While on the way to a wedding in Tennessee, I was able to swing a side trip into Huntsville, AL to visit with some family and enjoy the changing colors of the trees.
Having grown up in North Alabama, I have spent countless hours on the trails on and around Green and Monte Sano mountains. But, it had been many years. So when we woke up to a beautiful, crisp, fall morning, I jumped at the opportunity to introduce my husband and youngest child to the Green Mountain Nature Trail.
This FREE Madison County Alabama nature trail runs 1.5 miles around Sky Lake taking you past a pavilion, log cabin, chapel, outdoor classroom, picnic tables, covered bridge, and fishing piers.
We wrapped up our walk with a family photo before heading down into Huntsville for lunch.
I may have lived in South Alabama and Florida for the past 11 years, but I was North Alabama born and raised. I’m lucky enough to get to go “home” to visit a few times each year and this past weekend I was lucky enough that all 5 of us were able to go together!
Having a VERY active toddler boy means always having to come up with a good, exhausting outdoor activity for our family. This works out well since we all love exploring the great outdoors. When I told my dad I was trying to decide where we should go Saturday, he told me there were some new hiking trails near Hampton Cove. I looked it up and we decided to load up and go check out the Goldsmith Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary. Definitely the BEST decision I could have made!
We took the Hidden Springs trail and were rewarded fields upon fields of beautiful, yellow Canola flowers, secluded ponds, ducks, and 1 baby snake. It was absolutely stunning! And not only that, it was an easy walk for all 3 kids – 2 year old included!
So, if you’re ever in the Hunstville area, go check out the Goldsmith Schiffman Wildlife Sanctuary and Hays Nature Preserve. You won’t regret it!
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.
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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.