The Alligator Farm, St. Augustine, Florida (With Rucks On)

I’ve always enjoyed sharing adventures as well as local places that you can’t find anywhere else. The Alligator Farm has been around for over 125 years and it’s about 45 minutes from GORUCK HQ. If you’re in the neighborhood, it’s worth the drive down A1A, through downtown St. Augustine, and over the Bridge of Lions until you can’t miss it, around the bend on your right. First the boys and then all of us have become obsessed with gators lately, so for our Jack’s 4th birthday we took a trip down. It did not disappoint.


We’re also in the middle of our mile a day rucking challenge, so em and I both had our rucks on, which put us at a huge disadvantage against the boys, who make me understand completely why those ‘weird’ parents had their kids on leashes when I would go to the Cincinnati Zoo as a kid.

I’m not gonna lie, I had Ryan in a death grip every time I picked him up. The glass is thick and the fences pretty high, but those gators are really big.

They’ve modernized the park a lot. When I was a kid, I remember it seeming like a swamp with gators crawling all over each other, every which way. A wooden bridge turned into an Indiana Jones rope bridge in my memory, and every so often there would be feedings where they’d throw some possums out into the swamp and the gators would crawl all over each other like they did in the same Indiana Jones movie when anyone would fall off the bridge and there was blood in the water. I was skeptical of bringing the kids, but found the 2019 version very safe.

The only tears came from the replica. Maybe if it had glass around it?

My biggest surprise in all of this was how close the Alligator Whisperers were willing to go. They would put their hand inches from the gators’ snouts as if elephants at the zoo, and didn’t seem worried about it at all. I preferred to stay well behind the glass, with the kids.

Mile complete, and then some. Kids in tow just before a meltdown, and it was time to go.

Taking A1A back the same way we came, Cap’s on the water is one of the best local places, anywhere.

It’s a great place to chase the kids around and not enjoy yourself unless they are, so you make sure they are, and you sing happy birthday and get a little messy.

The adventures have changed over the years. They are closer to home and the ones that aren’t are more special. But the bigger point is that you can make an adventure out of just about anything. There might be some tears and it might not be climbing some highest peak or having some private island to yourself (snooze), but the greatest adventures are to our left and our right, and they’re always worth it. Happy Birthday, Jack. We love you.

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