Surround your family with the sunshine and shimmering water in South Florida. This popular region features the best of the state’s many kid-friendly activities, from world-class aquariums to stunning beaches on both coasts. Whether you’re looking forward to relaxing on South Beach or getting active in the Everglades, South Florida vacation rentals and family attractions make your trip a success.

1. Swim on South Beach in Miami

Experience Miami’s legendary South Beach lifestyle with a day on the sand. Swim in the warm waters, play in the waves, and build castles out of the fine white sand. While kids play, parents can soak up the sun and enjoy the beach’s excellent people-watching. Keep in mind that there are no trees on the beach; bring a pop-up shelter or rent lounge chairs and umbrellas to create your own shade, and use plenty of sunscreens.

2. Go Snorkeling near Marathon

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Enjoy some of Florida’s most spectacular snorkeling near Marathon, a city in the Florida Keys. The best spots lie offshore, so book a tour with a local outfitter; trips usually include a guide, boat transportation, and gear. Spot brilliantly colored fish swimming around the coral at Sombrero Reef, and head to Pirate’s Cove for the shallow water and beautiful sea life. Most companies offer family-friendly trips on shaded boats, so you can bring even your littlest swimmers.

3. Visit the Miami Children’s Museum

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Spend a rainy day indoors at the excellent Miami Children’s Museum. Set your kids free to explore the interactive displays, which are designed to reinforce school curricula in an entertaining way. Dance across an enormous piano in the Music Makers Studio, or use a crane and bulldozer in the Construction Zone. The museum also hosts classes, workshops, and weekly sessions to help kids learn more about art, culture, and music among other activities.

4. Learn About Seminole Culture in Clewiston

Explore Florida’s long history and rich cultural traditions at the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum in Clewiston. This engaging museum focuses on the Seminole Indians, who have lived in South Florida for thousands of years. Examine historic clothing, look at photos, and marvel at early weapons and toys. Be sure to walk down the museum’s boardwalk to the Ceremonial Grounds and Living Village, where kids can see Seminole artisans at work under the towering cypress trees.

5. Bike the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail

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Look out over the vast waters of Lake Okeechobee from the Lake Okeechobee Scenic Trail. Rent bikes in Clewiston, and pedal any section of the 110-mile trail, which is mostly flat to accommodate riders of all skill levels. Most of the trail is paved, so it’s easy to navigate on training wheels. Multiple parks along the trail provide bathroom access.

6. Take a Boat Tour

See the coast of South Florida at high speeds from a family-friendly boat tour. If you’re visiting Miami, explore Biscayne Bay with the popular Ocean Force Adventures. Make the most of the sunny Florida Keys weather with a catamaran tour around the islands, or book an air boat in Everglades City to go deep into the labyrinth of canals.

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7. Fish from Naples Pier

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Reel in a huge saltwater fish from Naples Pier, one of South Florida’s most well-loved fishing spots. Cast off the end of the pier, or simply watch as local anglers try their luck. Don’t worry about buying fishing licenses; your admission fee grants you unlimited fishing for the day. Come early in the morning to mingle with the serious fishermen, or visit at the end of the day to fish with a view of the sunset.

8. Spot Alligators in the Everglades

Get close to wild alligators on the Anhinga Trail in the Everglades National Park near Homestead, Florida. This wide trail is less than one mile long, and the paved surface is stroller-friendly. From the path, you can spot alligators, turtles, and other Everglades wildlife. Visit early in the day to avoid the crowds, which can be overwhelming during the summer and Christmas holidays.

9. Go Surfing at Fort Pierce Inlet State Park

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Check out one of South Florida’s best surf breaks in Fort Pierce Inlet State Park near Fort Pierce. Stop by the Fort Pierce Outdoor Center in the park to rent a board or book a lesson with a friendly instructor. The stunning beach features a gradual depth increase, creating kid-friendly and beginner-friendly surfing opportunities near the shore. Between rides, watch the experienced surfers and kite surfers that frequent the park.

10. Go Shelling on Sanibel Island

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Explore some of the best shelling beaches in the United States on Sanibel Island. Head for any of the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico side of the island, and let your little ones free on the shell-laden sands. Be sure to wear shoes to protect little feet from the thick layer of shells, and bring a bucket to collect your favorite specimens.

11. Cool off at Rapids Water Park in Riviera Beach

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If you’re visiting the northern end of South Florida’s eastern coast, check out Rapids Water Park in Riviera Beach. Speed through a dark tunnel and plunge into an enormous funnel on Big Thunder, or brave the Raging Rapids slide as a family on a multi-person tube. The park also features a tot-friendly splash park, a lazy river, and a range of water slides.

12. See Manatees in the Wild Near Fort Myers

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Help your kids spot wild manatees at Lee County Manatee Park near Fort Myers. This non-captive reserve creates a safe spot for these gentle ocean giants to live during the winter. Rent kayaks on-site to float alongside the manatees, or simply watch them from the shores. The park also offers a large playground and a butterfly garden.

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