More things to do in Central Florida (when things settle down for the semester)

A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about taking time to de-stress by taking part in one of many suggested area attractions (it was more of a categorized list, really). With many of you deeply involved in your studies and other law-school activities (i.e. mid-terms!), you might soon be looking for some ways to clear your head and recharge.

To that end, I have created (with the help of the Orlando Weekly and helpful colleagues who kindly shared suggestions) a supplemental list of fun, relaxing, educational and otherwise interesting things to do in Central Florida. And with the beautiful weather we have been having lately, there is a special focus on exploring the Central Florida outdoors.

Be sure to also check out the original mini-directory for many more fun (and low cost / free) ideas.

In the meantime, good luck with your studies! Hopefully, soon you can visit one of these must-see Central Florida destinations for fun and relaxation (when the time is right for you).

From the Orlando Weekly’s list of 100 Things You Must Do in Orlando Before You Die:

blog post pic things to do in orlando
*Drink around the world at the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (September 19 – November 10, 2014), and don’t miss the live chef demos. https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/

*Enjoy a home-cooked meal and down-home sounds at Southern Fried Sunday (hosted by Will’s Pub, 1042 N. Mills Ave., facebook.com/southernfriedsunday).

*Take a date on a swan boat paddling tour of Lake Eola.

*Cruise the ever-changing selection of food trucks at Tasty Tuesdays in the Milk District (2424 E. Robinson St., facebook.com/tastytuesdaysorlando).

*Catch a Blue Man Group show (CityWalk at Universal Orlando, blueman.com/universal-orlando) and a Cirque du Soleil La Nouba (Walt Disney World Resort, cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/lanouba) performance. Some people travel to places like New York or Las Vegas (or Orlando) to catch these kinds of shows – we have them right in our own backyard, all year round.

*Pet a tarantula at Jungle Adventures (26205 E. Colonial Drive, Christmas, jungleadventures.com) – and a scorpion, and a baby gator, and a big slithery snake. After the weirdly exhilarating hands-on experience, take a walk through the grounds of the erstwhile gator farm and coo and point at everything from a secretary bird to a ringtail lemur to a cage full of Florida panthers.

*See as many movies as you can at the Florida Film Festival, more than two decades old and still going strong. (April 10-19, 2015, Enzian Theater, 1300 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, floridafilmfestival.com)

*Freeze yourself at ICE! at Gaylord Palms Resort (6000 W. Osceola Pkwy, Kissimmee, marriott.com/MCOGP), where two million pounds of ice sculpture transform the resort into a winter wonderland.

*Horrify yourself at Legends: A Haunting at Old Town (5770 W. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee, legendsoldtown.com), the only year-round haunted house in town. It dishes up the scares like nobody’s business.

*Brave the live gators to putt a hole in one at Congo River Golf (various locations, congoriver.com).

*Pet a panther, or any other wild animal ranging from backyard ’possums to fallow deer, taken in for rehabilitation at Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge (18515 E. Colonial Drive, btn-wildlife.org).

blog post blue springs state park

NATURE PARKS AND OTHER POINTS OF INTEREST

(across Central Florida):

Some of these sites are very close, others are a bit of a trek from Barry’s school campus, but all are worth the drive. Many of the parks and attractions are free or low cost entry offering glimpses of “old” Florida in its preserved natural state with varied wildlife, unique ecosystems and plenty to do.

Audobon Center for Birds of Prey (1101 Audubon Way, Maitland, FL 32751; (407) 644-0190): Sanctuary and rescue facility for raptor birds such as owls, hawks and bald eagles. Open to the public for a small admission fee. Located only 20 minutes from campus.
http://www.audubon.org/locations/audubon-center-birds-prey
https://www.facebook.com/AudubonCenterforBirdsofPrey

Black Bear Scenic Byway – Traverse the mosaic of natural sites from this scenic roadway comprised of forest, springs, and vibrant ecosystems. If you are lucky, catch a glimpse of a black bear (their population density is at its highest in the state here). Closest point located about 45 miles north of Orlando.
http://floridablackbearscenicbyway.org/about-2/about-the-byway/

Black Point Wildlife Drive (part of the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge – only a 45 minute drive from campus!)
A six-mile self-guided scenic drive in the refuge winds through pine flatwoods and impounded marsh, providing excellent views of many species of wildlife.
http://www.fws.gov/merrittisland/Drive.html

Blue Springs State Park (2100 W French Ave, Orange City, FL 32763; (386) 775-3663): During the winter months, catch a glimpse of the many manatees that take refuge here in the St. John’s River’s largest spring. Park is only about 45 minutes from campus.
http://www.floridastateparks.org/bluespring/
http://www.floridasprings.org/visit/map/bluespring/

Deleon Springs State Recreation Area: Take a stroll through the large recreation area and trails. Or ride a paddle boat on the lake. Also, be sure to visit the quaint and awesomely rustic park restaurant (Old Sugar Mill Grill & Griddle House) where you can participate in the preparation of your own delicious pancake breakfast (eat them hot off the griddle)! Located about 1 hour from campus.

Dudley Farm Historic State Park (18730 W. Newberry Road, Newberry, FL 32669) Located about 2 hours from campus:
http://www.floridastateparks.org/dudleyfarm/

Fort Christmas Historical Park (1300 N Fort Christmas Rd, Christmas, FL 32709; (407) 254-9310). Located 45 minutes from campus:
http://www.orangecountyfl.net/CultureParks/Parks.aspx?m=dtlvw&d=15#.VDhAGBaK060

Homosassa area attractions (north and west of Tampa): Check out the manatees and other native animal species at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. Catch a glimpse of real, live monkeys at nearby Monkey Island on the Homosassa River. Then, scope out the remains of an old sugar mill owned by David Levy Yulee which supplied its products to the Southern troops during the American Civil War. These sites are located about 1.5 hours from the Barry Law campus.
http://traveltips.usatoday.com/attractions-homosassa-florida-38384.html

Leu Gardens & Mead Gardens – Located in Winter Park, Florida, stroll through the perfectly landscaped gardens, streams and trails. Located only 20 minutes from campus.
http://www.leugardens.org/
http://www.meadgarden.org/

Oakland Nature Preserve – Located just outside of Orlando in extreme Western Orange County, about 45 minutes from campus (747 Machette Trail, Oakland, FL 34760; (407) 905-0054):
http://www.oaktownusa.com/Pages/Preserve/index

Ocala National Forest (located about 1.5 hours from campus): Take a hike, ride a canoe or swim in one of the springs of the southernmost national forest in the United States.
http://www.fs.usda.gov/ocala

Silver Springs State Park: Take a glass bottom boat ride in the serene and famous clear blue springs located near Ocala (about 1½ hours from campus):
http://silversprings.com/glass-bottom-boats/

photo_references

REFERENCES:

“Free Things to Do in Orlando — National Geographic.” National Geographic. Web. 14 Oct. 2014.
<http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/city-guides/free-orlando-traveler/&gt;.

“100 Things You Must Do in Orlando before You Die.” Orlando Weekly. 4 Dec. 2013. Web. 14 Oct. 2014.
<http://orlandoweekly.com/news/100-things-you-must-do-in-orlando-before-you-die-1.1594947&gt;.

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