Where to take the kids on your holiday to Florida this winter

Florida’s one of the best destinations for a winter holiday, with gorgeous weather, rolling beaches and plenty of attractions to keep the whole family occupied.

The flag-ship attractions of Disney World, Universal Studios and Sea World which lie just outside of Orlando draw in families year after year. However if you’ve grown tired of the thrills and spills of theme park rides, you’ll be glad to learn that Florida has so much more to offer families looking for a memorable holiday

Most airlines fly direct to Orlando and the easy highways and cheap car rentals mean that you can explore some of Florida’s other family-friendly attractions in just a few hours’ drive.

Tampa (2 hours from Orlando)
This bustling city offers up moderate winter temperatures, plenty of family attractions and streetcar-lined roads just waiting to be explored.

If you don’t want to spend your whole holiday off the beaten track, the theme parks of Busch Gardens and Lego Land are situated nearby, and if you’re passing through Orlando for a day you can often find tickets that will combine admission to Busch Gardens with Sea World and Universal Studios.

There are also loads of other smaller attractions for the kids to enjoy including the Florida Aquarium, Lowry Park Zoo and the Museum of Science and Industry which has an IMAX cinema.

Fort Myers (3 hours from Orlando)
Just a little further south from Tampa is the pretty seaside town of Fort Myers. The most striking thing about visiting here is the intricate network of canals - you’d almost feel like you’re in Venice or Amsterdam if it wasn’t for the weather!

A favorite winter haven for many Americans, Henry Ford of motorcar fame and inventor Thomas Edison retreated to neighboring houses here during the colder months. You can now visit where they once resided at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates: your budding inventors will love seeing all the contraptions Edison thought up, before frolicking in the extensive gardens.

And for a spot of beach relaxation, Sanibel Island is approximately half an hour’s drive away and offers shallow waters, perfect if you’re traveling with small children. The beach is lined with hundreds of shells too - so make sure you bring a bucket to go shell collecting!

Sarasota (2.5 hours from Orlando)
If your kind of family holiday is letting the kids loose on the beach, then Sarasota is perfect. It’s renowned for its pristine gulf-coast beaches, plus it’s considered Florida’s cultural hub, so there’s always one artsy activity or another going on in town.

Spend your days on Siesta Key Beach, which is considered the cleanest and whitest beach in the world.

You can also learn all about Florida’s natural environment in Sarasota at the Historic Spanish Point, which charters over 5,000 years’ worth of natural history.

Take a day trip to the Myakka River State Park, situated just outside of the city, where you can traverse winding rivers on a boat and see some of the park’s unique wildlife including the Roseate Spoonbill - an eye-catching pink bird.

As you can see Florida is so much more than just Disney and the rest of the Orlando theme parks.  They are fun but if you are in Florida try to shave some time off Disney to explore a bit more of this great state.

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