Enjoy the nature of Central Florida on your next vacation

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of theme parks and immerse yourself in the natural diversity of the region, in the heart of the Sunshine State, with endless outdoor activities for the whole family

(Source: Visit Central Florida)

Prepare to make your next vacation unforgettable by venturing into Central Florida. Located in the heart of the Sunshine State, this region is just an hour's drive from Orlando, close to major attractions but away from the crowds. Enjoy a diverse landscape, where every curve reveals a new ecosystem to explore. With a variety of lakes and municipal and state parks, Central Florida is vital to the conservation of the state's flora and fauna and offers a plethora of outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy in the wilderness. 

The boundless natural beauty of Central Florida awaits you. Explore refuges of exotic plants and animals found nowhere else in the world. The region's beautiful parks offer a variety of unique opportunities to enjoy. There, for example, you can go from a freshwater marsh, on the shores of a lake, to a desert scrub habitat with cacti in just a few miles.

With 554 freshwater lakes and 25,000 acres of recreational parks, the region offers hiking, bird watching, fishing, paddleboarding, eco-boating, and exciting water sports like wakeboarding and water skiing. In addition to the more than 480 kilometers of trails that captivate with their natural beauty, the parks and reserves are well worth a visit for those who like to enjoy the outdoors with nature.

This is the case of the Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, one of the main natural places for hiking, bird watching, and biking. There, in addition to watching the sunrise at Lake Hancock and spotting alligators and the famous American eagles, you can walk along trails that pass through stretches where you can see native Florida flora. The reserve was praised by USA Today as one of the 50 best places to see wildlife in the United States.

And no matter the season, Colt Creek State Park, also in Lakeland, offers hiking, canoeing, biking, horseback riding, fishing and more for outdoor enthusiasts. Located in the heart of the Green Swamp Wilderness (distinctive cypress lakes found only in central Florida), it features 12 miles of marked trails amid pine forests. It is home to three creek systems, three man-made lakes and a variety of flora and fauna.

Native residents include gopher tortoises, eagles, white-tailed deer, otters, alligators, bobcats and many birds and butterflies. The lakes are a great option for anglers. The more adventurous can rent canoes and kayaks at the ranger station. There are also several types of camping experiences. There are also a variety of educational programs, such as guided tours and special events.

Lake Kissimmee State Park, situated on the shores of Lake Rosalie, Lake Tiger and Lake Kissimmee, is a favorite among nature lovers. There are more than 200 species of birds and 12 unique environments. Local flora beauties include butterfly orchids and fields of lotus. With 21 kilometers of hiking trails, there are also 6 kilometers of equestrian trails. And speaking of horses... Although not currently available, there is a cowboy camp from 1876 where Florida's cowboy heritage comes to life.

Visitors can also enjoy boating, canoeing and fishing on the lakes. Or perhaps enjoy the spaces available for a nice picnic. The park has complete camping areas. The dark skies make stargazing a popular nighttime activity among campers.

Other places not to miss when exploring Central Florida include Mosaic Peace River Park, Se7en Wetlands, Lake Wales Ridge, Floodplain Swamps, Wet Prairie, and Scrubby Flatwoods. We recommend that you bring hiking shoes, as the trails can be sandy or wet. And of course, don't forget to stay hydrated, as well as bring sunscreen, a hat, and bug spray.

Source: Visit Florida.

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