We’ve all been there: feeling like you need a vacation from your vacation. This can be especially true when you’re faced with days the crowds, the frenetic pace, and the barrage of merchandising in Orlando’s theme parks. Luckily, a natural escape awaits just outside of the popular sunny city, packed with both real-life thrills as well as peaceful solitude to recharge and relax.
Kissimmee showcases everything there is to love about Florida’s natural wonders and temperate climate. And, just a half hour from the magical worlds of Disney and Universal, its convenient location make it an easy, quick escape. Whether for a mid-afternoon break, or a day or two of rejuvenation before heading home, these adventures show off a different side of central Florida.
The Paddling Center
Located on the headwaters of the Everglades, this outfitter for kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards is your first stop for exploring the varied landscapes and wildlife found in Shingle Creek. From wide open waters to gentle slalom runs through old-growth cypress forests, the only sound you’ll hear throughout your journey is lapping water and birds singing in the trees. From $13 per hour.
Boggy Creek Airboat Rides
Want to enjoy nature, but have no desire to slow down? Get on an airboat and glide over the Everglades! These unique boats skim the shallow open waters and vegetation at the beginning of the subtropical wilderness where alligators, bird colonies and even cattle call home. You’ll go fast, and it’s sure loud — hearing protection is provided — but when your captain spots wildlife, the boat halts to a stop. It’s suddenly peaceful, and there’s an alligator sunning himself just 15 feet away. From $26.95.
Orlando Tree Trek
Swing through the treetops for a different perspective on Mother Nature at this aerial adventure park. Six courses of varying difficulty are included with your admission ($49.95). After securing yourself in a harness, you’ll be walking tightropes, swaying on swinging bridges, flying through the air on rope swings, and ziplining, all with experienced guides nearby.
Take a stroll through what life was like in Florida from 1895-1910 at this collection of authentic structures saved from demolition in Osceola County. An ancient citrus packing house, along with Seminole Indian housing structures, pioneer kitchens and a blacksmith shop are included on a self-guided tour. $7.
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