In March this year, we visited Florida for the very first time. If you have read some of my other blogs you will know that this wasn’t a trip that had been planned well in advance, in fact, we only knew six months prior because the idea came about due to my husband needing to go out there for work. As it was so far to travel to and because none of us had ever been to Florida before, we decided to make it a family holiday to remember. With not long to plan, we set about researching, booking tickets and accommodation, a hire car and arranging everything we needed to travel to the US.
Seeing as much as I could within those 2 weeks was really important to me as we had no idea when we would be able to go again. So, I posted a blog back in November a list of places and attractions that I really wanted to be able to see and experience and I remember somebody commenting that we wouldn’t ever fit all of that in… Well, determination prevailed and we did most of it (except Universal which we decided we couldn’t justify) and had a fantastic time.
Here are 8 reasons why our Florida was absolutely amazing…
We had two locations for our two-week Florida holiday. The first week we needed to be near to Clearwater as this was where my husband was working from and we found the most gorgeous villa right next to the beach in Indian Shores. The accommodation was on somebody’s property but we didn’t actually see them at all. We had a self-catering villa with 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a living area and kitchen with all the amenities but the best part was the fact that the beach was right behind the house so literally took you 2 minutes to walk around to. When you have 2 fairly young children (5 and 1) having a beach this close is just ideal and the fact that it had white sand, crystal water, Pelicans and Dolphins made it even more special.
We stumbled across a mangroves walk in Indian Shores and decided to take a look along this boardwalk to investigate it. It’s not something you’d ever come across in the UK so it felt very strange to see this walk along the side of the road. But this is what made me fall in love with Florida, the unexpected, the wildlife, the plants, it is all just there to enjoy at every step.
As we wandered down the boards, we were mesmerised by the mangrove trees and their huge roots entangling one another in the water. There were signs to prompt you to look for certain wildlife which included birds, herons, frogs and even Manatees. We managed to spot quite a few from the lists but unfortunately, there were no Manatees around that day. We had been told by a local that there were other places to see them and that you could even go out on a paddle board and feed them banana skins (their favourite apparently!) Maybe we will be lucky on our next trip? If you do go to Florida, take a little look around where you are staying and see if you can find a gem like this one.
Captain Memos Pirate Ship
I had this attraction bookmarked for Jake and I was so glad we got the chance to take part in this. We booked online which guaranteed our spaces and meant that the ‘pirates’ were all ready for us. As soon as you arrive you are thrown into the pirate world. You get to meet Captain Memo himself, the crew see you on and prepare the child for his adventure and you are briefed on what is going to happen. It’s like a boat party for little people! There was a water pistol fight, stories, dancing, treasure, face painting, dolphin spotting, goodies to take away as well as a photo and certificate. They cram so much into 2 hours and we all had such an amazing time, I highly recommend jumping on this pirate excursion if you ever visit Clearwater.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium
The marine aquarium had to be one of my favourite days on our Florida holiday so much so that I have actually written a whole blog post just on this attraction which you can read here. There was so much to see and do and also learn about that we could have easily spent 2 days here. From meeting Winter and Hope the dolphins to watching Nicholas the dolphin perform, learning about the work the aquarium does, watching the Otters being fed and going out on a boat trip to see how they conduct species research and allow the children to learn about documenting it all. This attraction offers so much for the entire family.
Named as one of the best beaches in the world, Clearwater Beach has miles and miles of beautiful sand and clear blue waters. It is a popular destination for holidaymakers and as soon as we arrived we could see why. With areas to play games, the water to enjoy, lines of restaurants along the front, wildlife to spot and the Pier to stroll down, there is plenty here for everybody.
The wildlife in Florida is absolutely amazing. I mean to be able to see a pelican and dolphin on a daily basis is just magical plus we also saw frogs, lizards, snakes, a starfish, a sea sponge washed up on the beach, large birds (we have no idea what they were but think Kevin from ‘Up’ and you’ve got it!), herons etc. It was a shame we didn’t see alligators or Manatees but there is always next time.
Walt Disney World
This was the basis for the entire second week of our Florida holiday and something I had wanted to see since I was little and finally my dream was coming true! Our second accommodation was 20 minutes from Disney in a gorgeous house with a pool. I know that staying on site is very popular but after weighing up our options, the pros and cons (which included costs) we decided to go for off-site this time around. We still had our hire car and as there were 6 of us, 2 being young children, it worked for our setup. If you want to know how we planned Disney in such a short space of time I have a blog post dedicated to it.
So, was Disney World all I had dreamed it would be? Yes, yes it was! I almost cried when I saw the castle, I couldn’t stop looking around at everything and I was just stunned that I was there each day. It was a whirlwind of a week and we really did our best to fit in as much as we could. We actually only missed out one of the water parks, we made it to every other park in that week and my feet felt that! But it was worth it. The kids loved seeing the parades, the characters and fireworks, we all loved the atmosphere and the guys loved the rides, so it was a win-win (except for the miles we walked and the tiredness).
Walt Disney World is just magical and I would love to go back and do all of my favourite parts again.
Kelly Park Springs
We weren’t sure if we were going to make it here due to our time being so limited with most of our plans already being set in stone but we found time on our very last day before we headed to the airport for our flight. Kelly Park Springs were around an hour from Orlando but because I had read how beautiful they were we were excited to just about squeeze this into our Florida holiday. With their stunning clear water, beautiful surroundings and the chance to take a dip, it was a great way to end our trip and to enjoy an experience to remember.
Have you ever had a Florida holiday? What places really wowed you?
*This is a collaborative post. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.
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