.
If you and your family are looking for a little action off the beach, you can swim with the dolphins at Gulf World Marine Park or swim at Waterwind Island Water Park. Of course, there are the usual attractions found near the beach, including miniature golf courses. And, WonderWorks , the upside-down attraction, also has a location on Panama Beach.
Tip : Avoid the heavy crowds by avoiding Panama City beach during spring break .