Embarking on a family vacation is not just an escape; it’s an opportunity to create lasting memories and strengthen the bonds that tie us together. For those seeking a perfect blend of enchantment and relaxation, Central Florida emerges as a beacon of possibilities. Nestled amid the iconic theme parks and natural wonders is a gateway to an array of family-friendly destinations!

Join me on a journey as I unveil the top 5 family vacation destinations near Central Florida! 

1. The Palm Beaches!

First up on my list is the Palm Beaches! This area of Florida is about three hours southeast of Orlando and has so many hidden gems! My family and I lived in this area for almost a decade so that I might be a little biased, but it’s truly a spectacular area with some of the most beautiful beaches and fun shopping districts to visit!

Palm Beach Gardens is home to the PGA of America for our golf lovers out there, and aside from the most beautiful beaches, you can enjoy some of the best snorkeling, fishing, paddling, or boating in the pristine waterways.

If you are a nature lover, check out the Florida Everglades, Palm Beach Zoo, Loggerhead Marine Life Center, Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, and Lion Country Safari.

May through October is turtle nesting season in Palm Beach County. Loggerhead, Leatherback, and Green Sea Turtles return to the exact location every year to lay their eggs. Check with The Loggerhead Marine Life Center in Juno Beach to arrange a guided walk and other sea turtle-related activities!

Palm Beach Gardens is also a prime location for high-end shopping, boutiques, fine hotels, and restaurants.

Where to stay while you’re here? My top recommendations are:

  • The Breakers Palm Beach: Enjoy a luxurious oceanfront getaway close to local Palm Beach area attractions
  • DoubleTree by Hilton Palm Beach Gardens: location near downtown, shopping, and beaches

2. St. Augustine!

The oldest city in The United States, founded in 1565, St. Augustine is one of the best places in Florida to vacation with your family!

St. Augustine is bustling with charm, history, and activity, making it the perfect family vacation destination!

You can participate in swashbuckling cruises, pirate-themed activities, and a pirate-themed dinner at the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum, where you can learn all about pirate tales and treasures.

Are you looking for something a little spookier? Don’t miss the Secrets of St. Augustine Ghost Tour!

After all of your pirate adventures, remember to visit the Fountain of Youth, the Castle of St. Mark, The Colonial Quarter, and St. Augustine Lighthouse!

While you’re in the area, I recommend staying at Hilton Saint Augustine Historic Bayfront.

3. Daytona Beach

My following recommendation for a great family vacation near central Florida is Daytona Beach!

There’s more to Daytona than its speedway!

Discover the fabulous beaches and family-friendly activities Daytona has to offer!

Not in the mood for the beach? Spend the day gliding through the air at Daytona Beach Zipline Adventure Park in Tuscawilla Park! This park offers three exhilarating courses and 12 zip lines, with trained guides, providing a safe and exciting aerial adventure for families.

While in Daytona, you must stroll down the Daytona Beach Boardwalk. The boardwalk is home to incredible family fun opportunities, including arcades, restaurants, and more.

Other highlights you don’t want to miss include:

  • Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory
  • Jackie Robinson Ballpark
  • Dancing Avocado Kitchen
  • Sun Splash Park
  • Museum of Arts and Sciences
  • Marine Science Center
  • The Lighthouse

My recommendation on where to stay while in Daytona is:

  • The Shores Resort and Spa
  • Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort

4. Sarasota

Number 4 on my list for top 5 family vacation destinations near Central Florida has to be Sarasota! Sarasota is home to some of the most scenic beaches on the Gulf Coast. The whole family will love the Siesta Beach play area!

Take the kids to meet exotic animals at the Jungle Gardens.

Explore the area on a trolley, kayak, or even an electric bike tour! relax for

For a relaxing day, visit South Lido Park, one of the art museums, or stroll through the farmer’s market.

Other attractions not to miss:

  • Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
  • Ringling Circus Museum
  • Old Salty Dog – for a bite to eat that is tons of fun for the kids!

Wondering where to stay in Sarasota? I have a few great hotel recommendations!

  • The Ritz-Carlton Sarasota: Located on the bay in central Sarasota, the resort offers a spa center and access to a nearby private beach and outdoor pool. All rooms feature private balconies.
    • Guests have access to the exclusive Ritz-Carlton Beach Club located just 3 miles from the hotel on the white sandy beaches of Lido Key. It features a private beach, comfortable lounge chairs, a gulf-front zero-entry heated swimming pool, a hot tub, and elevated Ladies and Gentlemen’s changing facilities. For resort guests, free shuttle service is provided to and from the Beach Club. Guests can also access The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, an award-winning Tom Fazio-designed par-72 golf course.
  • Golden Host Resort: This hotel boasts a 50-ft heated saltwater pool and one of Florida’s oldest tiki bars, The Bahi Hut Cocktail Lounge.

5. Orlando/Lake Buena Vista

Rounding out the top 5 family vacation destinations near Central Florida is IN Central Florida: Orlando and Lake Buena Vista. 

Not everything has to revolve around the theme parks. Sometimes there’s good deals, but there are many places to visit in Orlando and LBV with the kids.

Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort: If you’re looking for the perfect blend of luxury, comfort, and family fun, look no further than Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World! This resort brings out the best Walt Disney World offers with an extra touch of luxury. 

Drury Inn & Suites: If you’re looking for extras, Drury Inn is the resort for your family! Near Universal Orlando Resort, Drury Inn offers free scheduled shuttles to and from the parks! During your stay, enjoy these complimentary amenities every day: hot breakfast, 5:30 kickback (hot food and cold beverages served from 5:30 pm-7 pm), freshly popped popcorn, and soda. Enjoy the Kitchen + Bar in the lobby for an additional fee. You can grab a meal or select from various wines and cocktails here. The Kitchen + Bar is open from 5 pm-12 am most days.

We live in the best state, so why leave on vacation?! Staycations are the way to go for a long holiday weekend or even just a night or two!

It’s time for a family getaway!

If you need help planning your next getaway, be sure to give me a shout at @saltyandfreeadventures on Instagram or find me on Facebook at Salty and Free Adventures – The Ultimate Beach & Luxury Travel Group 🏝🌴🌊 to chat more about vacation options and planning your perfect family getaway locally or abroad! 


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