Trips with kids can be a great way to bond as a family. However, they also require a little bit of planning beforehand. Finding family-friendly resorts and airports that offer essential amenities like feeding areas, play areas and shops, is definitely a big part of that. So yes, while traveling with children has its challenges, the memories are priceless. And who says some of those memories can’t begin as soon as you get out the door – even say, at the airport! We will delve into the best Florida airports for families and airports by Orlando attractions.
Florida is home to 131 public airports, 365 private airports, and 24 international airports in total. Here is our Florida international airports list for families visiting Orlando and other tourist destinations in the state. It includes the biggest and busiest airports, as well as some of the quieter lesser-known options out there. You’ll also find out which is the best airport to get to your Orlando hotel or accommodation destination.
Which is the cheapest airport in Florida?
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Fort Lauderdale International Airport is frequently regarded as the cheapest airport in Florida to fly into. The reason for this is that Fort Lauderdale International is home to many low-cost carriers, which means many flights have unusual flight times and long layovers. You’re going to want to read on to learn why it makes our list despite this!
Which is the most scenic Florida Airport to land in?
The Orlando International Airport (MCO) holds the fourth spot on the world’s 10 most scenic airport landings in 2020. You get a sight of the beautiful Atlantic Ocean, the Banana and Indian rivers, as well as a glimpse of the Kennedy Space Centre from up above. It’s something you’re going to want to show your kids, plus there’s tons more for the whole family to experience at this airport. So, keep reading to learn about it all!
Which is the worst airport for families in Florida?
Southwest Florida International, sometimes referred to as Fort Myers Airport, has nothing but a few art exhibits to check out and not much else to keep a family busy during wait times and layovers. If you do ever need to visit this airport, make sure you bring some kind of entertainment with you.
Which are the best airports in Florida?
The Orlando International Airport (MCO)
Deemed the biggest airport in Florida, The Orlando International Airport is located just 10 miles southeast of Downtown Orlando and a short shuttle away from the Disney Parks and most hotels. With two terminals – Terminals A and B, and services spread out across three floors, you would think that there are tons for kids, moms, and families to explore. And you would be so right!
All gates and Ticketing are located on Level 3, Baggage Claim is located on Level 2, and Ground Transportation is located on Level 1. MCO provides an Automated People Mover (APM) system to help get your family and your luggage to and from gate areas easily. This is a major plus when you’ve got a car seat, stroller, and a little one on you. To keep the kids’ hunger pangs at bay, access the food court from either side of the airport, side A or side B.
It can get hard to decide where to eat when there are so many options! There are many fast food places like Panda Express, Sbarro, and Auntie Anne’s for a quick bite. Drop by one of the several sit-down restaurants like Chili’s Too and Macaroni Grill, if you’ve got a few hours between flight. The hotel’s restaurant, the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport, also has several restaurants and a lobby bar you can check out. There are even more options near gates 1-29!
Breastfeeding moms can access breastfeeding rooms and lactation pods in all major passenger areas at these locations:
Terminal: Level 2B, near carousel 24
Gates 1-29: 10-19 wing
Gates 30-59: Hub area Gates 70-99: All wings
Gates 100-129: Near food court & gate 111
South APM Complex: Level 1, 3 & 5MCO also has a portable lactation pod.
If you’re going to be at the airport for a longer duration, MCO makes keeping the family entertained one less thing you have to worry about. Take them to Power Arcade, a large gaming arcade located before security on Level Three of departures. For the Nemo lovers in your troop, stop by the 3,000-gallon aquarium located in the main terminal’s food court. Don’t forget to visit the Disney and Universal Store for some last minute souvenir shopping. With this much fun, you and your family will likely forget you’re waiting for a flight at all!
Apart from all these perks, frequent flyers will be pleased to know that MCO is very well connected. It is served by numerous domestic airlines like Delta, Frontier, and JetBlue, as well as international airlines like Aer Lingus, Emirates, Air France, Bahamas Air, Lufthansa and more. Use the airport app to access maps, flight tracking and anticipated wait times, among many other features.
If you’re ever in the unfortunate situation of having a canceled or delayed flight, spend your time at the airport’s Hyatt Orlando hotel. This is a great option for families with infants or young ones that require any type of special care.
Renting a stroller is the best option if you decide not to carry your own while traveling with toddlers. Pick one up from the Orlando Stroller Rentals counter next to Disney’s Magical Express B side level one. Drop off is at the same location, making the whole experience seamless. You can rely on a free motor coach shuttle service between Orlando International Airport and the hotels.
Melbourne Orlando International Airport (MLB) in Brevard County
Melbourne Orlando Airport is 50 miles southeast of Orlando but some international low cost carriers fly into it as their main hub for Orlando. This includes TUI, who used to fly into Sanford.This will bring their operations nearer to Port Canaveral where TUI Cruises will operate from in coming years.
Kids will enjoy the Airport Museum – located in the terminal atrium, the airport museum is filled with relics and information about the history of MLB’s past-time as a World War II Naval Air Station, NASA’s space programs, and more. There are a couple of eateries but for post security, try Lucky’s Bar – a full-service bar with convenience and retail items for sale. Food menu, options may be limited.
Upon arrival to MLB, there are several ground transportation options:
Melbourne Airport Express
Door-to-door pickup and drop off services are available. To learn more or make a reservation, click here or call 321-724-1600 or 800-826-4544
Taxi, Limousine, and Shuttle
Services are available immediately outside the airport terminal. Click here for a list of permitted companies at the airport.
Services are available with the pick up area located outside of baggage claim.
Sanford Orlando Airport (SFB)
Sanford is Orlando’s secondary airport, but is farther away from downtown Orlando and the major theme parks than Orlando MCO – about 40-50 miles. Although it is a greater distance, this smaller airport does have some advantages.
- Kids programming
- Shorter security lines
- Historical educational displays
- Family restrooms
- Close parking
- Short walks to terminals
Tampa International Airport (TPA)
Tampa is a popular base to explore Florida and beyond. Not only do cruises to Costa Rica launch from Tampa, Tampa is a destination in its own right – with waterfront dining, shopping and a plethora of things to do for all ages. Tampa Airport can also offer great deals for flights compared to flying into MCO Orlando Airport.
The architectural design of the central terminal of the Tampa International Airport is known to be the best of its kind and has a lot of things in store for families.
In fact, there so much to explore that TPA even offers the airside pass program called All Access which allows up to 100 people who are not flying to visit the airport and enjoy all the post-security (Airside) amenities.
Each airside is served by a shuttle service called SkyConnect that resembles the monorail at Walt Disney World, making sure your fun Florida travels begin as soon as you land.
Once inside, you’ll see that TPA offers a wide variety of food options to try out, with 40% of them being local! This means that traveling families from all over will get to experience a little bit of Tampa. Pick up some fresh coffee from Kahwa Coffee or Buddy Brew, and try the char-grilled oysters from Ulele. The burger and fries from Goody Goody are a fan favorite, and will be your kids’ too!
Don’t skip a visit to Potbelly Sandwich Works (the only one in Florida) at Airside E for a classic Chicago style sub. RumFishGrill is a great place to sit down and try some Tampa Bay seafood classics, while the kids ogle at the 1,300 gallon aquarium. For feeding the tiniest tummies of them all, TPA has three nursing rooms for breastfeeding mothers. These are located in the Main Terminal, as well as in Airsides E and F, and offer privacy, power outlets, changing tables, and sinks.
We know parents traveling with babies are more likely to overestimate baby supplies than fall short of anything, but in case of an emergency TPA is there to help. Find the Traveler’s Aid Desk, open Monday through Sunday from 7 a.m. until 4 p.m., located on the Main Terminal Ticketing Level. From acquiring food, diapers, baby bottles, formula, toys and blankets to even finding a hotel on short notice, this service will be able to assist.
Now on to the fun stuff! There’s no shortage of ways to keep the kids occupied at TPA. All four Airsides feature magnificent works of public art to see due to the airport’s Public Art Program. Younger kids will be excited to visit Mindworks, a novelty toy store located in Airside A. Toys, candy, and an interactive Lego display – it’s a kid’s dream! TPA also offers fun scavenger hunts so consider booking one on the website if you’re looking at spending a significant amount of time there.
Tampa International Airport is served by most major airlines like Air Canada, AirTran, Delta Airlines, and more which provide nonstop daily and connecting services to national and international destinations.
Miami International Airport (MIA)
As one of the busiest airports in Florida, Miami International Airport has three terminals (North, Central, and South), six concourses, 131 gates, and lots to do for excited mini travelers!
Plane Fun, the fantastic airport playground located in Concourse E near Gate E5 offers aviation-themed entertainment for little ones. They’ll get to listen to real conversations between airplane pilots at the Control Tower and use a model cockpit to practice taking off and landing. The I Spy Miami From The Sky area even has simulated hot air balloons for kids get to ride.
The play area also includes a soft, padded space for toddlers to crawl around and play in tunnels. Parents too can get in on the fun, and take a photo of themselves with the kids at the mini-photo booth located at the front of the playground. MIA also has a special Children’s Art Gallery that features art made by kids that is worth checking out.
Later, take your kids to Mercado Miami at the Central Terminal for a toy haul if you’re worried about keeping them busy on the plane. For more serious worries like running low on supplies (or even just for a snack), head to Air Essentials, a convenience store in the North Terminal.
All the action will result in growling tummies, which is when you’ll be glad that there are great restaurants in all three terminals. Pizza at 305 Pizza at North Terminal, soups and salads at Au Bon Pain and Beaudevin with its great selection of wine, are just to name a few. The best Cuban food in Miami can be found at Bongos Cuban Cafe in the South Terminal. If you want the full Miami experience, try Bongos Mohito. For nursing mothers, MIA has a quiet lactation pods called MIAmamas, which are located on each concourse, after security.
This airport is serviced by carriers such as Aer Lingus, Air Canada, Bahamasair, Gulf Air, Lufthansa, Virgo Atlantic, Westjet, Volaris, and more.
Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International (FLL) Airport
While the Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport is one of the cheapest in Florida, it is still considered a major public airport in the United States. Simply known as Fort Lauderdale Airport to locals, it is situated a few miles outside of Fort Lauderdale and roughly 20 miles from Miami, making visiting the big cities in Florida cities quite convenient.
While FLL isn’t exactly touted for being kid-friendly, it still has the children’s play area, family friendly food options and facilities for new moms earn itself a spot on our list! Find the indoor playground on the mezzanine in Terminal 1. The cloud-inspired installation includes benches, a slide, and climbable elements that children of all ages can use. KidWorks in Terminals 1 and 2, and Travel Mart in Terminal 3 is where you’ll want to go to shop for toys and other convenience items.
There are eateries at all four of the terminals at FLL. Whether you’re looking for American, Italian, Asian, Indian, or any other cuisine, you can be sure you’ll find them in the restaurants at FLL. Pei Wei is at Terminal 3 and serves Chinese and Asian food. Oceanside Marketplace is another spot to check out in that same area. Stop by Great American Bagel for a quick bite if sitting down isn’t an option.
New moms, head to “Baby Oasis” – nursing suites for moms to feed their infants or pump milk in private. The Mamava brand suites are equipped with power outlets that will help charge your phone and breast pump.
Dozens of domestic and international destinations are accessible via FLL, including Toronto, Canada, and Washington, D.C. This airport’s international to domestic network is served by airlines like Silver Airways, Spirit Airlines, IBC Airways and Tropic Ocean Airways.
Jacksonville International Airport (JAX)
The Jacksonville International Airport is a civil-military and public airport in Florida, which is 13 miles north of Jacksonville’s downtown area. Three galleries can be found in the main courtyard of the airport’s main terminal building. One has an art exhibit, the second has a revolving exhibit, and the third has a permanent exhibit on aviation in the region. So, who says airports can’t be fun and informative?
When flying through JAX, make sure that you grab a copy of the “Fun at JAX Airport” activity book for your child from any of the information booths. Live entertainment is provided to passengers round the clock by several musicians, so spend some time relaxing while your kids work out puzzles and color. Spend some time window shopping and then head over to Sam Snead’s Tavern, located right outside security, for their famous crab cakes.
Delta Sky Club is a good choice if you want a relaxing retreat before your flight. Free high-speed Wi-Fi, complimentary drinks, healthy food, and more are available here. Kids will especially love sampling the assortment of desserts available at the lounge.
For babies who aren’t at the munching stage just yet, Lactation Suites or nursing rooms are located in the airport food, post-security. The rooms, equipped with fold-down tables and charging ports, are well designed to accommodate a nursing mother and a baby.
JAX is serviced by American Airlines, Allegiant, Delta, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines, Southwest, and United with only Los Angeles connected on the west coast.
Palm Beach International Airport (PBI)
Ranked one of the best airports in the country and located a mere 2.5 miles away from West Palm Beach, is Palm Beach International Airport. Delta, Frontier, Jet Blue, Spirit, Air Canada, Allegiant, American, Southwest, United, Bahamas, and Silver Air are some of the airlines that serve this Florida airport. Level Two, the Departures level, includes nursing suites, restaurants, and shops, making it where families will want to hang out.
Visit Flagler Gourmet Market, located in Concourse B, for some grab-and-go gourmet snacks, sandwiches and pastries from the famous Paneterie. If you’re looking for a more scenic sit-down option for a bite with your family, it doesn’t get better than Sam Snead’s Tavern. It’s located at the main terminal and accessible to even non-ticketed individuals, so feel free to invite guests if you’ve got folks picking you up or dropping you off.
PBI makes it a little easier to be a traveling new mom. Mothers can breastfeed and pump in the privacy of Mamava lactation suites near gates B1 and C1. Mirrors, electrical outlets, and coat hooks are available in these spacious pods.
While you wait for your flight, consider leaving the kids with your spouse for a short while to steal away and relax at All Earth Element’s Spa and Shop, located in the main terminal. Get a massage, manicure, pedicure or splurge for the whole shebang. Overall, most would agree that there is a little something for everyone at PBI, whether it’s for the kids, your spouse or the whole family.
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