Pollen is in the air, and the weather is warming. As summer is on the cusp of arriving, so is the moment when school doors will be closing. Florida is ripe with rich activities and accessible amenities. Instead of sending kids to camp, we’ve looked at local options to make every summer day an incredible–and educational- adventure.


Many farms offer tours and information sessions about agriculture life and even allow you to pick seasonal fruits and vegetables.

The 300 acres of Towers Family Farm in Palatka offers various seasonal opportunities to pluck produce from the fields, including blueberries, strawberries and vegetables. The farm also boosts an event space for all sorts of gatherings.

Family-oriented Blu by U in Clay County prides itself on blueberry picking, but that’s merely the start of the excitement. The lands have friendly farm animals, a butterfly house and educational tours and are available for events. Find a treasure to take home in their country store. Reservations are required for picking.

Wesley Wells Farm offers seasonal produce to pick year-round, from blueberries to green beans and pumpkins in the fall. Additionally, they host field trips, summer camps (ages five to 15) and workshops to educate the community on farming practices. Want a night under the stars? Reserve their bell tent for a truly unique experience.

If you’re up for a drive, Crossroads Farms and Apiary in Gainesville hosts strawberry picking. Pursue their curated collection of items in the on-site store for seasonal farm-themed products and try their specialty–honey!

Water, Water Everywhere

Splash pads can help you beat the heat when the humidity and temperatures are high. In St. Johns County, Calhoun Recreation Center houses a swimming pool and splash park as well as a full-size gymnasium and sports fields. Pool fees are two dollars for children and three for adults. Alternate splash areas include the St. Augustine Pier, Losco Regional Park and South Beach Park.

Sun Splash Park in Daytona Beach is open daily in March. Riverwalk Park in Port Orange and Wes Crile Park in Deltona offer water play and playground equipment to keep kids busy. Mill Lake Park in Orange City and Community Park in DeBary provide fenced-in splash areas.

Spring Park and Murray Hill Playground offer splash areas in Clay County, while Camp Chowenwaw Park’s pool is open in May.

If indulgences are what you’re seeking, using apps like Daycationapp and Resort Pass allows you to search for the right services for you. With pools, spas, lazy rivers and splurges, you get to indulge in resort amenities without the hotel stay. Options start at $20.

Go Away but Stay!

“Travel” to other countries through cuisine, customs and costumes. Select one country each week to research and create activities. From cooking dinner to designing clothes, you can even pepper in cultural holidays. Test culinary capabilities and sewing skills by recreating festivals highlighting garments, holidays, dance and other traditions. Create a play or script a new tale. It is a different way to experience the world.

Other Ideas

Create a nature scavenger walk, followed by backyard camping and s’mores. Sterno-style flames work great when a fire pit isn’t permitted.

Further these nature lessons by discussing habitats and ecosystems of the critters you’ve discovered that can be tailored to any age.

If creature-watching inspires your kiddos, try a virtual tour. Many facilities offer these unique peaks into animal areas to catch a glimpse of majesty. Go “international” to visit Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa online or discover the lives of polar bears through polarbearsinternational.com. Discover the grounds of the epic San Diego, Denver or Dallas Zoos. The National Aquarium, Aquarium of the Pacific, Tennessee and Georgia aquariums offer free virtual tours.

Enjoy museums across the world. See Van Gogh’s works at his namesake establishment in Amsterdam or see stunning art from the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Then, virtually skim the halls of Paris’ Musee d’Orsay.

Keep young brains flexed with custom crossword puzzles while building vocabulary and spelling skills. Make your own at crosswordlabs.com and puzzlemaker.com. Or practice finance tactics with budgeting. Whether you’re out grocery shopping, adventuring or splurging, set a budget for your kids and show them how far each dollar (doesn’t) go.

So if the glitter and glue, popsicle sticks and paint aren’t cutting it this summer, try one of the at-home camp and staycation ideas to give your summer a boost of fun on a family-friendly budget.