Story originally appeared on Diamond Resorts.
Florida is the perfect backdrop for a summer family reunion with nearly 700 miles of beaches, myriad theme park attractions, and year-round sunshine. But theres more than one way to focus your vacation itinerary and also plenty of family-friendly resorts to call your home away from home in the Sunshine State.
If Florida is on your radar, this family reunion planning guide outlines four types of trips to consider for your next visit as well as where to stay to make the most out of your experience.
For Curious Kids and Culture-Seekers
There’s no shortage of things to do for family reunions in Orlando, Florida and your itinerary can include more than just the theme parks. In fact, there’s a world of culture for curious-minded travelers in Orlando’s own backyard.
Just a few minutes away from LEGOLAND Florida Resort, Bok Tower Gardens is a botanical oasis and bird sanctuary designed by the son of Central Park architect Frederick Law Olmsted. From the moment you drive up the main path, the scent of the citrus trees growing alongside the road envelopes you. Once inside, the whole family can explore together or spread out across the 250-acre garden, home to a neo-Gothic Singing Tower, where a 17th-century carillon made of giant bronze bells plays concerts daily. There’s also a 1930s-era, Mediterranean-style mansion that’s open for historical tours, as well as a children’s garden known as Hammock Hollow, where families can check out cool water features and little ones can climb a jungle gym.
A bit farther east from the theme parks, just past downtown, the Orlando Science Center is just the place to help you escape the summer heat. Between the interactive exhibits spread across four floors, the animal encounters in Natureworks and the giant-screen films at the Dr. Phillips CineDome , your family can easily spend a full day here. And if all that exploring leaves you itching for some rest and relaxation, check out the top water parks and pools beyond Walt Disney World.
Wondering how to plan a family reunion in Florida? Start by selecting your home base. Diamonds Cypress Pointe Resort is a perfect choice, with comfortable suites that can accommodate any family members needs and preferences, as well as plenty of kid-friendly amenities.
For Adventurous Families
Just an hour west of Orlando in Ormond Beach, history buffs young and old will get a kick out of the free tours at the winter home of millionaire philanthropist John D. Rockefeller. The property is known as the Casements for its bevy of casement-style windows. If yours is a family of scouts, you’ll love the collection of Boy Scouts of America memorabilia at this architectural gem on the National Register of Historic Places.
A short 16-mile drive down the coast from Diamonds The Cove on Ormond Beach takes you to the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Museum , where you can climb the tallest lighthouse in Florida at 175 feet. If you prefer to stay on the ground, check out Ayres Davies Lens Exhibit Building to see one of the best collections of Fresnel lenses in the world. A few blocks away, families can safely touch stingrays and learn about sea turtles and marine bird rehabilitation at the Marine Science Center , or hop on a boat for a sightseeing adventure to spot dolphins and manatees with Ponce Inlet Watersports .
When staying in the Ormond Beach area, The Cove on Ormond Beach provides large vacation rentals with everything you need for a seaside escape with the whole family, from little kids to grandma and grandpa.
For Beach and Nature Lovers
With its 30 miles of powder-soft sand and turquoise waters, it’s easy to see why the southwest corner of Florida is called the Paradise Coast. You’ll have to ride a tram through a mangrove forest to reach the pristine beaches at Clam Pass Park , a coastal habitat and preserve with waters gentle enough for paddling and wading.
Nestled on a barrier island nearby, Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park is also considered one of the most unspoiled beaches in the state. Families can snorkel near the colorful reef that lines the shoreline, go treasure hunting on the beach for seashells or take the high-tech route with geocaching.
Nature lovers who don’t want sand between their toes can visit Naples Pier . Found at the tail end of 12th Avenue, the pier is Naples main thoroughfare for shops and cafes. Bring your fishing pole or pick one up at Naples Day Dreamer Fishing Charters , and join the other anglers at the end of the pier. Then sit back and play a game of dolphin-spotting while taking in the gorgeous sunsets on the Gulf of Mexico.
If you’re tossing around family reunion ideas in Florida, consider The Charter Club Resort of Naples Bay as the setting for this years annual gathering. You can easily spend a weekend or even a whole week at this comfortable and spacious venue.
For Theme Park Fans
Central to all of Orlando’s well-known theme parks, Diamond Resorts provides an ideal home base for a fun-filled family reunion. If you’re planning a family reunion in Walt Disney World, family members of all ages can immerse themselves in the Most Magical Place on Earth. Starting July 15, indulge in foodie favorites from across the globe during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival and try an array of culinary delights both kids and adults can enjoy. A bit farther north, find SeaWorld Orlando and Universal Orlando Resort for thrilling roller coasters and exciting experiences at every turn. Whichever theme park you choose, Grand Beach is just a quick drive away and a great retreat to wind down after a jam-packed day at the parks.