Ever the planner, Monica takes pride in finding unique, memorable Florida adventures for her family vacations. Beyond theme parks and beaches, she gets a thrill out of uncovering insider secrets and hidden destination treasures.
This year, she’s excited to bring her vacation plan together on Florida’s Adventure Coast, Brooksville-Weeki Wachee.
Her family group of eight, ranging in age from seven to seventy, will all be pleased, Monica thought. Grandparents, parents, teens and young children will spend quality time together, sharing experiences long-remembered. People change and move through life so fast, she thought, it’s important to gather everyone together when you can and vacations are the ideal opportunity for bonding and making magical memories.
Basing their week-long stay in the center of the state is smart, she reasoned. Very convenient, it’s less than an hour north of Tampa and 90 minutes west of Orlando. They can take some day trips if they want an urban scene. Best of all, this is an affordable area of the Sunshine State.
From where they’re staying, she knows her family will easily reach her top 10 planned adventures within minutes.
Thanks to Florida’s Adventure Coast’s app, Monica chose, arranged and mapped out her own itinerary. Having it on her phone means she can click through for all details and directions. Should she and her family have free time during the week, she can click Events to see what’s going on nearby.
Stars of one of Florida’s original roadside attractions, the Weeki Wachee Mermaids are more popular than ever. Monica remembers being enchanted as a little girl when she saw the beautiful Mermaids perform in the crystal-clear spring. She knows that no vacation is complete without a visit to Weeki Wachee and the whole family will love this magical experience.
Monica’s excited to share another place she remembers from her childhood: Boyett’s Citrus Grove and Attraction. Taking the scenic route through the countryside rewarded the family with a sweeping hilltop view upon arrival, unexpected in Florida. Kitschy and eclectic are words to describe this sprawling roadside stop. From a diverse group of animals to see and feed out back, to ice-cream, mini-golf and a dinosaur room, Boyett’s is still fresh-squeezed Florida fun.
From youngest to oldest, Monica knows this treetop adventure course is sure to please. Family members can navigate bouncy bridges, climbing walls and ziplines to fit their individual abilities. Safely harnessed up and cheered on by close-by staff, they can each focus on the fun of testing their limits. The parklike setting is also welcoming to those who prefer to watch from below.
Boys versus girls or adults versus kids: either way will prove fun competition when it comes to go karts. After some laps zooming around the Adventure Coast Fun Park track, the family can try out gem stone mining. Like panning for gold, shaking the screened pan free of water and dirt washes away treasures. After some more friendly competition on the mini golf course, a nice cool down in the arcade is in order.
Tucked away in the midst of Spring Hill is a tranquil oasis called Nature Coast Botanical Gardens and Nursery. A waterfall is the soundtrack to a stroll beneath shade trees or a seat at the gazebo. A winding brick walkway reveals 22 themed gardens throughout. From desert scape to rain forest, the gardens are glimpses of different climates and delightful landscapes. Monica plans to arrange a guided tour, available for groups of five or more.
After doing some fishing from the Jenkins Creek dock, Monica plans to go across the street to Linda Pedersen Park. Together, they will take in the view from 40 feet up at the Linda Pedersen Park observation tower. A panoramic view of the unspoiled saltmarsh coastline and sparkling Gulf of Mexico beyond makes a perfect backdrop for memorable family photographs.
Part of why Monica planned her family vacation in mid-summer is to include a scallop diving adventure. Florida’s Adventure Coast is part of the official bay scallop harvest zone, exclusive to Florida’s central west coast and Panhandle regions. Eagerly anticipated each year, scallop diving from Bayport or Hernando Beach is a family tradition for many. No special experience is required; just sharp eyes, a snorkel, mask, fins and a mesh collection bag.
The joy of slipping into bathwater warm, clear Gulf of Mexico waters on a hot summer day to grab the free-swimming mollusks is a thrill meant to be shared. Monica browsed the available scalloping charter services and booked a trip on a covered pontoon-style boat to accommodate her family. Monica spoke to the Captain to ensure room for those that want to dive and for others to just enjoy a day-on-the-water adventure.
Part of the fun of scallop diving is the delight of eating up the tasty treasures, served up at nearby “You Catch-We Cook” eateries.
Dinner on the water one evening is sure to please every member of Monica’s group. Departing from Hernando Beach for a relaxing two hour cruise along the scenic coastline will be wonderful. The “Marina Rose Experience,” named after the daughter of owners, is a pretty paddlewheel river boat replica with comfortable climate-controlled indoor seating. Dining on sumptuous, chef-prepared cuisine and beverages while hosted by family owners and lifelong residents adds to the evening’s enjoyment.
The youngest – and most easily spooked – may abstain, but others in the group sixteen years old and over will visit Brooksville’s May-Stringer House for a weekend ghost tour. Monica knows her adventurous family will want to check out one of Florida’s most haunted places. Certified by numerous paranormal experts, it’s said that spirits of past residents roam the halls of this Victorian mansion at night. Monica made a note that they can bring hand-held ghost detection gear (whatever that is!)
For a one-of-a-kind after-dark experience, Monica made a reservation with SUP Weeki for Light SUP. Aboard stand-up paddleboards lit from below, the crystal clear, spring-fed Weeki Wachee River transforms with an ethereal glow. Monica knows, when it comes to unique Florida adventures, few things can compare. On the water or from the shore at Mary’s Fish Camp, all will be moved by this low-impact natural experience.
Well, thought Monica with satisfaction, she rounded up some truly authentic Florida adventures. Everyone from the kids to the grandparents will remember this vacation. Maybe I don’t wear a tiara, she thought, but I am a vacation planning queen!