ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – "The Morning Show" crew wanted to find some fun, inexpensive places you can take your family when school ends this month, so this will be the start of a weeklong series called “The Places You Gotta Go That You Don't Know.”
Bruce, Richard, Melanie, Ashley Harding and I researched areas around Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia that you might not know exist.
As a parent to an 11-year-old daughter and a 14-year-old son, I know it’s not always easy “pulling” kids away from their friends for a chance to spend some time with their parents, so I wanted to find something “cool” to do with them.
My husband spent his teen years in St. Augustine, and we love to visit the area, so I searched online and found Castaway Canopy Adventures. I had heard about the St. Augustine Aquarium but did not know that a separate company offers a zip line experience on the property, too.
So, we took "The Morning Show" crew on the road to check it out.
Castaway Canopy Adventures is about a 40-minute drive from the station. You take I-95 south and exit onto State Road 16, near the outlet mall. It's about a quarter-mile east on SR 16.
Once we were there, it took us about 10 minutes to put on the gear required to participate and another few minutes to listen to the safety procedures. Then we were off!
Castaway takes groups of up to 10 people for each zip line experience. Three instructors led our group's adventure across seven zip lines and four sky bridges.
The instructors were real comics and didn't rush us. They were very patient with me, in particular, since it took me quite a while to get my “legs” under me.
You start out about three stories off the ground and gradually climb higher and higher. There are wooden platforms that link the zip lines, and two of the platforms are at least 40 feet above the ground.
I thought I had conquered my fear of heights during a recent zip lining experience in central Florida. But I clearly still have a very healthy fear. Richard, Melanie and Bruce were much braver than I was!
The lines weave behind the aquarium into the woods, which offers a lush, scenic experience, and we had a great time. The experience lasts about 90 minutes, and reservations are required.
There is a weight limit for adults who would like to zip line. Children must weigh at least 50 pounds. The cost is about $50 for adults and $40 for children.
We visited Castaway Canopy Adventures in April, a few days before Easter Sunday. At the time, we were told the course was closing for maintenance and would reopen at the end of May.
The manager continues to tell us that the zip lines will reopen by the end of the month, but the owner just posted a message on the company’s website saying it might be closed longer. He said workers just discovered that one of the trees that is a major part of the zip line experience has died and they'll have to renovate the course. He said the company hope to reopen soon.
For more on Castaway Canopy Adventures, go to https://oldcityzip.com.
St. Augustine Aquarium
The St. Augustine Aquarium is located in the same parking lot as Castaway Canopy Adventures, off SR 16 near the outlet mall.
Kathy Heister, the co-founder of the aquarium, gave us a tour, showing us an interactive pool that allows visitors to touch some of the marine life. Visitors can also feed and pet nurse sharks, which are located in a different holding tank.
There is also a large aquarium where, for an additional fee, you can snorkel among colorful fish and stingrays that live in the aquarium. The snorkel gear is provided.
The aquarium has become a wedding venue for anyone interested in getting married underwater.”
As an added experience, you can pay for a chance to “paint” with the sharks. This involves sharks moving paintbrushes while you stand outside the water with a large artist pad in your hands.
Entrance to the aquarium is $10 for adults and $6 for children. Admission for children 2 years old and younger is free. The snorkel experience costs $39, which includes admission to the aquarium. Children must be at least 4 years old to snorkel.
For more information about visiting the St. Augustine Aquarium, go to saaquarium.com.