Virtual Learning on Vacation
August 24, 2021
You know what they say: “Learning is a lifelong process.” So, whether you’re making the most of your child’s online-only classes this school year with a little beach trip or simply want to keep your kids mentally engaged throughout your family beach vacation, you’re in luck! Northwest Florida’s Scenic Highway 30A is positively teeming with unique ways to stimulate your little ones with virtual learning on vacation.
From must-visit museums and nature preserves to vacation homes catering to virtual learning environments, here are a few tips and tricks on how to make your 30A beach vacation double as an educationally stimulating masterclass.
A Few Tips for Virtual Learning on Vacation
In the age of online-only classes, the phrase “where there’s a will, there’s a way” has transformed into “where there’s internet, there’s school.” Sure, this might not be the most thrilling idea for your kids, but there is a silver lining—you can learn from anywhere. And everything is more fun at the beach.
The fundamental elements of successful online learning include eliminating distractions, setting up a space for your kids to concentrate, and really strong Wi-Fi (bonus if it’s free)! Thankfully, here at Scenic Stays, we offer a wide selection of Destin and 30A beach homes and condos that more than fit the bill.
From quaint cottages that’ll put your child’s mind at ease even in the most frenetic of Zoom classes to family-friendly resorts with access to amenity-filled business centers, there’s a huge selection that can cater to every family’s individual needs, particularly if you’re doing virtual learning on vacation.
A few other tips and tricks might include:
- Creating a space that’s the “learning zone” that isn’t their room. Separating workspaces from living spaces is hugely important both for focus and mental well-being.
- Having a fully stocked selection of snacks and drinks is key to preventing mid-afternoon meltdowns.
- And best of all? Using the beach or pool as the perfect dangling carrot is a great way to instill and maintain motivation. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate the end of a school day by splashing in the Gulf of Mexico or doing a cannonball into the nearest pool?
Another great option worth exploring is longer-term stays. Sometimes, spending a week at the beach simply isn’t enough. Either that or the legwork required to make a family beach trip happen can feel like a ton of work with not enough payoff. Not to fear, longer-term stays are here! With Scenic Stays, you and your family can rest easy knowing that extended stays in the 30A area are a very real (and affordable) option. In the off-season especially, between November and February, the rates are as good as they get. So, if you’re looking for the perfect beachside basecamp where you can work remotely and where the kids can do virtual learning, look no further than Scenic Stays!
30A: Where Fun Meets Education
Of course, virtual learning is one thing. Everyday in-person education is just as important. Luckily, Northwest Florida is a fascinating destination where fun and education are as compatible as Destin and 30A’s famous sugar-white sands and emerald-green waters. It’s a place where Walt Whitman’s famous line “Be Curious” lives its full truth. In fact, we wouldn’t be at all surprised if he coined it while exploring 30A’s geographically rich, ecologically mesmerizing stretch of coastline.
Here are a few can’t-miss spots where you and your kids can have fun while simultaneously stretching your imaginations and staying tuned into learning.
Located in present-day Fort Walton Beach, the Indian Temple Mount Museum is a fascinating spot for history lovers. Not only does it have some modern-day history in terms of being the first municipally owned and operated museum in the State of Florida, but it also commemorates some of the area’s oldest ancestors. The large on-site mound you’ll find here was built way back in 850 CE by the Pensacola peoples of the Mississippian culture. Here, you’ll find a number of interpretive exhibits with over 1,000 artifacts of stone, bone, clay, and prehistoric ceramics. (It might sound trite, but once you’re done exploring this mind-expanding mound museum, there’s a mind-blowing burrito waiting for you and your kids at Burrito del Sol just a few blocks away.)
Just across Okaloosa Island in nearby Destin, the Destin History & Fishing Museum is another must-visit museum. In fact, in terms of gaining a better understanding of the lifeblood of the area (ahem, fishing & sea life!), there might not be a better spot around. As their site says, “The Destin History & Fishing Museum is dedicated to preserving, documenting, and sharing the stories of the little fishing village that was founded on the sandy shores of East Pass in the 1830s.” Expect a 100-foot wall depicting the Gulf Floor, a huge collection of antique fishing rods and reels, and vintage photos of early Destin settlers, boat captains, and more.
Want something that’s off the beaten path – quite literally? The Underwater Museum of Art at Grayton Beach is North America’s very first underwater permanent sculpture exhibit. That’s right: this artificial reef museum is located 58 feet below water. The exhibits are where art and marine ecosystems collide, with PH-balanced concrete sculptures that aren’t just interesting art installations but also attract a whole host of marine wildlife. In a hyphenated word, this museum is a must-visit.
Preserves and Learning Centers
Voted “Best Place to Take the Kids”, the Emerald Coast Science Center is a no-brainer when it comes to fun educational activities in the area. With over 45 exhibits spread out over 8,000 square feet of indoor space, the Science Center offers a hands-on encounter with numerous natural phenomena and basic scientific principles—from robotics to live animals, dinosaur exhibits to engineering & electricity interactives. Kids (and kids at heart!) will love it.
Wolves at the beach? You better believe it! At the Seacrest Wolf Preserve, wolves and humans connect in nature for educational purposes. One look at their website, and your heart will instantly melt with all the adorable photos of large gray wolves cuddling up close to visitors. One visit to the preserve, meanwhile, and you’re in for a life-changing experience! The majesty of these animals is unreal and on full display.
Another fantastic learning opportunity for kids in the area takes place at the one and only E.O. Wilson Biophilia Center. The core mission of the Biophilia Center is to educate on the importance of biodiversity, to promote sustainability, and to encourage the conservation, preservation, and restoration of ecosystems. They do this by educating students Free of Charge for two- or four-day programs that are filled with over twenty different environmental science lessons. In other words, it’s intensive and intensely interesting—your kids will love it!
For families that love two-wheeled touring, you’re in luck. South Walton is home to more than 200 miles of hiking and biking trails, which offer the perfect way to get up close and personal with the area. So, go ahead: bike your way through Fort Walton.
Turning a Beach Day Into an Educational Experience with Virtual Learning
Of course, one of the most timeless ways to keep your kids’ thinking caps firmly fastened is with good old-fashioned observation. No matter where you are—but especially along the emerald coast of Northwest Florida—there’s so much natural beauty and so many minor miracles to be fascinated by. Encouraging your kids to stop and smell the saltwater (so to speak) will ensure they’re always engaged. On a typical beach day, there’s a ton to learn!
Do a deep dive on sea turtle conservation from May to October, during nesting season. Rent paddleboards and explore one of the 16 artificial reefs the South Walton Artificial Reef Association has deployed in order to provide a sustainable food source for many of the area’s local species. Even just study up on the various beach flag symbols and what they mean so that you and your kids can better understand the severity of rip tides and currents.
However—and whatever—you want to learn, there’s a way to do it in Northwest Florida. We look forward to seeing what captures your imagination!
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