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9 ways to teach your kids about Florida’s Historic Coast without leaving home

St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra Beach is a fun place to learn about history and nature. As the health and safety of residents and visitors to the area is paramount, Florida’s Historic Coast is committed to providing travellers with accurate and timely information about travelling to the area safely. In this time of personal isolation, they are encouraging potential visitors to visit virtually. And why not let the kids do the planning for a future visit? Here are 9 ways for school-age kids to learn from home about St. Augustine’s fascinating history, its wildlife habitats, and activities to plan for a future visit to learn even more. Oldest Wooden School House Historic Museum & Gardens School might be closed but you can still get educated on the history of the oldest schoolhouse in the United States. The Oldest Wooden School House Historic Museum & Gardens was established in the late 1700’s as a school for local Minorcan and Greek Children. It symbolizes the settlement of St. Augustine from town to city based on the foundation of the strength and determination of colonists to create a community shaped by their traditions, customs, culture and faith. Visit the website for a lesson on St. Augustine’s Cultural history then plan your summertime old school visit in St. Augustine. St. Augustine Aquarium The St. Augustine Aquarium offers grade-appropriate curriculum about creatures in the sea for Kindergarten through seventh grade. While the Aquarium is currently closed to the public, you can still visit the website and click on the Educational Field Trip tab to download worksheets and plan for a future visit to learn more. St. Augustine Alligator Farm Research Blog Research reptilians on the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Research Blog. Thanks to research by field biologists, television shows, and their own observant keepers, the understanding of the many fascinating species at The St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park continues to grow. They cover many topics from crocodilian tooth replacement and comparisons of today’s crocodilian with dinosaurs to crocodile parenting and to what crocodiles eat. Florida State Parks Learn a little more about our Florida State Parks from their learning blog where virtual visitors can explore online the important natural and historic culture of our state. The blog has several stories about historic and natural facts about Florida. For instance, did you know that Florida had the first underground railroad for runaway slaves? Learn more on their untold stories page. Ripley’s Believe It or Not! St. Augustine Ripley’s Believe It or Not! St. Augustine features an incredible collection of over 800 UNIQUE, BIZARRE and INCREDIBLE artifacts. The Ripley Entertainment company is founded on the principle that all people are created equal and deserve to be treated as such. Ripley’s online “Odd is In” educational package helps children come to accept and celebrate all people from all walks of life. Ripley’s also offers curriculum for elementary, middle and high school age children.  Also visit ripleys.com/staugustine/group-info/ and select the Field Trips tab where you will find a whole menu of learning choices are available. Fountain of Youth Park Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Park is a place where legend meets history. When the park is open, there are several ways visitors can experience the history of First America. Future visitors can learn to explore that history on The Fountain of Youth website through an historic timeline on their website. Explore information about the native Timucuan Indians that were here 5,000 years ago, the discovery of La Florida by Ponce de Leon, the founding of the City of St. Augustine, and today’s archeological research into the history of Europeans in Florida. Guana Tolamato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve Science! Guana Tolamato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM Reserve) is a 74,000 acre coastal preserve in St. Augustine and Ponte Vedra Beach that offers programming for all ages on the importance of the estuary. You can learn more about the GTM Reserve’s estuary from the comfort of your own home with student programs, 360 video tours and planning tools for a future visit to explore the estuaries. Spanish Florida Visit the Castillo de San Marcos website to learn about our nation’s oldest masonry fortification. The Castillo was built between 1671 and 1692 to protect the Spanish City of St. Augustine from raiding pirates and other European cultures encroaching on Spanish Florida. Visit the National Parks website to learn about the history and culture of 16th and 17th century Spanish Florida.  Topics covered include the Architecture of the fort, arms and armaments, the cultural history of St. Augustine and more. Alliance of Marine Mammals Parks and Aquariums As an accredited member of the Alliance of Marine Mammals Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA), Marineland Dolphin Adventure is dedicated to the well-being of dolphins and other marine mammals in human care and in the wild. Marineland is widely and rightly recognized by the public and by governments worldwide for their important and long-standing contributions to marine education, to the protection of ocean wildlife and habitats, research important to the health of animals—both in our collections and in the wild—and to the rescue and rehabilitation of injured and stranded marine mammals, sea turtles and other animals. Visit the Marineland animal guide  to download fact sheets to learn about the different species of marine life at the park (Logger Head and Kemp Ridley’s Sea Turtles, Moray Eels, Bottlenose dolphins and more), then plan to take the Behind the Seas tour or interact with the dolphins this summer.

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. We had a great family holiday to Florida a few years ago and took in some of these sights. For the kids those memories are beginning to fade so this will be a nice reminder for them.

    1. Some of my most favorite moments of being a kid were from when I visited Florida with my dad and brothers. We usually drove down from the northeast, just because my dad was used to driving a lot for his job. And I’ll never forget that feeling of finally getting to the Florida border … and then having to drive another six or seven hours! Hah. Beautiful state, I miss it.

  2. Learning about history is a cool idea and a great thing to do during this time of lockdown and health crisis. I myself have been to many musems and historic places around the world and loved it. In fact, these are the first places I visit whenever I travel — museums and old buildings and streets. The Wooden School House doesn’t look very American at all and resembles something out of a European countryside cottage. I admit, though, that when I think of Florida, all I want to visualize is the great coast of the Miami Beach and the iconic Ocean Drive and its Art Deco buildings, but I didn’t know that there are other fun places to visit. Thanks for the visual tour.

    1. That’s interesting to know about what you first visit when you travel somewhere. The history down in this part of Florida isn’t as well known as it probably should be, especially among Americans. I’m always fascinated though by streets that are hundreds of years old. There’s a certain feeling while walking around them, it’s indescribable almost. And it definitely makes traveling worthwhile.

  3. I love being reminded of how beautiful and historical Florida really is. The forts built in the late 17th century are landmarks of European and Western civilization. Kids all over America should be able to visit these places to learn more about history. This is really important!

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