Family Activities in Jacksonville, FL
Spend a day on the tranquil salt marsh waters along the Talbot Island State Park and the Timucuan Reserve. Kayak Amelia offers dozens of kayak trips including sunset and full moon paddles and trips that combine an outdoor yoga class on the grounds of the historic Kingsley Plantation. But one is tailored just for families. The three-hour Shell Hunter and Island Hoppers tour takes families with even the littlest adventurers on a short-distance paddling excursion. Bring your collection bags for hand-in-hand walks on the sandbars during low tide, when sharks teeth, seashells and live fiddler crabs are easy to spot. Kids will experience marine and marsh wildlife and habitats and learn about water safety. And you’ll create lasting family memories.
Camping has always been a family time favorite and St. Augustine’s Anastasia State Park is a top pick among locals and visitors. Tent and RV camp sites make for a rustic visit, but amenities like the Island Beach Shop & Grill make things a little easier for the first-time camper. Activities include canoeing, biking, nature trail hiking, surfing, swimming and fishing. Two playgrounds are located near the camp sites and another faces the Atlantic Ocean. Educational kiosks give kids a preview of the critters they may spot during their stay including sea turtles, several threatened species of shore birds and the endangered Anastasia Island beach mouse.
Check in and check out the high-tech treasure hunt known as the Amelia Island Geocaching Challenge. It’s a treasure hide-and-seek game in which your family will use your own GPS-enabled devices to locate hidden containers placed throughout the island. Just check into one of 14 participating hotels and lodging partners’ venues and get an entry form with a list GPS (Global Positioning System) coordinates. Use your GPS device and work together to find the hidden geocaches. Record the codes found on the containers and keep an eye out for coupons, freebies and a chance to win an annual giveaway such as a four-night stay in a luxe Amelia Island inn. It’s a great way to teach teamwork among parents and siblings.
Since when was doing dishes fun? Since the 2005 opening of the Doing Dishes Pottery Studios in Jacksonville’s Avondale and Mandarin areas. Ditch the dish sponge for a paint brush and let your imaginations flow. Pop in, choose from more than 300 pieces of bisque including dishes, picture frames and figurines and start painting. Doing Dishes has dozens of stamps, stencils and idea books to help you and your little painters work together to create personal designs. Once your pieces are perfect, they’ll get dipped in clear glaze, fired up in a kiln and be ready for pick-up in about a week. Or, donate a painted bowl to the annual Empty Bowls Luncheon event, which raises funds for the Second Harvest food bank.
Perusing the penguins and petting the pygmy goats are favorites among kids visiting the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, built in 1914. This 2.5-acre Play Park features two mazes, a tree house and climbing rock, petting zoo and a water park open during the summer months. Watch Magellanic penguins swim overhead via tunnel windows in the Tuxedo Coast exhibit. Check out the the Giraffe Overlook; the Asian Bamboo Gardens exhibit featuring komodo dragons in an Indonesian fishing village setting; and the national award-winning Range of the Jaguar. Make learning about wildlife a family affair in one of the zoo’s ongoing family education programs, take a train ride through one of the nation’s 20 largest zoos, and bring along a sleeping bag for a Safari Sleepover.