Looking for a place to reconnect either with yourself, family, or friends? I’ve found it at Adventures Unlimited Outdoor Center in Milton, Fla., about a 35-minute drive northeast of Pensacola.
Canoes have been made and used for at least 5,000 years and it was after World War II when the outdoors community saw a significant change in its materials. The boats were commonly made of wood and in 1944 an executive with Grumman Aircraft Engineering, a manufacturer of fighter planes using aluminum, portaged his heavy wood and canvas 13-foot Old Town canoe during a fishing trip in the Adirondack Mountains. He returned to the Long Island-based plant with the idea of manufacturing canoes using lightweight aluminum. By the end of the Second World War, the company was manufacturing aluminum canoes in six lengths ranging from 13′ to 20′.
Where to Kayak Near Pensacola, Fla.
In 1972, a 26-year-old marine named Jack Sanborn was stationed in the area and wanted to work for himself. He rented out a couple of aluminum canoes from the top of his Oldsmobile Cutlass in Bagdad in Florida’s Panhandle for paddlers to use on Blackwater River. That same year, the film Deliverance starring Ned Beatty, Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight, hit movie theaters and spurred an interest in canoeing.
Soon, Mr. Sanborn expanded his fleet to 30 canoes to keep up with the demand and in 1978, he purchased what is today called Adventures Unlimited Outdoor Center in Milton. Within its nearly 200 acres is a family-friendly outdoor adventure park with aquatic activities, sky-high thrills, and overnight accommodations set in the Florida wilderness. Adventures Unlimited calls itself “Florida’s most unique family adventure” and that is more than a tagline, it’s the outdoor park’s philosophy.
“People trust us with their most valuable asset,” Mr. Sanborn said, “Their time off.”
What began as a pair of canoes is now a fleet of 10 standup paddle boards, 100 kayaks, 250 canoes, and 500 tubes for paddling and floating trips on Coldwater Creek. Adventures Unlimited also arranges one and two-night overnight canoeing trips.
“Is it okay if I scream?” I asked before stepping off a 50-foot-high platform and zipping over Florida wilderness. Although I was wearing a helmet, worker-gloves, and a harness, and was clipped to a couple of cables, I was afraid of falling. Stepping off the platform, I screamed at the top of my lungs while an adrenaline rush pushed my fears away. I caught my breath and couldn’t wait to zip the next line.
For those not into aquatic activities, Adventures Unlimited offers five different zipline tours ranging from 12 platforms over about 5 hours to seven ziplines in about 3 hours. As the name implies, the Ultimate Double Dip Zip Adventure is the king of the park’s ziplines with the 12 platforms and amazing sky bridge. Taste of the Tours is ideal for with limited time. It has seven ziplines and ends with a 900′ zip line over Coldwater Creek.
A Treehouse. A Train Caboose. The Lorax Loft. Cool Lodging in Milton
An overnight stay at Adventures Unlimited is a unique experience, too. Available for rent are three rustic camping cabins, the School House Inn with eight separate rooms, more than a dozen furnished cabins/cottages, the Lorax Loft, tree house, and a train caboose. Tent and RV-camping are also available. A handful of cottages and two camping cottages are pet-friendly.
Adventures Unlimited. The Best Spot to Reconnect with Yourself, Friends, and Family.
During our conversation, Mr. Sanborn referenced the 2005 book, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv. The book documents the effects of nature-deficit disorder of children in the United States and how it negatively impacts children and society.
Engaging children with the outdoors makes a positive impact, which is why Adventures Unlimited focuses on creating a family-friendly environment.
“When they do it as a child, they will repeat it as an adult,” Mr. Sanborn said, “They are future environmentalists who will protect the outdoors.”
Nuts & Bolts About Adventures Unlimited Outdoor Center
Adventures Unlimited Outdoor Center
8974 Tomahawk Landing Rd.
Milton, FL 32570
Tel: (850) 623-6197
Where to Dine
Plan on bringing your own provisions although Milton has several delicious restaurants.
5147 Elmira St,
Milton, Fla. 32570
Tel: (850) 623-1105
Open Tuesdays – Saturdays for lunch and dinner.
Open Sundays for brunch.
The building was a house from the early 1900s and offers indoor and outdoor dining.
Scoops Ice Cream & Sweets
5237 Willing Street
Milton, Fla. 32570
Tel: (850) 889-5403
Connect with them on Facebook.
Try an ice cream donut sandwich. Yeah. That’s right. An ice cream donut sandwich.
Disclosure: I was a guest hosted by the Santa Rosa County Tourism Council however opinions are my own. This post has not been reviewed by the tourism office. This post also contains affiliate links in order to support this blog, my traveling habit, and my special-needs dog.