We spent last week in the Jacksonville, Florida area visiting Mimi & Papa (as the girls call my parents) and thoroughly enjoyed the sun and warm weather. It was so nice to spend time outdoors after a few really cold weeks in DC.
This was only the second time I’ve taken both girls on flight by myself and the last time little miss Mae was only 6 months. Now, at 18 months she is obviously a much more active and sometimes feisty toddler so I was a little bit more worried. Thankfully it went really well! I made sure to pack a carry-on full of new travel-sized toys, stickers, activities, books, and of course the iPads to keep the girls occupied during the two hour flight.
Here are a few of the kid friendly places we visited while exploring the Jacksonville area:
The Catty Shack Ranch is dedicated to the rescue and care of big cats. They provide the sanctuary to cats confiscated by the state for illegal ownership, improper enclosures or maltreatment. Their passion is educating the public on these amazing wild cats.
We went on a 45 minute guided tour of the sanctuary and it was a fun and unique experience, much different than a zoo. The guide was very knowledgeable and it was amazing to see the lions, tigers, and leopards up close. Definitely a must-see in the Jacksonville area.
One beautiful day we spent exploring historic Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. We started out with lunch at Timoti’s Seafood Shak. This is a great place to take kids since they have a pirate ship playground. Parents can enjoy their meal while the kids play (win-win)!
After lunch we walked down to the harbor marina and did a little shopping at the cute stores, admiring the Victorian-era architecture. I recommend stopping by the Villa Villekulla Toy Store if you have little ones with you.
I love this zoo because it has several interactive exhibits which are a lot of fun for the kids. At the Giraffe Overlook, you can get eye to eye with the giraffes and may even get a chance to feed one. Clara was lucky and got the opportunity to feed this friendly guy.
This zoo also has a Lorikeet aviary where visitors can feed the birds, an Animal Care area where kids can pet the pygmy goats, and a Stingray Bay where guests can pet and feed the stingrays.
It reached 70 degrees one day, so we went to the beach to play. It was of course too cold to get in the water but the girls loved collecting sea shells in their buckets, flying a kite, feeding the seagulls, and playing a little beach soccer. I love how peaceful and relaxing the beach is in the winter.
We put in lots of hours at playgrounds. It was evident that my girls have missed their playground time this winter. Floridians have it so good!
One playground that we love is Goffinsville Park in Fernandina Beach. It’s located right next to the Nassau river, where you can sometimes see manatees and dolphins splashing around.
This park also has a paved nature trail through the woods, where the mossy oaks dangle above your head.
Another great playground is the Pirate’s Playground in Fernandina Beach. It has some really fun musical, water, and sand features that make it unique.
We decided a visit to the MOSH would be a good indoor activity during a rainy day. This museum is great for kids and specializes in science and local history exhibits. My girls especially liked The Body Within exhibit, the Atlantic Tails exhibit, the Florida Naturalist Center, and the Kidspace.
So that is what we were up to last week! A lot of memories were made! Getting to play with my girls for a week straight without having to think about any to-do list, organizing, cooking, cleaning, or planning was amazing. Just what I needed after the rush of the holidays. It was also so fun to watch my girls with their grandparents since they only get to see them a few times a year. I’m already looking forward to going back next January!