Florida is a favorite travel destination for family vacation, especially for Ohioans who don’t exactly have oceanfront property in our own backyards. The sandy beaches of Florida welcome relaxation or adventure- whichever you’re looking for!
Florida’s Space Coast has epic family-friendly fun like paddling with manatees, taking an airboat tour to see gators or visiting NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex!
Turkey Creek Sanctuary: Paddling Paradise has to go on the top of your to-do list while on the Space Coast! With kayak and paddleboard rentals, Turkey Creek Sanctuary is the ultimate spot to paddle among gorgeous Cypress trees and wildlife like manatees, baby dolphins, turtles, osprey and yes- gators! It is quite the adventure to watch manatees swim underneath you and float by gators basking in the sunlight (don’t worry, the gators will ignore you if you ignore them!).
Hobie Kayak rentals come in one or two seaters and really make the paddle more enjoyable as you row with your feet. A hand paddle is included with each kayak but we highly recommend sticking with the Hobie so you don’t use up all of your upper body strength before getting back into the sanctuary.
Round trip, plan on around three hours to paddle through the residential waterway, around the stunning sanctuary (words really can’t describe how beautiful it is), to the dam and back.
Cypress Lake: It’s not everyday you see an alligator in Southwest Ohio! Don’t miss out on the perfect opportunity to feed gators, ride a thrilling airboat around Cypress Lake, watch a gator feeding show, try gator bites at Chomp House Grill and drive through 170 acres of wild animals in the Safari Park.
The airboat tour at Wild Florida is offered in 30 minute or 1 hour increments. We recommend the 1 hour tour to see the most wildlife like gators and bald eagles on Cypress Lake. The tour guide makes multiple stops along the way to spot gators and points out fun facts like the apple snail’s eggs, baby gator nests and how cattle farms can trust their herd right next to gator territory. The lake is just one stop along the canals that connect Florida from one coast to the other.
Watch a gator feeding show in Gator Park! This show will be sure to wow you as huge gators come feet out of the water for a tasty snack of raw meat. Afterwards, peruse the park and check out the many wildlife that call Wild Florida home. You will see a bobcat, lemurs, friendly sloth, parrots, all types of gators and more!
Finish off your day in Florida Space Coast’s only Safari Park where a winding road takes you through acres of wild animals, sometimes just inches away from your car! Some of the animals are very friendly like the ostrich who will walk right up to your window. The zebras, bison, camels, sheep, antelope, giraffes and others keep a bit more of a distance- cooling off under the shade trees or grazing in the open safari fields. Drive slow, keep your windows up and feed a giraffe at the end of your Safari Park tour!
Cape Canaveral: A visit to Florida’s Space Coast would not make sense without a stop at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Plan an entire day (or two!) to explore NASA’s history and take the bus tour to see Saturn V, the launch pads, ride a spaceship simulator, walk through the rocket garden, burn energy in Planet Play and visit several space exhibits.
Future astronauts get to embark on an out-of-this-world journey through mission zones set up by the visitor complex. Five zones take you on an adventure through NASA Heroes and Legends, Behind the Gates access to view the launch pads, the Race to the Moon, American icon Shuttle: A Ship Like No Other and NASA Now and Next.
Consider a weekday launch to the visitor complex to avoid large crowds and make the most out of each interactive exhibit. The technology is robust and impressive as kids can try to land a shuttle on the moon, use robot arms to move space items around, watch an IMAX short film, slide down a steep decline that replicates the shuttle’s landing and explore a Mars rover.
Melbourne Beach: Avoid the touristy areas of Florida’s Space Coast and drive a little further south to Melbourne Beach in the Melbourne/Palm Bay/Indialantic area. There’s plenty of space to put up your tent, relax near the waves or play on the playground at James H. Nance Park.
While on the Indialantic side, make a stop at Cafe Surfinista for deliciously healthy food and drinks like chia pudding, acai bowls, avocado toast, smoothies and coffee lattes. Grab a pizza from The Original Bizarro Famous NY Pizza, hot dogs from Long Doggers, or seafood at Beachside Seafood (try the shrimp and grits!). Forget the essentials? Stop by Surf Style or Longboard house.
P.S. Looking for a family photographer to capture those beach moments? Check out Nicole Turner Photography’s gorgeous portfolio!
Cocoa Beach: Home to the Famous Ron Jon Surf Shop, everywhere you go in the entire U.S., you’ll find someone in a Ron Jon tee shirt. With a historic Space Coast beach boardwalk and pier, many visit Cocoa Beach for its gorgeous shoreline. Visit the Florida Surf Museum, walk the pier, check out historic Cocoa Village and catch a show in the Playhouse.