Monthly Archives: September 2015

What We Did On Our Summer Vacation (Part 3) – SGI Playground of the Week

This week’s Playground of the Week is located on St. George Island at the foot of its lighthouse at the beach. We rode our bikes along the island-wide paved trail every night to the playground so Henry could get the last of his energy out. There were swings, slides, games, balance beams, and things to climb – with the sea breeze keeping things cool and the bugs (mostly) away. It was never crowded, had public bathrooms, and was a perfect spot to end our days.    
One evening we road bikes to the foot of the bridge connecting the island to the mainland to watch the sunset. It’s weird to watch the sunset over the mainland when we are so used to watching it set over the Gulf where we live. Weird, but still beautiful and worth the extra ride. I loved how we could visit anywhere on the island by bike (a lot of people used golf carts – not as cool as biking!), and we definitely took advantage of that.


What We Did On Our Summer Vacation (Part 2) – St. George Island

We rented a lovely little two bedroom vacation house on St. George Island for our relaxing week of family vacationing. We breakfasted together on its screened in porch, spent our mornings visiting the area, siesta-ed/napped in the afternoons, and finished our days with an evening bike ride and playground date. It was pretty perfect. 
Here are some of the activities we did:

The Beach! Hanging out at the beach was our primary activity on SGI – the beach is one of he best in the country. We splashed in the water, picked out shells to bring home, threw our frisbee around, and dug in the sand. Our house was two blocks from the beach access, making it an easy walk to the shore. 

Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park. On the cloudiest day, we biked about 16 miles round trip to SGI State Park, which is located at the eastern end of the island. The ride to the park was great, and the park itself is a grand preservation area with the oldest stand of slash pines on a barrier island as well as giant sand dunes. We didn’t beach it up here, because the Hen was set on playing at the campground’s playground. It was nicely shaded and a great break. The campground and its bathrooms looked excellent and clean; we may have to camp next time we visit! Our way home from the park was the hardest bike ride I’ve ever attempted. The wind from the encroaching storm made pedaling difficult. We had to take multiple water breaks, and each time we did neither of us wanted to hop back on our bikes, but we forced ourselves to do it. I have never been so excited to see condos in my life (to block the wind gusts). We were soaked, and our legs were bonked when we got back to the house, but it was totally worth it. 

Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve. Located in Eastpoint, the education and research center has sea life tanks, beautiful boardwalk trails, views of the bay, and Henry’s favorite – microscopes where you can look at shells and exoskeletons close up. He could have spent all morning looking through the lens, but he also loved playing with the stuffed animals and watching the fish. The center is free and open Tuesday through Saturday 9am – 4 pm. 

City of Apalachicola. We loved this small town full of antique shops, pirate/fishing gear, and Southern charm. Well, maybe not so much charm when we were told on multiple occasions that we were not from Florida since we lived in the Tampa Bay Area (but being from Jacksonville was closer to living in the Sunshine State). We found a couple of lovely Spanish tiles to decorate our home (place of decoration to be determined). Henry’s favorite part of town was the Battery Park playground, of course. In the shadow of the bridge overlooking the bay, it’s set back from the road and featured a variety of playground equipment for Henry to climb all over. My favorite thing there was this oversized chair, perfect for taking silly photos. 

Apalachicola Maritime Museum. Keith was really excited to visit this museum, which provides information about the history of oyster fishing and boating in the bay area. It also offers courses in boat making (we didn’t do this) and a variety of affordable boat tours of the area. We took the Sunset Cruise and lucked out that we were the only ones on the boat besides the driver, Richard. Richard has lived his entire life in Apalachicola and knows things you couldn’t read in a history book like who owned what building on the river and what family business they were up to. It was a fascinating tour of the town before we headed out to the bay to see the sunset. We ate our dinner of Piggly Wiggly sandwiches on the boat, and then Henry co-drove the boat! It was his absolute favorite thing about vacation – he still talks about driving the boat under the bridge in the bay. 


What We Did On Our Summer Vacation (Part 1) – Weeki Wachee Springs

For our family trip this year, I had a few parameters: (1) visit a place I had never seen, (2) within driving distance of where we live, (3) that is relaxing, and (4) can comfortably fit the three of us. St. George Island fit the bill! Keith had visited twice with his family when he was younger so it would be nearly new to him (& new to me and H). It’s located five and half hours away in the Florida Panhandle on the Apalachicola Bay. It is an island full of vacation homes, beaches, a state park, and not much else. We found a vacation house with two bedrooms, a screened porch, and an outdoor shower so we had plenty of space.

To break up the drive and allow for maximum Hen-naps, we stopped at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park on our way up north to play at its Buccaneer Bay water park and eat lunch. There is a special area for kids 6 and under called Lil’ Mates Caribbean Cove, which is where we spent most of our time. Hen had fun sliding down the slide and crawling through the spray tunnel. For kids used to bigger splash pads it isn’t very exciting, but we had so much fun. We watched bigger kids and adults play in the spring and go down the flume slides, but it was too old for Henry. 


After swimming for a couple hours, we heard there was an animal show. We never made it because there was a super sweet playground on the way which was more immediately fun. After getting hot and sweaty, we made our way back to the car, only stopping to meet a real mermaid! Henry was not impressed, and a little scared. Next time we visit we will need to check out the mermaid show (if it’s back up and running) and the river cruise. It is definitely a gem of a park and worth a return visit.