We have decided to make lemonade out of lemons this year and we are finding new places to discover as a family. Right now that is the beauty of homeschooling, we can take our kids where we want, when we want. We decided to take a trip to Florida to soak in the warm weather and get to see some places we haven’t seen before.
At the beginning of the school year, we told our kids to pick out the top places they would want to see. If we were going to have this time to be with them, we are going to make the most of it. They chose some beautiful national parks and some amazing beaches…. and they also chose to see The Gator Boys. They have been watching The Gator Boys on TV and they heard from the show that they had an actual place in Florida. So, we decided to make their dreams come true and visit!
We mapped out some other Florida destinations to stop on the way there and the way back!
First up… Amelia Island
So many people recommended an expensive well-known hotel but we did our research and found the perfect spot, the Seaside Amelia Inn, on the beach that would not break the bank. You are just steps from the beach and you can see it from your hotel room.
There is so much to see and do while in Amelia Island which is actually only four miles wide at its widest point. For the foodies and the mommas reading that can’t wait to get away, try new food, take a break from cooking and have a drink….. I have a plan for you!
After you check into your hotel, take your family downtown. It’s is a super quick drive to The Decantery which is a premier wine, craft beer, and cocktail lounge. Because let’s be real, momma just had a long drive, probably a long week, and she can use a cocktail! (But don’t worry, there are things for your children there too!)
There are actually couches and the cutest little setups that make it perfect for families. They have the absolute best charcuterie boards and homemade desserts that I am sure will make everyone happy. While the craft beer is a great choice, I also recommend asking the bartender for a signature cocktail. Not only are the cocktails amazing but they also are super Instagram-worthy.
Now that the parents have treated themselves, you can surprise your children with some extra fun. Walk on over to Timoti’s Seafood Shak and if you get there before the sun goes down, there is a pirate ship playground in the back. There are picnic tables and it is very welcoming and relaxing. The food is also incredible! There is something for everyone there.
Next, take a super quick walk over to Gregor MacGregor’s Mini Links & Drinks. Yes, you read that right…. A mini-golf spot that also has drinks for you. Your kids will be so excited to play a round of mini-golf (which was a great little course) and you can walk around with a beer in your hand. Mom is happy, dad is happy, and the kids are happy!
Before you leave, if you have some time to sit and relax, go to the top of Gregor MacGregor’s and there is an amazing overlook of the golf course. There are couches and televisions and you can take drinks and food up there to hang out. This was a highlight for us because everyone was happy, filled, and tired for a nice sleep at the hotel which was only minutes away.
For other day plans, I suggest going to Fort Clinch State Park which is actually very close to the Seaside Amelia Inn. There is so much to do at the state park! You pay just $6 a vehicle to get in and you can go birding, fishing, geocaching, hiking on a ton of trails, picnicking on the beach and look for shark’s teeth, and swimming. Plus at the end of the road is the famous Fort Clinch.
We love taking our family to these historic places, reading all the signs, learning about American history, and experiencing new things. There are also amazing views from the top of the fort with the ocean behind you that you can take all sorts of family photos.
The state park alone could have been almost an all-day adventure. When you leave, across the street is the Pirate Playground which you probably wouldn’t notice if you were driving by. It is a super cute playground and perfect for kids of all ages.
By this time you are probably famished and we highly recommend you going to Amelia Tavern. When in Amelia, right? The tavern is exactly what you would think it is and it is filled with beers. You can even take beers with you, and if you plan ahead and you are going to Amelia Island for something special, you can preorder a custom growler. You can pick the font, the words, everything!
I was personally impressed with the flights. I loved the Madison Cherry Sour and the Creamsicle Hardcraft Seltzer. I also love that they make everything in-house. The food was amazing and beer matched it perfectly. Tell your spouse you are taking him to a brewpub after taking him to a historic fort and he will be a happy man.
Next up… Ft. Lauderdale
Our next stop was Ft. Lauderdale where we stayed two nights and saw a ton of gators. We went on an airboat ride and went to Everglades Holiday Park where we saw the people from the show and made my kid’s day. It was a highlight of their trip!
And the finale…. St. Augustine
On our way home we had to incorporate some learning along the way so we stopped in St. Augustine, which lays claim that it is the oldest city in the US. While we were there we made sure to take in all of the sights, sounds and scares that we could with Old Town Trolley Tours. It started on our first night there as we cruised the streets on the Ghosts & Gravestones Frightseeing Tour which gave us some great history of the city and the people who made it what it had become. I highly recommend the Trolley Tour and jumping on and off of it. Not only does the trolley take you around the city to all of the fun stops, but you learn history along the way.
The next morning we set off on another adventure with some of more of the state reptile of Florida, you guessed it! More gators! We made our way to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park via the free shuttle from Old Town Trolley Tours, make sure you snag the multiple day package, right outside of our hotel. Once home to the legend of Gomek, the legendary giant saltwater crocodile, the park has alligators from all over the world on display for people to see and read about them along a path that covers the entire park. There were plenty more to see and do than just alligators, they have a theater where they put on different shows throughout the day as well as a full zip line and ropes course that carries you through the treetops of the park below.
As we made our way across the Bridge of Lions to downtown, we started to look for a place to grab a bite to eat. We passed so many cute restaurants along the water with fancy outdoor tables in front of brightly panting houses until we rode past one that had a porch off of their upstairs level flying Ireland and Guinness flags, needless to say my husband was sold! Meehan’s Irish Pub & Seafood House is the perfect place to eat for everyone in the family. Great food, great atmosphere, great service, inside, outside, and backyard seating. We had one of our best meals there!
After dinner, you can walk down to Mayday Ice Cream for the best ice cream. Make sure you read the story behind the name, and always ask for sprinkles because they are FREE! You can grab your ice cream and walk around the old streets, stop in some of the shops and get to know the little town.
Being that we are homeschooling, we took ever opportunity to learn, stop and read the different plaques, to stop at all of the historic sites and go into the buildings. We went to the Old Jail, the Oldest Store Museum, and Whetstone Chocolates… everything we could do, we did it.
This was by far one of my favorite cities. The second we left, I told my husband that we need to come back. There is so much to see and do in this super cute town.
Off to the next adventure…. but before you go, check out our video recap!