FYI Florida

Bring the young ones on your next vacation to the Southern state

PLAY AT DISNEY WORLD 

With the continuing expansion of its parks, Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., has much more to offer than the Magic Kingdom. And although it’s not just for kids anymore, how better to describe the truly unreal (or rather truly real) Disney experience than through the eyes of a child? Here are the impressions left by Disney’s newly opened Avatar augmented reality ride on a 10-year old visitor from the District, Alexander Paxson:

Have you ever wanted to hang-glide or fly back of a bird? Well, now, at Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, in the Avatar Flight of Passage, you will experience a virtual flight on the back of a magical bird called a Banshee who lives on the mountains in a world called Pandora. When you are riding on a Banshee (virtually), it feels very realistic as you fly fast down and up and around mountains, over oceans and enormous waves. Finally, your Banshee lands safely and you finish the magnificent ride. 

RELAX ON ’S SOUTHWEST COAST 

Here you can escape to golf, tennis and even eco-tours in Orlando, or take your pick of hundreds of untamed beaches and naturally preserved islands off Fort Myer, Clearwater, Sanibel or St. Petersburg to kayak, sail, dive, fish, hunt or island-hop.

Fort Myer offers world-class shelling along 50 miles of pristine beaches and is home to the J.N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge, part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the U.S.

If you’re a baseball fan, the Boston Red Sox and Minnesota Twins hold spring training at the new, state-of-the-art, $78 million JetBlue Park. Stay at in Bonita Springs, a 5-star haven on 26 lush acres, with beach access on a private island and two acres of pools, waterslides and lazy river. – John Arundel

STROLL IN ST. AUGUSTINE 

The places that function best in the nation’s oldest city are those that strike a balance of past and present. Start your visit with a walk down cobblestone Aviles Street lined with Spanish colonial buildings that now house contemporary shops and continue the stroll onto St. Augustine’s main pedestrian artery, St. George’s Street, which boasts numerous outdoor cafes and ice cream parlors. Make stops at the spectacular Flagler College, once the da luxe Ponce de Leon Hotel built by railroad tycoon Henry Flagler and the 16th-century masonry fortification Castillo de San Marcos, where volunteers dressed up in period costumes reenact cannon firings once used to ward off unwanted guests like pirates. Stay at the Kessler Collection’s charming . – Catherine Trifiletti 

RESCUE SEA TURTLES IN BOCA

Teach kids about conservation by visiting the outstanding (gumbolimbo.org) and participate in a nighttime hatchling release. They are able to hold the baby sea turtles in their hands and then release them into the water at night. It’s truly magical to watch the turtles run to the ocean to begin their lives in the sea. – Erica Moody

Published in our April 2018 printed issue. 

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