Immerse yourself in the rich history of Central Florida by visiting the historic Thursby House, a relic of the region’s frontier days that offers a delightful experience for families. While manatee season restricts water activities to protect these adorable creatures, the rest of the year invites swimmers, kayakers, canoeists, and snorkelers to revel in the pristine waters of Florida.
For families seeking a more guided experience, two-hour narrated river tours are available twice daily, providing expert insights into the water, landscape, history, and wildlife of the area. Blue Springs State Park, boasting 51 fully-serviced campsites, is a favorite among RVers and tent campers alike, offering a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in nature.
If swimming with manatees is on your bucket list, Crystal River, just 80 miles north of Tampa, is the place to be. This exclusive location allows visitors to interact with manatees in their natural habitat, creating unforgettable memories. Connecting with local outfitters allows for small-group swims with these gentle giants, while observers on-site ensure that visitors follow safety guidelines and respect the animals’ well-being.
Crystal River Preserve State Park complements the manatee encounters with beautiful hiking trails, excellent birdwatching opportunities, and boat tours that venture out into the Gulf of Mexico.
For urban explorers, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on Key Biscayne, just south of Miami, is a true gem. Offering a serene and relaxed atmosphere away from the bustling city, this park features a stunning one-mile stretch of white sandy beach. Visitors can even explore the historic Cape Florida Lighthouse, dating back to 1825, on Thursdays through Mondays.
Bill Baggs Cape offers fantastic biking trails, with bike rentals available at the visitor center. Anglers will also find their paradise along the Biscayne Bay seawall. Though close to Miami, the park seldom reaches capacity, making it an ideal alternative for those seeking a quieter experience.
Families will find that exploring Florida’s state parks provides endless wonders and natural beauty. While attractions like Busch Gardens in Tampa have their allure, nothing compares to the magic of immersing oneself in nature’s embrace.
For those new to family travel, our tips for international family travel and family travel gear guide can provide essential information for a comfortable Florida adventure. For most park experiences, a child carrier is recommended over a travel stroller due to terrain conditions, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable journey.
If you’re passionate about family travel, join our Family Travel Support Group on Facebook, a wonderful community of travel-loving parents sharing experiences, knowledge, and lessons learned. Additionally, subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated on new family travel adventures.
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Embark on your Florida journey with coffee and delectable donuts at Lu’s Deli in New Bohemia, Cedar Rapids. The city’s dining scene offers a diverse array of options, including Persis Biryani Indian Grill, Bari Italian, La Cantina, Pita’z, and Mandarin Spice Asian Grill, among others.
Spring traditions are back, so head to the Cedar Rapids Kernels game and cheer on the High-A team of the Minnesota Twins. With 60 home games from May 4 to September 5, you’ll enjoy an exciting baseball experience.
For racing enthusiasts, Hawkeye Downs Speedway is the place to be. Witness thrilling Friday night races on the paved oval track, starting in May, along with additional Enduro races on various weekends.
Unwind with a leisurely brunch at Cedar Ridge Winery & Distillery, offering magnificent vineyard vistas from the warm and spacious indoor seating.
Don’t miss Uptown Artway, a revitalized gathering space behind 7th Avenue in Marion’s bustling business district. Cedar Rapids prides itself on being an inclusive community that values diversity and works towards creating a vibrant and welcoming environment for everyone. Embrace the uniqueness of each resident and celebrate the creativity that stems from engaging with people from different backgrounds and experiences.