Spring Break is finally upon us, and as the rest of the continental United States is beginning to thaw, Floridians have already broken open the seals on their pools and hit the stores for new swimsuits. (Though I did note that this year is the first year stores have kept swimsuits on their racks all winter!)
Hordes of college students have descended upon the white sandy beaches of this southern peninsula: Panama City, Daytona Beach, Key West and Fort Lauderdale to name a few. If you are young and single, these places are great, with their free concerts and parties, (have fun and don’t drink and drive!) but with kids in tow, we avoid them like the plague. And for all those other parents looking for something to do for a day or more, we’ve compiled a list (yes, another one!)of places to take the family for a spring break family adventure.
1. Florida Aquarium. Tampa. Pet a stingray, check out a mangrove swamp and chill with the sharks. Then relax at the outdoor Cantina while the kids run loose at the Splash Adventure Zone.
2. Tube the Rainbow River. Dunnellon. Head over to the KP Hole and rent a tube for a lazy float down the crystal clear Rainbow River. (They pick you up at the other end and drive you back!) Then stop by the Blue Gator for a burger and live music.
3. Get those tactile senses going at the Florida Museum of National History. Gainesville. Filled with hands-on interactive displays: explore a cave, a Calusa Tribal meeting, a Butterfly Rainforest and more.
4. Zipline across canyons. Ocala. Wait-what? Central Florida’s own zipline adventure with nine ziplines, rope bridges and more. Choose your own adventure!
5. Come face to face with dinosaurs. Plant City. Life sized replicas of dinosaurs in 20 acres of natural settings at Dinosaur World. And they’ve added animatronics! Bring a picnic lunch. For those Jurassic Park fans!
6. Build something at LEGOLAND. Winter Haven. Or just marvel at the stuff they’ve built. Lots of rides and a whole water park to boot.
7. Go canoeing down the Juniper Run at Juniper Springs. Ocala National Forest. Rent a canoe or bring your own to enjoy this 7 mile adventure. (pack a lunch!)
8. Get stranded on an island. Cedar Key. Get dropped off on Atsena Otie Key (Cedar Island) for a couple of hours to swim and explore. Pontoon boat will pick you up at designated time.
9. Check out the mouse- Mickey, that is, at Walt Disney World. Orlando. With four parks to choose from: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Disney Studios, how can you miss? Go early to avoid the crowds & use the Fastpass!
10. Get a little wild at Lowry Park Zoo. Tampa. Underground manatee viewing, sky ride, giraffe feeding and more. Splash zone- so bring change of clothes!
11. Get a little wilder at Busch Gardens. Tampa. Not Ybor wild, but scream your lung out crazy-wild on their incredible roller coasters.
12. Find your inner Hufflepuff (or Slithern, as the case may be) at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Studios. Orlando.
13.Let the kids take a joy ride on the coolest go-kart tracks in Florida at Fun Spot. Orlando. 4 multi-level tracks, different skill levels.
14. Step back through time at Fort Mendez. St. Augustine. Explore St. George Street and the Castillo too! Then later in the afternoon, hit the beach at nearby Anastasia Island.
15. Speaking of Islands, check out Amelia Island, and Fort Clinch too!
16. Go angling for adventure. Anywhere there is water. With thousands of lakes, ponds, rivers to choose from, not to mention the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico- grab some poles, pick up some bait (and licenses for adults) and cast your line.
17. Celebrate your inner geek at the indoor interactive science museum, MOSI. Check out the IMAX movie theater, experience hurricane force winds in the wind tunnel, and more. You can always mosey on over to Tarpon Springs afterwards for dinner and celebrate your inner Greek at one of their Greek restaurants!
18. Make faces at penguins at SeaWorld. Orlando. You can make faces at sharks too, but they might reply back!
19. Go human-powered and take a bike ride at Santos Trailhead. With miles of trails, to suit all levels, or send the fearless to try their Vortex trail with ramps, jumps and more.
20. Hike a hill, at Bok Tower. Lake Wales. Hike to the highest point in Florida up a path meandering through gardens to the Rapunzel-like bell tower at the top. The Singing carillion bells ring on the hour and half hour with concerts at 1pm & 3pm. Then drive on over to Spook Hill (Lake Wales too) and put your car in neutral and watch as it rolls up the hill with this unearthly phenomena (uh, stay in the car, folks).
21. Escape to an island. More islands! Head on over to Honeymoon Island State Park and take the 20 minute ferry ride to Caldesi Island State park, voted as one one the best beaches in the United States. Destin.
Enjoy your Spring Break!