Deprecated: mysql_connect(): The mysql extension is deprecated and will be removed in the future: use mysqli or PDO instead in /home/a26f9f83/public_html/articles/includes/config.php on line 159
Experience The Real Florida > NetSparsh - Viral Content you Love & Share

Experience The Real Florida

Every year around 40 million visitors come to Florida for the sun, sea and attractions. Most visit the world famous theme parks or enjoy the fabulous palm-fringed sandy beaches.

However, while Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse is known the world ever, Florida is host to another mouse that is just as special and the key to exploring the real Florida.

The tiny Florida mouse - only found within the State - is one of the hundreds of species of animals, birds and other creatures that live in Florida's magnificent state parks.

The chain of 159 state parks is one of Florida's best kept secrets yet they offer a great day out for all the family ? and for a tiny fraction of the cost of spending a day at one of the theme parks. Just a few miles from Walt Disney World, Sea World and Universal Studios is Wekiwa Springs State Park, an 8,000 acre natural oasis surrounded by urban build up.

If you stand on the deck outside the park's nature center and look out at the spring and the lush tropical vegetation beyond, you can enjoy a landscape that is much the same as when the first Spanish explorers ventured inland almost 500 years ago and even when the first Indians arrived almost 12,000 years ago.

Wekiwa is a Creek Indian word meaning 'spring of water' and today, the crystal clear spring discharges a staggering 43 million gallons of water every day into a lagoon that has a year round temperature of about 72 degrees.

Wekiwa Springs State Park is one of three parks in the area that make up the Wekiva River Basin State Parks, an area covering over 40,000 acres. Wekiva is the Creek Indian word for "running water" so the spring is Wekiwa and the river is Wekiva ? just to confuse you!

Admission to the park is just $5 for a car and all passengers so you can spend all day sunbathing, swimming in the lagoon, walking the trails, exploring the wildlife or renting a canoe and paddling up the quiet, winding river.

Visit the nature center at the start of your visit which will give you some idea of the wealth of wildlife to be seen within the park's boundaries. You can also learn about the park's rich history.

When dinosaurs roamed the rest of North America, Florida was still submerged several hundred feet below the sea. Instead of massive land animals, the warm waters above what was to become Florida were home to giant sharks ? more than 55 feet long. You can still find shark teeth and other fossils in the park although you shouldn't take them.

Around 10,000 years ago mammoth, mastodon, saber tooth tiger, camel, rhinoceros, giant ground sloth and glyptodonts ? a 1,000lb ancestor of the armadillo ? roamed the Florida countryside, having been driven south by advancing Ice Age glaciers.

Timucuan Indians were the first to settle the area and they established settlements throughout Florida. The Spanish arrived in the 1500s introducing horses and oranges as well as European diseases that killed most of the Indians. In the 18th century settlers began colonizing Central Florida and at the end of the Civil War a hotel was built at the springs and the first tourists arrived.

Today, the tourists continue to come and many of them are visitors from outside the U.S. in search of the other Florida. There are picnic areas with grills for barbecuing, family and RV camp sites with hooks up for power and water and primitive camp sites if you want to trek into the backwoods. There are mountain bike trails, hiking trails and horse raiding trails as well as nature walks.

Maps are provided free and all trails are clearly signposted so you can move from one trail to another depending on how far you want to walk or how keen you are to get back to the spring and jump in the water.

If you are out on the trails, you may see black bear, white tailed deer, raccoon, bobcat, gopher, armadillo and fox squirrel, the largest member of the squirrel family. Many people mistake fox squirrels for monkeys because of their size and the way they sit in the trees. However, there are monkeys in the state park ? descendants of "extras' in a Tarzan movie that escaped during filming many years ago.

The park's most famous critter is the alligator which can grow up to 14 feet and there are hundreds in the Wekiva Basin. You can usually spot them while out canoeing.

Gators are fascinating creatures. Their teeth grew continuously throughout their lifetime and they exert 2-3,000 lbs of pressure per square inch when biting down ? compared to humans who exert only 5 lbs of pressure when biting down with all their force.

Gators can also outswim you in the water and outrun you on land, achieving speeds of 35mph over short distances. Large gators can also jump vertically four to five feet out of the water ? a good reason not to mess with them!

There are many other interesting any interesting and unusual animals, birds, reptiles and insects to see in the park.

So, the next time you are planning a visit to Central Florida, say hi to Mickey and then enjoy a great and affordable family day out with Florida's other mouse and experience the delights of the real Florida.

Wekiwa State Springs Park is off Wekiwa Springs Road in Apopka, about 10 miles from all the main attractions. Visit their website at www.floridastateparks.org/wekiwasprings

Don Philpott spent 20 years as a senior correspondent with Reuters/Press Association wire service traveling the world on assignments. He has had more than 5,000 articles and 56 books published on travel, security, wine, food, and diet and health.

He recently completed a five year project writing a series of 22 travel guidebooks on Florida and the Caribbean. His latest book The Trailside Cookbook, was co-authoried with his wife Pam and was published by Firefly in March 05. He is host of http://www.wineinfo101.com, a wine and food appreciation website and senior editor of Florida Features which specializes in articles on Florida and the Caribbean. He is a member of the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association and the North American Travel Journalists Association.

In The News:

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news

Northwest Georgia News

Kids vs. Wild Camp getting kids outdoors and into nature
Northwest Georgia News
Other activities during the week include archery, canoeing and boating, outdoor cooking, fire safety, nature crafts, wildlife identification, first aid and much more. The next session is scheduled for July 16-20. Call 706-291-0766 to get on a wait list ...


AdAge.com

This LLBean campaign brings new meaning to out of office
AdAge.com
"We want to enable and inspire many of our outdoor enthusiasts to get outside," says Chris McDonough, chief sales and brand officer at Freeport, Maine-based LLBean, noting that the campaign aims to make the outdoors approachable. The retailer worked ...

and more »

News 12 Bronx

Bronx residents head outdoors as temps soar
News 12 Bronx
Plenty of Bronx residents spent time outdoors Monday as high temperatures soared into the 90s. Kids were using the sprinklers at the Jennie Jerome Playground, while street vendors were selling water bottles and ices to parkgoers. MORE: Weather Center ...


The Durango Herald

Colorado Trail Days will celebrate the outdoors
The Durango Herald
The annual Colorado Trail Days celebration will still be held this year, even as much of the outdoors space in La Plata County is closed to the public. “The mountain landscape and outdoor recreation is why many of us have chosen to live here, so the ...


5280 | The Denver Magazine

At This Outdoors Preschool, Nature Is the Classroom
5280 | The Denver Magazine
The Stapleton-based preschool is the first in the Mile High City to operate in a fully outdoor classroom: no building, no water, no electricity, no indoor bathrooms. Instead, students ages 3 to 6 learn by exploring Bluff Lake Nature Center, where the ...


Outdoors: Using bucktail jigs to catch stripers
Gloucester Daily Times
This time of year, using bucktails for stripers can be very productive. These linesiders love to feed when the water is moving quickly. Here is a three-way system that is easy to build and especially easy to fish where there are rip tides, rocky ...


Outdoors notices: Monday, June 18, 2018
Tribune-Review
Venture Outdoors is offering a Rock Climbing Event from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday at Laurel Highlands. Learn from experienced guides as they teach participants about equipment, safety, tying knots, how to belay and other experienced climbing techniques.


MLive.com

Wolverine kept PFAS outdoors at polluted tannery
MLive.com
ROCKFORD, MI -- Historical records show that Wolverine World Wide once stored toxic chemicals that are polluting the Rogue River in an unpaved area outdoors at the footwear company's former leather tannery complex in downtown Rockford. A pollution ...


LetsRun.com

$200018 LRC Running Warehouse USA Outdoors Prediction Contest
LetsRun.com
The USA outdoor track and field champs are Thursday thru Sunday in Des Moines, Iowa, and LetsRun.com will be on site. The $200,018 LRC Running Warehouse Prediction Contest will make USAs even more interesting. The contest is quite simple.


Android Central

How to use an Amazon Cloud Cam outdoors
Android Central
I've been holding with hopes that Amazon will release a full-fledged Cloud Cam outdoor version (please Amazon!) and searching frantically for a short-term solution. It wasn't until a few days ago that I came across this outdoor housing made to fit the ...

and more »
Google News

How to Repair an Inflatable Boat

The owner can attempt small inflatable boat repair if factory-gluing... Read More

Shark Attacks! How Common are They? Where do They Occur?

Last week in Australia, one man's day at beach could... Read More

Boston Vacations: Four Ways To Experience Beantown

Boston is a great destination city for a vacation. There's... Read More

Mammoth Cave: One of the Most Beautiful in Our National Park System

Directly south of Louisville, just off Interstate 65 and not... Read More

Greek Food

A meal in Greece is highlighted with a selection of... Read More

True North & Magnetic Declination - A Trick to Make it Stick

Magnetic declination is an essential principle to understand when navigating... Read More

A Review of Inflatable Boat Manufacturers

There are many manufacturers of inflatable boats on the market... Read More

Great Indian Holidays

Holidays in India, awesome in her size and diversity. This... Read More

River Rafting in Colorado

The sport of river rafting was practically invented in Colorado.... Read More

Catch Another Falling Star

Recently we stayed at a state campground in Michigan near... Read More

Take a Hiking Pole on Your Next Hike

It is the downhill ski racing competition of the winter... Read More

Unforgettable Cape Cod Vacations: The National Seashore Gift

Take a captivating trip through the Cape Cod National Seashore... Read More

PaintBall Gun Buying Tips

There are so many selections available when it comes to... Read More

Bird Watching Tips

Simply sitting and watching birds is a popular hobby around... Read More

Bird Watching Journals ? Preserve Your Bird Watching Experiences

Bird Watching is a great way to escape the rat... Read More

Whitewater Rafting Trip

For the dedicated water sport enthusiast there can be no... Read More

Solo Backpacking Tips

Solo backpacking means peace and quiet. No one to talk... Read More

Pigeon Forge Campgrounds

Campgrounds are a perfect Pigeon Forge lodging option for visitors... Read More

Kerala Backwaters - Gently Down the Stream

The quaint little balcony was large enough to accommodate two... Read More

Sleeping Pads For Ultralight Backpackers

Ultralight backpackers want to give up weight, not comfort. Sleeping... Read More

Japanese Garden of Monaco

Have you ever seen an authentic Japanese garden? Well, I... Read More

Your Horses Back May Not Be the Same Next Month

A saddle is a static object, but your horse is... Read More

Motorhome Camp Grounds Stalls should be Astroturf

Having traveled from state to state and every city in... Read More

A Fishy Road Trip in Cairns

The Cairns Fishing Adventure A Great Australia Road TripYou love... Read More

Where to Find Some of the Best Beaches in the World

We think that Cape Town has some of the best... Read More