Florida offers vacations for all ages

With 22 percent of travelers between the ages of 18 and 34 taking their parents or grandparents with them on vacation, multi-generation traveling is becoming more popular. Whether you look to please your five-year old son or your 65-year-old mother, Florida’s the perfect vacation destination for the entire family. From its sandy beaches to its breath-taking parks, Florida is the ideal choice, with everything from history to the hottest attractions.

For fun in the sun, Siesta Public Beach (http://www.sarasotafl.org) in Sarasota is the place. This family-friendly beach has shallow waters for the kiddies and year-round lifeguards. Equipped with plenty of picnic tables, recreational fields, an incredible playground and much more, this ultimate getaway has something for everyone in the family. While the kids have a ball at the popular Turtle Beach, mom and dad can enjoy some much-deserved R&R on the whitest sands in Florida. If heat is a concern, don’t worry. Grandma and grandpa will never get too hot on this beach. Siesta’s reflective quartz sand will keep the entire family’s feet cool, ad its cold drinks, served at its concession stands, will quench your thirst. These sensational shores not only appeal to the eye, but also make huge splashes for beach goers, young and old.

For families seeking to explore the outdoors together, Florida has another great destination awaiting you. The only subtropical preserve in North America, Everglades National Park (http://www.nps.gov/ever/) is nature’s playground. With its luscious wetlands and more than 150 miles of canoeing and walking trials, this reserve will excite a family of nature lovers of all ages. Bring the kids and take part in a slue of outdoor activities, from hiking and bicycling, to camping in the wilderness. Or, grandparents can simply relax on one of the park’s three boat or tram tours. While on the tour, observe the fascinating bird life, including the wading Wood Storks or Great Blue Herons, or catch a glimpse of the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles exist side by side. With so many things to see and do at the Everglades National Park, plan to stay for more than one night. A variety of family-friendly accommodations await in Miami (http://www.gmcvb.com/Index.asp), only an hour away. Enjoy its cultured city and take in its diverse population, fabulous food and incredible nightlife.

Shopping continues to be a top family-friendly activity, and Florida is known for its enticing stores, malls and outlets filled with merchandise that is sure to delight every family member. For some of the best shopping, travel up the west coast to Northwest Florida. With both Destin Commons (http://www.destincommons.com/) and the Silver Sands Factory Stores (http://www.silversandsoutlet.com/), Destin is a true shopper’s paradise. Located just a half-mile from the emerald green coasts of the Gulf of Mexico, both the mall and the outlet factory have plenty of shopping for the entire family. Destin Commons is known for its upscale shops, casual and fine dining and stadium-style seating movie theater, which features 14 theaters and is sure to be playing movies that will entice the young and old alike. This open-air town center has activities for the entire family, including a children’s playground and a dancing fountain. Less than five miles away, Silver Sands Factory Stores is sure to bring out the shopper in anyone. Mom will be pleased by the elegance of Ann Taylor, the kids will go wild for Aeropostale and Pacsun, and Dad will love the Black and Decker store. With more than 100 designer-name stores, the outlet is the largest in the nation. Once you’re through shopping, take the family and enjoy a soothing day or two at the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort and Spa (http://www.sandestinbeachhilton.com/home.html) or simply relax on the beautiful beaches of the Gulf of Mexico.

For the perfect match of history, culture and beauty, travel to Florida’s east coast and experience St. Augustine (http://www.oldcity.com/) with the family. As the nation’s oldest city, St. Augustine amazes visitors with its ancient cobblestone streets and its quaint cafes. Charming bed and breakfasts enchant families with their relaxing atmosphere, and their almost-like-home feeling. A host of historical landmarks and attractions, such as the 310-year-old Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, allow the kids to travel back to the early Spanish empire in the New World. St. Augustine also offers families a host of contemporary attractions, yet they pride themselves on cherishing the old world. So, whether grandma and grandpa want to dive into the Fountain of Youth (http://www.fountainofyouthflorida.com/), or the kids want to be amazed at Ripley’s Believe It or Not (http://www.ripleys.com/welcome.html), the welcoming walls of this ancient city will leave the whole family pleasantly surprised.

If the family can’t decide between swanky shopping, beautiful beaches, historical highlights or nature at its best, combine them all with a visit to Walt Disney World (http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/wdw/index), where you are bound to find something to please everyone. In the heart of central Florida, this fun-filled themed park is adjacent to one Orlando’s best shopping districts, which includes the Mall at Millenia (http://www.mallatmillenia.com/html/) and the Premium Outlets (http://www.premiumoutlets.com). If the kids can’t take their minds off the sandy shores, Blizzard Beach will do the trick. With its slippery slides and its thrilling rides, this water park is sure to make a splash with the whole family. Epcot will have grandma and grandpa enjoying a magnificent cultural experience, as they travel around the globe with its spectacular shows and wondrous attractions. And for the nature lovers in the family, Disney’s Animal Kingdom allows visitors to travel to the heart of the African motherland without leaving the country. Plan an evening for the whole family in Downtown Disney, where they can be amazed at the wonders of Cirque de Soleil La Nouba, rock out at the House of Blues or, for the grown-ups, dance the night away at one of the 25 themed clubs in Pleasure Island. If that’s not enough, try one of its fabulous resorts. The family can have a taste of Hawaii at the Polynesian resort or a sense of the outdoors at the Wilderness Lodge. Walt Disney World has everything a family could want for a vacation.

So pack the car and gather the kids, grandparents and even your in-laws, for a fabulous, fun-filled Floridian family vacation. Whether it’s the beach, a park or mall, visit http://visitflorida.com/destinations for great ideas so you can plan the perfect destination to suit all of your family’s needs.

For information on travel to Florida or to order a copy of VISIT FLORIDA’s free Vacation Guide visit VISIT FLORIDA’s consumer web site, www.VISITFLORIDA.com, or call VISIT FLORIDA’s toll-free consumer number at 1-888-7-FLAUSA (352872).