Located in the northwestern and western coastline of Florida, the Panhandle area stretches along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, as well as features white sand beaches and warm, calm water. From laid-back beach communities to bustling coastal towns, the area offers fun for your entire family. Booking a stay at a Florida Panhandle vacation rental allows you to easily access all the exciting activities this beachfront area has to offer. Spend your days on the beach playing in the sand, flying kites, and chasing the surf, or visit an amusement park, water park, or zoological park. While planning your trip, consider these top 10 things to do in the Florida Panhandle with kids.

1. Visit the National Seashore

Find pristine beaches and gorgeous emerald-colored waters when you spend a day at the Gulf Islands National Seashore Attraction. Bring a cooler, select a spot on Rosamond Johnson Beach that offers picnic tables and restroom facilities, and spend an entire day there with your family. Wander along the pristine beaches of the National Seashore to see the protected dunes and wildlife. At the end of the day, stop at one of the many locally-owned restaurants for a fresh seafood dinner before returning to your vacation rental.

2. Spend the Day With Marine Mammals

Take the kids to the Gulf World Marine Park to spend a day with dolphins, sea lions, and many other sea and land critters. Enjoy one of the shows that feature performing sea lions and dolphins interacting with their trainers. Then, explore the on-site museum, which has exhibits of alligators, penguins, reptiles, tropical birds, and many other animals. Schedule a behind-the-scenes tour to learn more about what it takes to run Gulf World Marine Park, and before leaving, enjoy a meet-and-greet session with a sea lion or dolphin.

3. Spend a Day of Racing and Hijinks

With something for everyone in your family, Fast Eddies Fun Center offers a full day of fun for all ages. Start with a little friendly go-kart competition on one of the park’s four tracks, including one suitable for the younger members of your family and another for those who have a driver’s license. After declaring a winner, take the family to the arcade and enjoy its selection of retro and modern games. Get wet at Water Wars, where you participate in a challenging water balloon fight.

4. Learn a Little History

Sneak a little learning time into your family vacation with a day trip to Fort Pickens. This fort, which protected the Gulf Coast area, dates back to the 1830s. It was one of only four forts in the south that was not under the control of Confederate forces. Take a guided tour with a knowledgeable park ranger. After the tour, let the kids do some exploring on their own before heading to the museum and gift shop. If you pack lunch at your vacation rental before heading out, you can enjoy a family meal at one of the picnic tables.

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5. Practice Your Golf Swing

Take your family for a day of fun at the Coconut Creek Family Fun Park, which features two 18-hole mini golf courses with a tropical theme. Take a peek in the lake as you play to see if you can spot a carp or brim swimming in the water. After crowning a family winner, let the kids loose in the gran maze, and see who can find their way to the center first. This was the first gran maze in the United States.

6. Enjoy the ZooWorld Zoological Conservatory

Take your kids to see some of their favorite animals at the ZooWorld Zoological Conservatory. This park features monkeys, tigers, lions, camels, and many more animals. There’s a space where small kids can feed the birds, and on special days, the park offers arts and crafts with a zoo theme for youngsters who want to show off their creativity. While your kids enjoy an animal experience, enjoy Yoga at the Zoo, an event that the park sponsors each evening.

7. Visit the Dolphins

Schedule a special tour for your kids with Southern Star Dolphin Cruise, and spend an afternoon out on the Gulf of Mexico watching the pods of playful dolphins. Enjoy looking at the water below from this 80-foot glass bottom boat. The captain lets kids take turns steering the ship during the two-hour cruise. While your kids enjoy the scenery, lean back, close your eyes, and enjoy the sound of the waves. When hunger strikes, stop by the snack bar for a treat.

8. Spend a Day Playing in the Gulf’s Water

No trip to the Florida Panhandle is complete without a day on the beach. Pack up the sunscreen and sand pails for a day at the Pensacola Beach. This popular hot spot for beach-goers has on-duty lifeguards during the summer season, so you can relax and let your kids play in the surf. Try snorkeling if you want to check out the fish below the surf. When you’re not in the water, help your kids bury each other in the sand and build sandcastles.

9. Play at a Water Park

Tired of sand in your flip flops? Then take the family to Shipwreck Island to cool off for the day. This waterpark features something for everyone in the family. Float along the lazy river with younger members of your family while the older kids race down Tree Top Drop and River Rapids. When the little ones want to play, stop by Tadpole Hole and spend some time on a water playground or visit the Skull Island splash area. Don’t worry about going hungry, since the park offers vendors selling everything from hot dogs to pizza.

10. Become a Pirate

Kids love the idea of playing pirates and sailing off into the wild blue yonder, and you can make their dreams come true for a couple of hours with a Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise. During the two-hour cruise, kids search for hidden treasure, swab the decks, and sing pirate songs. There’s also a chance for them to participate in a sword fight and enjoy pirate-themed snacks.

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