family staycations

Wanda Sykes

by kellie abrahamson
If you have kids and are as strapped for cash as the rest of us, a summer staycation is ideal. No “Are we there yet?” moments, no worrying about Junior getting lost at Disney World, and best of all, no huge hits to your wallet. Here are some ideas on making your family staycation fun and memorable.

learn something new
The kids (and their parents) shouldn’t turn their brains off just because its summertime. Set aside some time to take a class this summer. The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens offers classes to people of all ages and skill levels. Enroll the kids in their terrific summer art camp or take advantage of one of the Cummer’s “Art for Two Summer Saturdays” sessions. Check or call 355-0630 for information and pricing.
If art isn’t your thing, what about yoga? Yoga Ananda, located in Avondale, offers classes for families and kids. This would be a fun way for the whole family to get fit and unwind. For more info on Yoga Ananda visit
Finally, prove that science can be fun by taking a trip to the Museum of Science & History. In addition to their fascinating permanent instillations, the MOSH will also have Dino-Roar, an animatronic dinosaur exhibit.
Whatever class you choose, be sure to bring the learning fun home as well. Head to the library and check out books on artists to share with the kids, buy a CD of soothing meditation music and play it while cooking dinner, scour the internet for fun science experiments you can do at home. Get creative and the kids won’t even know they’re in your own version of summer school!

use your resources
If you’re on a budget, free is the key. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to have fun this summer without spending a dime. Your first stop should be the Jacksonville Public Library. Heck, between all the storytimes, workshops, exhibits and other special events the JPL offers, it may be your only stop! The library has something going on literally every day of the week during the summer so there’s bound to be something that will interest you. Check out and see for yourself!
Everyone I know has a stockpile of DVDs in their living room. Skip the cost of a night at the theater and have a Family Favorites Movie Night. Pick your favs, pop some popcorn and have your own marathon. You can watch several movies in one night or spread it out over the course of a week, giving everyone a chance to screen their picks.
If you really dig watching movies at the theater, check out Regal Entertainment’s Free Family Film Festival. For nine weeks the theaters screen G and PG-rated movies for free at 10 am every Tuesday and Wednesday. For theater locations and schedules visit

get wet!
Everyone knows Jacksonville summers can get brutally hot. There’s only one answer to the climbing temps and that’s getting wet. Of course we have great beaches and everyone has a garden hose, but there are other places to play in the water that will prove to be way more fun. The most obvious is Adventure Landing. Their Shipwreck Island Waterpark has been a family favorite for over a decade and with new attractions opening seemingly all the time it’s bound to have changed since your last visit. Be sure to check their website,, for times and, more importantly, specials.
If you haven’t been to the Jacksonville Zoo in a few years, you probably should if only for their Splash Ground. The super fun kids’ area has replicas of ocean life that shoot streams of water in all directions, making this 4,000 square-foot playground a great place to beat the heat.
The most cost-effective water play option is Kid Kampus in Metro Park. The river-front playground has an area has two mini-waterparks for kids to splash in, one for older kids and one for those 6 and under. And, the price is right: free!
We’ve only scratched the surface of what you can do with your family during your summer staycation. With all that Jacksonville has to offer it’s easy to come up with a variety of fun things to do each day. Use your imagination and, above all else, have fun! That’s what summer’s all about!