Continuing with our “Family Day” series…
Last week we loaded up the kiddos and headed to Morrison Springs in Ponce de Leon, FL. In the past we’d always gone to Ponce de Leon Springs which is part of the Florida State Park system, but this time we decided to check out something new.
"Morrison Spring discharges an average of 48 million gallons of crystal-clear water each day to create a 250-foot-diameter spring pool and a spring run that flows into the Choctawhatchee River. There are 3 cavities reported at the bottom of the spring pool, 1 of which is 300 feet deep. The spring is popular not only for scuba diving but also for swimming and snorkeling."
If you’ve never been to a spring in Florida, I feel I should warn you – they’re COLD! Between 68° & 70° year round! It’ll take your breath away if you’re not mentally prepared, but it felt fantastic on this HOT July afternoon. The springs are also super clear – like pool water clear.
One thing we loved about Morrison Springs was the small man-made beach. Something we’d felt Ponce de Leon Springs lacked was the option to work your way into the water. Morrison Springs is also MUCH larger spring, so although there were more people around, it didn’t feel as crowded.
Thanks to Walton county, Morrison Springs now has bathroom facilities with outdoor showers, a large pavilion with grills, a wheelchair accessible boardwalk overlooking the springs, a couple of floating, diving platforms, and a boat ramp.
The springs are great for swimming and jumping in the water as well as scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding.
If you’ve never checked out any of northwest Florida’s beautiful springs, you’re really missing out! “Florida is home to more springs than any other state due to its geology, weather, and subsurface water flow.
"Because limestone formations in Florida are more porous than in many other areas, they can hold and transport more water, making the regional Floridan aquifer system one of the most productive freshwater aquifer systems in the world.
Florida receives between 30 and 100 inches of rain per year. Joints and fractures left behind in the limestone can eventually enlarge into water-filled caverns and tunnels. Springs occur when subsurface pressures force water up through an opening to land surface. The combination of highly porous limestones that can hold vast quantities of water, combined with relatively high rainfall amounts and subsurface water flow, are responsible for the occurrence of so many springs in Florida."
Lastly, I'll share a few pictures from previous trips to Ponce de Leon Springs, also in Ponce de Leon, FL.
More information about Florida’s Springs can be found here: http://www.floridasprings.org/
One morning last week I loaded up all 3 kiddos and we headed to Orange Beach, AL to check out the splash pad at the new Surf Style in Orange Beach.
Over the last decade or so, splash pads have become a HUGE thing for kid-friendly summertime fun. The northern gulf coast offers several splash-pads (all free to the best of my knowledge), but the one all of my Pensacola friends can’t stop talking about is the splash pad at the newest Surf Style at 25033 Perdido Beach Blvd in Orange Beach, AL.
Living in west Pensacola, it took me about 30 minutes with traffic to get to Surf Style – and anyone who’s ever visited a tourist area knows that’s NOTHING! The kids and I arrived around 9:30am (trying to beat the heat) and actually had the whole splash pad to ourselves for a little while.
The Orange Beach splash pad has the usual assortment of bubbling water spouts and sprinklers, as well as 4 water “cannons”, a mushroom, and a fun contraption that dumps a bucket of water on you as the buckets overflow.
My two-year old loved the bubbling water spouts and "shooting" his sisters with the water cannons. My two big girls (ages 9 and 11) loved dumping the buckets of water on each other and running through the sprinklers (one sprinkler was a bit too short for the 11 year old, but she's pretty tall for her age).
After an hour and a half of non-stop play, I counted a total of 9 kids splashing in the cool spray with a total of 5 adults watching from the various shaded areas.
That’s the other thing – Surf Style has provided several nice, wooden benches, as well as a few wooden picnic tables, all in the shade and out of the splash and spray zone! Next time we go (trust me, there will most definitely be a next time), I think we’ll pack a lunch. But for those who don’t want to bother packing a lunch, Surf Style has snacks and drinks for sale just inside the store. Later in the summer, we discovered that they open a snow cone stand in the splash pad area! Totally worth it!
Really, the only thing missing was a restroom. But, I do understand why they might not want to provide a public restroom right on the main beach road.
If you’re in Pensacola and you’ve been on the fence about whether the drive to Orange Beach is worth it – it’s worth it!
It would be worth it if we still lived in Cantonment! Honestly, it would still be worth it if there was small entrance fee (and included bathroom). If you’re vacationing in Orange Beach or Gulf Shores and want to get out of the sand or your hotel/ condo pool for a bit, take the kids to the splash pad. You can’t miss it!
Surf Style is open from 8am – 11pm for the summer, as as best as I can tell, so is the splash pad. I’ve driven past it at all times of day headed home from family portrait sessions on the beach and the water has always been flowing.
I’m late getting to this blog, but last Sunday was TOO beautiful a day to pass up making it a family beach day. So, I loaded up the kids, and all of our various accouterments and we headed to Johnson’s Beach on Perdido Key just outside of Pensacola, FL. Johnson’s Beach is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore (part of the National Park Service) which encompasses parks stretching from the east side of Fort Walton Beach, FL all the way to Gulfport, MS. Not only is Johnson's Beach my FAVORITE place for Family Portrait Sessions in the greater Pensacola area, our family loves Johnson’s Beach because it doesn’t get as crowded as Pensacola Beach, it’s only a 15 minute drive from our house, and we have the option of lounging on the intracoastal side (calm, shallow water) or the gulf side (less predictable)! Those of you with young children know that calm water is always important!
The gulf was pretty churned this day, so we opted for the calm shallows of the intracoastal waterway. The water was perfect - warm and super clear!
It appears that we’re not going to get a real winter in Pensacola this year, because spring is definitely here. My patio furniture and grills are a lovely shade of pollen yellow, and my azalea bushes have burst forth in all their hot pink glory!
With beautiful weather comes the desire to get out of the house, get some fresh air, and commune with nature. Here on the northwest Gulf Coast of Florida, we're lucky to have numerous options to do just this. So, that’s what my family is doing. We’ve decided to take a family outing each week to get out of the house, get some exercise, and enjoy each other’s company! And I decided this would be a great way to get in some Pensacola/ Gulf Coast photography fun.
This past Sunday was our first official, “family day” outing. At the request of the middle child (I thought it’d be fun to let them take turns picking the upcoming week’s outing), we headed to Big Lagoon State Park in West Pensacola, FL to check out some trails and get our toes wet.
One of the great things about Big Lagoon State Park is that they have trails with raised, wooden walkways AND sand trails. The raised walkways take you to and across Long Pond and through some of the marshy areas to the campground. They were especially appreciated as our exploring party included a very grumpy toddler who decided he wanted to ride in the stroller instead of walk.
Long Pond (pictured above) is one of my favorite spots to nature watch at Big Lagoon. The park provides canoes as well as a lovely, little pavilion where you can rest. Make sure to take note of the “No Swimming” sign, though! Long Pond has alligators!
Next, the kids and I headed down to the Observation Platform near the Governor’s Pavilion. It was a great place for us to watch for boats and birds (as well as sit down for a refreshing drink).
Another favorite spot of ours that we didn’t get to this past Sunday is the Observation Tower (seen in the distance here). The Observation Tower at Big Lagoon is a fantastic place to watch boats sailing down the intracoastal waterway.
Our last stop was West Beach. The kids needed some time to play in the sand and splash around in the water and I wanted to replicate a picture I took 4 years ago of just my girls with all 3 kids.
If you’re looking for a great place to spend the day without having to even leave town, you can’t go wrong with Big Lagoon State Park. It’s one of our favorite places because of the many adventure options it offers. It also boasts a boat launch, camp ground, several pavilions, and 2 play grounds.
Big Lagoon State Park is open from 8am - sunset daily. Admission fees are $4 for a single occupant vehicle or $6 for a vehicle carrying 2 - 8 visitors.
If you’ve never been to Bellingrath Home & Gardens, you’re doing yourself a disservice. If you’ve never been there for the “Magic Christmas in Lights,” then go ahead and put it on your calendar to go next year! They put on a truly phenomenal light display. And not only that, it’s easily walk-able for young and old alike. It’s also fully wheelchair and stroller accessible.
Understand of course, that these are merely a small sampling of the displays and scenes they have for you to enjoy. From the website itself:
"The holiday tradition lets guests stroll through a dazzling display, which features more than 1,000 set pieces, 3 million lights and 15 scenes throughout the 65-acre Garden estate. In addition, the Bellingrath Home is decorated in its holiday finery and enhanced with beautiful poinsettias.
The holiday event includes nightly choral performances on the South Terrace of the Home."
As we are all well aware, this year was an unseasonably WARM Christmas which meant that not only did I get to enjoy the beautiful light displays, I was also surprised to find plenty of the gorgeous flowers that the gardens are so well known for.
Amanda is the prop buying, location scouting, ponytail sporting, flip flop wearing, owner/ operator/ and woman behind the camera for Finding Beauty in the Ordinary Photography.
Newborn Portrait Photography
Family Portrait Photography
Maternity Portrait Photography
Senior Portrait Photography
From Gulf Shores, AL to Navarre, FL. Covering the areas of Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Foley,and Elberta in Alabama and Pensacola, Gulf Breeze, Pensacola Beach, Milton, Pace, and Cantonment in Florida.