I know, I know. It can be hard to find that perfect gift for mom, especially when you are so busy with work and the kids and taking the car down to the mechanic and having new tires put on. There's also softball practice – oh, did I mention work? Yeah, I think I did. Your boss is all over you to get those reports in, and you've barely had time to grab something out of the vending machine for lunch. I understand that it's been tough to squeeze in time to think about what would make mom happy this Mother's Day.
Well, not to worry – I've done all the hard work for you. If you've read my other Mother's Day post and can't make it over to the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens, a nice kayaking trip would really do the trick. But where? Heck, you don't even own a kayak. But that's OK, because I've got a list of great places around the state that offer kayak rentals that are perfect for a day on the water.
Adventures Unlimited (Milton) - Take a trip on Coldwater Creek, Juniper Creek or the Blackwater River. Choose from four- or seven-mile trips, which can last up to two and a half hours. Shuttles back to the start of the trip are included. adventuresunlimited.com
T-n-T Hideaway (Wakulla) - Paddle the scenic spring-fed Wakulla River where you'll see herons, alligators, Swallow-tailed kites and other wildlife. The trip is six miles of easy paddling, and you can also catch a shuttle to the upper Wakulla River Bridge to extend the trip. A shuttle service is available. tnthideaway.com
Anastasia State Park (St. Augustine) - Rent kayaks from Anastasia Watersports, the concessionaire at Anastasia State Park. You'll paddle Salt Run, a tidal salt marsh that's home to an abundance of wildlife. Keep an eye out for dolphins, shorebirds, wading birds and lots more. floridastateparks.org/anastasia
Rainbow Springs State Park (Dunnellon) - The crystal-clear Rainbow River is a must-paddle for fans of the real Florida. It's slow and easy going, and provides plenty of opportunities to watch wildlife. Don't forget the camera! floridastateparks.org/rainbowsprings
Chassahowitzka River (Citrus County) - It's only a little over an hour from Tampa to the Chassahowitzka River, but it feels like a world away. Several springs feed the river, so spend time exploring each of these on your trip. You can rent and launch kayaks from Nature Coast Outpost, located at the boat ramp. citruscountyparks.com/default.aspx?id=28
King's Landing (Apopka) - Located near Orlando, you can rent kayaks from King's Landing and paddle beautiful Rock Springs Run. The run borders Wekiwa Springs State Park on one side, and Rock Springs Run State Reserve on the other, so you'll be surrounded by nature the entire way. A shuttle picks you up at the Wekiva Marina and brings you back to King's Landing. kingslandingfl.com
Jonathan Dickinson State Park (Hobe Sound) - Paddle from the park down to the 1930s Trapper Nelson pioneer site on the Loxahatchee River, which is one of two national Wild and Scenic Rivers in Florida. It's a great trip! floridastateparks.org/johathandickinson
Miami-Dade Eco Adventures (Coral Gables) - Head over to Matheson Hammock in Coral Gables and paddle Biscayne Bay. Kayak through mangrove tunnels and look for wildlife like brown pelicans, osprey, stingrays and more. miamidade.gov/ecoadventures
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (Key Largo) - A kayaking trip in the Florida Keys is something that you'll remember forever. More than two miles of mangrove wilderness trails are yours to explore. It's a short trip, but there is plenty to see and do so take your time. floridastateparks.org/pennekamp
Bahia Honda State Park (Big Pine Key, Mile Marker 36.8) - Rent a sit-on-top kayak at the park, and paddle in one of the most breathtaking places found anywhere. You'll want to bring along your snorkel gear, too! If you are in the Florida Keys, you owe it to yourself (and mom) to stop in and see why this place is so special. floridastateparks.org/bahiahonda