In our last edition we explored Jungle Adventures, home of a 200ft long concrete alligator in holiday-themed Christmas, FL, Spook Hill, where cars seemingly roll uphill, and home to an epic man vs. gator battle, located in Lake Wales, and nearby Bok Tower Gardens a National Historic Landmark, featuring an ornate, and massive 205ft (62m) carillon, affectionately called a “Singing Tower”.
So, take a step away from the theme parks veneer, you will discover the weird and wonderful in central Florida. It’s definitely worth a road trip, and family memories come in many varieties!
Juniper Springs is a crystal-clear spring in a subtropical setting and is known as one of the oldest and best known recreational areas on the East Coast. It is located between Ocala and Ormond Beach along SR 40. Swimming, canoeing, paddling, and abundant wildlife await your arrival.
YouTube Video of Juniper Springs
Weeki Wachee – City of Mermaids
Weeki Wachee – you will never find another place like it! Nestled near the Gulf Coast due west of Orlando you will discover the sleepy town of Weeki Wachee, Florida (pop.4) very likely (though unverifiable) the only the place in the world with a former mermaid as the mayor. Yes, a real mermaid. Weeki Wachee is named after Weeki Wachee Springs, a perfectly clear spring
Buccaneer Bay – Have fun in the small waterpark right on Weeki Wachee! Waterslides! The cost of admission to the waterpark is included in the general admission to the park. Dining is available, but you can bring your own picnic lunch. No grills, only thrills.
Mermaid Shows – Sit in a 400-seat auditorium and watch the mermaids perform their very special submerged version of Han’s Andersen’s The Little Mermaid.
River Boat Cruise – Take a peaceful cruise down the Weeki Wachee River and “nesting bald eagles, mullet, cooter turtles, blue heron, wild turkey, deer, and colorful fish of all sizes”.
Wildlife Shows – See the wild side of Florida and experience native wildlife up close and personal, such as alligators, snakes, exotic birds, and others.
Paddling and Kayaking – Weeki Wachee River is the perfect place to set off on an adventure. Float down 5.5 miles of crystal clear water. Great place to spot local wildlife and is a popular destination for West Indian manatees, sea turtles, otters, storks, pelicans, and native aquatic life!
Mermaid Camp – Train up to become a mermaid!
Meet the Mermaids – Weeki Wachee has its own cast of mermaids and Princes. Meet them here.
Tail Mail – Does your aspiring mermaid or merman (under 17) want to write a letter to a mermaid, have them write one, and get a personal response back from a Weeki Wachee mermaid or Prince! No kidding!
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Attn: “Tail Mail”
6131 Commercial Way
Weeki Wachee, FL 34606
…and since your going to be in the neighborhood, you might as well check out-
Lurking in Plant City (between Orlando and Tampa, just off I4) you will discover Dinosaur World – home to wonder, imagination, hundreds of realistic, life-sized dinosaurs “in their natural setting”, playground equipment, “all-around family fun”, interactive displays, and great values on prehistoric artifacts, toys, games, and pretty rocks. Dinosaur World is accepting of friendly, leashed pets, Dino Activities, including a Fossil Dig, Dino Gem Excavation, Bone Yard, and generally happy kids playing in the dirt. Is your child…or you,
Dinosaur World is accepting of friendly, leashed pets, and has Dino Activities, including a Fossil Dig, Dino Gem Excavation, Bone Yard, and generally happy kids playing in the dirt. Is your child…or you, planning a birthday? Dinosaur World has you covered, with special packages that include admission, and playing in the dirt. Special group rates are available, so bring all your friends for a “rrrrroarrrrring good time”!
YouTube video of Dinosaur World
Try Your Luck at Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum – African Fertility Statues
The many cultures that make up human society share more in common than not and that is its fixation with symbols and signs. For those wanting to conceive children or struggling with fertility issues this can take the form of a fertility statue, a mystical tribute, totem, or homage to closely held or connection to beliefs, hopes, wish fulfillment, and fertility gods that represent or personify them.
At the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum in Orlando there are several of them. Two, in particular, stand out from the rest though and they have earned a reputation. Acquired from the Baule people of the Ivory Coast of Africa, these two five-foot statues have been “credited” to the reported pregnancies of 13 office staff workers. These and other fertility statues in the collection are on public display and have been credited to the pregnancies of 2,000+ visitors who have visited and touched them.
Or it could be something in the water…
YouTube video of Fertility Statues
The Fabled Fountain of Youth and Pancakes at Old Spanish Sugar Mill
Located in De Leon Springs State Park you will find Ponce de Leon’s fabled “Fountain of Youth”, a natural spring and popular recreational spot for locals and tourists alike. Arrive, and before doing anything else, make a reservation at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill and Griddle House (a turn of the ’60s refurbished and repurposed grist mill turned historic make your own pancakes house built on the original 1830’s site of a Spaniard sugar mill).
During what is likely to be a considerable wait, take a 50-minute boat tour down the spring and into the Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, stroll down a nature trail for half a mile and visit Old Methuselah a 600-year old bald cypress tree, or depending on the wait for pancakes and depending upon how hot it is outside, take a nature hike down the 4.2-mile Persimmon Trail.
YouTube video of De Leon Springs State Park
Reunion Vacation Homes – Where All Great Adventures Begin
Contact our reservations team at (855) 661-3700 to learn more about the wonders that await you in Orlando when you book your trip accommodations in one of the luxurious vacation rental properties that Reunion Vacation Homes has available for your stay today!