It is not a secret my wife is always on the go. Long before kids, and long before we were in a serious relationship she told me "I need to travel, whoever I end up with better love to travel as much as I do". She wasn't kidding. Have to give credit to my in laws for setting me up for this mess though. Shandy was fortunate to have the opportunity as a child to travel overseas. Meanwhile I was probably digging in my backyard in my pajamas. If there was such thing as a "travel gene", she would have it. Her love for adventure is so strong, that our oldest has inherited the same earning to travel, everywhere. As any loving husband, I feed her need to explore and help nurture that curiosity in our children. Due to our kids age, we try to keep the trips small, and over time we plan to build to bigger and larger trips.
This summer we were pretty busy, from weddings, birthday parties, and just life in general, so our travel plans did not go as planned. Instead of doing a spring a month (June-August), we ended up cramming one a weekend in August. When Shandy pitched it, I could have sworn her head spun. However she was right, we had to do it. Kasen has been asking to go back to the springs since Shandy was pregnant with Paxton. So we did it. The boys had a blast and we were able to convince some friends to join us on the trek around Florida. First trip was Blue Springs. Overall this spring is great, super family friendly. There is a playground, a diving area, a short (really short) float which is great for smaller kids, then a launch area for kayaks, canoes, and SUPs. Blue Springs is also a manatee safety area, if that is a thing. This is a spring that Florida manatees have chosen as a breeding ground. In October the park "shuts down", you can still visit but not able to get in the water, to allow the manatees to have their "safe space". This will probably be put on the books for an October visit, apparently it is a sight to see.
Although we enjoyed Blue Springs the hours for canoes, kayaks, and SUP, is limited. On top of limited hours for the "toys", parking was a bit of a pain. They have two parking lots, one "close" to the spring head, and one by the launch site. Shandy and I differ on what our favorites were, she puts this as her 1 as it was the best park for the little kids. I put this as my number 2 out of the 3 we visited. The following weekend we hit the road to Rainbow Springs. The grounds were beautiful, the workers were insanely friendly and welcoming. Kasen became a Jr. Park Ranger on this trip. This state park definitely sees a lot of traffic, but it is well kept. We lounged at the headspring and opted out of the float on this trip. They have a area where you can jump and swim around, but no floats are allowed, unless you have a tiny one. Although this spring was beautiful, and the grounds were much cleaner than another park this hits our number 3 on favorites. You were not allowed to go out of the roped area, and the "waterfalls" that they advertise are man made. We plan on redoing this spring though, but doing the float instead of just the swimming area.
Last spring we went to was Alexander springs. This by far my favorite, and comes in at number 2 for Shandy's list. The drive down was questionable, as it was pouring the whole drive. Despite the wet drive, there was not a cloud over the state park. It was as if it had a magic bubble preserving it from the storms. We took the SUP boards here, and for those who know what it is like to carry these long distance can relate to this. This is the EASIEST park for parking convenience. You park and then just a few steps you are greeted with alluring blue water and luscious foliage. On top of just overall convenience, the head spring is something you would see in a Nat Geo magazine. Florida springs are really beautiful, and not enough credit is given to these natural beauties. After this trip we deemed we would do this again next August. The parks were not crowded as Florida residents were preparing to go back to school, and it made for epic day trips for the boys.
Although Fall is here, we are still dreaming of our Summer adventures.