The Best of Florida: Fun Things To Do In The Sunshine State ~ Family Adventures on a Budget!

Updated: 21 hours ago

Family Adventures: The Best of Florida

Fun and free things to do in the Sunshine State - enjoy the nature and native Florida places!

Florida is best known for its theme parks and touristy Orlando. I’m sure you’re already picturing mouse ears and magic wands while trying to figure out how much money you have to save if you’re traveling this way! And yes, Disney, Universal, Sea World, and any combination of theme parks could easily keep you busy for weeks and cost a small fortune. Of course you would have a great time and make plenty of memories. However, that is not the only Florida attraction.

In looking for our own family adventures I was not able to find a great list of free or cheap adventures for a family in Florida. Which is what encouraged me to start this whole blog in the first place.

Save the big bucks for specific activities - and spend more time on the God Given Earth just enjoying the land!

We live in central Florida on the East Coast. There are very few weekends (if any) that we are not out and about. As a family we stay active and I am always looking for new places to see on a tight budget. I will share with you some of my favorite locations for must see adventures. If I could plan your dream trip: you could start up in the panhandle and work your way down this way, having a couple days in the theme parks and then lots of time to explore some of the amazing beaches, Kennedy space Center, some of the hottest spots on the East Coast and West Coast, enjoying a few days in Miami before going down to the Keys. Of course for this itinerary you would have to fly in to Pensacola and fly out of Miami.

Let this list serve as my favorite free or cheap family adventures and you can plan however you see fit!

Florida caverns state park, Marianna Florida - (North West, toward panhandle)

Florida Caverns State Park, Limestone Cave tours!

For five dollars a vehicle every day until sundown you can check out this park featuring great trails and areas to play. The highlight of this place is definitely the caves! For $10.75/ person you can go on a flashlight tour into the caverns. They are about a mile long and 45 minutes but how awesome to see and hear about how the limestone caves formed and learn about stalagmites (rising from the ground) and stalactites (dripping from the ceiling). Since the electricity was knocked out during the hurricane last year, the flashlights are necessary, but a cool side effect to keep it even more authentic!

The Springs: There are so many cool Springs…. (around 700)

Our favorite = Rainbow River: (West Coast) As a family rafting down the rainbow river was one of our favorite adventures! For $15 a person you can see real Florida, and get completely caught up in the beauty all around you. Bring your coolers, pack your lunch and spend your money on those rafts! Float away leaving all your troubles behind! The water is cool and on a hot day this is oh so satisfying!

While I float peacefully, the kids climb, jump and balance!

* Blue Springs Orange City in Volusia County, has a unique float way that takes you about a quarter mile down to the end of the Spring. This place is home to many manatees in the colder months, and closes to swimmers when they are nesting. But because it is connected to the aquifer, a real bucket list stop.

Click here for more.

*Alexander Spring is another gem. If you want a swimming hole surrounded by wooded preserve, this place will be the Calgon take me away your heart is seeking. Click here for more.

Here is a local summer favorite: Bob’s River Place (North, West)

This little hidden gem is located in Branford Florida on the Suwanee River. It’s a privately owned swimming hole with rope swings, tree houses, waterslides, and a backyard feel for hanging in the river with all the amenities of home. They charge $10 a person to get in and you are free to bring in your coolers full of food and drinks however no alcohol. You can barbecue and grill out, sing karaoke, float in the river, or wander and explore native Florida. It’s like a theme park without the long roped off lines, and the people just self-regulate. It does not feel like a theme park, but there’s a nice crowd every day that will join you on a raft to play king of the Island! Big fun.

Bob's River Place - Slides, Ramps, Tree Houses, Rope Swings, and lots of fun!

St. Petersburg: (Central/ West Coast)

This whole city is pet friendly and scenic to stroll through. Art, cafes, bars, shops and museums line the streets and all along the water front runs a park with huge trees to climb. It’s a little bit historic, it’s a little bit urban and a little bit secluded. Great upbeat energy an