THE KIDS ARE ALREADY SAYING THE DREADED, “WE’RE BORED!” AND YOU HAVE THE REST OF SUMMER AHEAD WITH A LOT OF DAYS THAT ARE STILL WIDE OPEN. WE HAVE A LIST OF FUN FAMILY ACTIVITIES THAT ONLY REQUIRE A SHORT DRIVE TO GAINESVILLE, DAYTONA, JACKSONVILEL OR ST. AUGUSTINE. PLEASE ENJOY EXPLORING THESE AWESOME WAYS TO SPEND TIME TOGETHER WITH YOUR FAMILY AND MAKE MEMORIES THIS SUMMER. HAPPY SUMMER!
LIFT YOUR SPIRITS WITH SOME FLOWERS
at JACKSONVILLE ARBORETUM & GARDENS
1445 Millcoe Road, Jacksonville, FL 32225
The Jacksonville Arboretum & Gardens is a 120-acre urban woodland full of trails for you to explore and enjoy. From the trailhead next to the parking lot, a stabilized walkway encircles a beautiful two-acre lake. This trail gently descends about 25 feet from to the foot of the lake and then returns up a gentle slope on the opposite side to the trailhead. Interpretive signs and over 100 labeled plants enhance the loop. In addition, over two miles of rustic hiking trails wind quietly through a series of distinct ecological habitats. Along the trails, benches invite you either to pause and enjoy the view or to get in a good stretch during a vigorous walk. There is no admission fee.
FORT GEORGE ISLAND CULTURAL STATE PARK
11241 FORT GEORGE ROAD, JACKSONVILLE, FL 32226 (904) 251-2320
Native Americans feasted here, colonists built a fort, and the Smart Set of the 1920s came for vacations. A site of human occupation for over 5,000 years, Fort George Island was named for a 1736 fort built to defend the southern flank of Georgia when it was a colony. Today´s visitors come for boating, fishing, off-road bicycling, and hiking. A key attraction is the restored Ribault Club. Once an exclusive resort, it is now a visitor center. Behind the club, small boats, canoes, and kayaks can be launched on the tidal waters.
LEARN ABOUT BABY WASHBACK TURTLES
& STINGRAY AT MARINE DISCOVERY CENTER
100 Lighthouse Drive, Ponce Inlet 32127
The Marine Science Center offers a wide variety of programs and activities for children and adults throughout the year. Students young and old can discover the many wonders of marine life in environmentally rich Volusia County. Since opening in 2002, the Marine Science Center has cared for nearly 900 juvenile and adult sea turtles; more than 15,000 hatchlings and washbacks; and nearly 1,000 gopher tortoises, freshwater turtles and snakes. The Mary Keller Seabird Rehabilitation Facility at the Marine Science Center has received more than 9,500 birds since opening in 2004. One of the main goals of the Marine Science Center is sea turtle rehabilitation. Guests can overlook seven turtle hospital pools from the Turtle Terrace, located in front of the main facility. These pools house sick and injured sea turtles, hatchlings, and washbacks under rehabilitation. The rehabilitating hatchlings, wash backs (newly hatched baby sea turtles that are washed back to shore by rough seas) and sea turtles are released upon full recovery.
VISIT THE NATURE CENTER at
OMNI AMELIA ISLAND PLANTATION RESORT
6800 First Coast Highway, Amelia Island, FL 32034
Join an experienced naturalist on a bike, Segway or kayak tour discovering birds, turtles, edible plants, night creatures and crabs. Several tours are designed for children and include educational crafts. Stop by for Critter Talk to visit with the local animal rescues or to see Buddy the parrot, feed the turtles, rent a fishing pole, or build your very own Tanner the Turtle, resort mascot, doll using the Build-A-Turtle station. Create a miniature sized Tanner, make a wish and choose from a variety of outfits to complete the look! Youth summer camps available. The Nature Center is open daily and open to the public.
SJC Water Week’!!! Learn to Paddle Board or Kayak in St. Johns’s Natural Habiitat (FREE!) SJC Naturalist - Ayolane Halusky firstname.lastname@example.org or 904.209.0348.
In recognition of July’s National Park and Recreation Month, St. Johns County Parks and Recreation will offer free daily kayak or stand up paddleboard trips during the last week of July. Attendees will explore several St. Johns County waterways, including the San Sebastian River and Trout Creek, and learn about natural habitats, the ecosystem, and more. Those in attendance will be given the opportunity to experience the natural world using nature’s greatest attribute - water. Must register first.
Go Tubing at Ichetucknee Springs
12087 SW US Highway 27, Fort White, FL 32038
The crystalline Ichetucknee River flows six miles through shaded hammocks and wetlands before it joins the Santa Fe River. In 1972, the head spring of the river was declared a National Natural Landmark by the U. S. Department of the Interior. From the end of May until early September, tubing down the river is the premier activity in the area. In addition to tubing, visitors can enjoy picnicking, snorkeling, canoeing, swimming, hiking, and wildlife viewing. October through March scuba diving is available in the Blue Hole only (you must be cave certified). White-tailed deer, raccoons, wild turkeys, wood ducks and great blue herons can be seen from the river. Picnic areas, equipped with tables and grills, are available throughout the park. A full-service concession offers food, refreshments, and outdoor products from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Tubes plus snorkeling and diving equipment can be rented from private vendors outside the park located four miles northwest of Fort White, off State Roads 47 and 238.
CELEBRATE FLORIDA’S NATURAL BEAUTY AT
SILVER SPRINGS STATE PARK
1425 NE 58th Avenue, Ocala, FL 34470 Phone: (352) 236–7148
Silver Springs, one of the largest of Florida’s 33 first-magnitude springs, is made up of a group of springs that occur in the headwaters, coves, and edges of the Silver River. The Silver River is the largest tributary on the Ocklawaha River. Enjoy glass-bottom boat tours, photography, picnicking, wildlife viewing, bicycling, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, a museum, and equestrian trails.
Visit with Doplphins at
Marineland Dolphin Adventure
Marineland Dolphin Adventure celebrated its remarkable 75th anniversary in 2013, and as the world’s first ‘oceanarium’, it is always excited to celebrate its rich history with its fans. Founded as Marine Studios on ocean-side property just 18 miles south of St. Augustine, Florida, the facility opened on June 23rd, 1938. Today, Marineland Dolphin Adventure offers guests a variety of interactive and in-water programs that allow guests to make physical and emotional connections with animals. Archived memorabilia and footage dating as far back as 1938 is on display and shared with Marineland Dolphin Adventure’s many generations of admirers.
Zip-line across lagoons & treetops at
The Alligator Farm
The St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park began in the late nineteenth century as a small exhibition of Florida reptiles and became a quintessential Florida attraction. Today it functions as a modern zoo serving the public and the scientific community with educational shows and exhibits, important research and worldwide conservation efforts. The Alligator Farm’s history as an attraction and an accredited zoo is nearly as exciting as zipping across the Alligator Lagoon on Crocodile Crossing, the park’s thrilling new zip-line attraction.
Climb the stairs and enjoy the view
The St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum
The Lighthouse in St. Augustine rises 165 feet above sea level and contains 219 steps that are climbed by visitors. Built to replace the “Old Spanish Watchtower”, construction began in 1871. In 1874, a ‘first order’ Fresnel lens from Paris, France was installed and is still operating today. In the late 1970’s, after a century of continuous use, locals began a 15 year restoration project after the site had fallen into disrepair. This resulted in the full site being opened to the public in 1994. Today, the Lighthouse operates a museum, provides educational services to the community and funds a maritime archaeology program that studies shipwrecks in the waters of the Nation’s Oldest Port. Their educational mission is “to discover preserve, present and keep alive the stories of the Nation’s Oldest Port as symbolized by our working St. Augustine Lighthouse.”
Immerse Yourself in History at
The Castillo de San Marcos
A monument not only of stone and mortar but of human determination and endurance, the Castillo de San Marcos symbolizes the clash between empires and cultures that resulted in a unified nation. Unique in North American architecture, the Castillo de San Marcos is the only surviving 17th century military construction in the country and the oldest masonry fortress in the United States. Along with Fort Matanzas to the south, the Castillo is one of only two fortifications in the world built out of coquina, a ‘compressible’ material that absorbed or deflected projectiles rather than yielding to them. The fortress itself is both a product of and evidence to the multitude of forces both political and technological that created the competition for empire during the colonial era. But above all the Castillo is an enduring legacy of the craftsmanship and skill of the engineers, artisans and laborers who built it.
St. Johns Magazine blog features articles written by & about the people, places and events of St. Johns and the surrounding communities.