There are days you need to just steal your family away. It doesn’t take long for routine to sneak up on you. The priority lists and daily responsibilities flood in and real connection to the “now” takes a backseat… it happens. But I want our memories to be made up of moments that sometimes “break” those rules. The late night runs to the ocean, playing in the sand, cereal for lunch and middle-of-the-night surprise wake-ups for a treat. That’s what this week was for us. Being together, unscheduled, disconnected (mostly) from outside life, but totally connected to each other.
This year has been so crazy already, a busy ride for all of us, and I love that we could take that time and steal away, so that my kids have the chance to remember what’s it’s like to be each other’s best friends and I can watch them play in the places that we love, unencumbered.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS TO DO IN JACKSONVILLE BEACH, FL
There is so much to do in and around the Jacksonville Beach area, but more than anything, we all truly enjoyed the beach life. We spent hours and hours there, just steps from our door. And though the weather was still on the chilly side, we soaked in the sunshine, collected sea shells, built sand forts (and holes), and let the waves chase us while Aria chased the birds.
And me? I barely used my phone.
We all love the adventure of discovering new places. For this trip we partnered with HomeAway and while it allows us to look local and abroad for the perfect place at the perfect time… which happens to be pretty much when the travel mood hits, we found the perfect spot nestled into the Atlantic shoreline. With a family of six, finding a space that’s larger than a hotel room is often our preferred option, and the home we stayed at was a dream! We could have fit more people (I’m thinking a friends and family getaway next time!)
Since we homeschool our two oldest children and we had been studying forts, we decided to go see one in person. Part of the reason we settled on the Jacksonville Beach area was because there are so many places to visit and things to do, while also offering the comfort of to not having to leave the beach area at all… the best of both worlds.
We made our plans and hit the road in a 2017 Toyota Hylander with a nice big moonroof, XM radio and plenty of seating for us all, as well as all of our stuff. Plus… with a total of five USB ports, it’s easy to power up the family road trip! The ride was smooth and within 4 hours we made it to our first historic destination, the St. Augustine Lighthouse.
It was more than two hundred steps to the top, but well worth the view. We even learned about a cat that survived a fall from up top. If you get to this part of Florida it is a fun historic site to visit and it brought up so many discussions on how life was at the time it was built and the war-time period in our history where it was used to aide our troops.
Then it was time for the fort! A short jaunt up the coast led us to fort Castillo de San Marcos. This fort was paramount in many skirmishes that helped make St Augustine one of the oldest cities in Florida.
We strolled around the downtown and grabbed a quick bite at a cool little pub. This downtown reminded Chris and I of a smaller version of New Orleans. We had good times there as well.
All tuckered out, we headed to our “HomeAway” from home for three days. We checked in and couldn’t have been happier with the space. With plenty of room for guests; the kids loved that they had a plethora of options to choose for where to sleep. Though each room and living space had a 65” tv (and the boys brought along the Playstation for down-times,) we couldn’t resist the draw of the ocean so we headed out just before sunset. Having the beach right outside our front door was something we definitely took advantage of.
Between rainy days spent indoors together watching movies and playing games, cooking breakfast in the well stocked kitchen and just hanging out together, we all felt closer. Our busy life doesn’t always lend itself for such downtime.
Although we enjoyed a chill day watching movies (I think we’re all caught up on the Marvel series now,) we were determined to spend more time in the sand. The kids couldn’t get enough of it, running in and out, playing chase with each wave. Hours of playing with bubbles, running on the beach, and catching sun made for a really nice family days.
The beach seems to be a place that fosters unbeatable bonding time with brothers and sisters, parents and children. Luckily, the home was located pretty close to a lot of choices for food so when we didn’t feel like preparing meals we had plenty of yummy options. We wanted to venture local for dinner and found a great salt water cafe that served shrimp and good beach food. They had a pretty awesome fish tank that kept our kiddos wide eyed and occupied.
A few of our favorite Jacksonville Beach spots: TacoLu, Salt Life Food Shack, Maple Street Biscuit Company
Traveling with kids is definitely more work. There are mixups and meltdowns… the emotions are inevitable. But it’s also well worth the effort. Yes, it means juggling sleep schedules, bags and sometimes attitudes; but it also builds bonds that can only happen when experiencing life and new adventure, together.
What about you? What are your favorite things to do in Jacksonville Beach, FL? Have you ever been there? Let me know in the comments below!
You can subscribe on youtube for more videos coming soon. A big thank you to HomeAway and Toyota for partnering with us!