On my recent December, 2015, trip to Orlando I took a wonderful day trip with my family to Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park, 8300 W. State Road 46, Sanford, Florida. This is a do not miss opportunity to take a journey to the wild, natural beauty of Florida only 46 miles from Disney World.
Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park
The Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park is comprised of almost 18,000 acres of environmentally significant land, bordering six miles of the St. Johns River and the lower four miles of the Wekiva River and Black Water Creek. The state of Florida purchased almost 5,000 acres of the preserve in 1976 to protect portions of the Lower Wekiva River while allowing recreational use. Additional purchases in 1994 and 1995 have formed a wildlife corridor along the Wekiva and St. Johns rivers connecting to the Ocala National Forest.
Take a Few Hours to Paddle Through Old Florida
A carload of people can enter the Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park for $6. However, I recommend shelling out another $20
to rent a canoe. Take the approximately mile long journey up the Wekiva River to Wekiva Island for lunch. Along the way you will view hundreds of turtles, Blue Heron, Great Egrets, alligators, White Ibis and many more examples of Florida wildlife. When you hit Wekiva Island you can stop for a drink or lunch or just take a dip in the river. The trip back to the state park will delight with more wildlife and, hopefully, some good old fashioned Florida sunshine. This inexpensive trip beats any manufactured natural side show (Come See Live Gators!) by a wide margin.
Blue Spring State Park
This is my favorite place in the state of Florida. Blue Spring State Park, 2100 W. French Avenue, Orange City, Fl., covers more than 2,600 acres, including the largest spring on the St. John’s River. Blue Spring is a designated Manatee Refugee. During manatee season, which approximately runs from mid-November through March, hundreds of manatees can be observed from the parks’ many viewing area. Please remember that swimming or diving with manatees is not permitted; this rule is strictly enforced.
Manatees are spectacular animals and Blue Spring State Park offers a wonderful opportunity to observe them in their natural environment. Jacques Cousteau was so impressed with Blue Spring that he filmed the “Forgotten Mermaids” episode of the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau here in 1971. Take your kids to this natural wonder of Florida only 52 miles from Walt Disney World and you will not be sorry.
By the way, all of this comes at the outrageous price of $6 per vehicle (cash or check). The kids will get a rest from the frenetic activity of the theme parks and your wallet will get a rest too. Enjoy a wonderful day at the Blue Spring State Park!!
One More Wild Life Tip–Free Range Peacocks in Winter Park
Last year my mom rented a nice little house in Winter Park, Florida, a suburb of Orlando. We went for a walk one day and stumbled upon about four or five wild peacocks just living near a little lake in a small area of nice houses. Needless to say–its pretty cool to see them just hanging out in their natural habitat. I ain’t sayin, but I’m just sayin that if you happen to be near the intersection of Genius Drive and Balmoral Road in Winter Park, Florida, you might just happen up these beautiful creatures.
Want to Save Even More Money in Orlando?
And if you want to save big money and find great Orlando discounts, check out my articles on the Sheraton Vistana Resort, How to Save Big Money on Universal Studios Fast Passes, Five Great Nightlife Spots Near Disney World and Eight Rules to Get the Best Timeshare Rental Deals.