If you’re just popping over after seeing me talk about some of my favorite summer road trips on the WJXT Morning Show, welcome to Angie Away! Feel free to look around, ask questions and share your travel stories, too.
The Lodge at Little St. Simons Island
The Lodge at Little St. Simons Island is just 1.5 hours north of Jacksonville on a private 10,000 acre island. Rates start at $600/night for two adults during the week, and if you’d like to find 31 friends, you can rent the whole island for $8,000 / night.
Which is a total steal, because the price includes three full meals a day, all snacks and beverages including alcohol, unlimited use of the island, activities and recreation gear, plus boat transfer to and from the island. And I love that The Lodge provides everything – insect repellant, sunscreen, fishing tackle, kayaks, skiffs, peanut butter and jelly picnics if you want to take a long bike ride to the beach, awesome nature presentations and more.
Meals are served family style among the 32 maximum guests allowed on island, so you get to know tons of new friends. It’s a wonderful destination for families with a love of wildlife, science and nature.
For more info, check out The Lodge at Little St. Simons online.
Ginnie Springs Outdoors
Have you been to Ginnie Springs? Less than two hours from Jacksonville in High Springs, Fla., Ginnie is one of the best places in Florida to cool off in the hot summer months. It’s generally less crowded than Ichetucknee, though take note that the weekends can get quite rowdy. Activities include tubing down the Santa Fe River, snorkeling in the seven crystal clear springs, camping, hiking and scuba diving in one of the world’s most famous freshwater dive locations. Tubes, kayaks and canoes are available to rent, too.
Day trips to Ginnie Springs are $12 adults; $3 kids; 6 and under are free. Camping is $20/night for adults and $6 for kids.
For more information on Ginnie Springs Outdoors, check them out online.
Cedar Key is a tiny old-fashioned fishing village on the Gulf of Mexico, perfect for families who like to kick back poolside, and then explore a little nature or go on a charter fishing trip. It’s only about three hours from Jacksonville, with a population of 702. It’s somewhat similar to the Florida Keys, but less crowded and quite a bit closer. It’ll remind you of Florida in the 1940s.
Old school hotels & rustic cottages are available for rent all over. A favorite on TripAdvisor is the Harbour Master Suites starting at $90 during the week and $100 for weekends. There are kitchenettes & WiFi, and the location just across from the new pier is ideal.
If you haven’t heard about this next destination yet, you will! The new Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley expansion at Universal Studios Florida is going to be the travel story of the summer. Universal hasn’t announced opening dates yet but they have given a sneak peek of the new Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts attraction which looks absolutely amazing.
Also at Universal, Cabana Bay Beach Resort just opened a little over a month ago as the first and only value/moderate family hotel on the property. It has a bowling alley, lazy river, waterslide and huge pools. The family suites sleep up to 6 people comfortably and start at just $150/night, so it’s an awesome deal, especially because it includes free transportation to the parks and early admission to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Hurray!
For more info on rates, Diagon Alley and the brand new Cabana Bay Beach Resort, visit Universal Orlando Resort.
Chattooga Whitewater Adventures
Years ago, I took my family whitewater rafting with Wildwater LTD on the Chattooga River on the border of Georgia and South Carolina. It was unforgettable! This is a must-do for the adventurous family. It’s about a 6.5 hour drive to the launch, and rafting excursions are super affordable from between $70-$140 depending on length. Rafters can choose between easy rapids up to more challenging Class IV, and there are also canopy tours kayaking clinics and stand-up paddle-boarding.
To book your Chattooga adventure, click here.
Have you experienced any of these fun road trips? Do you have other recommendations that are driveable from Jacksonville?