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Planning a Trip to South Florida With a Toddler

by Erica Loop

Whether you are planning a trip to Miami, the Everglades or even further south to the Keys, taking a trip to Southern Florida with your toddler provides opportunities galore for fun, sun, sand and pint-sized play. Before you hit the road or the skies on your way to South Florida, plan every aspect of your vacation from where to take your toddler and places to find tyke-friendly food to ways to get around town with a little one in tow.

Indoor Places to Visit

Visiting the "Sunshine State" doesn't mean that you have to spend every second outdoors. Before packing your trip with beach days and other outdoorsy treks, plan a few inside adventures to entertain your toddler when the weather won't cooperate. If your toddler is a mini-Monet, try a trip to the Miami Art Museum. Save a few dollars on your South Florida vacation and check out the free Second Saturdays program that features hands-on activities for little artists. Quench your toddler's need to explore his world with a day trip to the South Florida Science Museum. Toddlers may enjoy the museum's Interactive Outdoor Science Trail, the live daily feedings at the aquarium or a planetarium show that is specifically made for an early childhood audience. With three Florida locations -- in Palm Beach Gardens, Coral Springs and Wellington -- A Latte Fun offers an indoor playground with a toddler-only ball pit and a toddler-only play area, as well as a yummy menu for moms, dads and kids to enjoy.

Outdoor Places to Visit

The most obvious outdoor places for families visiting South Florida are the state's bountiful beaches. While this Southern state is filled with ocean areas, there are some beaches that are better suited to your toddler's needs than others. For example, Matheson Hammock -- near Key Biscayne -- is rip-current-free and has a lagoon feel. Another popular outdoor family option is the Everglades National Park. Your little one can take in the natural sites with you or you can try out a family camping trip.

Places to Stay

When planning your South Florida vacation, with a toddler along for the ride, making sure that your over-night accommodations are kid-friendly is key. While you could just stay at any hotel, choose one that caters to little ones. For example, Loews Miami Beach Hotel's Loews Loves Kids program has a lending library of tot-sized toys, car seats, potty seats, strollers, night lights and DVDs. Additionally, Loews will provide outlet covers for your room or full child-proofing kits. Families staying in the Palm Beach area may enjoy the toddler-friendly amenities that the Chesterfield has to offer. This posh spot provides families with toys and coloring books to use, beach toys and a babysitting service for mom and dad to take a night out. If your family is looking for a more outdoorsy, and more budget-friendly option, South Florida's State Parks -- including Alafia River, Bahia Honda, Curry Hammock and Hillsborough River -- have full-facility camping for tents or RVs.

Traveling and Transportation

If a stroller won't be the only means of transportation for your toddler during your trip, plan ahead before you visit South Florida. According to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, passengers younger than age 3 must ride in a federally approved car-seat at all times. Additionally, as the Broward County Sheriff's Office notes, children must ride in rear-facing car-seats until they weigh 20 pounds or more. Families who aren't able to bring a car-seat with them, or who are looking for a toddler-sized stroller to use while visiting, can rent these items from a South Florida baby and child-gear agency such as Family Rentals. Rental agency services allow parents to plan ahead and reserve specific items such as light-weight strollers, jogging strollers and toddler care seats to use during their trip.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

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