Summer’s rays are radiating in the Sunshine State. While kids try to hide inside, there are infinite enticing options to check off the vacation “To-Do List.” Swap screen time for memorable days engaging these extraordinary activities, all within a short drive.

1. More than a zoo.

We love zoos! And these places are more than they appear. Several organizations are safe havens for rescued and abused animals.

Catty Shack Ranch provides a sanctuary for various stealthy cats outside Jacksonville. White tigers and lions to the neighborhood bobcat, Catty Shack Ranch provides a home for retired wild cats. For more information, go to

Numerous exotic animals find refuge in St. Johns County. Animals at St. Augustine Wild Reserve found a forever this refuge safe place. Reservations are required to visit. Make them at:

  • Worth the Drive: Outside Sarasota is Myakka Elephant Ranch, a refuge for some of the most intelligent, gentle and charismatic creatures: African and Asian elephants. Experience the majesty of these beings firsthand and learn about the differences between the species. Schedule a time at 4450 Verna Bethany Rd, Myakka City, FL 34251

2. Spring into the water.

While Florida beaches are incredible, there are alternative options to unwind in the waters. Florida Springs are a lush and tranquil alternative to buzzing beaches. Grab a tube and cruise along the calm currents. There are various locations to explore, all home to mesmerizing plant life and countless wild animals. It’s a bountiful trek into nature.

3. Seek thrills.

We see you, adventure enthusiasts, and do we have ideas to satiate your risky endeavors.

Soar at Cocoa Beach Aerial Adventures. Glide over the park on the ziplines, then scale the walls in the obstacle courses.

Daytona Lagoon is home to water slides galore, but there’s also the rock-climbing wall, sky-maze rope course, bumper cars and more in the Fun Park. Perfect for an action-packed day or multi-day visit.

Adventure Landing has multiple locations to satisfy any adrenaline rush. Jacksonville and St. Augustine parks boast go-karts, batting cages, arcades and mini golf; the Jacksonville location goes full force with added entertainment, including water slides, laser tag and even alligators. It’s everything imaginable to keep the thrills coming.

For more fast-paced excitement, steer over to Beachside Grand Prix and unleash your inner speed demon. If that’s not enough of an adrenaline rush, fly to Andretti Thrill Park for bummer boats and spinning coasters.

4. Sports, of course.

There’s something special about taking in a live sporting event, and summer is the perfect time to catch a game in a local park or the professional fields.

Hit a home run taking in America’s favorite pastime. Jumbo Shrimp baseball is back. Don’t forget the hotdogs and Cracker Jack treats! Find the full schedule of events at

It’s full-throttle on the Daytona Speedway. If a day in the go-karts doesn’t cut it, take any race lover to the speedway for a full course of intense competition. The season starts in August.

5. Understand Florida’s global influence.

Florida’s waters and dynamic biodiversity are crucial not only to our local ecosystems but also to the world. Estuaries are often sanctuaries for organisms to reproduce and grow, as well as provide homes for creatures that filter and clean the waters. Organizations like Marine Discovery Center and Guana Reserve make it their mission to educate and conserve these vital resources.

The Space Coast is also home to an interesting phenomenon, bioluminescent waters. Take an evening kayak or boat tour to learn about this luminous sight, which is best observed in these areas, Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, Indian River Lagoon, Banana River and Kiwanis Island.

6. Witness live performances.

Movies are intense, but the pressure is on when there’s a stage involved—you can feel like part of the show.

In St. Augustine, Limelight Theater stages productions year-round. If music is your thing, try the Amphitheater for an al fresco event.

Daytona Playhouse hosts summer shows, while the Children’s Musical Theatre Workshop and Athens Theatre in Deland hold summer camps for the aspiring thespian.

Clay County is home to The Island Theatre, which has numerous performances throughout the summer and holds camps as well as workshops.

So, when the kids complain there’s nothing to do, try a few of these local favorites to keep them stimulated, engaged and off their chosen device.