Miami is a treasure trove of beautiful beaches and fascinating attractions. At this cultural and economic hub of south Florida, visitors will enjoy spectacular nightlife, fine dining, exciting water sports opportunities, cruises, museums, shopping, and more. There's something for everyone and the climate here is wonderfully warm throughout the year, meaning visitors can put away their heavy winter wear, and opt for shorts and T-shirts instead.
Families with animal lovers will not be disappointed with plenty of critter-centered activities to discover in the Miami area. Take a wildlife tour on the everglades by airboat and look for alligators, check out marine wildlife at the Miami Seaquarium, commune with the primates at Monkey Jungle, and see a plethora of different species displayed and housed at fabulous Zoo Miami. A weekend trip north up to Gainesville, Florida will take you and yours through several wildlife areas, where there is plenty of natural Florida wilderness to explore, plus world-class theme parks in urban centers like Orlando, and at the end of your journey, you can take in museums and state parks to cap off your trip.
For furry and feathery Florida family fun, take the Florida Turnpike north from Miami until it merges with Interstate 75 northwest of Orlando, then take exit 374 on Route 234 north, before heading northwest again onto Highway 441 which will take you right to Gainesville. Enjoy RV camping along the way at state parks, and do some hiking and wildlife watching as you go.
When you arrive in Gainesville, the family fun is far from over. In keeping with your animal-themed trip, be sure to visit the Florida Museum of Natural History. Adults will enjoy the diverse natural history exhibits, and there are plenty of kid-friendly exhibits too!
The museum features a Discovery Zone with hands-on activities for the younger members of your family, who can use their creativity and critical thinking skills to engage in interactive exhibits. Other kid-friendly exhibits include a limestone cave exhibit that invites curiosity and exploration, and a Butterfly Rainforest full of free-flying, colorful butterflies.
For the prehistoric animal lover, there is something for dinosaur enthusiasts too who will get to view and learn about dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures, with the numerous fossil exhibits. Strollers are permitted in the museum with the exception of the Butterfly Rainforest. Check out the Events page online to time your trip to coincide with planned activities and events that interest your family members. There is also a unique gift shop here, so you can pick up mementos to commemorate your natural history museum visit.
As you continue up the Florida Turnpike you will pass just east of Orlando, Florida. Don’t speed on by without visiting the attractions at Orlando's Disney World. To continue on your wildlife lover's odyssey, be sure to check out Disney's Animal Kingdom where you and your family will have the time of your lives experiencing thrilling rides, fun entertainment, river safaris, marine wildlife displays, and themed activities, that are perfect for the animal enthusiasts in your party.
Everything from dinosaur-themed attractions to fantastical fantasy creatures, and of course a whole lot of real “critter” themed attractions as well, are waiting to be discovered by adults and young ones alike.
The Disney campground allows visitors to enjoy a wilderness experience with deer, rabbits, ducks and armadillos wandering through the 750 acre resort, which is forested with pine and cypress trees, and threaded through with woodland trails. And true to Disney form, there are plenty of fun activities including a pool area, themed activities, and entertainment.
As you travel up the Florida Turnpike, take a short detour west to beautiful Lake Kissimmee State Park, where you will discover many different wildlife habitats and fascinating local wildlife in a natural setting. Forests, floodplains, and prairie ecosystems can all be found in the park, as well as fabulous lakes which include Lake Kissimmee, Lake Rosalie, and Tiger Lake. Keep an eye out for birds, foxes, deer, and tortoises, to name just a few, and enjoy hiking, fishing, and non-motorized boating.
Visit the unique Cow Camp where rangers will explain how 1876 “cow hunters” used to round up wild cows in the area, process them, and then drive them to the coast for shipping. Families will find plenty to explore, wildlife to enjoy, and learn about an interesting way of life from a bygone era.
RVers will find a large campground located at the park which accommodates RVs and provides electric hookups. The campground is shady with plenty of privacy. Amenities like restrooms and showers and ADA accessible sites make this a great place to stop on your RV trip to Gainesville. You can even climb the observation tower located near the campground for a stunning view of the state park wilderness and lakes. The park has plenty of activities for daytime adventures and stunning night skies with celestial wonders.
Gainesville, Florida is happily situated near eight state parks, and camping opportunities in the region are plentiful. Look for great RV campsites, wilderness hiking, and wildlife viewing in the surrounding area parks at Paynes Prairie State Park, Devil's Millhopper Geological State Forest, Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park and many more.
Gainesville boasts 100 miles of trails for cycling, hiking, birding, and wildlife discovery. While in Gainesville you can also take in cultural events, festivals, museums, and live music. The trip from Miami to Florida is just over 300 miles, and the weather for traveling is typically good throughout the year, with little chance of wintery conditions.
Traffic, especially near urban centers like Miami, Orlando, and Gainesville can be heavy. If you are traveling with a large motorhome or holiday trailer you may want to do your driving during the off-peak hours and enjoy the warm sunshine at your stopovers! During the fall and winter, hurricanes sometimes occur on the east coast of Florida, so check local conditions before venturing out on your Florida vacation.