The school or work – homework and dinner – bedtime shuffle can become all too mundane of a rhythm. When it’s time to pause the hustle and focus on the love of your life and your littles for a long weekend, Jackson County, Florida has seemingly limitless options for family-centric fun. From exploring our caves to picking up a new hobby, you’ll cherish the memories that can only be created here. And don’t worry, there are also lots of delicious spots for all of y’all to dine (and wine for mom and dad).

Get Out on Our Wonderful Waters

In Jackson County, our great outdoors are home to some of the most welcoming and breathtaking spaces you’ll ever meet. From up high to down under, Jackson County has natural wonders as far as the eye can see that will captivate all ages. For adventure below the surface, our freshwater springs are an ecological marvel not to be missed. Check out Merritt’s Millpond, spanning over 202 acres with water supplied by Blue Springs and touted as being clearer than Lake Tahoe. Your toddler that just warmed up to the puddle jumper will love taking a swim at Blue Springs Recreational Area. Rentals for tubes, canoes, and large paddle boats are also available at the Recreational Area so you can be as active or relaxed as you’d like. Meanwhile, your kindergartener would be flattered if Daddy asked him or her to fish on Merritt’s Millpond, one of the county’s most popular areas also full of crystal Blue Springs water.

Named for the Chattahoochee and Flint Rivers that form the Apalachicola River, Three Rivers State Park is a prime destination for classic fun on the water. Fishing docks, boat ramps, canoe rentals, picnic areas, and hiking/biking trails are just a few of the activities your family can enjoy over the Park’s peaceful two miles.

Looking for something that no one in the family has done before? The 100% clear kayaks from Get Up and GO Kayaking may just be what you’re after. Their guided tours lead you to little-witnessed spectacles just below the surface for unprecedented peeks into our area’s diverse marine life. Whether you start your venture in the light of day, at sunset, or at dark with motion-activated lights, your kids will be raving about this for weeks. Don’t just take our word for it – Get Up and GO Kayaking has even been ranked the world’s #1 tour company of its kind by Trip Advisor!

Fun Under the Sun (and Under the Ground)

For your school-aged children that can’t get enough of geology, they’ll feel like they’re walking in a National Geographic magazine when they go underground at Florida Caverns State Park. As the only state park in Florida with air-filled caves, it boasts archaeological sightings like limestone stalactites and stalagmites with curvy narrow passageways and buzzy bats flying overhead. If you’d prefer to explore with a paddle, the Chipola River also winds through Florida Caverns State Park, making kayaking an inviting option. To purchase tickets for 45-minute tours of this top attraction in the area, visit Additional tours can be purchased in person at the gift shop located within the park.

To mix in some folklore, Bellamy Bridge is a half-mile trail that gives a haunt transcending season. There have been numerous accounts of spooky things happening around the bridge – including the death of Elizabeth Jane Croom Bellamy in the 1800s – leading to the Bridge being called the state’s “best known ghost story.” While you can take guided tours after dark on the weekend of Halloween, you never know what you’ll find when you visit any day of the year.

Weatherproof Fun

For more of those spooky vibes with some of the best town views thanks to a wrap-around porch, take a tour of the Russ House. Originally built in the 1890s and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Russ House is home to the County’s official Visitor Center with some unofficial ghoulish guests. Guided tours are available Monday-Friday during business hours to learn more about this local lore.

Or get tickets to the Chipola Arts Theatre for live shows that highlight the best in community talent. Offerings like Fancy Nancy the Musical and Mary Poppins make this art form approachable and appealing to your kiddos, which may just introduce them to an activity the whole family can enjoy as they grow up.

Speaking of lifelong hobbies, a trip to A New Chapter Books and More will inspire your littles to keep turning pages. This local bookstore has the new releases everyone’s after, along with stationery and other happies. See the joy your kids have while they pick out a book on their own, which might be a welcomed alternative to the school’s reading lists.

Filling and Fun Family Meals

Mealtime may mean mom and dad sacrifice their chance to relax from serving their littles at home, but not in Jackson County. Bistro Palms offers fun twists on American fare, along with pizza and subs, so everyone in your crew will find something they fancy on the menu. You’ll love the crab stuffed flounder, while the kids will be tickled to have two of their favorite dishes in one – the Philly cheesesteak pizza. Local musicians also play here on certain evenings, creating the perfect soundtrack to a memorable family dinner. Head to Southern Fields Brewing after dinner for more live music. Mom and dad will enjoy sipping on a Greener Pastures IPA or a High Cotton Pale Ale (in addition to a wealth of fun options like spiked seltzers, sours, and mimosas) as the kiddos scoot around playing games in the courtyard.

The Cove at Compass Lake embraces life on easy street with next-level waterfront views. Try the beer cheese pretzels or a loaded baked potato with jerk chicken, and don’t forget an ice-cold beer or wine for mom and dad – cheers to lake life!

You need a good latte, but the kiddos need their second breakfast (or lunch) of the day. While you may think two stops are in order, Sweet Beans has you covered. You can get a brown sugar cinnamon macchiato (need we say more), and your mini-mes can choose from classic American bites, whether it be for breakfast or lunch (and even brunch on the weekends). If the suds make you snacky, check out the newly opened Oyster Bar on-site where you can find plenty of tasty bites in addition to live music and trivia perfect for keeping the fun factor high.

For down-home cookin’ without all the dishes afterwards, Johnny Mac’s offers the best of wood-fired food in an atmosphere that’s just as warm. Your kiddos will get a kick out of picking everything on their plate via the lunch buffet during the week. Or you can order a la carte – every single item on the menu is certified Southern, from the chicken and waffles to the banana pudding.

All About the Treats

While it may not be part of your rhythm at home, vacation may be just the right time to let the kids have dessert first (or any time, really).

Stopping for a sweet treat just means more when the ingredients come from a local farm. At Southern Craft Creamery, Cindale Farms provides all the dairy for their frozen confections, from wildflower honey to butterscotch flavors. Don’t miss their coffee offerings or farm-to-table store across the street for more local goodies to pick up for wholesome noshing later.

Your kiddos can take in the sights and smells of a dairy farm when you stop at Ocheesee Creamery. It’s truly an experience when you’re able to see all that goes into that scoop, from the milking to the churning, while being welcomed by the creamery’s super friendly staff.

Walking into a classic candy store always rings the bell of nostalgia. To introduce your children to a truly tried-and-true treat shop, head to Kountry Candy Store. No matter what your palate prefers, you’ll find something that’s your new favorite and made on-site– from divinity to fudge, Oreo balls, and ice cream.

Something for Everyone in Jackson County

From exploring our renowned freshwater springs to learning about our diverse history and culture to munching on an ice cream cone as you watch the cows roam, there’s something for everyone in your family in Jackson County. To start planning your family’s next long weekend, click here today.