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Central Florida Road Trips

June 12, 2014

1. Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards • (800) 768-9463
19239 U.S. 27 North, Clermont 34717

Free tours and tastings are offered daily at this family-owned and operated winery Award-winning table and sparkling wines are tediously created from hybrid grapes.


2. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings State Historic Site •  (352) 466-3672
Route 3, Box 92, Hawthorne 32640 ( Home is in Cross Creek.)

See the enchanting “Cracker” home of famous Pulitzer-Prize-winning-author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings where she chronicled farm life in rural Florida and wrote “The Yearling.” Be sure to check times of daily tours.


3. Micanopy Historical Society Museum • (352) 466-3200
607 Northeast 1st St., Micanopy 32667

This quaint community, just off Interstate 275, is Florida’s oldest inland settlement and is where you may learn about Chief Micanopy of the Seminole Nation. The tiny town has a remarkable history and a number of excellent antique shops.


4. Pioneer Florida Museum • (352) 567-0262
15602 Pioneer Museum Road, Dade City 33526

Experience the way Florida’s pioneers lived in the early 1800-1900s. View vast collections of interesting Native American artifacts and pottery.


5. Silver Springs • (352) 236-2121
5656 East Silver Springs Blvd., Silver Springs 34488

Look down deep into these crystal clear, natural artesian springs through glass-bottom boats. Watch Florida’s aquatic wonders. and visit the exact site where the terrifying monster from “Creature from the Black Lagoon” was filmed.


6. Weeki Wachee Springs • (352) 596-2062
6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill 34606

One of Florida’s oldest theme parks presents live mermaids performing in a stage 16 feet below the surface. Boat rides, animal shows and the only spring fed water park in the state add to the fun.


7. Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp • (386) 228-3171
1325 Stevens St., Cassadaga 32706

A young New Yorker founded this spiritualist colony in the late 1800s when a message delivered to him during a séance directed him to this Central Florida location. Today it is inhabited by mediums, spiritual counselors and an interesting array of local folks.


8. Shopping at Mt. Dora/Mt. Dora Chamber of Commerce • (352) 383- 2165
341 Alexander St., Mt. Dora 32757

Horse-drawn carriages and quaint antique shops line the main avenues, enough to earn this area its reputation as the “Antique Center of Central Florida.” There are unique gift boutiques, art and antique shops galore and a real English tea room. Renninger’s Antique Market is the largest and contacts some incredible antiques and artifacts.


9. Gatorland • (800) 393-5297 or (407) 855-5496
14501 S. Orange Blossom Trail, Kissimmee 32837

One of Florida’s most prolific inhabitants is also one of its most interesting. View and study this most unique creature along with crocodiles and other unique creatures inhabiting this 110-acre wildlife preserve.


10. Green Meadows Petting Farm • (407) 846-4770
1368 S. Poinciana Blvd., Kissimmee 34746

A two-hour guided tours allows interaction with some 300 farm animals. Milk a cow, ride a pony, or hop aboard a tractor-drawn hayride.


11. Gemini Springs Park • (386) 668-3810
37 Dirksen Dr., DeBary 32713

Enjoy the abundant wildlife and vegetation throughout this 210-acre parkland. More than six million gallons of sparkling fresh water bubble from the dual springs daily.


12. Discovery Cove • (877) 434-7268 or (407) 370-1428
6000 Discovery Cove Way, Orlando 32821

Paddle alongside bottlenose dolphins at this Sea World sister attraction. Free-flight aviaries offer encounters with richly colored tropical birds and other creatures of delight.


13. Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art • (407) 645-5311
445 Park Avenue North, Winter Park 32789

Tucked in the lovely Winter Park community is a museum boasting the world’s most comprehensive collection of the works of Louis Comfort Tiffany, from his famous leaded glass windows to unique glass buttons.


14. Orlando Wetlands Park • (407) 568-1706
25155 Wheeler Rd., Christmas 32709

This beautiful park is world renowned for its wetlands engineering. Take a four mile hike path, or traverse the 18 miles of roadway for biking. The 1,650-acre oasis is a haven for flora, fauna and feathered visitors also offers access to the Florida Trail.


15. Central Florida Zoological Park • (407) 323-4450
3755 N.W. Hwy. 17-92, Lake Monroe 32747

Make your way to spend a day with elephants, cheetahs, mandrills and kook aburras. Rare Puerto Rican crested toads are new to the zoo. There’s an opportunity to see the endangered Amur Leopards and colorful hyacinth macaws.  See, touch and listen your way through an amazing park.


16. Polk County Historical Museum • (863) 534-4386
100 East Main St., Bartow 33830

This fully restored neoclassical style courthouse also houses the Polk County Historical and Genealogical library. A complete history of the area uncovers some very interesting facts.


17. Street Audubon Nature Center • (863) 324-7304
115 Lameraux Rd., Winter Haven  33884

This Audubon Nature center and sanctuary has become home to numerous species including 56 butterflies, 144 birds, 23 reptiles, 10 amphibians, 14 dragonflies and 10 moths. Explore 42 acres via a lower trail along the edge of Lake Ned, or another that runs above along the ridge.


18. Solomon’s Castle • (863) 494-6077
4533 Solomon Rd., Ona 33865

Marvel at the stained glass accented, castle-like home and studio of internationally known sculptor Howard S. Solomon, located near picturesque Horse Creek. Stop for a bite to eat and his in-house restaurant, but be sure to call ahead for times open.


19. Sumter County Farmer’s Market and Flea Market/Webster Flea Market • (352) 793-2021
524 North Market Blvd., Webster 33597

Considered one of the nation’s largest flea markets, this unique Farmer’s Market encompasses more than 40 acres and features 1,500 vendors. Get there early on Mondays for a complete viewing of old as well as new treasures. Fresh produce and good eats make for a great adventure.


20. Withlacoochee State Trail and Fort Cooper State Park • (352) 726-0315
3100 S. Old Floral City Rd., Inverness 34450

Bike or hike this 46-mile paved stretch that passes through small towns, ranches and scenic areas. It’s the longest rail trail of its kind in Florida. Fort Cooper State Park is superb for birding and wildlife viewing.


21. Bok Tower Gardens • (863) 676-1408
1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales 33853

Enjoy Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Bok’s lovely flowering gardens,  an idyllic setting for the magnificent 60-bell tower built on Florida’s highest point. This beautiful blend of architecture, history and nature, was dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge in 1929.


22. Cypress Gardens • (863) 324-2111
6000 Cypress Gardens Blvd., Winter Haven 33884

For years, visitors have enjoyed this splendid botanical paradise, known as Florida’s first theme park. Opened in 1936, entertainment includes a wonderful water ski show, as well as many other exciting sights and sounds.


23. Fantasy of Flight • (863) 984-3500
1400 Broadway Blvd. S.E., Polk City 33868

This tribute to the imaginations and innovations of early flight pioneers is the world’s largest private collection of vintage aircraft. Airplane buffs will experience a fantasy of their own.


24. Florida Southern University • (863) 680-4111
111 Lake Hollingsworth Dr., Lakeland 33801

Stroll the serene campus grounds and enjoy and enlightening walking tour of the 12 structures designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The “Child of the Sun” collection is the largest one-site collection of his work in the world.


25. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge • (321) 861-0667
SR 402, 5 miles east of Titusville 32782

More than 500 species of wildlife, including threatened or endangered species, call this 140,000-acre NASA-owned refuge “home”. Bald eagles, ospreys, scrub jays, manatees are commonly spotted throughout this amazing coastal habitat.


26. Space Coast  Nature Tours • (321) 267-4551
451 Marina Rd., Titusville 32796

Observe playful dolphins, eagles soaring overhead and alligators sunning by the shore during 90-minute narrated pontoon boat tours along the Indian River Lagoon. Cruise past Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Enjoy the views of NASA, the only place in the U.S. where man is launched into space.


27. Miss Cape Canaveral • (321) 783-5274
670 Glen Cheek Dr., Cape Canaveral  32920

Climb aboard Central Florida’s largest deep sea fishing vessel for a day of off-shore saltwater fishing. The 85-foot Lydia yacht offers all the comforts, from hot meals to air conditioning, that are considered necessary for a full day of “reel” fun.


28. Sebastian Inlet State Park • (321) 984-4852
9700 South A1A, Melbourne Beach 32951

Rich inlet waters link the Indian River Lagoon with the Atlantic Ocean, creating abundant waterways popular with fisherman, surfers and sightseers. Rent a canoe, or kayak to traverse the terrain in style. The Sebastian Fishing Museum and McLarty Treasure Museum are open daily.

Copyright Joyce LaFray. All Rights Reserved.