Crystal clear springs, lush subtropical forests, National Wild & Scenic Rivers, world-class estuaries and pristine beaches filled with an amazing array of creatures, both great and small. You won’t find these at any of Orlando’s world-class theme parks. These are Greater Orlando’s natural theme parks…and they are world-class natural wonders, compliments of Mother Nature.
These are the places that should be on every nature lover’s bucket list. No waiting in line for 45 minutes to get on the next ride. No parking hassles. Typically, an entire carload of people can visit these natural theme parks for less than $10. Hike, bike, swim, paddle, surf, snorkel, scuba dive…or just stop by for a picnic.
Where, oh where are these magical places? Well, let’s start with Springs. Here’s a list by county, along with links for more information:
- Chassahowitzka Springs: http://www.swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/areas/chassahowitzka.html
- Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park: http://floridastateparks.org/homosassasprings/
- Weeki Wachee Springs State Park: http://floridastateparks.org/weekiwachee/default.cfm
- Alexander Spring Recreation Area: http://www.floridasprings.org/visit/map/alexander-spring/
- Juniper Springs Recreation Area: http://www.floridasprings.org/visit/map/juniper-spring/
- Rainbow Springs State Park: http://www.floridastateparks.org/rainbowsprings/
- Salt Springs Recreation Area: http://www.floridasprings.org/visit/map/salt-springs/
- Silver Glen Springs: http://www.floridasprings.org/visit/map/silver-glen-springs/
- Silver Springs State Park: http://www.floridastateparks.org/silversprings/default.cfm
- Kelly Park/Rock Springs: http://www.orangecountyfl.net/CultureParks/Parks.aspx?m=dtlvw&d=22
- Rock Springs Run Preserve State Park: http://www.floridastateparks.org/rockspringsrun/
- Wekiwa Springs State Park: http://floridastateparks.org/wekiwasprings/ Also: http://www.floridastateparks.org/rockspringsrun/default.cfm
- Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge: http://www.floridasprings.org/visit/map/crystal-river/
- Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park: http://floridastateparks.org/wernerboyce/default.cfm
- Blue Spring State Park: http://www.floridasnaturalwonders.com/the-bucket-list/blue-spring-state-park/
- De Leon Springs State Park: http://floridastateparks.org/deleonsprings/
Besides being world-class springs fed from the most productive aquifer on the planet, these sanctuaries offer a wide array of activities. Swim with manatees, ride horses, bird-watch, camp, hike, kayak…whatever you like to do outdoors, you’re likely to find it within one or more of these parks. You’ll also find lush subtropical forests, wildlife galore, and a deep appreciation for these wonders of nature. I encourage you to check them out and please do stop back to check out our next installment of Orlando’s Natural Theme Parks. You’ll be glad you did.