“Dude, school’s out in a few weeks. What do you have planned this summer?”
“We’re going to Florida’s Adventure Coast for a week in July. My mom says I can bring a friend. Want to come?”
“Cool; I’d love to! What’s that area of Florida like?”
“Well, there’s fishing and scalloping in the Gulf and a place to go dirt bike riding and other stuff. We’re all going to spend one day at TreeUmph! Adventure Course too. That place looks amazing in the brochure. I’m going on all the ziplines! Emma can even go on a course called The Little Ninja.”
Sharon smiled as she listened to her son and his best friend talk excitedly in the backseat. She enjoyed these drives to their weekly scout meetings; it was a glimpse into their ten-year-old lives. All too soon, she knew, they will outgrow this open exuberance.
This summer may be the best family vacation ever, Sharon mused. She was proud to have found such a unique area of Florida. Not only does Brooksville have historic charm and vintage boutique shopping for her to enjoy, it met all her other criteria when she considered heading south from their central Georgia home.
She went through the list in her mind.
Central location: check.
Natural and uncrowded: check.
Golf for Bill: check.
Sharon had it all planned. Not only will they be staying near the Gulf, which she knew the kids will never tire of, she looked forward to seeing the Weeki Wachee Mermaids perform with Emma. Just as she had been when she was a child, Emma will be enchanted by the sight. In fact, everyone will love their visit to Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.
She thought getting the kids up and out the door early may be a bit of a challenge but, she figured, going early on a Tuesday morning should be a good strategy. Hanging out at Buccaneer Bay, Florida’s only spring-fed waterpark will be fun. Can the water really be that clear?
“Hey boys” Sharon said, “remember to bring your bikes and helmets. There are great trails there and you can work on your cycling merit badges. The Withlacoochee State Trail is 46 miles long and The Suncoast Trail is 42 miles long. Both are paved so you can go different distances and write up your reports of the interesting things you see. There are also loads of great trails through the State Forest if you want to do mountain biking too.”
Near the Withlacoochee State Forest is the Croom ATV Area, once named one of the “10 Coolest Places You’ve Never Been in North America” by the World Wildlife Fund.
“If you’re up for it,” Sharon added “maybe you guys can ride dirt bikes around the trails in a special part of the State Forest. Or you can go with a guide if you want. They give you lessons on whatever you’re driving and let you practice in a huge sand dune area.”
“Awesome!” said both boys together.
I’ll book a tee time for Bill at World Woods Golf Club while we’re there, Sharon thought. He’ll get a kick out of playing Florida’s only 5-star public golf course. As a bonus, I’ll set up some time with the pro too; Bill will appreciate the one-on-one help with his swing.
And, ahhh the Gulf! Sharon thought how nice it will be to get on the open water to fish and swim and – best of all – go scallop diving. The kids and Bill will love it! Sharon had done her vacation planning research and knew how popular scalloping is in the bathwater-warm, clear Gulf of Mexico so she wanted to be in the Florida Bay Scallop Harvest Zone. Since the season is July 1 through September 24, it will be perfect timing for them.
From touring the destination website and reading online reviews, she chose the perfect scalloping charter captain for her family. Arrangements were simple; all they’ll need to do is show up with some towels, sunblock and a container to take their catch back with them. Afterwards, they can have the scallops for dinner. Some of the coastal restaurants will cook them up and serve them with some side dishes.
Other days, if they want to go boating or kayaking or even stand-up paddleboarding, she’s ready with a complete list of water adventure service providers she already printed out. Anything else she needs, she knows she can get from the Florida’s Adventure Coast app.
Who knows? They may extend their stay and plan a couple day trips to visit Tampa and beaches to the south or Disney and all things Orlando to the east. It will be easy from their central base. Yes, thought Sharon with a smile, I am a family vacation planning super hero and this will be the best summer vacation ever!
“Mom? Hey Mom!” said her son “we’re here.”
Sharon smiled at the boys thinking how precious family time is and how summer vacations are meant to be treasured.