August 20, 2017

3 Tips to Get Off the Beaten Path with Kids

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It’s Thursday, and yes, this little red suitcase has been packed and sitting next to my bedroom door since Tuesday. To say my 6 year old, Kate, is excited for our trip to Florida on Saturday is an understatement. She’s been talking about this trip to see Nana and Pop for weeks. Now Kate and 3 year old Molly ask me every single day how many days until we go to Florida. I must teach them how to use a calendar.

My in-laws – also known as Nana and Pop – live near us in the Washington, DC area from May through December, then head to South Florida for the winter. Every year we hop on a plane during Spring Break to enjoy “the sunshine, the palm trees of Florida…Florida…” Do any other east coasters remember that commercial from the ‘80s?

We generally fly down with no plans. We just take it day by day, heading to the beach, going for walks, splashing in the pool. But this year, now that my oldest is nearly 8, I decided I wanted this vacation to be different. I want to see what new experiences – semi-educational experiences – my school age kids can enjoy in South Florida (my in-laws are living in Boca Raton).

With this in mind, I wanted to share three tips to help you find those off the beaten path experiences to enjoy with your kids on your next vacation.

Take to Twitter. I reached out to Visit Florida, the state’s tourism bureau, on Twitter at @VisitFlorida and they were awesome. I was looking for suggestions in Palm Beach or Broward County that were not typical finds in tourist books. Not only did they tweet out my question, but they took it to their 18K Facebook Fans. Within a few hours, I had some great recommendations.

Go on Groupon. I love daily deal site, Groupon, because it has introduced me to so many restaurants, activities and tours, many right in my own area that I’d never even known were there. If you know you’re going to be taking a trip to another city, sign up to receive daily emails from Groupon for that city.

Just last week I grabbed two-for-one tickets for a one-hour airboat tour and educational alligator show at Everglades Holiday Park in Fort Lauderdale. I was eager to go to the Everglades on our trip, so this worked out perfectly. Other good deal sites to register with include LivingSocial and BuyWithMe.

Analyze Amazon. You really can find just about anything on Amazon.com. I literally typed in the phrase “off the beaten path Florida” and Amazon pulled up several books I might enjoy to take my vacation beyond shells and the shore. Among the finds: “Off the Beaten Path Florida: A Guide to Unique Places” and “Backroads of Florida: Your Guide to Great Day Trips & Weekend Getaways.”

Don’t want to pay full price (or even the discount price) on Amazon? I was able to find both books on eBay. Most travel books come out with a new, updated edition each year, so you can save even more by picking up a dated copy. Just be sure to go online to double-check the details for each stop.

We’re off bright and early on Saturday morning. See you on the flip side.

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