This is part of an on-going series about our Florida “Adventure Days”. Here I will share what we like to do as a family throughout our great state, primarily North Florida. I will tell you some of the pros and cons of the places we have visited and offer a few adventure tips along the way. I promise to keep it real and share the bad with the good so that you can learn from some of our mistakes. My kids will even share their thoughts about their favorite thing from each outing. I hope that this series will encourage you to get out and do some exploring too. I would also love to hear about any of your adventures!
Share where you have been and tell us where we should go next.
Some of our greatest adventures start out with a well laid plan and then something causes that plan to go awry, so we find ourselves rerouting or reinventing our day. This was one of those particular adventures. It was July 4th (last year) and it wasn’t our desire to be in the midst of the masses, but we definitely wanted to be on the beach enjoying the sun, surf, and fishing. Our planned destination was actually Vilano Beach, but even though we made it there around 10 am the beach was closed to vehicular traffic because it had already reached capacity. So, we decided that wasn’t the spot for us anyway. Off we went to find a more remote and peaceful spot. We headed quite a bit further south to Matanzas Inlet but all of the public lots there were also full. Just over the Matanzas bridge, A1A meets Old A1A beachside. There is a Kangaroo Express at the corner that has semi-decent bathrooms and they sell snacks and boogie boards (just in case you need another one to add to your collection). Since we had been driving for so long at this point we all took advantage of a potty break. This is advised because once on the beach there are no facilities.
We then headed south on Old A1A and lucked out with a parking spot on the side of the road. There are no parking lots here so you are limited to street parking. This is where things get a little sketchy and mamas like me get a little nervous: the only way to get on the beach is to scale steep rocks! Let me note that the Wilsons do not travel lightly to the beach. We typically have fishing poles, tackle boxes, boogie boards galore, life vests, barbies (Mylie’s friends of choice this day), sand toys, a chair, an umbrella, our food cooler bag, and our general beach bag with all the other necessities in it. Erik handled getting most of the junk and the kids down the rocks, while I tried to reassure Mylie that she would be ok and that we were NOT turning around to go back home just because she didn’t think going down the rocks was a good idea. YIKES. Now you see just a glimpse of why we call simple beach days “Adventure Days”.
Once we made it on the beach alive, we walked a bit north to the point- where the Matanzas river opens into the ocean. This is apparently where the best fishing can occur. As you can see from the above photo the view from this spot is heavenly and we definitely weren’t battling the masses, even on the 4th. I would not advise swimming in the inlet as the current was strong there, but during low tide the ocean was ok for shallow water boogie boarding. Later in the day, when the tide started coming it the ocean was too rough for swimming and boarding, but there were many perfect tide pools to play in and some fun rocks to explore too. The boys were busy and content fishing for minnows, hunting blue crabs, and they found a few starfish too.
After exploring with the boys for a while, Mylie and I enjoyed some time just chilling- she had her people and I had my book and umbrella. One of my favorite things about the beach: when all of my children cooperatively dig holes and use their imaginations. Beach days mean there are no electronics, no television, and no chores or distractions that detract from our time together. I am able to relax and just enjoy watching my children being children. And there always seems to be much less bickering or complaining on the beach.
We didn’t stay long enough to watch the fireworks (Mylie is not a big fan of loud explosions), so I’m not even sure if there were any close enough to this beach to view. Instead we finished our day at one of our favorite dives and then we went to a movie at the Epic Theaters. There was hardly anyone there, so we practically had the whole theater to ourselves. One of these posts I will have to share how we like to get cleaned up after the beach so that we can either continue our adventures after the beach or just drive home without sand in our suits. This is key to ending a long day at the beach on a happy note, especially since we usually have a LONG ride home.
“I did not like to climb on the rocks! They were super scary. But I had fun playing on the beach with my princesses and princes.”
“Be careful when putting on your sun screen or else you might end up looking like this: (Thanks mom!)”