Rock Springs Park--located in Apopka (north Orlando area). This is a local hang out for tubing and swimming. Cheap way to soak up local culture and have fun in the sun but be prepared to do some walking after the tube ride--it's a little bit of a hike back to the main park area but all boardwalk so take your time and enjoy the flora and fauna around you.
Back towards the end of the park is where the seals are kept. Not too many people visit this area because it is a ways from the rest of the main attractions. But it is a nice place to take pictures and everyone enjoys feeding our little barking friends!
If you really want to see the wild, swampy nature of Florida, then try an airboat ride. Forget about having to traveling 5 hours to the Everglades. We have swamps too! Just go east on Highway 50 out of Orlando and into the town of Christmas. It is $37/pp for a 90-minute ride for up to 5 passengers or $50 for a private guided tour. See http://www.airboatrides.com. Beware of other places that may charge less, but load 15-20 people on like a can of sardines. If you want to see lots of gators, bald eagles, and other Florida wildlife, then I promise you won't be disappointed. There is another place as well called the Lone Cabbage Fish camp where you can get an airboat ride on the St. John's River, but that place is on State Road 520. (Florida trivia: The St. John's is the 4th longest river in the world.) As with anything, call ahead for reservations.
If you take time to explore just outside and around orlando you will find many places dedicated to animals of the reptlillian kind. People with nerves need not apply but for those not of the feint hearted this kind of activity is a welcome addition to any holiday.
When you go to Central Florida be sure to see the
Ocala National Forest...its awesome!!!
The big scrub of green expanses and sparkling waters
of the clear springs nestled amoungst the huge trees
are trully a natural wonder few people see.
Located near Orlando, Florida, the Ocala National Forest receives more visitors than any other national forest in the Sunshine State. Millions of visitors annually escape to this forest, which is one of central Florida's last remaining traces of forested land....unfortunately most of those visiters are locals.
Amoung the sights to see in the Ocala Forest are Alexander Springs...Salt Springs...Silver Glen Springs...Clearwater Lake...Lake Dorr...Juniper Springs and Blue Springs, where it is not unusual to see 3 or 4 manatee, also known as sea cows swimming in the warm springs during the winter months.
My favorite is Clearwater Lake,,its where I go to think/ponder...its far from the hustle/bustle of Orlando and all you can hear is the wind in the pines...I cant help but imagine how the local indian tribes must have appreciated this area hundreds of years ago.Part of the Florida trail passes through Clearwater lake area...on its way toword Fairless Prairie near Gainesville.
Another favorite is Alexander Springs...where the 'boil' of the spring bubbles out of a cave 40 feet below you..perfectly clear water,,,a constant 72 degrees all year around...Silver Glen Springs is quite similar and both have excellent facilities..bathrooms..changing areas ..snackbars..and a protected hiking trail..miles of marked paths with trees and vegitation noted on signs along the way with splendid views of the forest and swimming areas..
With all its natural beauty..the Ocala forest is a 'MUST SEE!'
The wild life, forna and Flora
Go to the State Park North West of Orlando or Go to The evergaldes see some real wild life. Snakes, Aligators, Racoons, Monkeys, Fish, wild cats, otters, just get out there and see it for yourself but be careful..it is illegal to feed Aligators in Florida
You can float down the springs on an innertube.
Tip: get there early during the summer , the park closes when full
It is located in Apopka, about half an hour from Orlando
There is a Manatee viewing center over by Tampa, where you can see the Manatees keeping warm by the power plant. It's free and a wonderful experience.
This is Silver Glen Springs..another great place to hike..swim or just plain relax in the Florida sunshine!
There are lots of pretty little parks in this area, many with lakes. Islands of serenity in a sea of urban sprawl. Since I was able to walk most everywhere I needed to go, I visited several of them.