Who knows fun better than the pigtailed adventuress Pippi Longstocking? The main character of the classic children's books by Astrid Lindgren is the daughter of a buccaneer captain who lives with a horse and a monkey and follows adventure wherever it takes her - including Amelia Island. Inspired by the story (and by the presence of the Captain's House or the "Pippi Longstocking House," the historic residence in Old Town that was used in the 1988 movie filmed on Amelia Island,) Theresa Duncan opened Villa Villekulla Toys,
a neighborhood toy store in Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach that features room to play and an array of "hand-picked quality fun, educational, open-minded, outdoor, and eco-friendly toys."
We asked Theresa to tell us about the top things children (and their parents, friends, and grandparents) won't want to miss.
1) Pirate Playground
"It's awesome even if you are an adult! Mom and Dad can play musical instruments and climb on bars. My son is 10 and he really enjoys it, it's open-ended and fun plus you can take the path right behind it and be in Egan's Creek Greenway where you can have an amazing nature walk and take some great photos." The playground, located on Atlantic Avenue and created as a community effort by 8 Flags Playscapes,
is accessible to children of all abilities.
2) Day at the beach (with something extra)
13 miles of broad, open Atlantic coast make for a playground that is always different and always appealing. Tide pools, sand castles, shark tooth hunting, learning to surf are all options. Eco-friendly sand toys are available at Villa Villekula along with this season's hit, Kidz Sliders "they are three toys in one, a boogie board, skim board or - when you get home and it's winter - a sled! They are made in the US and the company is headquartered in Destin, Florida." [gallery columns="4" size="large" ids="1629,1632,1631,1630"]
3) Amelia River Cruises
"Kids love Captain Pajama Dave and his stories about the island, nature, and history." The cruise offerings
includeCumberland island tours, family sunset tours, and special shrimping eco-tours and family cruises.
4) Dine Out(doors) and Play
has wild-caught local seafood and a pirate ship play space in the courtyard, adults can relax at the picnic tables. And Sliders
on the beach also has a playground set in sand." And "at our shop and around downtown, you can find a selection of fun small things that are great to bring to take out to dinner."
5) Hometown Fourth of July Celebration (and Christmas Holidays,) Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach
If you're in the area over the holiday weekend, Duncan says you'll "love the small town 4th of July celebration. I have friends who come down every year to watch the band and the fireworks, it’s very Norman Rockwell...a classic place to have family fun with old-fashioned things to do." Speaking of classic, Duncan recently had a visiting family come in "with a teenager and a kindergartener. The deal was no cell phone or TV during the trip, but they were given a budget to spend on 'screen-free' toys...they had a great time picking them out." Find out more about activities for all ages at amelia island.com