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7-day itinerary for families in Florida

The Sunshine State of Florida serves up activities for all ages, from toddlers to teens and grown-ups. If you've hired a car you can combine the mega-parks with smaller attractions, beaches and the natural beauty of the Everglades for an action-packed week in Florida. Read on for our seven-day family holiday itinerary.

Day one

The first day on holiday is best spent taking a walk and getting your bearings. Of course, you'll also want to go to the beach, and the west coast of Florida is riddled with family-friendly beaches backed by restaurants and attractions.

St Petersburg's central, St Pete's Beach, comes complete with white sand and loads to do – shops, watersports and adventure cruises to spot dolphins. Nearby Clearwater is reported to have the best beach in Florida and it also hosts events like the National Superboat Championships and Ironman. However, for more secluded spots where you can collect shells and even see Loggerhead Turtles, the islands off the coast of Fort Myers in the southwest are stunning.

Day two

It's time for what you came for - the parks! Walt Disney World Resort alone is so big that you'll need at least two days to truly appreciate it so stay somewhere like Lake Buena Vista to be closer to the parks than the beach.

We suggest making a beeline for Magic Kingdom - the epitome of Disney. Mickey and Minnie join all the other characters in colourful parades in front of the iconic Cinderella's Palace. Don't miss the Night-time Spectacular fireworks at 8pm!

Day three

Take your pick from Epcot, Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios for the second part of the Disney fun. Epcot takes you on a worldly journey of 11 country zones, plus space age and under the sea adventures. It all centres around the giant dome housing the Spaceship Earth ride that sends you on a journey through time.

Over at Hollywood Studios you'll be immersed in interactive attractions and stage shows. Join the world of the Muppets and Toy Story or pick up a light-sabre and be pictured on Star Wars sets. Meanwhile, Animal Kingdom has live animal shows and safari experiences, as well as petting zoos and dinosaur rides.

Day four

You could spend another day at Disney if you liked, getting wet and wild at its two huge waterparks - Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon, or head to Universal's Volcano Bay waterpark.

If you prefer, there's also the option to try some non-Disney attractions like Sun Splash family waterpark in Fort Myers. Over in Clearwater and close to St Petersburg there are another two options - Highland Family Aquatic Center and Splash Harbour Water Park.

Day five

The place for families with older kids, Universal Orlando Studios combines rollercoasters and 3D action revolving around much-loved films. As well as the classic Universal Studios where you can take 3D rides through Transformers, Despicable Me and Shrek, there's a whole world devoted to Harry Potter.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter allows you to pass through the brick wall onto Platform 9 and three-quarters and dine at the Leaky Cauldron in Diagon Alley. There's even more Harry Potter action over at the Islands of Adventure zone, plus the kids can meet their favourite superheroes at Marvel Super Hero Island and go on a Jurassic Park adventure.

Day six

At the centre of Florida's tourism offering is International Drive – a colourful area that's close to all the big parks but has lots of its own to offer too. I-Drive 360 is a new entertainment park that houses the Coca-Cola Orlando Eye. On a smaller scale is Fun Spot Action Park, complete with bumper cars and traditional theme park rides.

Other big draws are the iFly indoors skydiving centre, Ripley's Believe It Or Not Odditorium and WonderWorks, which has over 100 science exhibits like experiencing an earthquake or using mind control with EEG.

Day seven

After all that action it's time to unwind and experience Florida's natural side. Close to Fort Myers you'll find the northern edge of the Everglades – an area of swampland full of wildlife and ripe for boat trips. At the Shingle Creek Regional Park you can got out on a family-sized, escorted airboat to spot alligators and birds before stopping for a picnic and letting the kids blow off steam in the play area.

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