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Florida first appears in written records when Juan Ponce de Leon visited the region in 1513.
Florida was admitted to the United States of America on March 3, 1845, and it’s currently the most populous state in the country. It has the longest coastline in the contiguous United States, and it’s the largest producer of citrus fruits.
The Sunshine State is also the top vacation spots for families, and people travel to the region from all over the United States and even the world. People flock to the area for the wonderful weather and the amazing variety of attractions.
If you are looking to travel to Florida soon and need auto insurance, start comparison shopping by entering your ZIP code above!
How Florida Became The Vacation Destination
When Walt Disney started buying scrubland in central Florida in the 1960s, no one could imagine how a theme park would change and shape the future of the state. He chose central Florida so that the park would be more protected from hurricanes.
In a press meeting on November 15, 1965, Walt Disney outlined very broad plans for the park and predicted a 50 percent increase in tourism as a result. The park was opened on October 1, 1971, with two hotels and the Magic Kingdom.
The Greater Orlando area now hosts an incredible range of attractions, hotels, and resorts.
Tourism in the state has far surpassed Disney’s modest estimates. A glass-boat bottom captain states that, in the 1960s, he had roughly 4,500 visitors a day with about 6,500 visiting on Saturdays and Sundays.
As of 2013, the major theme parks in Orlando alone welcomed millions of visitors, including:
- 46,000 daily visitors to the Magic Kingdom
- 81,000 daily visitors to EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom combined
- 16,400 daily visitors to the Universal theme parks combined
- 10,900 daily visitors to Busch Gardens in Tampa
Florida has done an excellent job of facilitating the flow of visitors through the states by maintaining an extensive network of toll roads, highways, and major routes.
The crowds continue to grow every year, and the state is currently facing some challenges keeping up with demand. Tourists and locals are encouraged to allow a little extra traveling time, but it’s still relatively easy to navigate your way around the state.
Top 10 Family Attractions in Florida
When planning your family vacation, take a look at Florida to see how much you can get out of one trip.
While you cannot possibly see everything in a single visit, you may decide to hit several attractions for a well-rounded experience.
#1 – Walt Disney World
The family-friendly attraction you’ve been looking for, Disney is known for its wholesome fun.
While some parks are known for the roller coasters and others have great shows, Disney is in a class all by itself because it has an amazing combination of shows, live entertainment, action rides, and calmer excursions.
There are no age limits at Disney World. Bring the family so that grandma can watch the toddlers see It’s A Small World for the first time, and let your teenagers enjoy a little freedom riding Tower of Terror in Hollywood Studios while you enjoy a relaxing meal with your spouse.
Disney is comprised of four theme parks, plus there are other attractions outside of the parks. The Disney Downtown Center has an incredible array of shops, plus you can get a bite to eat at the Rainforest Café or Planet Hollywood.
If you need a break from the regular parks, then take a day off to go to the water parks or golfing.
The major attractions found within Disney World include:
- Magic Kingdom
- Hollywood Studios
- Animal Kingdom
- Typhoon Lagoon
- Blizzard Beach
- ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
- Disney Springs
- Disney’s Boardwalk
One thing visitors love is that you never have to leave Disney property once you arrive. Everything you want is right at your fingertips, and they even have internal transportation available so that you won’t have to drive anywhere.
However, it can take a while to wait for buses, so you may want to bring your own car along or rent one for your vacation. Having your own mode of transportation will allow you to see the parks and do more at your own pace.
Tickets to Disney can be expensive, with two-day tickets costing as much as $101 per day.
Although, the price-per-day cost falls with longer stays, and you can always find package deals that are easier on your budget.
#2 — Universal Studios
Universal Studios gives you the opportunity to get inside big Hollywood movies while visiting the fine city of Orlando. You can go on real movie studio sets to see how the action is made, and their rides are based on popular movies from throughout the ages.
Top current attractions include:
- The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- The Walking Dead
- The Simpsons Ride
- Despicable Me Mayhem
- Transformers: The Ride-3D
- The Incredible Hulk Coaster
Universal also believes in catering to people of all ages, so they have roller coasters for thrill seekers and an incredible range of shows that anyone can enjoy.
Tickets start at $105 for a single-day pass, but the price-per-day rates also fall with longer stays.
If you want the ability to hop between the two parks, then you can expect to pay a little more for the passes. You can also shop around for vacation packages that will provide you with a hotel, meals, admission, and even special perks all for one attractive price.
The parks are smaller, so you may be able to see all of the attractions in a few days, depending on lines.
#3 — Everglades National Park
Make your trip a little more educational with a stop at the Everglades National Park.
Sitting about 45 miles southwest of the Miami International Airport, it’s in the southern reaches of the state. You can drive to the park, and you’ll want to have a car handy so that you can get to the different areas.
You can see a good deal of the park from your car windows, but you’ll also want to get out and explore at times. The greatest treasures are actually found in backcountry sites that are harder to access.
If you want to see the Florida landscape in its natural beauty, then include a short camping trip in your visit. There are three campgrounds in the park, and they all have wheelchair accessible restrooms.
Many visitors choose to take boat tours through the swamplands so that they can safely see the wildlife without worrying about unsettling interactions. If you’re feeling more adventurous, then you can rent a canoe for the day and go exploring on your own.
Be sure to bring your bikes along because the entire family can go biking on the main roads and specially marked trails. Shark Valley has a great trail that will provide you with impressive views of the sawgrass prairie.
You can walk into the Everglades or ride a bike in for $5 per day with a seven-day pass.
If you’re interested in driving, then plan on buying a seven-day pass for $70.
You can bring in your own food or get meals at the local restaurant that’s open seasonally.
While the Everglades is great for older kids and adults, a long visit may prove a little difficult for younger children. However, it’s certainly worth taking a drive over for the day or two and going through in your car.
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#4 — Busch Gardens
Located in Tampa, Busch Gardens has the entertainment that people on the West Coast of Florida are looking for. Appropriate for children of all ages and adults, it has a great mix of shows and thrill rides.
One of the more affordable parks, it has tickets starting at only $79.99, and special vacation packages are also available.
With a combination of animal attractions, special events, and thrill rides, it’s a great choice for everyone from toddlers and teenagers to senior citizens.
If you’re going to be in the area in October, be sure to stop in for the Howl-O-Scream celebration and Evil Encore right before Halloween.
#5 — Legoland Florida
If you’ve ever been to a Lego store, then you know how entertaining these tiny little bricks can be. Legoland Florida is geared towards kids, but their parents love watching the kids set their imaginations free.
Admission tickets start at $71 per day, and you can get special deals that provide you with extra passes, front-of-the-line access, and Legoland Dollars that can be spent on items in the park.
Legoland is filled with interactive attractions for the little ones, and the roller coasters are sure to please bigger kids.
People of all ages will get a kick out of the amazing Lego brick creations that are found throughout the park, and a water ski show is sure to impress.
This park is new to the region, but they have big expansion plans in the future, so it’s worth keeping an eye on this attraction to see how it will grow.
#6 — SeaWorld
SeaWorld is making changes to keep up with the demands of our modern society, including phasing out their live animal shows.
However, they’ll still have plenty of animal attractions, tours, and rides. Soar through the air on a floorless coaster, and get an up-close look at the dolphins in a cave that lets you look right at the dolphins and see how they glide through the water.
Vacation packages are available, and single-day passes start at only $74.99. Annual passes are only $99.99, so consider getting a season ticket and then stopping in for a few days during your stay.
This park also caters to people of all ages with the shows and rides. You may be the most impressed though with the learning experiences like the Sea Rescue program.
#7 — Lowry Park Zoo
Located in Tampa, the Lowry Park Zoo is a unique celebration of wildlife that you’re sure to enjoy. Travel through the park in trams painted to look like giraffes and feed the animals under the watchful eye of a zookeeper.
You can go behind the scenes, enjoy a few rides, and let the kids cool off in the splash zone. There are interactive exhibits throughout the park, and you can find plenty of places to stop for a bite to eat.
Tickets are very affordable at only $29.95 for adults, and children are just $22.95.
There are also special after-hours tickets for Halloween and other events throughout the year.
#8 — Dinosaur World
Take a step back in time and visit the Jurassic era at Dinosaur World. While you won’t find any Jurassic Park re-creations, there are still more than 200 life-size dinosaurs that safely come to life for visitors.
This park is great for kids because it’s loaded with interactive and educational exhibits.
Daily rates are only $16.95 for adults and $11.95 for the kids, and you can easily move through all the exhibits in a day.
Ask about special rates for military members or reciprocal agreements with annual passes to different aquariums and museums throughout the state.
#9 — Florida Aquarium
Explore and learn more about aquatic life at the Florida Aquarium in downtown Tampa.
This center focuses on education and conservation, and it has a great deal to offer visitors.
From aquarium exhibits to a wild dolphin cruise, it has something for the little kids and big kids alike.
Learn more about the oceans through interactive games or sit and have dinner while surrounded on all sides by gently gliding sea life.
General admission tickets start at $24.95 for adults and $19.95 for children. You can also go with special combination passes for the aquarium and wild dolphin cruise, behind the scenes tour, or close up critters combo ticket.
#10 — Jungle Island
If you want a more interactive visit with animals, then Jungle Island is the right choice.
You can see the animals up close and personal, and you can even visit with them during certain times. There is a range of shows to take in, and you can let the kids feed the kangaroos by hand.
This attraction is entertaining for the entire family, and the rates are only $32.95 for children and $39.95 for adults.
It’s easy to spend a day at Jungle Island when you’re ready for a break from the roller coasters and water parks.
Safety for Families While Traveling
An accident can ruin any vacation, so you want to keep your family safe while on the road and in the parks.
After you’ve made the reservations and bought tickets, make sure that you can get there safely by taking care of your car and a few other things.
Here are the steps you should take before you hit the road for the Sunshine State:
- Get a tune-up so that you can avoid breakdowns and have a smoother ride. You may not realize how worn your brakes are or that your tires are going bald, but your mechanic will catch this with a tune-up and safety inspection.
- Visit the local fire station to see about having your car seats checked for proper installation. If your local facility doesn’t offer this service, then call 866-SEAT-CHECK to find a location that does
- Pack an emergency kit, including water, warm blankets, flashlight, first aid supplies, jumper cables, flares, and basic tools for changing a flat tire
- Check your insurance coverage to be sure you have the right protection level
- Stock up on sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses for the entire family
- Pack carefully by putting heavy items very low so that they won’t turn into projectiles in an accident. Secure suitcases, strollers, and other large items for this same reason.
Save Where You Can
A trip to see the Mouse can be expensive, but you can always save in other areas. Consider raising your deductible to get your insurance premiums down, and ask about discounts that you may qualify for.
It’s also smart to shop around with different companies. You may find that another provider can deliver the great customer service you want along with the lower prices you need.
Use a comparison tool to make this process fast and easy. Start comparison shopping by entering your ZIP code below!