Who doesn’t love a family vacation? Well, er, there are plenty of parents who can’t say they do. It can be tiring and frustrating. On a bad day – and how many of those can you count? – the kids always seem to be some whining, fighting, or showing complete indifference to anything except their phones. And after a full day of “touring,” they are still able to stay up for hours playing on their devices, complaining that they’re hungry – and never ever giving you any “vacation” time.
So here’s a tip: Get rid of the devices that turn them into zombies and find places that both you and the kids can enjoy. Find places where the kids can’t help but be curious. Make sure they expend lots of energy, both mental and physical. The end goal is simple: wipe the kids out so that they are ready for bed earlier than you ever thought possible.
Here are a few of the many options that will keep your kids so intrigued and active in St. Augustine that they’ll forget you “forgot” their devices back at the hotel:
- The Lightner Museum. Sure, the word “museum” might have your kids rolling their eyes but that will stop as soon as they step foot in it. There are the cool old musical instruments that still actually play. There’s the science room filled with everything from an actual stuffed lion (once Winston Churchill’s pet) to a shrunken head to boat models. And the best part: there are scavenger hunts for different age groups that keep the kids busy all throughout your visit so you can enjoy the other floors filled with eclectic art. Don’t forget to check out what was formally the largest indoor swimming pool. Don’t worry: it’s drained so your kids won’t need their floaties.
- St. Augustine Alligator Farm. The title is a little misleading since this is a phenomenally organized zoo where your kids can come face-to-face with all sorts of creatures. Of course, there is an abundance of alligators (their feedings are not to be missed!) but don’t forget the storks, monkeys, tortoises, snakes, and sloth! And all of you can also experience this zoo on a whole new level by doing the fun and challenging obstacle/course zipline.
- St. Augustine Lighthouse. Those 200+ windy steps are quite a climb and this should have the kids breathing a bit harder (but hopefully doesn’t knock the wind out of you!). It’s worth the trek to the observation deck that offers a breath-taking view of St. Augustine.
- St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum. This is home to one of the world’s largest collection of pirate artifacts. Here, the kids get a map and set off on a treasure hunt that will keep them running from room to room in excitement and sometimes fear. It’s a fun way to immerse yourself in the swashbuckling past of St. Augustine. Just don’t get confused when you walk outside and run into pirates meandering the streets and willing to take a photo with you – for free!
- Boats. You have a lot of choices but the kids particularly enjoy the Black Raven Pirate Ship, where you can take part in a pirate fight. There’s also the St. Augustine Scenic Cruise that often features more than one dolphin following along. All that sun on the water zaps energy in the young ones, while hopefully only relaxing you.
There is still plenty more to do. The Old Jail and The Oldest Store make for exceptional visits, and the Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse serves as a great reminder to the kids on how good they have it today. Potter’s Wax Museum and Ripley’s Believe It or Not offers a front seat to all things unusual, while the Colonial Quarter, the Fountain of Youth, and Castillo de San Marcos offer a front seat to history. The list goes on and on, and you can keep venturing in and out of all these venues until you notice your kids’ hands reflexively rubbing their eyes. At this point, you know it’s soon time to call it a day.
And if all this doesn’t tucker them out, well then, all there is to say is we tried!