Road tripping with children can have highs and lows. I try to ensure that I only schedule a road trip with the kids who will enjoy it. My second child is a seeker of knowledge. At any given time you can find him searching for information online, watching documentaries and reading books. Kellen’s interest in learning and exploring made him the ideal choice to go on a Florida road trip with me. Our adventure began in Daytona Beach where we stayed at the Bahama House.
Kellen has a keen interest in magic. He has been gathering magic tricks from the internet but there’s nothing quite like learning from the experts. The Daytona Magic Shop is celebrating 50 years of business this year and we saw how they earned their success. Budding magicians like my son are treated to live magic tricks. Should they choose to purchase the tricks they are also given a private lesson on how to perform it properly.
We left with the Hot Rod magic trick (that the rest of the family still hasn’t figured out). Later in our trip, we went back and bought the coin trick shown above.
We discovered everything from Coca-Cola collectibles, giant dollhouses, and antique cars at the Museum of Arts and Sciences. Kellen was especially interested in ancient swords and rifles. We both enjoyed the Coast Guard paintings that were on display. He occasionally considers archaeology as a future career, so the ancient skeletons are also of great interest to him. I like how the museum has found a creative way to display partial skeletons like the mammoth below.
The Museum features a planetarium, a children’s museum and many fantastic displays of artifacts, sculptures, and art. It is worth setting aside half a day for!
When you walk into Angell and Phelps you are immediately taken in by the smooth and silky scent of chocolate. The gorgeous chocolate shells and fudge squares will capture your attention too, and then you will notice that you can tour the actual factory. While we stood in line waiting for the next tour to start, we were treated to some samples of fudge. That was worth all of the waiting in the world!
Our entertaining tour guide showed us how all of the delicious treats are made and gave us some background on the factory. We watched the candy makers whip up everything from truffles to chocolate-covered bacon before concluding the tour.
The chocolate factory tours end with some more sweet sampling, so be sure to stay until the very end!
The highlight of the first installment of Florida road tripping was the Eco Boat Tour with Ponce Inlet Watersports. The tour is called the Dolphin and Manatee Eco Tour and while I realize it is impossible to guarantee sightings like this, the stars aligned for our tour.
We had barely left the dock when a group of manatees were spotted. We drifted over to them and while I didn’t see any up out of the water, they swam beside and under our boat so that we could catch a glimpse of them up close. Later in the tour we came across a shallow area where people were swimming, however there was no swimming going on. A couple of people who were in the water were standing completely still because there were manatees swimming all around them. Our guide explained that people in the area are taught to stay still and allow the manatees to swim. Only a bulldog didn’t seem to know this rule, but he seemed to just want to get out of the water and away from the manatees.
So Much Marine Life
The manatees were just half of our excitement on the tour. We saw many dolphins enjoying the beautiful day, including this mama and baby dolphin pair. In this particular area there were also several pelicans floating in the water, always facing the dolphins. Our guide explained that sometimes dolphins like to play with fish by throwing them in the air before eating them. The pelicans wait patiently for a chance to steal one of these fish from the playful dolphins. We were thrilled to be able to witness this ourselves when one lucky pelican managed to steal the fish as it was in the air.
Our tour also included a stop at a beach where we could search for shells. I was pleased when the guide politely made all tourists return the living sand dollars and hermit crabs to the water before boarding again. I would hate to see some creatures die due to an eco-tour.
Ponce Inlet Watersports offers parasailing, tours, fishing, sailing and more. Check them out on your next visit to the area.
Another great stop for nature lovers is the Marine Science Center. Here we admired fish in aquariums, touched stingrays and I touched a shark for the very first time. Of course, it was a small shark with no teeth, but it was still a shark. The Sea Turtle Hospital ICU Ward was very interesting and there was information about turtles on the walls.
Outside of the building we took a hike to visit seabirds who are being rehabilitated, and just to enjoy nature. We saw many lizards, a couple of squirrels and we watched a raccoon explore a pond from a lookout where we were taking a break.
Our time at Daytona Beach was memorable, right down to the fun in the pool at the Bahama House. Kellen returned home armed with lots of new information to share with the family and his friends.
Come back tomorrow to hear about the hidden gems we discovered in St. Augustine.