St. George is a barrier island that lies on the panhandle of Florida between Apalachicola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Sandy beaches, warm gulf waters and plenty of wildlife make this island the perfect combination of nature and leisure. Relax on the beach while picking out shells or boat in the gulf while viewing the local dolphins. Opt for a vacation rental on St. George Island and introduce your children to nature while enjoying a fun vacation. Here are the top activities there to do with your kids in paradise.

1. Go for a swim

With miles of beach, swimming at St. George is one of the musts on your must-do list. The warm Gulf waters, white sand beaches and gently lapping waves makes it great for the whole family. Lounge in the sun while the kids frolic through the water. Because the beaches are pet-friendly, you can bring your pooch on vacation with you. With plenty of vacation rentals abutting the beach you can spend every day in the water.

2. Bike

St. George Island definitely caters to bikers. With 17 miles of paths, you can go on a family outing around the island. In fact, the island is full of off-road and unpaved paths that are only accessible by bike. If your kids are too young for a bike, then try a trike or scooter, all of which are available at bike rental agencies such as Island Adventures and Jolly Rogers Beach Shop.

3. Hike

You don’t have to hop islands to go hiking. The northeast half of the island consists of St. George Island State Park with two hiking trails. The 2.5-mile Gap Point Trail runs along the north of the East Slough to Gap Point on the Apalachicola Bay. The pine flatwood forest offers a woodsy feel, while the 1-mile boardwalk East Slough Overlook Trail gives more of a beach view. While at the park, stop at the interpretive exhibits, have a picnic and even go fishing.

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4. Kayak

Kayaking, boating and paddle boarding are all popular activities in both the bay and the gulf. Rent a water vessel at Journeys of St. George Island or Island Outfitters, and explore the local marine life with your kids. You might catch a glimpse of manatees or dolphins in the water or whitetail deer, wild turkey, and foxes on shore.

5. Fish

Instead of kayaking, charter a boat and go fishing to give your kids a fun outing and a lesson in patience. Island Charters and SGI Charters both offer fishing trips. On the other hand, you can go to the pier and fish. You might pull in whiting, trout, or redfish. Take a break from your rod and reel and enjoy some fresh seafood at Black Marlin’s Grill or Harry A’s or some Southern favorites at Beach Pit.

6. See Historical Sites

Stop by local historical sites like the Orman House, Raney House Museum and Apalachicola Maritime Museum. The Orman House, a plantation-era building, was once a site of high society in the 1800s. The Raney House Museum also harkens back to a time of plantations and museums. The Apalachicola Maritime Museum not only offers a glimpse into local history, but it also provides boating tours around the Apalachicola Bay, taking you back to a different time.

7. Visit the St. George Lighthouse

The Cape St. George Light, the island’s lighthouse, was built back in 1833. This historic lighthouse had to be rebuilt three times due to inclement weather and beach erosion. The lighthouse was reconstructed from the original bricks and now stands as a museum of local history. Climb the lighthouse with your kids or visit the keeper’s cottage, a replica of the original. Several local festivals take place here throughout the year. As long as you’re viewing lighthouses, stop at Crooked River Lighthouse, St. Joseph Point Lighthouse and Cape San Blas Lighthouse placed along the bay for the entire experience.

8. Comb the beach

With all that white sugar sand, it would be a shame not to go exploring with the kids. Look for oyster, cockle, scallop and boat shells. If you’re lucky, you might dig up tulip or fig shells. After collecting some treasure, keep an eye out for a different kind: wildlife. You can view mole crabs, blue crabs or ghost crabs. Bald eagles nest in the area as well as sea turtles, so there’s more to see than just pretty shells.

9. Get Some Culture

Give your kids a little culture by visiting the Sea Oats Art Gallery where local artists can display their work. Choose a piece to display in your home as a memento of your trip or take an adult watercolor class while your spouse keeps the kids busy on the beach.

10. Visit St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge

Boat over to the neighboring island of St. Vincent for even more fun activities. The entire island makes up the St. Vincent National Wildlife Refuge that hosts the loggerhead sea turtle, red wolf and sambar deer, all of which are endangered. Kayak around the island or hike through it, and keep an eye out for the local wildlife while enjoying the picturesque salt marshes and beach dunes. The 90 miles of trails make it the perfect place bike while exploring the inland forests.

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