Inexpensive and smothered in nature, these scenic campgrounds are the best for RV and tent campers within an hour’s drive of Disney World.
Amateur astronomers love this place in the heart of Florida’s cow country — 54,000 acres of wide-open prairie, 25 miles from the nearest town, ideal for stargazing under a pure night sky.
Lake Wales Ridge State Forest is for explorers – folks who like to find places that aren’t in the guidebooks. Here you can hike for miles in the woods, hear only nature and have a chance to spot wildlife, including bear, bald eagles and endangered scrub jays.
We know what the big draw is in Orlando, and it’s not nature. But it should be! Even if your main destination is a theme park, here are eight natural experiences and places that would make memorable additions to a visit to Central Florida
Chances are, you’ve never heard of Blue Cypress Lake near Yeehaw Junction. If that’s so, you’re missing a spectacular natural lake rimmed by old growth cypress trees and home to hundreds of ospreys and osprey nests. This lake is the headwaters of the mighty St. Johns River. What a great kayak destination!
You can experience four outstanding Florida rivers in one trip if you base yourself in the Ocala area. In four days of paddling, you have a good chance to see wildlife — from manatees to American eagles to alligators and even monkeys. Three of the four rivers are aquarium-clear spring-fed streams. The fourth is a wild and peaceful place where you can escape the modern world.
Blue Spring State Park, home to manatees in the winter and a favorite place for a swim in bracing spring water in the summer, will allow visitors to stay after closing during firefly season from March 19 to April 4. If that took you by surprise, you’re with me. But there is a firefly season and Blue Spring, located 35 miles north of Orlando in Orange City, is firefly central.
Camping in Florida State Parks offer scenic respite when traveling on Interstate 4 from Daytona Beach through Orlando to Tampa.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park has reopened with its iconic mermaid show and water park. The gorgeous spring-fed river is also open for kayak and SUP rentals, although the route from the park has been shortened.
The show will go on despite the pandemic, but the popular headline concerts have been scrapped this year.
This wildlife refuge is big, beautiful and full of birds. From bald eagles majestic in tall pine trees to friendly scrub jays only a few feet away, visiting here offers awe-inspiring experiences.