Take the Kids
#1 Dive Into Florida’s Wild Side
Kids and adults can see how the Florida coast looked before European explorers arrived, now that The Nature Conservancy has restored native plants—such as sea grape and gumbo limbo trees—at its Blowing Rocks Preserve on Jupiter Island. Paths lead through 73 acres of mangrove swamps, coastal dunes, forests and beaches. Sea turtles nest on the beaches on summer nights; most mornings you can find their distinctive tracks in the sand. But the main attraction—and where the preserve gets its name—is the craggy limestone boulders bordering the beach in unusual formations. During rough seas, dramatic plumes of water shoot through crevices in the rock—a thrilling sight for visitors of all ages. Get three tips to help you make the most of your visit to Blowing Rocks.
#2 Discover Arizona’s Deserts
Just 45 minutes outside Tucson, the fantastical limestone features in Kartchner Caverns State Park, purchased by The Nature Conservancy and transferred to the state in 1988, resemble scenes out of a Dr. Seuss book. Base yourself in the high desert town of Sierra Vista to tour the vast cave system, which boasts one of the world’s longest soda-straw stalactite formations and the state’s tallest natural column underground. More post-spelunking adventures await at the Conservancy’s nearby preserves—such as the verdant floodplain of Patagonia-Sonoita Creek, near the quaint town of Patagonia, and Ramsey Canyon, famous for its variety of hummingbirds. Add a visit to historic Tombstone, site of the infamous shootout at the OK Corral, to complete the Wild West experience.
#3 Make for the Mountains
With access to abundant fishing, hiking and biking—plus plenty of other kid-friendly activities—it’s easy to see why Missoula, Montana, won a Playful City USA award seven times. The city sits at the convergence of five river valleys, and The Nature Conservancy has protected thousands of acres along the nearby Blackfoot River, made famous by the book and film A River Runs Through It.