Florida is home to world-class amusement parks from Disney to Universal and LEGOLAND, but also boasts plenty of totally unique and mind-blowing attractions. Ever wanted to see a shipwreck, mermaids, a mysterious castle or a rare habitat? You can do all of that and more without ever leaving the state of Florida. Here’s where to go and what to see for a unique family vacation to Florida.
Comprised of mostly open water and seven remote islands, Dry Tortugas National Park lies just 70 miles off of Key West and encompasses 100 square miles. Visitors can only reach the area by boat or seaplane to explore the 19th-century Fort Jefferson. Head to Garden Key to visit the park headquarters, campgrounds and the historic fort. Bring along your snorkel gear and swimsuits and get ready for a memorable day in the water. You’ll see coral heads, reefs, shipwrecks and the occasional goliath grouper.
Located 3.25 miles east of Key Biscayne, the artificial Neptune Memorial Reef offers an artistic interpretation of the Lost City of Atlantis. The memorial reef is free to visit and is a popular spot for scuba divers, underwater selfie lovers, students and even marine biologists. Families who don’t want to scuba dive can swim, snorkel or spread flowers in remembrance of loved ones. Just a heads up, the Neptune Memorial Reef is a spot many choose to spread their final ashes.
The Everglades National Park earned a spot on the UNESCO World Heritage site list and is home to rare and endangered species including manatee, American crocodile and the Florida panther. Guests can explore paved and marked trails in the park or hop on a kayaking tour to see more of the area nature up-close and personal. But if you’re not up for kayaking, family airboat tours are also a popular way to see the exotic, swampy waterways.
Built singlehandedly by Edward Leedskalnin 1923–1951, the Coral Castle Museum is comprised of 1,100 tons of coral rock and welcomes visitors to its unusual and mysterious grounds. Leedskalnin did all of the work himself, relied on no modern construction conveniences and claimed he knew “the secret of the pyramids.” To this day, scientists and thinkers alike debate how exactly Leedskalnin accomplished this feat.
Find Enchantment at the City of Live Mermaids
Mermaids are alive and well at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.Guests gather at the 400-seat auditorium and watch the mermaids perform their version of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. Mermaid friends, a birthday party and a sea witch enchant guests as they root for the mermaid to unite with her prince. Afterwards, take a trip on a river boat cruise and learn more about area wildlife before swimming through Buccaneer Bay water park. Families soar down water slides and just generally have a blast.
The charm of a Florida vacation is its rich variety of attractions, from beaches to wildlife. Get the kids involved in the planning process and choose something that speaks to everyone.
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.
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.
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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).
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.
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.