Do not get caught up in the traffic or crowds of Spring Break this year. Instead suggest to your friends or family some absolutely breath taking and fun alternative destinations.
1. Atlantic Beach: Located just 28 miles from downtown Jacksonville, Atlantic Beach is just right for families that want to get away, but don’t want to be too far removed from life’s daily desires.
Just a few blocks from oceanfront is the vibrant Beach Town Center lined with boutique shops and mom and pop eateries. Tide Views Preserve, located on the Intercoastal Waterway, will get kids excited about the great outdoors. This eight-acre preserve offers walking and biking paths, and a variety of up-close bird-watching opportunities. The best place in the preserve to take a scenic photo is at the end of the dock which reaches into the Intercoastal Waterways and marshes.
2. Tallahassee: Besides being the capital of Florida, Tallahassee offers a variety of family-centric adventures. Why not kayak down the Wakulla River, an official Florida Canoe Trail, and part of Florida’s statewide system of greenways and trails. It’s a great spot for beginners, and the wildlife, flora and fauna is genuine Florida – be on the lookout for manatees as they sometimes join kayakers on their journey. Introduce teens and tweens to the home of a powerful Apalachee chief and a Spanish deputy governor who were among 1,400 residents who lived at San Luis Village. Today the Apalachee-Spanish Living History Museum, Mission San Luis a street-side affair where daily life is depicted. It’s the only reconstructed 17th-century Spanish mission in the Southeast open to the public.
3. Indian River County: Home to Vero Beach, Fellsmere and Sebastian, this beachside haven offers 26 miles of untouched white sand, a very active sea turtle nesting community, and crowd-free beaches — it’s Caribbeanesque, sans the flights.
Families will want to visit McKee Botanical Garden in Vero Beach and will appreciate 130 local homespun oceanside restaurants, free beachfront parking and they will want to stop by Pelican Island Refuge for a quick history lesson on one of the first dedicated national wildlife refuge parks in the United States.
4. Apalachicola on the Panhandle: Miles away from the thumping party scene of Panama City, FL, this sleepy seafood town is a pearl of a destination, where oyster tonging is still practiced. This old-world tradition can be attributed to Apalachicola’s dedication to conservation and to maintaining its heritage — a smart move by the town’s governance, as today’s visitors yearn for authentic travel experiences.
Tour operators provide excursions through swamps, bays and untouched estuaries that support the flourishing ecology allowing oysters, fish and birds to thrive in the rich consommé of freshwater and saltwater. Visitors on the tour are also enchanted by the diving brown pelicans and large ospreys that soar above. Travelers ooh and ah, marveling at the imposing Ogeechee tupelo trees, the source of tupelo honey.
Information was provided by Nina Zapala, of Naples Daily News.