Summer’s Over, What Now?

Summer activities are over. It’s cooling down (by 1/10000 of a degree, it seems), and the crowds have gone!

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This means that different locations that crowds (and kids) normally go are now free to be perused by adults without hordes of screaming, running, and interrupting children everywhere! Personally, this is an added bonus for me because I can enjoy visiting zoos, aquariums, and museums without he constant hassle of navigating through armies of moms, strollers, and knee-high children.

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Your cute photos mean hours of work for zookeepers who have to come clean the glass behind you and your sticky-fingered kiddos.

But as nerdy as I am, I know everyone doesn’t want to spend time (read: from opening to closing) at a museum like I do (I visited the AMNH once when I was a kid, and I spent three days there from opening to closing and still didn’t see everything), there are other things to do. Besides state and national parks that now have less visitors (you know, family outings), here are some alternative things to do in Florida:

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Outside > Inside. Always and forever.

Hunting season is on! Besides the fact that you can hunt boar year-round, the deer season for the majority of the state has just opened. Granted, if you don’t have the know-how or from out-of-state, the plentiful hunting reserves and tours around the state might be a better option for you. I’ve been on plenty of hunts as a kid and it’s part of why I have such a deep respect for nature; the guy who taught me how to hunt stressed the importance of only killing what you are going to eat and using as much of the animal as you possibly can. The deer here is kind of wimpy (compared to northern states) but the hog and gator is some of the best in the world.

Fish on! Speaking of some of the world’s best, how can you not visit Florida without tossing out a line? We have some of the world’s best freshwater and saltwater fishing with some of the biggest and most challenging fish to catch. Even if you don’t go and catch the fish yourself, a seaside market with fresh fish is definitely worth a visit. The ones in the Keys will gut and filet the fish right in front of you before you buy it and some even have restaurants that cook and serve the fish that are caught that day. If you’re an avid saltwater angler like I am (I fish both, but I prefer saltwater fishing), you absolutely haven’t lived until you’ve caught a tarpon (ideally on a fly rod, in a kayak). Talk about an insane fight!

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That’s one way to land a tarpon, I guess.

Festivals and Fairs are starting too. Do you like a specific local food? What about craft beers? Odd hobbies or crafts? Buying whole animals by the pound? There’s definitely something for you out there! Some festivals and fairs occur annually, while others occur monthly. Farmers’ Markets and Craft Fairs are great ways to support the local economy while getting the freshest and most unique items, most of which are handmade. County fairs are also fun and while I personally don’t recommend going on any of the rides, I always suggest going to visit the exhibit tents and see a couple livestock shows. It’s a great way to expose yourself (and your kids) to the booming agriculture business in our state. Hell, if you even like what you see, you can start volunteering with your local 4-H or FFA branch or even start your own! Here’s a list of some of the festivals going on around the state; most of these are family-friendly.

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Again, I’m biased on this point too. I won the Grand Champion Showmanship Award for my age in 2006 for the entire state of Florida.

And finally, (local) haunted houses. Unless you want to spend a ton of money going to one of the theme park events (I’m currently flipping out over the American Horror Story haunted house at Halloween Horror Nights because it’s my favorite currently-running show), try visiting one of the local ones. They’re usually much cheaper and just as scary as any of the major ones. Additionally, some of these haunted houses support local charitable foundations, which is a great way to donate to a good cause. Heck, if you’re even brave enough, you can sometimes volunteer or audition to work at a haunted house, which is also a ton of fun. If you like pranking or scaring people year-round, then I’d suggest working for a haunted house! Here’s a website that has a good amount of haunted houses and Halloween festivals around the state. There are even ghost tours and investigations that go on around the state, especially in October, so that’s another thing to do as well. St. Augustine is full of paranormal groups for example; one of my best friends lives next door to a paranormal research group and I’m always nagging at her to go befriend them on my behalf.

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Am I missing anything? What do you like to do around Florida in the fall? Are there any festivals or happenings that Joe and I should visit? Leave us some love in the comments!

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