"Active" and "toddler" are words that go together like "tall" and "NBA player"; you can't really have one without the other. When raising a toddler, the key is to find activities for her that are age-appropriate, educational and enjoyable. Crestview, the hub of Northwest Florida, has many activities where toddlers and parents can take advantage of the city's great climate and its identity as one of the highest points in Florida. This means you can exhaust your active toddler by walking uphill nearly every day of the year.
Taking your toddler to a local park may be the easiest and cheapest activity available. Climbing, sliding and running around a playground are excellent ways to promote gross motor skills. The Children's Park and Allen Park in Crestview (cityofcrestview.org) have excellent playgrounds for toddlers. Families can also hit the hiking trails or the beaches at Blackwater River State Forest (floridastateparks.org/blackwaterriver/) just to the west of Crestview.
2. Sasquatch Zoo
The Sasquatch Zoo (sasquatchzoo.com) is another fun outdoor activity for toddlers and parents. This local zoo has lions, a white tiger, bobcats, antelope, llamas peacocks and monkeys. There are plenty of benches and picnic tables for snacks or a quick story about the zoo's animals. Children 2 and under get in for free and adults are $6 each, which makes this destination extra affordable, and a bit more exciting than following your toddler around the back yard.
3. Crestview YMCA
In addition to having a fun Kids Zone Nursery Center where you can drop off your toddler while you work out, the Crestview YMCA (ecymca.org) has swimming classes for children as young as 6 months. Parents swim with their kids during their classes, which are segregated by age. Inia classes are for those 12-18 months, Perch classes are for those 19-36 months and Big Perch classes are for 3-year-olds who still want to swim with mom or dad.
4. U.S. Gold Gymnastics
Toddlers can start taking gymnastics classes at U.S. Gold Gymnastics (usgoldgymnastics.com) as soon as they can toddle. Mom, dad or another caregiver will need to stay in the Parent and Tot class with them until they are ready for the Preschool classes for 3-year-olds. Toddlers can burn off energy on the trapeze, the trampoline and the balance beam while improving gross motor and listening skills.
5. Robert L. F. Sikes Public Library
The Robert L. F. Sikes Public Libary (cityofcrestview.org/library.php), Crestview's library and a part of the Oskaloosa County Library System, has several story times for toddlers each week. Toddlers and their parents will listen to songs and stories, learn finger plays and do a craft. Toddlers and their parents can attend one or both of these "lapsit" story times. Toddlers can also attend the regular story time with a parent and an older sibling.
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