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A lifestyle magazine for Central Florida's modern parents

Unique Swimming 
Experiences in Florida

Scalloping in Homosassa, FL
Childhood in Florida means swimsuits and bare feet. It means water days year-round. It means splash pads and swimming holes, resort pools and river paddles. We can’t think of a better activity that reflects Florida culture more than swimming. Surrounded by water in every direction, Florida families flock to oceans, bays, springs and lakes to take advantage of our state’s beautiful geology.

When I was a kid, I practically lived in my swimsuit. Now, as a mother of two, I keep the Florida family tradition alive by finding fun ways for my own Florida kids to spend time in the water. There are over 1 million swimming pools in the state of Florida, more than 600 miles of beaches, 700 freshwater springs and countless other lakes, ponds and waterways. Needless to say, swimming could easily be our state family sport! 

Florida kids are lucky. Not only do they have water parks and pools, but they have some truly unique aquatic experiences right at their fingertips. Here are some interesting places to take your family for unique swimming experiences in and around Central Florida. 

Shark Swim at Discovery Cove

Have a jaw-some time swimming alongside blacktip reef, nurse, zebra and bonnethead sharks, along with thousands of other tropical fish at The Grand Reef inside Discovery Cove® Orlando. The Shark Swim program includes an intimate shark talk and training session with Discovery Cove’s expert Aquarists so guests can learn about several different shark species. The Shark Swim Program is for ages 10+ and starts at $129 per person. Space is limited, and extra health and safety measures are in place to ensure property social distancing. discoverycove.com

Snorkel in a Giant Fish Tank at Rumfish Grill 

At this uniquely Florida experience, swimmers can snorkel alongside several species of fish in a 33,500-gallon tank built by the stars of Animal Planet’s hit show TANKED, then sit down to enjoy a meal together and talk about what they learned. The Swim with the Fish experience is led by experts at the Marine Exploration Center and is designed to educate guests about the fragile marine environment. This 90-minute experience is for ages 8+ and starts at $35 per person. Space is limited. As of August 2020, this experience is closed due to CDC guidelines, but keep an eye on the website for future booking availability. rumfishgrill.com

SeaCamp in the Florida Keys

Go ahead and book your 2021 summer staycation now. This unique camp experience on Big Pine Key is perfect for water lovers of all kinds. Send the kids off to learn all about marine science, SCUBA, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, lifeguarding and more. Meanwhile, mom and dad can vacation without the kids for a week or two in one of the many nearby resorts in the Florida Keys. The co-ed Sea Camp experience is for children 12–17 years old. You must apply online at seacamp.org. As of now, the 2021 summer season camps are expected to happen as scheduled.

Swim with Manatees in Crystal River

Swimming with the manatees in Crystal River is practically a Florida rite-of-passage. Crystal River is home to a large population of manatees, especially in the winter months. There are several tour guides in the area that provide opportunities to swim with the gentle sea cows. We recommend booking one for a winter morning when you know there will be a strong cold front. The manatees gather in the warm spring water when the temperatures dip low. Most manatee tours provide masks, snorkels and wet suits. Kids ages 3+ can participate. Pick your guide and call ahead to find out pricing.

Scuba for Kids: Pool S.C.U.B.A.

When you’re a Floridian, it makes sense to turn your kids into fish by teaching them how to breathe underwater. The PADI Bubblemaker Program teaches children who are at least 8 years old to use scuba gear in shallow water. They’ll learn things like how to clear a regulator and mask, plus breathing dos and don’ts underwater. PADI also offers a program called SASY for kids ages 4–7. SASY stands for “surface supplied air system.” It looks like scuba gear, but it’s designed to float on the surface. There are several participating dive centers in Central Florida. Go to padi.com/courses/bubblemaker to find one near you.

Hang Ten Like the Pros at Cocoa Beach

Florida’s Atlantic coast is home to world class surfers like Kelly Slater and Frieda Zamba. Now you can learn to surf like the pros by taking lessons at one of our local beachside surf schools. Cocoa Beach Surf Company and the Ron Jon Surf School are a couple of popular options. At Ron Jon’s, kids ages 5 and up can participate in private lessons to learn how to stand up and ride a wave. Prices vary at different schools, but expect to pay $50–$65 for an hour-long private lesson. ronjonsurfschool.com and cocoabeachsurf.com

Snorkel in a Deep Blue Cavern at Devil’s Den

Less than a 2-hour drive from Orlando will take you to a swimming hole worth putting on your bucket list. Devil’s Den is a cave filled with crystal clear spring water. It’s a popular diving spot, but families can also snorkel and hunt for prehistoric fossils. Scuba and snorkel equipment is available for rental. Children must be over age 6 to enter Devil’s Den. Admission starts at $15 per person on weekdays and $22 per person on weekends and holidays. devilsden.com

Become a Mermaid at Weeki Wachee Mermaid Camp

Who doesn’t dream of becoming a mermaid at some point? The 2-day Weeki Wachee Mermaid Camp teaches kids exactly what it takes. They’ll learn to swim with the famous Weeki Wachee mermaids, indulge in a mermaid makeover, get a personal photo session in a tail and more. The camp is available to kids ages 7–14. The 2-day camp costs $375. (P.S. There’s also an adult version of this camp if parents want to brush up on their own mermaid skills!) floridastateparks.org/learn/junior-mermaid-camp

Dive for Dinner in Homosassa Bay

This activity is best if mom and dad are up for an adventure too. Scallops are a type of mollusk that live in the shallow grassy waters of the Homosassa River, about 2 hours west of Orlando. Tour companies like River Safaris Mile & Wild take guests out on a boat to dive for scallops under the watch of a highly skilled captain. They describe it as an Easter egg hunt underwater! Fun for all ages, a 5-hour semi-private tour for six starts at $79. It includes a license, mask, snorkel, fins and scallop bag. Best part? You can take your collection home at the end of the day. Bon appétit! riverventures.com

This is just a snapshot of the many ways to give your children a true Florida childhood they’ll never forget. Of course, you don’t have to be this “extra” to give your kids a fun day in the water. You can always just hit the closest beach, a local splash pad or even your own backyard pool!

Amanda Green
Written by
Amanda Green

Amanda Green is a native Floridian and mother of two. She enjoys writing about travel, family, adventure, and living the Florida lifestyle. Look for her next time you're outside exploring Central Florida's parks and trails.

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Amanda Green Written by Amanda Green

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Family Events

October 2020

October 1, 202012:00 am

Join us on our family farm for our 5th annual Fall at Southern Hill Farms events!

What fall adventure would be complete without mouth-watering apple cider donuts, jolly Jumbo Jack carving pumpkins and strikingly beautiful sunflowers and zinnias for your family photos? Admission tickets must be purchased online in advance, no admission payments will be accepted at the farm. Tickets and more information can be found at https://southernhillfarms.brushfire.com/fallfestival/.

About the event:
• Held Thursdays through Sundays, beginning September 26th through November 8th. Tickets must be purchased online in advance. Children 2 and under are free but will still need a Toddler Ticket to enter.
• On weekends, you will choose a reservation time. You have an arrival window of 15 minutes before and 30 minutes after your chosen time to arrive at the farm. 
• Face masks are required when in lines, participating in activities and when social distancing cannot be maintained. Please ensure that you bring a mask for everyone in your group 3 years or older to use during these times.
• Complimentary Farm Wagon rides.
• Sunflower and zinnia u-pick! $1/stem zinnias, $2/stem sunflowers.
• Sweet corn available for purchase, grown here at Southern Hill Farms.
• Our pumpkin patch barn (please note that the pumpkins are already cut from the vine) boasts a wide variety of beautiful and unique pumpkins of all sizes and colors, corn stalks, Indian corn, gourds and more for purchase. We provide a complimentary pumpkin ‘holding’ area for your purchased pumpkins while you stay and play. Prices vary based on size and type.
• Live music by Jeff Whitfield from 11:00 am to 2:45 pm, and TBD from 3:15 pm to 7:00 pm (live music on weekends only).
• Food trucks: Southern Hill Eatery, Twisted plates, Bauer-BQ, Willy Ts Crab Shack, Peru Power Food Truck, A Lo Cubano Kitchen, The Big Hot Box, Rollin Dough and Absofruitly. Serving from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm (guest food trucks on weekends only).
• Local craft beer, wine, frozen concoctions, and mimosas available for purchase from our Beer Shed. Serving from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.
• Worried about missing your college or professional football team's big win? Don't be! We have flat-screen TVs playing all the weekend's biggest rivalries under our food truck barn.
• Bring home the feeling of fall on the farm with our unique products, all made right here in our Southern Hill Market. Shop our handmade lotions, sugar scrubs, lip balms and bar soaps. Enjoy the scents of the season with our hand poured candles. We have unfiltered, local raw honey for purchase, organic pure maple syrup, as well as your favorite Southern Hill Farms merchandise.
• Enjoy our delicious apple cider donuts, blueberry lemonade, frozen and hot apple cider, blueberry cobbler, pumpkin muffins and more from our vintage Airstream turned bakery, Southern Hill Sweets. 
• Our grounds include a beautiful rooftop deck, covered playground for children, covered barns with picnic tables and clean, convenient permanent restrooms.
• Yard games are complimentary and include life-sized Jenga, bean bag toss, Connect Four, footballs, soccer balls and more. 
• Our ‘picture perfect’ photo op areas for your fall family photos.
• We'll have rides on our one of a kind Blueberry Express (our converted cotton harvester) for purchase. $5 for adults, $3 for children and teens ages 3-17 (available weekends only).
• Enjoy our fire pits for roasting s’mores with family and friends. S'mores kits with roasting sticks available for purchase.
• Petting zoo – Parent or guardian must be present with young children. Food for the animals is $2, cash only, payment accepted at the entrance of the petting zoo.
• Touch-a-tractor – Children MUST be supervised by a parent or guardian at all times.
• Giant fun slide – 42” tall minimum, 32” can slide with an adult.
• Cyclone swing – 42” or taller to ride, 180 lb maximum.
• Inflatable sports games.
• Jump Pillows.We accept cash and card everywhere on the farm. Dogs are allowed at our fall events but must be leashed at all times and cleaned up after when needed. Our address is 16651 Schofield Road, Clermont, FL 34714. Please note that Schofield Road is a Lake County clay road. Southern Hill Farms is a working farm and does not have a paved parking lot, you will be parking and walking in grass areas. We want our farm to be a part of your cherished family traditions for years to come and we want to thank you for loving your local farmer! Please note that all events and event details are subject to change or cancellation at any time due to inclement weather, forced closures due to COVID-19, and unforeseen circumstances. Please always check our website, www.southernhillfarms.com, the day of your planned visit to ensure last-minute event details.

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October 1, 20208:00 am / 10:00 am

$39 per person when you book a carriage of five with your family and close friends!

Enchanting 30 Minute Experience Includes:

• Royal Crowning with a pear drop Tiara and White Glove Treatment

• 15 Minute Tour with a Royal Princess aboard a Cinderella Coach

• Princess Photo Opportunity in the Coach

• A "Sweet Treat" and Farewell Wish for a Happily Ever After…

Departing from Masonic Lodge, 230 W Bay street, Winter Garden, Fl 34787

For all adults and children ages 2 +

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October 1, 20209:00 am / 6:00 pm

Buckle up for your wildest car ride yet! Travel down gravel paths within our Drive-thru Safari Park and discover more than 100 native and exotic animals roaming freely. During your journey, you’ll have the opportunity to observe a variety of animals often only found around the world. Enjoy identifying species from as far away as the African savanna to others from the deciduous forests of North America, all from the comfort of your own car.

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April 6, 2020All working days 10:00 am / 6:00 pm
All Kids Spanish
2902 North Orange Avenue
Open Map
3214602844 Class / Educational / Festivals

Toddlers-5th Grade We are here to help! We understand that even though we are going through a tough time, your children's learning process must continue.We have different Spanish online live program options.
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October 1, 202010:00 am / 4:00 pm

Crayola Experience's Screamin' Green Hauntoween returns for a month of spooky family fun! Monster-ific Crafts and special, spooky happenings all month long: a themed scavenger hunt, character photo ops, and more, ALL included with admission.

Have a Screamin' Green good time while exploring our 27 creative attractions.
*Paint a pumpkin and make your own slime at the Trading Post. *Additional fee applies. (Annual Passholders receive a discount on these activities).
• Prior to visiting please make sure to check guest protocols at www.crayolaexperience.com/orlando

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October 1, 20204:15 pm

You can do the $25 drop-in class rate or monthly membership is $75. There are limited spots available so please be sure to message me to reserve your spot. Social distancing will be practiced during this class.

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October 1, 2020 to October 31, 20205:00 pm / 8:00 pm

Bring a friend and join Our City Beautiful during our first ever pumpkin patch. Now, more than ever, our community deserves kindness from one another, and there is no better way to do that then to come on over to the pumpKIND patch and share in some fun!
Search our field for surprises, pick your favorite Pumpkins, and make memories with your family. Keep your eyes peeled for a calendar of events that will be happening through the season, including craft days and a costume party!
The pumpkin Patch is proudly sponsored by Crossings Community Church and all profits earned will be used in Our City Beautiful's (501c3) HOLLAND project, which serves as a catalyst for encouraging adult individuals with physical and intellectual differences to live independently in their own community.

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October 1, 20207:30 pm / 9:00 pm

An actress who never left the stage after her final curtain call? German prisoners of war still toiling in the orange groves years after the war is over? The spirit of an artist who couldn’t leave his work unfinished? With over 100 years of history and many famous visitors, this beautiful village has plenty of unusual tales that will make your skin crawl! While visiting local haunts and historic sites, you’ll learn about more about this shining gem of Central Florida, as well as its chilling stories, guaranteed to leave your spine-tingling! Our visit includes a stop at a haunted pub for a free drink! 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pxf4n9-DRR0&fbclid=IwAR1vfOv-v57RNvz-9TE2PAmJ3ckXfcZbp4aoGFBdmAbFQf7qSC2m6x0jbDE
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October 2, 2020

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This is a drive through event at the farm for online order pick-ups only. Shop online, choose your desired pick-up date and time and we'll bring your order to your vehicle when you arrive!

Are you eager to get some of our refreshing homemade blueberry lemonade, along with our Southern Hill Market merchandise, frozen blueberries, baked goods and more this summer? Shop online and pick-up your favorite sweet treats to enjoy from the comfort of home!

How to pick-up:
Choose your desired Friday pick-up and time, and we’ll bring your order to your vehicle when you arrive. Our address is 16651 Schofield Road, Clermont, FL 34714. Please note that Schofield Road is a Lake County clay road. We ask that you please remain in your vehicle upon arrival.

What’s available, while supplies last:
Sweet treats and baked goods.
• Frozen blueberries, sold in 1 gallon bags
• Fresh blueberry donuts
• Fresh blueberry muffins
• Blueberry donut ice cream sandwiches
• Whole blueberry cheesecakes
• Whole blueberry cobblers
• Whole blueberry pies
• Gluten free blueberry and white chocolate cookies
• Gluten free whole blueberry and peach cobblers
• Handmade popsicles
• Italian ice

Refreshing beverages.
• Blueberry lemonade, sold by the gallon and by the cup
• Frozen blueberry lemonade, sold by the cup
• The “David Hill”, sold by the gallon
• Peach iced tea, sold by the gallon
• Adult beverages, including our blueberry mimosas and blueberry lemonade smash, by the gallon
• Craft beer, sold in 4 packs
• High Noon, sold in 4 packs

Kitchen staples and merchandise.
• Raw, unfiltered local honey
• Blueberry mustard
• Apple butter and maple syrup
• Dry baking mixes, including peach cobbler and blueberry crisp
• Kickles, our sweet and spicy pickles
• Blueberry, blueberry jalapeno, peach and peach jalapeno jams
• Blueberry and peach salsas, peach hot sauce
• SHF apparel, including our embroidered hats and drifit shirts
• Handcrafted sugar scrubs, lotions and bar soap
• Hand poured soy wax candles
• Stationary designed by Giddy Paperie
• SHF plastic tumblers, pilsner glasses and koozies

Flowers and ornamental trees.
• Fresh cut zinnias, sold in bouquets of 1 dozen
• 15, 30 and 50 gallon ornamental trees

Thanks for shopping local this summer, and thanks for loving your local farmer!

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October 2, 202012:00 am

Join us on our family farm for our 5th annual Fall at Southern Hill Farms events!

What fall adventure would be complete without mouth-watering apple cider donuts, jolly Jumbo Jack carving pumpkins and strikingly beautiful sunflowers and zinnias for your family photos? Admission tickets must be purchased online in advance, no admission payments will be accepted at the farm. Tickets and more information can be found at https://southernhillfarms.brushfire.com/fallfestival/.

About the event:
• Held Thursdays through Sundays, beginning September 26th through November 8th. Tickets must be purchased online in advance. Children 2 and under are free but will still need a Toddler Ticket to enter.
• On weekends, you will choose a reservation time. You have an arrival window of 15 minutes before and 30 minutes after your chosen time to arrive at the farm. 
• Face masks are required when in lines, participating in activities and when social distancing cannot be maintained. Please ensure that you bring a mask for everyone in your group 3 years or older to use during these times.
• Complimentary Farm Wagon rides.
• Sunflower and zinnia u-pick! $1/stem zinnias, $2/stem sunflowers.
• Sweet corn available for purchase, grown here at Southern Hill Farms.
• Our pumpkin patch barn (please note that the pumpkins are already cut from the vine) boasts a wide variety of beautiful and unique pumpkins of all sizes and colors, corn stalks, Indian corn, gourds and more for purchase. We provide a complimentary pumpkin ‘holding’ area for your purchased pumpkins while you stay and play. Prices vary based on size and type.
• Live music by Jeff Whitfield from 11:00 am to 2:45 pm, and TBD from 3:15 pm to 7:00 pm (live music on weekends only).
• Food trucks: Southern Hill Eatery, Twisted plates, Bauer-BQ, Willy Ts Crab Shack, Peru Power Food Truck, A Lo Cubano Kitchen, The Big Hot Box, Rollin Dough and Absofruitly. Serving from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm (guest food trucks on weekends only).
• Local craft beer, wine, frozen concoctions, and mimosas available for purchase from our Beer Shed. Serving from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm.
• Worried about missing your college or professional football team's big win? Don't be! We have flat-screen TVs playing all the weekend's biggest rivalries under our food truck barn.
• Bring home the feeling of fall on the farm with our unique products, all made right here in our Southern Hill Market. Shop our handmade lotions, sugar scrubs, lip balms and bar soaps. Enjoy the scents of the season with our hand poured candles. We have unfiltered, local raw honey for purchase, organic pure maple syrup, as well as your favorite Southern Hill Farms merchandise.
• Enjoy our delicious apple cider donuts, blueberry lemonade, frozen and hot apple cider, blueberry cobbler, pumpkin muffins and more from our vintage Airstream turned bakery, Southern Hill Sweets. 
• Our grounds include a beautiful rooftop deck, covered playground for children, covered barns with picnic tables and clean, convenient permanent restrooms.
• Yard games are complimentary and include life-sized Jenga, bean bag toss, Connect Four, footballs, soccer balls and more. 
• Our ‘picture perfect’ photo op areas for your fall family photos.
• We'll have rides on our one of a kind Blueberry Express (our converted cotton harvester) for purchase. $5 for adults, $3 for children and teens ages 3-17 (available weekends only).
• Enjoy our fire pits for roasting s’mores with family and friends. S'mores kits with roasting sticks available for purchase.
• Petting zoo – Parent or guardian must be present with young children. Food for the animals is $2, cash only, payment accepted at the entrance of the petting zoo.
• Touch-a-tractor – Children MUST be supervised by a parent or guardian at all times.
• Giant fun slide – 42” tall minimum, 32” can slide with an adult.
• Cyclone swing – 42” or taller to ride, 180 lb maximum.
• Inflatable sports games.
• Jump Pillows.We accept cash and card everywhere on the farm. Dogs are allowed at our fall events but must be leashed at all times and cleaned up after when needed. Our address is 16651 Schofield Road, Clermont, FL 34714. Please note that Schofield Road is a Lake County clay road. Southern Hill Farms is a working farm and does not have a paved parking lot, you will be parking and walking in grass areas. We want our farm to be a part of your cherished family traditions for years to come and we want to thank you for loving your local farmer! Please note that all events and event details are subject to change or cancellation at any time due to inclement weather, forced closures due to COVID-19, and unforeseen circumstances. Please always check our website, www.southernhillfarms.com, the day of your planned visit to ensure last-minute event details.

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