It it too soon to begin planning for spring break (or that break next week, Thanksgiving, winter break, whatever)? I don’t think so. The school year, arriving as we speak for students and their families around the country, brings with it certain guarantees: there will be homework, we will have to stick to a more stringent schedule and there’ll be more to do.
All of this is good of course. Learning is good, schedules teach good lessons and being involved develops our little people as, well, people.
But there has to be room for fun too. And adventure. And excitement. That’s why I am all about thinking ahead to the breaks and making plans for what we can do.
Recently, I was introduced to Gulf County, Florida, an area in northern Florida that’s located along and around the Florida panhandle. It’s comprised of 244 miles of coastline and includes a variety of bodies of water. We’re talking the Gulf of Mexico, St. Joseph Bay, Indian Pass Lagoon, the Gulf County Canal, the Intracoastal Waterway, the Apalachicola Bay and river basin and the Dead Lakes and Chipola River.
What’s more is that there’s so much to do there. Hiking, biking, snorkeling, diving, paddleboarding, fishing, kayaking and bird watching, to name a few. Unlike other areas, this part of Florida has developed naturally, and the folks there are down-to-earth.
Culturally, Gulf County, Florida, sounds a lot like my Maine. Locals there lead interconnected lives, are approachable and are passionate about adventuring — and their homes. Much like the folks here, many often live off the land.
I haven’t been to Gulf County, but I have been looking at all the things you can do during prime season there (that’s September through May, so basically whenever the kids are on break during the school year).
Here’s three adventures there that caught my eye:
Located in the middle of St. Joseph’s Bay, Black’s Island is a private resort island is 10.7 acres that also is home to a designated aquatic preserve. There are sea horses and sea urchins here, scallops and sea turtles and so much more. For human visitors, there are bungalows, white sand beaches, a spa and much more. But what intrigues me about this island most is its history. Once called Island of the Turtle, in the early 1700s it was a safe haven for pirates who would stop there for supplies and to weather storms. I hear there are also stories of pirate treasure and ghost ships, fun lore for a fun trip. A semi-tropical island, it’s accessible by boat, seaplane or helicopter.
Someone, somewhere is wondering what happened to the Sarah who camped in cabins. Truth be told, I still have never tented it anywhere. However, learning that camping is allowed on beaches throughout Gulf County, Florida, has totally intrigued me. I mean, what better place to sleep under the stars than a nice, beautiful beach? Shown here is the Stump Hole at Cape San Blas, which is also a great spot to go adventuring for turtles. Scenic St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, also on Cape San Blas, would also be a great spot to check out for camping.
Kayaking and Paddleboarding
From St. Joseph Bay to the Gulf of Mexico to the lake waters of the Dead Lakes, there’s much opportunity to rent kayaks and paddleboards and explore the serene waters. Not only are rentals available, but you can also hire guides to lead you on your water excursions — whether it’s fishing by kayak, exploring by paddleboard or something else. I love being near, on or in the water, so this is my kind of adventure.
Plan Your Adventure
Want to plan your own adventure in Gulf County? The Gulf County Adventure Guide, and the Gulf County Concierge Program can help. Check them out to find fun things you might enjoy there too. Also check out the Never Have I Ever Contest running right now.
Gulf County has generously offered to give one (1) $50 American Express Gift Card to one (1) lucky Sarah’s Cucina Bella reader. Here’s what you need to know:
TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this post, answering this question: Which of the adventures in the Adventure Guide would you/your family enjoy taking part in? Why?
FINE PRINT: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. One winner, chosen at random from all eligible entries received, will receive a $50 AmEx gift card, and will be announced on or about 10 days after end of entry period. Entrants may enter within 21 days of this post going live. Must be a resident of one of the 48 contiguous United States (excl. PR, HI, AK) the age of majority in his or her jurisdiction at time of entry. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Sweepstakes is sponsored by Gulf County.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of four cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to a tween and a teen, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.