Florida is one of the best destinations on the planet for families. From world-class amusement parks to white sand beaches, there is something for the whole crew here. Ready to plan an adventure that you and the kids will never forget? Here is your perfect one-week family vacation in Florida.
Disclaimer- While it is great to have a plan before you go, avoid sticking too closely to an itinerary. Give yourself time to go with the flow. The younger your kids are, the more likely you are to have surprises on the go. Be sure you don’t stress yourself out by trying to do as much as possible.
A successful vacation is one that you enjoy, not one where you tick the most things off your to-do list.
Take it slow and enjoy yourself at every stop. Florida is especially parent-friendly so you’ll never find yourself just standing by as you wait for your kids to be done with rides and attractions.
Driving to Florida with your family? You’ve got to check out our essential tips for taking road trips with kids.
One Week Family Vacation in Florida Starting Point: Orlando
Of course, Orlando! The airport there typically has the widest selection of flights, which means the lowest prices and best options for flight times. Plus, the kids will likely be head over heels for a trip to Walt Disney World and you’ll want to get them there as soon as you can.
Check out our Best Family Hotels in Orlando.
Best family hotel resorts near Disney World
When it comes to the best family hotel resorts near Disney World, Holiday Inn Resort Orlando-Lake Buena Vista is an easy winner. It is within walking distance of Walt Disney World Theme Parks. It is also very close to Disney Springs, SeaWorld Orlando, and Universal Orlando Resort. You’ll also find lots of great shopping and dining options at Orlando Premium Outlets and Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores, just a stone’s throw away. Prices start at just over 100 dollars per night, which includes all-you-can-eat free meals for the kids and a solid wi-fi connection.
If you really want to go all out for a night or two, I’d highly recommend the five-star Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Elegant and chic, yet totally kid-friendly, this hotel has it all. They have everything you’d expect for a premium-class hotel, along with Disney fun. They offer in-room Disney celebration packs too, so it’s perfect for a special occasion.
Check out our Best Winter Destinations for Families.
What To Do in Orlando: Family Edition
Dying for it or dreading it, your first stop in Orlando will be Disney World. SeaWorld Orlando and Universal Orlando Resort (an essential visit for Harry Potter fans!) are also must-sees in the area. It is best to plan two to three days at a minimum to see it all.
Check out our Best Amusement Parks in the USA.
If the kids aren’t afraid of heights– or are looking for a challenge– bring your cameras up to the ICON Orlando (formerly known as the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye). This 400 ft tall observation wheel will give you sweeping views of the city.
Tampa Bay and St. Petersburg for Families
You will want another two or three days to see Tampa Bay. Dotted with lush picture-perfect beaches on the Gulf of Mexico, this is a welcome break from the madness of Orlando. The Tampa Bay area also offers family-friendly attractions like the Florida Aquarium and Dolphin Racer Speedboat Cruises.
Tampa Bay is right across from St. Petersburg so you can easily stay in one or the other and see them both.
Things for Do in Tampa Bay for Families
Rather than being centered around one spot like the Disney-focused Orlando, Tampa Bay has an incredibly diverse array of attractions. If the kids are still craving more rollercoasters, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is a must. The gardens are also sure to be a hit with animal lovers. You can hand-feed kangaroos as you watch giraffes saunter by. Be sure to pay a visit to the adorable locals at the ZooTampa at Lowry Park and The Florida Aquarium too.
For a laidback day out, Tampa Bay Water Bikes are a perfect way to take in the city at your own pace. They are kid-friendly bikes and easy to manage. You can find these, along with cool BiYaks (kayaks with pedals) at the public docks next to the Convention Center and Sail Pavilion in the heart of central Tampa.
Family-Friendly Resort in the Tampa Bay Area
Prices in Tampa are lower than in Orlando so you can grab a bargain on a luxury stay. For a nice kid-friendly hotel in Tampa, the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay is a perfect pick. For just over 100 dollars per night, you can stay in a four-star hotel on the waterfront. They have massive family suites up to 1300 sq ft with living rooms where you can spread out.
Hotel deals in Tampa are so good actually, that you can grab a mid-level hotel 80 dollars a night or less. The West Wing Hotel, Ascend Hotel Collection is ultra-popular with families and gets rave reviews. This stylish spot offers a free shuttle along with an on-site restaurant and bar. In a place like Tampa where you can splash in the Gulf of Mexico all day, why pay for a pool or other amenities you won’t use?
One Week Family Vacation in Florida with Fort Lauderdale and Miami
You could absolutely spend one full week exploring Orlando and Tampa then go spend another week seeing the southern side of Florida. If you only have one week though, I’d still recommend squeezing them all in if you can.
Depending on what you and the kids are most interested in seeing, you can break up the trip a few different ways. You can see the core sights of Orlando, Tampa, and Miami in two days per city. This still gives you a bit of wiggle room if you can only max your trip out to seven days.
Rental cars in Florida start around 15 dollars per day so it’s a cheap way to explore the state. With the exception of occasional heavy but quick storms, you will generally find the driving conditions as easy as can be. There are so many scenic routes that road trips can be a big part of the fun.
Take the coastal drive from Tampa/ St. Petersburg to the Miami and Fort Lauderdale area. You will get gorgeous waterfront scenery then travel through the Everglades National Park. The drive time comes in around four hours and you can make a fun day of it.
Check out our Best Family Hotels in Miami.
Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale and Miami for Family
Decision time! Once you get to southern Florida you will have to be strategic.
If you are a beach kind of family, South Beach is perfect to explore by bike and you can hop on the Duck Tours South Beach.
Once you are down in Miami, a day trip out to Key West is well worth considering as well. Like the coastal drive, it’s all about the journey rather than the destination. Your driving time definitely won’t be lost time and the views are fantastic from start to finish.
Family-friendly Hotel Picks in Miami
For an ultra-luxurious pick, it’ll be love at first sight for the 1 Hotel South Beach. This eco-luxury property has oceanfront swimming pools and a Seedlings Day Camp for the kids.
For a low-cost kid-friendly Miami hotel, look no further than the Holiday Inn Miami Beach-Oceanfront. For 100 dollars per night, you can be living it up in the stunning oceanfront location. Not only do kids stay free, but kids eat free too (from 11 years and under).
Ready to start packing? Keep reading HERE to plan your perfect One Week Family Vacation in Florida!