By Carrie McLaren

Jacksonville is filled with plenty of activities for a great family vacation. Whether you’re a foodie, sports fan or just looking for some quiet time to relax as a family – Northeast Florida is the place for you.

Check out some of the places that I, a Jacksonville native, and my family enjoying visiting in the area:

Visit Sweet Pete’s  

From salted caramels, to chocolate-covered popcorn to key lime lollipops, purchase pre-packaged treats at this family-owned candy shop. They specialize in all-natural ingredients, including vegan and gluten-free candies. If you’re looking for a unique experience, sign up to make your own treats in a special hands-on adventure with the candy man himself – Pete!

On your mark, get set, go  

Rev up your go-kart engines at Adventure Landing Jacksonville Beach and be sure to bring your swimsuit to hit the waves at the Shipwreck Island Water Park. One of my favorite spots is the Little St. Johns Lazy River.

Create a masterpiece  

The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens children’s center, Art Connections, lets children explore and create their own art. Don’t miss the ‘Gallery Under 5,’ featuring miniature replicas of the museum’s artwork for children to touch and feel on their own. Everything is just at a kid’s heights – even the door! Be sure to plan ahead; the first Saturday of each month is a free day for families.

Hey batter, batter  

The boys of summer, the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp, take to the diamond each year from April through September. Don’t miss Friday Family Fireworks nights and on Sundays, all kids are invited to run the bases after the game. My favorite nights during the season are Fifty-Cent Family Feast Night with 50-cent hotdogs, peanuts and ice cream treats!

See you at the river  

Shop the Riverside Arts Market every Saturday from March through mid-December where you’ll find arts/crafts, photographers, clothes and more from local Northeast Florida vendors. After you’re done shopping, grab a bite to eat at the food stands and listen to local musicians on the riverfront stage.

Explore the parks  

Jacksonville is home to the largest urban parks system in the country, with over 80,000 acres of city, state and national parks. The Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve is home to Kingsley Plantation, the state’s oldest plantation house and also to Fort Caroline National Memorial – the first French colony in the present-day United States.