We all know about the theme parks, Disney, Universal, Seaworld, Legoland, but Central Florida along with the West Coast, has many other attractions that are unique and interesting for the entire family.
Located in Dunellen, Rainbow River Spring is a beautiful natural spring. You can float or tube down the river and observe Florida’s breathtaking natural landscape. It is considered the crown jewel of Central Florida. It’s 6 miles of pristine blue water.Devils Den Spring in Williston is prehistoric and unusual because it is underground. Great for snorkeling or diving, the water is a constant 72 degrees. You reach the water by walking down medieval stone stairs.
The Wonder House in Bartow is a private residence, offering tours through advanced reservations. Construction started in 1926; it was considered an engineering marvel. It is an imposing stone fortress, with 2 stone bridges 30 feet in the air. It was originally built by someone who at one time, was considered a German spy. Proceeds from tour admission go into further restoration of this historic home.
If you enjoy wine, a visit to the Lakeridge Winery in Clermont might be on your list of things to do. This is a full vineyard and winery with tours and wine tastings. On many weekends they have festivals and events. They also have a wine store where you can purchase their private label wine along with wine accessories.
If you like horseback riding a trip to Westgate River Ranch Resort and Rodeo might be for you. Westgate is in River Ranch and is the largest dude ranch east of the Mississippi. You can book a room and enjoy all the facilities. Enjoy a Rodeo, attend a concert, trap and skeet shooting, bicycle renting, pony rides, golf, airboat rides and many other outdoor activities.
Want to swim with the Manatees? Crystal River on the West Coast is the only place it is legal to swim with the Manatees but you cannot touch or harass them or prevent them from swimming. Boardwalks at Three Sisters Springs Wildlife Refuge allows you to see these amazing sea cows without getting wet! Best time to see the Manatees is from mid-November to end of March.
Tarpon Springs on the west coast, offers sightseeing dolphin boat tours into the Gulf of Mexico, which includes shelling on a remote island. The Sponge Industry built this authentic Greek community and now you can visit and enjoy some of the best Greek food, bakeries and markets.
If visiting Florida during the Christmas season, a visit to the Stetson Mansion in Deland is a must. The mansion, built in 1886, by John B. Stetson the famous hatmaker, is the largest and most spectacular of the Gilded Age residences built before 1900. It is a grand Victorian Mansion, it’s original details and architecture have all be restored and 95% of the mansion is original. It is not a museum, but a private residence. Guided tours are available between Feb-July. During the Christmas Spectacular, 10 rooms are designed with 24 nativity scenes from around the world. Each year the rooms are decorated differently and include all the rooms on the ground floor and 3 bedrooms on the second floor.
Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park houses the most comprehensive collection of Tiffany glass found anywhere in the world. It is 19,000 sq. ft. and the Tiffany collection is the centerpiece of the museum. The Tiffany Chapel, which was fully reassembled, opened to the public in 1999. It features a brilliantly colored window mosaic standing 39 ft long and 23 ft. wide, rising to its highest point at 24 ft. absolutely breathtaking.
Henry P. Leu Botanical Gardens is 15 acres of sub-tropical and tropical foliage. It contains 3 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s landscaped grounds and lakes are lined with 200 year old oaks, and showcases a large collection of camellias, roses, azaleas, and citrus grove along with a butterfly garden. There are too many collections of plants and trees to even list. Well worth a visit.
Want to see a launch? Cape Canaveral, in Brevard County home of the Space Force offers tours and Kennedy Space Center offers tickets to watch an actual launch. Kennedy Space Center, 25 minutes from Cape Canaveral, is a NASA complex for an up-close encounter with the history of human space travel. See actual rockets and the space shuttle, learn about space pioneers and heroes of the space program.
Check the launch schedule for dates and plan your excursion accordingly.