The past few weekends we’ve ventured out of comfort zone (pool, beach, shopping at Target, etc) and visited parts of Florida that we wouldn’t normally visit. We’ve gone outside and enjoyed the natural beauty that surrounds us and haven’t had to go very far. I’m hoping this new trend will continue and we’ll see more natural Florida with the kids.
Last weekends trip was to Ichetucknee Springs (don’t ask me to say it because I butcher it and sound like a redneck!) in Fort White, FL near the Florida/Georgia border. From the State Parks website:
The crystalline Ichetucknee River flows six miles through shaded hammocks and wetlands before it joins the Santa Fe River.
The pictures show just how crystalline the water is but it doesn’t show you how cold it is! Year round 73F – which for Florida water is down right FREEZING! You loose your breath when you jump in but you feel so alive!
A picture of the Blue Hole – you can actually dive down inside the hole (I didn’t attempt this).
If you get there early enough you can even tube down the river. They only allow 750 people on the river each day to help preserve the natural beauty and people started lining up before 7am (they don’t open until 8am). Plan to show up early (and only during the summer – Memorial Day through Labor Day) and rent a tube (or bring your own) at a nearby local store (there are tons of options). The tubes will cost you about $5-10 per tube. You can choose from a single tube, a double tube, and a closed bottom tube for the kiddos. You can even rent inflatable rafts (boats) if you don’t want to get wet. Don’t worry though, if you’re not the tubing type you can always swim at the springs too.
The park really does a great job at keeping the river pristine and won’t allow you to bring food or drinks down the river either. If you can’t take trash you can’t leave it behind! Eat a hearty breakfast because you’ll be on the river for 2-3 hours before you get to the mid-point. You can get off at the mid-point and eat lunch (your car is actually parked here) then continue down the river if you want to. We only made it to the mid-point because we’d been up with friends talking and drinking around the campfire the night before (well actually until about 3am for some of them).
We rented cabins nearby at the Ichetucknee Hideaway Cottages and absolutely fell in love. It was like camping but with a cabin. They are actually manufactured homes and have one bedroom, one bathroom, a kitchen/dining room, and living room. There are 6 cabins on the property and each one comes with a screened in front porch, a fire pit, a grill, and a swing. We had 4 of the 6 cabins rented with our group and it was a perfect place for families. Once you put the kids to bed you can hang out by the firepit and chat all night long.
A sneak peek of cottage #2 on the inside. Very clean and tidy. Fully stocked with plates, glassware, silverware, and other essentials that you’ll need. If you don’t feel like cooking or grilling out you can also visit the corner pub, The Keg Room. The boys had fun hanging out with the locals one night while that ladies chatted around the fire.
This weekend Lil’ B mastered the skill of climbing a ladder on the playground. Don’t laugh – I think this was her first time going up a ladder on a playground! She did great!
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