There are a lot of reasons why Florida is one of the most popular vacation destinations for American families: kid-friendly beaches, mild weather and, of course, theme parks. But kids who love nature and marine life — and most children do — can get their fill of both at a variety of wildlife adventure programs on land and sea in Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach, located halfway between Sarasota and Fort Myers.
The Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center, for example, provides family-friendly environmental education and sustainable recreation opportunities for everyone, whether you’re a visitor or a local. There are more than 20 educational programs on tap, which vary monthly based on what’s going on in the surrounding ecosystem. Staple programs include volunteer-based water monitoring, boat tours and guided educational walks. Families especially enjoy the wading tours, which allow small fry to step into shallow water in search of marine life.
Charlotte County Blueway Trails, a collection of mapped-out aquatic pathways, offer more opportunities for marine exploration while searching for Florida wildlife. The colored trail markers stretch along hundreds of miles of undeveloped shorelines and into the water among the mangroves. To help families plan which of the 57 trails are right for them, the Blueway Trails Guide offers data on ease of access, difficulty of terrain and scenic value.
Sharp-eyed families are likely to see manatees, dolphins and fish jumping out of the water, and paddlers are encouraged to watch the skies in search the white pelican, one of the largest birds — with a wingspan of up to 9.5 feet — in North America. From October through April, as many as 2,000 white pelicans make their way to the islands off the coast of Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach to roost.
On land, families can enjoy a traditional Old Florida wildlife adventure with Babcock Ranch Eco Tours, which whisk visitors through the working Babcock Ranch in a refurbished school bus. The ranch is surrounded by indigenous wildlife, citrus groves, prairies and undeveloped expanses of wet pine flatwoods. Plenty of wildlife can be seen from the safety of a swamp buggy, including alligators, the resident Florida panther and snakes.
For a slighter tamer experience, visitors can check out Peace River Wildlife Center, which treats ailing or injured native birds and small mammals. Animals who cannot be returned to their native habitat become permanent residents of the center, a menagerie that currently features nearly 200 residents visitors can view. Some favorite residents include bald eagles, raccoons and a white Eastern Screech-Owl named Luna, uniquely colored because of its rare condition called leucism, caused by a partial loss of pigmentation.
Can joining Disney Vacation Club help you save on family travel? Well, David’s Vacation Club Rentals, a source for Disney Vacation Club rentals, can provide some insight. Disney travel experts like Melissa Mullett, director of operations, David’s Vacation Club Rentals, provided some tips and insider knowledge on how Disney Vacation Club works.
United Airlines is in the midst of a major initiative to modernize its fleet over the next several years. After first announcing the plan in 2021, planes fitted with United’s signature interior are finally beginning to appear across the airline’s narrowbody fleet of Boeing and Airbus planes. United flyers are sure to notice these enhancements from the moment they step on board: Each new or updated plane sports remodeled seats, seatback entertainment screens for everyone, Bluetooth connectivity and more, all adding up to a better experience on every journey.
Does your road trip crew include young kids? We’ve been there, too, and know keeping everyone busy and entertained makes those long stretches of interstate much more peaceful.
In the market for new luggage? If you’re outfitting your entire family of travelers, you may want to check out some new offerings available at Target from travel brand Atlantic. Atlantic’s new line focuses on making travel more convenient with kiddos, and includes seven pieces to choose from, all made with durable, lightweight, sustainable materials (each item is made from up to 27 recycled plastic bottles).
As the only major U.S. airline to own a flight school, United Airlines already hit a major milestone, and now the carrier celebrates another important — and historic — step as the inaugural class of United Aviate Academy pilots graduates, leading the next generation of aviators. The 51 students in the graduating class were majority, at 80 percent, women and people of color — another stride toward United’s goal of training 5,000 new pilots by 2030 with half women or POC.
Norwegian recently launched the newest addition to its fleet, Viva, with a spectacular debut earlier this month. The ship, launched from Trieste, Italy, and finishing its inaugural run in Lisbon, Portugal, is the second in its Prima Class of ships, set to give family travelers the ultimate vacation experience.