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Tuesday, Sep 30, 2014

Fall Family Fun in Jacksonville

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As a native of Northeast Florida, fall is my favorite season in Jacksonville. With the cooler weather and so many great events, there’s no reason not to explore the city.

From football games, outdoor adventures and plenty of shopping options, Jacksonville is filled with plenty of fun options for families.

Check out these events, just a sampling taking place this fall:

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Lion Triplets Born at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Published:   |   Updated: September 26, 2014 at 08:20 AM

Congratulations, congratulations and congratulations to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, which welcomed the birth of three lion cubs on Sept. 10 2014.  

The cubs, whose genders are yet to be determined, were born to mother Tamu and father Catali.

Zoo staff hope to have their first hands-on wellness exam with the cubs very soon.

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Universal Orlando's New Military Offers and Discounts

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Attention all active-duty and retired members of the military: Universal Orlando Resort invites you to take advantage of new savings.

Military personnel can now purchase a one-day, park-to-park ticket and receive two complimentary days to experience the excitement of Universal Orlando Resort.

That adds up to three full days at the parks – plenty of time to see the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade and experience the thrills of both parks.

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Get Outside and Explore Florida's Playground Trail

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Slides, monkey bars and playgrounds are around every bend, but the ultimate playground is stepping outside and exploring the natural settings around you.

Santa Rosa County invites families to explore the new Florida’s Playground Trail – made up of 12 sites connecting Navarre Beach and historic Milton.

With a dozen spots along the trail, families have plenty of choices – pick one, or two, or spread out the fun for an entire week.

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Explore and Learn at the Monarch Butterfly Festival

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I’ll never forget my children’s first encounter with a butterfly. As they stepped inside the greenhouse, they were amazed at the sight of so many of these fluttering jewels and, before we knew it, one landed on my daughter’s hand. She giggled and her eyes lit up – it was magical.

The Fourth Annual Monarch Butterfly Festival, just outside Gainesville, is a great place to have a similar experience with your own family. The festival takes place at the Greathouse Butterfly Farm Sept. 27-28 featuring nature walks, butterfly releases, shopping and even a bounce house for the kids.

By tagging and releasing the Monarchs, researchers can track the locations of the butterflies, study how they migrate and monitor their survival rate.The process is quite a learning experience for adults and children, too.

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Experience the Afterglow in Amelia Island This Fall

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The Omni Amelia Island Plantation invites families to experience their newly re-imagined resort this fall.

The fun doesn’t have to end once the sun goes down with the resort’s "Amelia’s Afterglow" package, starting at $359 /night, bookable now through Oct. 31, 2014.

As part of the Afterglow package, you can relax with oceanfront accommodations and receive a $400 recreation credit to take part in twilight offerings such as beach fire and s’mores, mini golf at the Heron’s Cove Adventure Park, and Dive-In Movies on the splash deck.

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New Resort Coming to Universal Orlando

Published:   |   Updated: September 14, 2014 at 07:44 PM

A new resort is coming to Universal Orlando in the summer of 2016.

The Caribbean themed Loews Sapphire Falls Resort will feature 1,000 rooms and suites, making it the fifth on-property hotel at Universal Orlando Resort.

Located across from the Cabana Bay Beach Resort and inspired by the tropical waters of the Caribbean, guest rooms at the new resort will center on a lavish lagoon and towering waterfall.

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Now Open: Falcon's Fury - Busch Gardens Tampa

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Thrill seekers – the time is now! Falcon’s Fury at Busch Gardens Tampa is open.

When riders reach the top, they pivot -- like a falcon -- 90 degrees in mid-air to a face-down position.

Known as North America's tallest freestanding droptower, Falcon’s Fury stands at 335 feet and takes riders soaring 60 mph -- straight down.

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Clearwater Marine Aquarium: Tales of Dolphins, and More

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My family and I recently took our first trip to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and had a fun day, filled with learning experiences and animal encounters.

Located along the waterways of Clearwater, the aquarium is one of the state’s most visited attractions.

The movie ‘Dolphin Tale’ and sequel, ‘Dolphin Tale 2,’ were both filmed at the aquarium and visitors can see places featured in the movies.

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Ahoy, Mateys! It's the Perdido Key Pirate Festival

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Ahoy, mateys! A rogue bunch of buccaneers are set to descend on Big Lagoon State Park on Oct. 25-26 for the Perdido Key Pirate Festival.

Families can experience pirate games, live music, a reptile show, storytelling, A magic show, food and crafts vendors and a real-life treasure hunt with prizes.

Each day of the festival, a large key will be hidden on the island, creating the ultimate treasure hunt for families.

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