TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (August 20, 2020): While so many dream of visiting the Sunshine State, local Floridians are fortunate enough to have some the country’s best attractions right in their own backyard. For kids who have missed out on weeks of traditional education, Florida offers alternative, innovative learning experiences to keep them curious and engaged.
Here are a few of the top picks for family field trips available to Floridians from coast to coast.
Nature and Wildlife
Over at Crones Cradle, in Marion County, insightful farm tours introduce families to natural and organic farming, including a demonstration with a honey beehive. Marion County also offers educational glass-bottom boat tours to learn about the underwater ecosystems at Silver Springs. For aquatic creatures, the Florida Aquarium in Tampa Bay and Mote’s Aquarium in Sarasota feature immersive sea life experiences and educational exhibits.
Safari Wilderness Ranch in Lakeland offers self-guided safari tours to learn about the wide range of wild animal species living on the ranch from the safety of a customized safari vehicle. Expect up close encounters with zebras and antelope among other exotic wildlife roaming on 260 acres of pristine wilderness. For more close-up encounters, head to the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory and walk among hundreds of living butterflies and colorful birds.
In Punta Gorda and Englewood Beach, the innovative EYE on Nature program provides children with a fun pack full of materials to guide them on educational adventures to learn about the local ecosystem. Journey through Florida’s underground caves at Florida Caverns State Park in Marianna to explore stunning stalagmites, stalactites, rimstone pools and other natural formations that are about 38 million years old.
Science and Innovation
It’s all about discovery and learning at Tampa's Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI), the largest science center in the Southeastern U.S., the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale and Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in Miami. For families with little ones, Fort Myers' IMAG History & Science Center and South Florida Science Museum in West Palm Beach offer a more manageable experience packed with hands-on activities.
Children with an interest in space travel will be in awe at the Space Coast’s iconic Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex where they can eat lunch with an astronaut and experience a space training simulator ride. The National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola also offers a multi-sensory experience with two state-of-the-art MaxFlight 360 Simulators that allow kids to take the controls in a cockpit trainer.
Visit Tallahassee, the Florida State capital, for important state history lessons at top attractions including the Museum of Florida History, Tallahassee Museum of History & Natural Science, Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park and Mission San Luis.
History class continues while touring the Colonial Spanish Quarter Museum in historic St. Augustine, traveling the Florida's African American History Trail or visiting the state’s many Native American museums and parks. Follow Florida's Lighthouse Trail and discover Florida’s historic lighthouses scattered along the coastline.
In West Volusia County, Barberville Pioneer Settlement immerses visitors in Florida’s past with a living-history village of restored pioneer-era buildings, led by knowledgeable guides and live onsite farm animals. Nearby, the 1886 Stetson Mansion, the winter home of famous hatter John B. Stetson, is Florida’s most historic home. Blended architectural details in its magnificently decorated rooms inspire pure amazement for those who partake in its tours which chronicle the intimate history of its former owners.
Visit the Flagler Museum in The Palm Beaches for an introduction to Florida’s railroad history and learn how Henry Morison Flagler developed the state into a vacation paradise. Make sure to book a Historic Walking Tour of Worth Avenue to explore the incredible architecture designed by Flagler’s good friend and renowned architect, Addison Mizner.
Art and Culture
The Art Connections center at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens in Jacksonville allows kids to view, create and touch replicas of artwork found it the museum’s main gallery. Nearby, the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville (MOCA) introduces young artists to inspiration and interaction with contemporary art at its ArtExplorium Loft.
Walk the wire, squeeze into a clown car and travel through Florida’s circus history at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art’s Circus Museum located in Sarasota. Learn about the racing culture in Daytona Beach with a Speedway Track Tour at Daytona International Speedway.
Florida is also home to a variety of international cultures. Immerse in the Cuban, Italian and Spanish flavors of Ybor City or the Greek customs and cuisine seen throughout Tarpon Springs. Head to the Florida Keys and Key West for a delicious journey through the history of Florida’s iconic key lime pie.
At Home Learning
While getting out of the house is great, a little home learning can lead to an even better experience on the road. Fort Lauderdale, for example, is inviting Florida’s children to become their own tour guides with the online Visit Lauderdale Junior Ambassador online learning program. Various courses explore themes like the Everglades and Butterfly World, allowing participants to create their own experience online.
Franklin County is also teaching kids virtually, partnering its many museums to create engaging educational videos. Take a virtual dive with the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, or join a virtual Reef Relief lesson.
Whether it’s in-person or virtually, Floridians have the access to incredible hands on learning opportunities across every interest area. For more information on the Sunshine State or to plan a 2020/21 vacation to Florida, visit www.VISITFLORIDA.com.
Symeria Palmer, Publicist
About VISIT FLORIDA
As the Sunshine State’s No. 1 industry, tourism was responsible for welcoming 131.4 million visitors in 2019. Based on the latest economic impact study, Florida visitors contributed $91.3 billion to Florida's economy and supported 1.5 million Florida jobs in 2018. According to the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, for every $1 the state invests in VISIT FLORIDA, the official tourism marketing corporation for the State of Florida, $2.15 in tax revenue is generated. VISIT FLORIDA promotes tourism to Florida through sales, advertising, promotions, public relations and visitor services programs. As a public/private partnership, VISIT FLORIDA serves more than 13,000 tourism industry businesses, including major strategic alliance partnerships with Busch Gardens Tampa, Disney Destinations, The Hertz Corporation, Hilton, LEGOLAND Florida Resort, SeaWorld Parks & Resorts Orlando, Simon Shopping Destinations and Universal Orlando Resort.