Fill up the tank and slather on some sunscreen—spring break is calling. Here are some of our favorite family outings, pleasing to teens, tweens, parents and every age in between.
By Laurel Gillum – Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Life’s A Beach
We live in Florida—embrace it. Pick a beach, choose a playlist and head toward the water.
Lauderdale by the Sea
A half-mile wide hamlet, this old-fashioned “beach village” will warmly welcome your family—we’re talking sun and charm all around. Visiting beach-goers can head out to the three-tier natural coral reef system for a quick snorkeling session. If you’re looking for a place to cool off, a family favorite is Sloan’s Ice Cream, a store that will not only have you screaming for ice cream but mesmerized by its ambience as well. Bright pink walls, chandeliers, moving toy trains, glass bathrooms—they had us at vanilla.
Climbing Everest is so overrated—climb Florida’s tallest working lighthouse instead. At 175 feet and with 203 steps, the view is worth the exercise. Once you’re back down at ground level, take the kiddos to the Marine Science Center featuring a turtle hospital, a seabird rehabilitation sanctuary, a hands-on aquatic pond with stingrays and hermit crabs, a boardwalk and nature trails. And the beach is there, too!
These beaches are just a short drive from Ocala and well worth the trip. Live like an Ormond local and grab a bite at Betty’s A1A Café. Or pack a picnic and spend the afternoon flying kites on the beach. Nearby is the Magic Forest Playground and plenty of miniature golf opportunities. A short drive to Daytona and you can spend the afternoon exploring the Daytona International Speedway. If you really want to cool off, try the Daytona Ice Arena for a day of ice skating. Check the website at daytonaicearena.com for public skate times.
A place where impromptu volleyball games are common and the sunsets are inevitable, the crystal blue waters of Clearwater Beach are a must. After a day in the water, stay for the Sunset Cinema at Pier 60. Each Friday and Saturday around dusk, enjoy free, outdoor movies. B.Y.O.B. (bring your own blankets), and enjoy a starlit film. Catch Minions, rated PG, on the big screen March 16.
Parks And Recreation
A hop, skip and jump away—Orlando is a hub for visitors from all around the world. And it’s practically in our own backyard. What’s our excuse not to visit? There’s more than enough to do for a weekend away.
Disney’s Hollywood Studio’s, Star Wars Guided Tour
This new seven-hour Star Wars Guided Tour gives VIP access to the parts of galaxies far, far away, a.k.a. Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The night ends with the park’s “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular” fireworks, laser and projection show. disneyworld.disney.go.com
Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival (Mar. 1- May 29)
Frolic through over 30 million colorful blossoms, interactive gardens and workshops at this annual springtime festival. disneyworld.disney.go.com
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon’s, Miss Adventure Falls (Opens Mar. 12)
All aboard for some high seas fun. The longest raft ride in the history of Disney water parks, this family ride is one not to miss. Check out all the other newly refurbished digs, as well. disneyworld.disney.go.com
SeaWorld‘s Seven Seas Food Festival (Through May 13)
This popular food festival is inspired by street food from Asia, the Caribbean, South America and the Mediterranean. Various craft beers will also be available. seaworld.com
Check out these family-friendly feature films coming to a theater near you.
March 3:Leap! When orphan Félicie Milliner enters the Opera Ballet School in Paris, she is determined to make her dream as a prima ballerina come true.
March 10: Kong: Skull Island. As a team of brave explorers travel to a mysterious island in the Pacific, they soon discover they are not alone—but on the same domain as the fictitious King Kong.
March 17:Beauty and the Beast. Follow the timeless love story of a monstrous beast and a charming young woman. Can they beat the fall of the last rose petal?
Muses And Museums
Return to school with facts from these cool exhibits—some only on display for a limited time.
Orlando Science Center
The Astronaut (Through May 14) This traveling exhibit is out of this world. The Astronaut consists of 26 interactive displays that investigate the reality of the job that modern day space travelers face. From training to take off, discover what real-life space explorers must go through. osc.org
Museum of Science & Industry
Skywatch (Mar. 11) Circle the date, and set this night aside for star gazing. Join MOSI space experts and get your space exploration on. mosi.org
Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida
Can You Dig It? (Mar. 18) Ever want to take a closer look at fossils and gems? You can at the Florida Museum of Natural History! Through a collection of interactive exhibits and activities, guests can explore some of the treasures our Earth has to offer. While you’re there, check out the Butterfly Rainforest as well. You’ll explore a beautiful habitat that features hundreds of fluttering butterflies from around the world. flmnh.ufl.edu
It’s A Zoo Out There
If you don’t take a selfie with a giraffe, did you really even enjoy spring break? Our answer is no!
Lowry Park Zoo
Dinos Alive (Through Aug. 31) Chimpanzees, panthers, koalas, oh my! Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is one of the most popular zoos in the southeastern United States, with over 1 million visitors annually. Take a day trip and visit the Dinos Alive exhibit. Get up close and personal with various species of interactive dinosaurs. By the way, pay for a day and visit the zoo for the rest of 2017 free of charge. lowryparkzoo.com
Exhibits range from the Plains of East Africa and Land of the Tiger to Great Apes and Monsoon Asia—and that’s just the beginning of the animal exhibits available for guests. You can also get up close and personal at Stingray Bay and cool off at the Play Park and Splash Ground. Check the website at jacksonvillezoo.org and plan your trip around one of the offered zoo experiences. Just don’t forget to pack your camera.
Ocala just got a little more interesting.
Paint pottery, fuse glass, paint on a canvas or on glass. Picasso’s palette also offers classes in canvas painting, clay hand building, glass fusing, mosaics and pottery wheel. picassospalette.com
Sky Zone Trampoline Park
Sky Zone Trampoline Park, an all-walled trampoline court, is coming to Ocala this spring. Between Hobby Lobby and Blocker’s Furniture, activities range from “free jumping” on individual jumping squares to other activities like ultimate dodge ball and “Sky Slam” basketball-dunking. Plus, there’s plenty more to do. Let’s bounce! skyzone.com
This small town is big on Pokémon. Here are some hotspots to visit to increase your Pokedex:
Greenway Park, Ocala
Veterans Memorial Park, Ocala
Lake Sumter Landing, The Villages
College of Central Florida, Ocala
Downtown square, Ocala
There’s No Place Like Home
Put the keys away—no driving is required for these fun-filled activities. Let’s get creative!
Abstract art. Grab a tray of paints, spread out a canvas or T-shirt and go to town. Swirling and mixing the paints is sure to teach an art lesson or two in there!
Make your own big bubbles. You probably already have all the ingredients in your kitchen. Try out this recipe for some soapy fun:
1 cup water
4 tablespoons Dawn dishwashing liquid
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
Mix each substance together, and head outside!
Scavenger hunt. Make a list of some items your kids would likely find outside. (A quick Google search will help if you’re stumped.) Have them check items off the list once they’ve found them. Rainy day? No problem. Tailor your list to indoor play, and watch the little ones race around the house.
Have a picnic.Head to your backyard or a local park, and spread out a blanket. Pack some yummy sandwiches, fruit and crackers, plus a pitcher of lemonade. On your way out the door, grab a few books to read or maybe even a board game to play after lunch.
Baking day. Chocolate chip cookies? Apple pie? A little flour never hurt anyone. Spend an afternoon baking with your child. Better yet, pretend you are hosting your own cooking show with the family and video it. No doubt, that will be one funny episode.
Water balloon fight. You know you’re a Floridian if you choose this activity in March. Fill the balloons, suit up and aim!
Play charades.There is nothing like watching your father act out “cracking an egg” or your daughter pretending to “karaoke.” You can find a list of words to play with online or download an app to your smartphone.
Make a board.When it comes to family game night, everyone likes to make their own rules. Why not make that a game? Using a piece of cardboard, make up some rules and find different objects around the house that serve as the game pieces. Just don’t change the rules halfway through the game!
PJ day.Life is better in pajamas. Read books in bed, or make enough popcorn to last a movie marathon. Each family member gets to pick a movie.