It’s time to plan your family’s next vacation, but where to go this year? When considering Florida, don’t think your vacation has to focus around theme parks. There are plenty of locations in North Florida alone for your family to visit that provide fun and relaxation for all ages. For your next trip, consider Jacksonville’s beautiful beach communities: Jacksonville Beach, Atlantic Beach, and Ponte Vedra Beach!
No matter which destination you choose, you’ll have no shortage of exciting adventures to explore. Consider these family-friendly spots just outside the door of your rental.
Along with its coastal beaches for plenty of fun in the sand and waves, this resort town offers family activities that range from contemplative to rambunctious. With everything in a fairly close proximity, your family can enjoy it all even over a long weekend.
- Adventure Landing – This theme park is packed full of family activities. Ride a wave pool and water slides, feed alligators, play mini-golf and laser tag, ride a roller coaster, and much, much more.
- Players-By-The-Sea Theatre – Give the family a cultural experience at this community theater. The theater offers productions such as musicals, stage renditions of popular movies, and plays with multicultural themes.
- Beaches Museum and History Park – For a quieter moment away from the sun, take in the area’s heritage with interactive exhibits, storytelling, and concerts.
Atlantic Beach is a nature-lover’s paradise with two miles of white sandy beaches, 65 acres of parks, St. John’s River, lakes, marshes, and the Intracoastal Waterway. The best part is that all these attractions are free. If you and your kids love exploring the great outdoors, these options will be right up your alley!
- Tideviews Park – Eight acres of park land provide views of the Intracoastal Waterway while picnicking. Families can walk the trails and boardwalk, fish, and ride canoes. Restrooms are on-site too.
- Dutton Island Preserve – Atlantic Beach’s largest park offers fishing, nature trails, and a canoe/kayak launch. The preserve has designated picnic spots, camping areas, and shady pavilions.
- Oceanside Rotary Skateboard Park – Located at Russell Park, kids of all ages – including adults – can bring their boards and helmets to ride a 12-foot vertical half-bowl, six-foot wall, 12-foot wall with a hubba hole, and a snake run.
- Playgrounds – For plain old fun on the slides, swings, and play forts, families can venture from their beach rentals to a nearby playground at several Atlantic Beach parks, including Bull Memorial Park, Jack Russell Park, Donner Park, and Jordan Park.
Ponte Vedra Beach
Best known for its natural beauty and protected wildlife, Ponte Vedra Beach offers indoor and outdoor activities for families at little to no cost.
- Bird Island Park – Discover dunes, wetlands, and Florida wildlife while walking nature trails or having a family picnic. Relax while discovering a hedged sea turtle maze, storytelling area, pond, boardwalk, and more.
- Ponte Vedra Hall – For an evening in, entertain the family with live performances at Ponte Vedra Hall in the center of town. Events range from dance performances to musical concerts and theater productions.
- Guana Tolomato Matanzas (GTM) Research Reserve – Spend the day exploring habitats that range from ocean to forest and discover the wide diversity of plants and animals protected here.
- Fantasy Farms – Schedule a private tour for the family to experience this protected preserve for exotic animals such as wallabies, lemurs, and ocelots as well as horses, birds, and other animals that need a home.
- Davis Park – Children under 12 get VIP access to four fully stocked ponds for summertime fishing. Be sure the kids know ahead of time there’s a catch-and-release policy at Davis Park. Also on the grounds are concession stands, a playground, restrooms, and sports fields.
If your kids are too small for theme parks, or you’re looking for a vacation where you spend more time doing things together instead of waiting in long lines, be sure to check out North Florida. The area offers plenty to do from museums to nature reserves, allowing your family to explore a different side of the sunshine state!