Do you see that glow on the horizon that seems to be getting brighter? That’s not an oncoming train, it’s the approach of summertime. Those special weeks of premium family togetherness are nearly here.
Are you ready to make this the best summer ever? These five mom-approved adventures are sure to deliver happy memories.
Dive into clear, warm Gulf of Mexico waters and grab some bay scallops from June 25th through September 24th, 2016. Florida’s southernmost harvest zone welcomes scallopers to bag their limit for great days of family fun.
Thanks to an abundant seagrass environment - second only to Key West - Florida’s Adventure Coast boasts a bumper crop of bay scallops and other marine life, thriving within this healthy coastal habitat.
Sharp eyes and quick hands are needed to snatch these small bivalves as they scamper across the grass beds, jetting forward in a zig zag fashion.
Living in water four to six feet deep, they can be spotted from above. Once some are viewed; toss the anchor, hoist the diver down flag, don the mask and snorkel, clutch a mesh bag for collecting and let the games begin!
For an illustration of this popular summer Adventure Coast activity, refer to this infographic from the Tampa Bay Times
Several Florida’s Adventure Coast fishing charter services specialize in scalloping outings with favorite spots pre-scouted.
For a great family outing, leave everything to your guide. Browse our listing of scalloping charter services by clicking here. Select the Scalloping listing. A saltwater fishing license is required if not on a charter boat.
Gentle surf sweeps in to greet you at Pine Island. Choose calm, clear mornings, cool off on hot afternoons or take in the sunsets; all times of the day present pleasant beach alternatives.
Enjoy a view of the scenic coastline from the observation tower and watch for dolphin playing nearby. Shorebirds are also plentiful along this three acre beach.
Between sessions of wading in the shallow Gulf water and sunbathing, children can scramble around on a playground. And Willy’s Tropical Breeze Café doesn’t disappoint with a nice lunch and snack variety.
Pretty scenery, gentle surf and nearby snacks – or picnic tables and grills to bring your own – add up to a mom-approved adventure to do again and again.
U-Pick and Can
See where food comes from and gather your own from area farms; many are open to the public for picking and tours. Take a drive into the hilly countryside to immerse your family in an adventure of the dry-land variety.
Summer yields crops of blueberries, blackberries, melons, muscadine grapes and many colorful and tasty vegetables.
Different farms specialize in different crops and some, like Sweetfields Farm, open for events such as a sunflower maze every weekend in May. A family experience not to be missed, the Sweetfields maze is a walk among acres of flowers gently swaying overhead, dazzling gold against the blue sky.
Learn about rabbit or alpaca farming. Tour Green Acre Aquaponics to see this sustainable closed-loop type of growing system in action. Take a trip through an olive grove and try your hands at creating olive-based products and crafts like oil and soap.
Will your family be able to eat your amazing harvest while it’s fresh? Consider a visit to the Little Rock Cannery to “preserve the season.” One of only a few operating canneries in the state, it is a destination for fresh food enthusiasts to prepare, capture and seal in maximum flavor to enjoy well into the future.
Learn time-honored preserving techniques from Cannery staff or even other users.
Download your Florida’s Adventure Coast U-Pick and Farm Tours map here.
Remember to call each farm first to learn hours open, ready crops and other policies.
Hike, Look, Listen and Learn
Chinsegut Conservation Center was created to showcase and share information about our natural world. Managed by the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, its 408 acres are brimming with wildlife from unique amphibians to deer, turkey, gopher tortoises and bobcats, and more.
Just a sampling of summer Saturday programs includes: “Bugging with Bill,” “Introduction to Nature Photography with Naturalist, Bob Lewis,” "Backyard Birding,” “Geocaching for Beginners” and “Butterfly ID Hike”. These and many other programs are free and can be enjoyed by the whole family. Check out the calendar of events here
The Nature Center is open Fridays and Saturdays from 8:00am to 2:00pm. Trails are open for hiking anytime.
Stroll the shady boardwalk with areas for viewing May’s Prairie, a mecca for thousands of amphibians. Be sure and listen for the throbbing symphony of croaks, chirps and cheeps from frogs small and large. Click here for trail maps of the Chinsegut Conservation Center and the nearby Chinsegut Wildlife and Environmental Area.
Clap and Splash
No Adventure Coast summer vacation is complete without attending performances of the world famous Weeki Wachee Mermaids and swims in Buccaneer Bay, Florida’s only spring-fed waterpark.
Opened in 1947 by former Navy Frogman Newton Perry, this classic roadside attraction has enchanted decades of visitors. Parents and grandparents delight in viewing the performance for the first time or again through the eyes of children.
So beautiful are the Mermaids, blowing bubbly kisses and telling their choreographed stories from the sparkling, sunshine-filled water, that many a young mermaid dream has been born.
Before or after the Mermaid show, the sandy white beach and slides of Buccaneer Bay await. Parents can share a swim in the 74 degree cool, clear Weeki Wachee Springs or relax on the white sandy beach while lifeguards ensure safety.
These are just a few ways to fill those long, wonderful days of summer. Because, although the approaching summertime glow is growing brighter, all too soon those moments to share are fading like the sunset. For more personalized ideas and details, contact a Visitor Information Center Representative.