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Family Travel Question:

Q | Any suggestions on places to stay during a month-long trip to Florida?

We have one month in Florida in November/December. We will be north of Orlando for Thanksgiving and then want to do Disney, Universal, Miami, Key West, and the Everglades. We were in Florida 7 years ago so have done some of the attractions before but Key West and Everglades are new. Any suggestions on places to stay and things to do? -Karina, Australia

A | Florida fun for active teens, tweens, and kids

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Since you said you visited Florida 7 years ago I’m assuming your kids are old enough to enjoy active, all-day adventures – so here are some of our South Florida favorites beyond the Disney and Universal Theme Parks.

In the Orlando area, Discovery Cove is a real treat.  For a single all-inclusive fee you can experience a wonderful day that features a dolphin interaction, wetsuits and snorkel gear, unlimited snorkeling, an extensive and exotic tropical lazy river, a stingray petting pool, a walk through jungle aviary, and most of your food and snacks.  Schedule your dolphin encounter early and then enjoy the facility for the rest of the day.

Further south in the Keys, about a 45-minute drive north of Key West, the Bahia Honda State Park offers daily snorkeling boat tours to the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary located offshore. Canoe and kayak rentals are available as are several  rental cabins.   Best of all, Bahia Honda has some of the nicest beaches in the Keys and  is a great place for swimming and soaking up the rays.  The water temperature is usually in the mid to lower seventies (Fahrenheit) in the winter.  The water is shallow and the currents are very mild.  As you might expect, it is a popular destination so plan ahead and make reservations.

And, of course, you can’t visit southern Florida without seeing some ‘gators.  In Orlando, Gatorland offers a range of close encounters including trainer for a day and an after hours tour to the park’s breeding marsh.  Another option is an airboat ride in the Everglades at sunset to see birds and ‘gators. Most of these trips leave from the Miami area.  Don’t forget to bring the bug spray!

We have also enjoyed kayaking through the shallow mangrove swamps of the Keys and getting glimpses of the tiny endangered key deer found at the National Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key about 30 minutes north of Key West.  You certainly won’t run out of things to do!

Photo Courtesy Gatorland

 

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