December 27, 2013

Exploring Florida - GCS & "Freebird" Park

After our first visit to Green Cove Springs in the August, we sort of decided that it was a destination worth seeing...oh, maybe once.  Small town, with a natural spring in the middle.  However, I had also heard rumors of a park...mind you not your ordinary park...that was located not too far away from the spring itself.

So with generally nice weather, and a few hours to kill, we decided to hop in the car and go exploring.  That's what my family does, we just drive.  So the plan was to stop briefly to show my Mom the spring that gives the Green Cove Springs its name, and then to go find the "special" park...but more on that in a bit.

Upon arrival in Green Cove Springs, we were pleasantly surprised by a Christmas tree display that made the little side trip worthwhile.  Each tree was decorated by a family, organization, or business and had a theme.  They were really neat to look at, the pics don't do them justice...

Following the brief stop in Green Cove Springs, we moved on to find the main reason for the trip.  We were making somewhat of a pilgrimage.  We were headed to Ronnie Van Zant Memorial Park.  Yes, that Ronnie Van Zant, son of Jacksonville, FL, of Lynyrd Skynyrd, and of course...FREEBIRD!  

The Ronnie VanZant Memorial Park is a 90 acre recreational facility located in Clay County, Florida just south of Jacksonville off US 17 South before Green Cove Springs in Lake Asbury, FL, and has been funded by the Freebird Foundation, Inc from 1992-2001. Park Hours are from sunrise to sunset every day. 
This park has been geared toward helping children become better athletes, musicians and young adults. 
The most recent addition to the Ronnie VanZant Memorial Park which was completed in the Fall of 2000 is the creation of VanZant Trails, a Nature Walk thru the wooded area and wetlands of the park.

KC & I playfully refer to it  "Freebird Park," and I really wanted to make the drive over just to check it out since we moved here, but I never quite got over.

A bit out of the way, Freebird...I mean Ronnie Van Zant Park is surprisingly large and generally well maintained, with picnic areas, basketball courts, a playground, baseball diamonds, a disc golf course, walking trails, and a stocked pond with some small fishing piers complete with handicapped access.  We didn't go fishing, but we got harassed by some very aggressive ducks looking for a free meal.  Once safe, Lilly spent a few minutes on the swings before we packed up and headed home.

It was a fun little trip.  Exploring new places doesn't always need to involve exotic locales or far distances.  This was a prime example, and I'm looking forward to uncovering more of the Sunshine State in the time to come. 


  1. Looks like a nice park. I look forward to hearing more after you've had a chance to fish there.

  2. A cool place to visit. If you get down Lauderdale way you might check out Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. Used to be a fun place to go canoeing. Don't know if it's still that way. You know nothing stays the same.