Top Ten Places to Visit with Kids in Northeast Florida

Trekking Around Town – Jax & St. Augustine, FL (2019)

Psalm 118:24: This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

We truly love hopping on an airplane, exploring a new city or breaking out of Ponte Vedra, FL to visit family, but a lot of times, it’s just not possible or realistic. And so we try to rejoice and be glad in the days that the Lord gives us and enjoy smaller scale experiences in our area just as much as the bigger treks.

I have identified in the past year or so of trekking around town the James family’s Top Ten Places to Visit with Kids in the Northeast Florida area.

We love living smack in the middle of downtown Jacksonville and the near the heart of historic St. Augustine – it opens up so many possibilities of things to do in the area.

How many of these have you been to with your kids?

10. Catty Shack Ranch

Our visit to a night feeding at Catty Shack Ranch was a little different than I expected. The night feeding actually occurs closer to 7:30pm so by the time that we went on the full tour, our kids were a bit top antsy to hang around another hour to wait for the feeding.

While we hear the night feeding is a must-see, our kids did enjoy walking around and seeing all of the tigers and big cats, calling them by their names on the signs of the fences.

Be sure to wear rain boots or shoes that will work for mud and bring a camera or phone with a high flash to truly capture the beauty of the animals at this wildlife sanctuary. Overall, we think it’s worth a visit for kids who love animals and want a different experience than the zoo.

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9. St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum

Argh! You haven’t been to our local Pirate and Treasure Museum, ye said? It’s truly a great way for boys to play. You can’t miss the narrated tour, run by a pirate himself.

Our oldest son loved the treasure hunt, where he was given a map to find clues to win a piece of treasure. This is a wonderful way to play on a rainy day locally!

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8. Cummer Museum

We were blessed to be able to try out Cummer Museum‘s new Family Backpack program where you can borrow a backpack full of musuem-themed activities for kids. Our boys loved filling out the puzzles inside and searching by following clues for certain pieces of art in the museum.

We also have loved the garden area of Cummer Museum where the boys can make their own canvas of flowers – the perfect springtime activity.

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7. Timucuan Ecological & Historical Preserve

This gem located in the Fort Caroline area of town is so much fun to explore! The beautiful waterfront views provide the best spot for the bros to run around and just be boys.

Landon (age 5 at the time) loved filling out the paperwork to become an official Junior Ranger and proudly sported his badge. Pack a lunch and sit back and enjoy the simplicity of nature at Timucuan Ecological & Historical Preserve.

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6. Castillo De San Marcos National Monument

What child doesn’t want to play tag in a real fort? We love this monument and the grassy knoll that it lies on for rolling around and enjoying a beautiful day at Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.

There are so many fun twists and turns in this fort that kids can truly experience what it felt like to hide out from enemies in the good ol’ days. And it’s location close to St. George St. and all of the popular landmarks in St. Augustine make it a huge win.

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5. Sweet Pete’s Candy Making Classes

Our kids just can’t get enough of Sweet Pete’s Candy and we are so glad that it has reopened for us to enjoy again! If you are looking to visit downtown, hop on Jacksonville Skyway, a monorail that provides stunning views of Jacksonville for free.

You can then take a scroll through Hemming Park and head to a candy making class at Sweet Pete’s! They offer seasonal classes, depending on the upcoming holiday, and it’s a great way to score a sweet treat indoors in the hot summer months.

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4. Fort Clinch State Park, Fernandina Beach

Amelia Island (and nearby Fernandina Beach) make for a great day trip with kids! Of all of the activities and trekking to do in the Amelia Island area, we especially enjoyed Fort Clinch State Park!

Our kids absolutely loved seeing the colonial impersonators hang around Fort Clinch as if it was truly happening at that time. It’s also such an impressive infrastructure packed with so much history that it just cannot be missed.

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3. Camping at Camp Chowenwah Park, Green Cove Springs

I’ve admitted I’m not much into camping, but camping is done right at Camp Chowenwah Park. We love how the Ahwenassa cabins are offered, where we can experience camping but also sleep indoors with air conditioning.

We also really enjoyed the setup of Ahwenassa cabins and how the provide great ways for families to meet outside in the evening to make s’mores and spend technology-free time together. Camping at Camp Chowenwah (Camp Chow) is a super kid-friendly way to camp in our area.

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2. Fort Matanzas National Monument & Inlet, St. Augustine Beach

I think this may be my favorite local trek as the beach on Fort Matanzas inlet is truly the best for parents of young kids. The sand pockets formed by the lack of waves create little pools of water for kids to splash in and rinse their feet without going all the way into the ocean.

The free ferry ride to visit Fort Matanzas National Monument is a gem as well, similar to Fort Clinch State Park, where the kids can climb up and get one of the best views of St. Augustine and learn more about its history.

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1. Orlando Science Center, Orlando

Cheating a little here, as Orlando Science Center is truly in Central Florida, but we believe that Orlando Science Center is truly the best way for NE Florida kids to spend their day!

This gem of a hands-on kids center provided hours of endless entertainment for both of our boys, then aged 6 and 3. There is something for everyone at Orlando Science Center, even adults, and our kids were learning so much without even realizing it.  A visit to Orlando Science Center is worth every penny.

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