With gas prices soaring over four dollars a gallon, summer vacations are taking a hit. "Staycation" is the buzz word: meaning stay near home on your vacation.
Florida residents are fortunate to have many choices within the Sunshine State. Naturally, Orlando boasts world-famous theme parks and the Space Coast offers tours of the Kennedy Center.
Jacksonville touts some fantastic parks and beaches along with neighboring Amelia Island and St. Simon's. St. Augustine is always a popular destination and renovated Marineland isn't far down Interstate 95. Check out the changes and the new educational one-on-one dolphin encounters.
But if you're hankering to go a little further from home, consider some off the beaten track adventures in Central Florida.
Westgate River Ranch presents a 1,700 acre Dude Ranch complete with authentic rodeo, campfires and singing cowboys. A petting zoo, pony rides and swimming pool keep little ones happy. Adults can try trail riding or drive cattle in a round-up. In addition, swamp buggy and airboat rides splash some great fun. Watch out for the alligators! The facility offers hotel rooms for as little as $ 89.00 a night, for a family of four with kitchen.
Bi-Plane rides return from barnstorming days and appeal to anyone interested in aviation history. For $65, fly in the open cockpit of a 1929 D-25, complete with leather helmet and scarf tied around your neck. Visit Fantasy of Flight in Lake Wales.
How about something even more adventuresome? Skydiving! Tandem jumps are safe and designed for first time adventurers. I personally assure, the thrill will never be forgotten. I loved it! Florida boasts 14 certified centers, such as nearby Jacksonville, Deland, Lake Wales and Orlando. Each location delights participants with different scenic views.
Kayaking is a cool summer activity and easy to learn. Spend a day paddling and gliding by tall cypress trees, prickly cabbage palms and blue herons. Reasonable rental rates are obtainable on lakes or rivers through the state. Try the famous Chain of Lakesâ€” sixteen freshwater lakes connected by a series of canals in Winter Haven.
Fishing? While Jacksonville offers the Kingfish Tournament; central Florida is the large-mouth bass fishing capital of the world.
Anyone dig Gardening? Cypress Gardens, Florida's first tourist park founded in 1936, display immense topiary creations as well as a botanical sanctuary. You'll find the gardens photography worthy, along with beautiful hoop-skirted Southern belles.
Of course, the park's famous Ski Show Spectacular still jumps with athletic and acrobatic feats, including the signature human-pyramid of skiers. Newly added water park rides, a heart pounding roller coaster and other amusement thrill rides are on site.
For something more peaceful, meander around Bok Towers and gardens. Tranquil resting places are tucked into the lushly landscape of ferns, oaks and pines. Listen to the singing bell tower or consider attending a special summer carillon concert.
This summer play near Jacksonville for super staycation fun, or add the price of a tank of gas and explore the middle of our state.
This article appeared in the August issue of The Creekline