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INSIDE FLORIDA: Camping and Sightseeing

Updated on March 31, 2014

JOURNEY THROUGH FLORIDA WITH ME

Visit the Florida that I love. Don't forget your sunglasses and hats when you come with me to explore places that most tourists never experience.  Camp in campgrounds along gorgeous ocean and gulf fronts. Get the inside scoop on the Florida that the locals like to visit. Let me introduce you to some of our favorite spots for shopping and sightseeing. Please join me while we soak up the sunshine that is Florida.

Along Florida's Nature Coast - Get away from the hustle and bustle and enjoy the peaceful areas along the Nature Coast.

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Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge established in 1983 specifically for the protection of the endangered West Indian Manatee--Homosassas, FLCrystal River looking toward the springs.When the waters get too cold for the manatees, they travel from the Gulf of Mexico to the always 72 degrees spring in the Crystal River..Manatee in the river.Linda Pedersen Park, Weeki Wachee, FL--lovely area for picnics AND viewing manatee heading to Weeki Wachee River and springs and mermaids!Swim area at Pedersen ParkPicnic area at the park with shelters and playgroundPosed so pretty for me.Anclote Gulf County Park..peaceful scene along the shore. Beautiful sunset viewing.Sun beginning to set over the gulf.The Nature Coast features the natural beauty of Florida.
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge established in 1983 specifically for the protection of the endangered West Indian Manatee--Homosassas, FL
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge established in 1983 specifically for the protection of the endangered West Indian Manatee--Homosassas, FL
Crystal River looking toward the springs.
Crystal River looking toward the springs.
When the waters get too cold for the manatees, they travel from the Gulf of Mexico to the always 72 degrees spring in the Crystal River..
When the waters get too cold for the manatees, they travel from the Gulf of Mexico to the always 72 degrees spring in the Crystal River..
Manatee in the river.
Manatee in the river.
Linda Pedersen Park, Weeki Wachee, FL--lovely area for picnics AND viewing manatee heading to Weeki Wachee River and springs and mermaids!
Linda Pedersen Park, Weeki Wachee, FL--lovely area for picnics AND viewing manatee heading to Weeki Wachee River and springs and mermaids!
Swim area at Pedersen Park
Swim area at Pedersen Park
Picnic area at the park with shelters and playground
Picnic area at the park with shelters and playground
Posed so pretty for me.
Posed so pretty for me.
Anclote Gulf County Park..peaceful scene along the shore. Beautiful sunset viewing.
Anclote Gulf County Park..peaceful scene along the shore. Beautiful sunset viewing.
Sun beginning to set over the gulf.
Sun beginning to set over the gulf.
The Nature Coast features the natural beauty of Florida.
The Nature Coast features the natural beauty of Florida.

Cool Camping Gear

SE FS374 All-Weather Emergency 2-IN-1 Fire Starter & Magnesium Fuel Bar (Everything you need to start a fire!)
SE FS374 All-Weather Emergency 2-IN-1 Fire Starter & Magnesium Fuel Bar (Everything you need to start a fire!)

No matches? No problem. You'll always be ready to light that campfire and have it ready for roasting the hot dogs.

 
Coleman LED String Lights, 10 Lanterns
Coleman LED String Lights, 10 Lanterns

Light up the party or campsite with these LED string lights. Lending an air of ambience as well as safety to the area.

 
Rome's Set of 9 Forks for Marshmallows and Hot Dogs, Chrome Plated Steel
Rome's Set of 9 Forks for Marshmallows and Hot Dogs, Chrome Plated Steel

What's camping without roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over the campfire? Mmmm..get out the mustard!

 
Square Pie Iron - Cast Iron
Square Pie Iron - Cast Iron

What a versatile must-have piece of equipment for camping. Make delicious fruit piess, breakfast sandwiches, and treats with the pie iron.

 

FREE DISNEY EXPERIENCE - No, Not Fr*e Tickets To Disney World

Wouldn't we all love free tickets to Disney World? (Hey, if you know someone who works there you might beg some tickets from him. Workers get them as a perk for working at Disney.)

If actually going to the many fabulous World Parks at Disney is out of your budget range this season, you can still enjoy the fun, excitement, and beauty of the Disney creations.

Drive over to the many hotels and take a tour. Walk through the lobbies and experience the Disney ambience. Purchase a drink or lunch/dinner at the restaurant. Sit in the elegantly appointed lobby and be entertained by the exquisite grand piano. Shop in the hotel retail stores. Oh, I forgot, we are talking a free trip. Well, you can window shop, but Disney marketers have a way of making window shoppers into spending shoppers. They certainly know how to merchandise.

Travel on over to Downtown Disney. (Check out the info in the Fun in Florida section below). You can experience great restaurants, gorgeous lakeview, musical presentations, and of course, lots of shopping. Parking is free though..hee hee.

CHOOSE A DISNEY BOOK

If you can't go to Disney this season, you can read about it. Choose an entertaining and informative book.

HISTORIC BOK SANCTUARY - Home of the 205 foot Gothic and art deco carillon

Sanctuary is the perfect word to describe this peaceful park near Lake Wales, FL. Dutch immigrant Edward Bok established this landscape garden and soaring singing carillon tower on Florida's highest point as a gift to the American people. The Sanctuary was dedicated in 1929 by President Calvin Coolidge allowing visitors from all over the world a Sanctuary where they can stroll along the remarkable paths or sit and contemplate the beauty of Nature.

The Carillon is a towering structure which is a masterpiece of stone work as well as the home of beautiful music. There are concerts from the 60-bell carillon daily.

The museum on the property contains information about the formation of the gardens, the construction of the carillon tower, and Edward Bok's life. Take in the tour of the 1930's home of 20th century industrialist, C. Austin Buck. The Pinewood Estate is adorned in early 20th century Christmas decorations for the holidays and offers seasonal tours throughout the year.

Admission: $10. Adults; $3. Children 5-12. Free under 5

BOK TOWER VIDEO

Homosassa Springs State Park - Tour this park for a look at Florida wildlife.

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Located on Florida's Nature Coast, Homosassa Springs State Park is a lush, Florida landscape filled with wildlife native to Florida. This is a place that rehabilitates and releases injured animals. If they cannot be released, the park will care for them and allow people to view the animals in their natural environment. The only non-native Florida animal is Lu, the hippopotamus, who is a retired movie star celebrating his 50th birthday this year. By special decree from then Gov. Chiles, the mighty hippo, who is not a Florida native, was allowed to stay when the state purchased the park.

Take the quiet boat ride from the park entrance to the viewing area. Stroll the paths, take in the manatee show, the alligator and hippo show, and the wildlife encounters. This is an attraction that all ages will enjoy.

Experience Natural Florida at Blue Spring and DeLeon Springs State Parks

Manatees, wildlife along St. John's River, kayak trips, hiking, AND pancakes!

Blue Spring State Park is a manatee refuge. The warm springs draw the manatee there when the river water drops below 70 degrees about mid-November-March. Watch the manatee lazily float in the clear water with their youngsters. The enormous animals delight people of all ages. Blue Springs is 2,644 acres of natural Florida so there is plenty of wildlife to watch even when the manatee are not present.

Tent and RV campers can set up in the Sandpine scrub campground within easy walking distance of the river and spring run.

After enjoying Blue Spring, run on up the road to DeLeon Springs State Park. You can enjoy a dip in the 72 degree spring and fabulous pancakes you grill yourself at your table at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant, open 9-5 on weekdays and 8-5 on weekends, serving until 4:00. Call 386.985.5644.

TAKE A WINERY TOUR FOR A DIFFERENT TASTE OF FLORIDA

I know. I know. When you think of Florida, you think of oranges. But Florida has sixteen wineries scattered from Alva to DeFuniak Springs. Florida vineyards produce about 180,000-250,000 gallons of wine each year. Winemaking in Florida can be traced back to 1585 when the French Huguenots discovered the native, wild grape, muscadine, near Jacksonville. Research and science have combined to produce award winning wines. Now you can benefit by taking a drive through the Florida countryside to visit these wineries and taste the delightful flavors.

You may be surprised to discover bottles of blueberry, orange, grapefrut, strawberry, raspberry and Key lime wine on the shelves at Florida Orange Groves and Winery in St. Petersburg. Get real adventurous and try wines made from Ruskin Tomatoes and carrots.

Civil War Reenactments in Florida

Amazing is the only word to describe the Civil War Reenactment of the Brooksville Raid. Every January this event draws over 1500 reenactors, horses, caissons, canon to Brooksville, FL where a huge battle is staged on Saturday and Sunday. Vendors selling apparel and dry goods of the Civil War era are open for business come rain or shine.



Reenactments are held all winter in Florida locations.



Get in touch with this era of American history by attending a reenactment. You can step back in time for a more thorough appreciation of the fighting men and women in the War Between the States.

Books about the Civil War in the United States

Did you know the reason the War Between the States is called the Civil War is because a commission made up of members from the North and the South met before the war started to agree to certain rules on how to conduct the war. They were being civil about the War.

Included in the list are books about the Civil War.

A Visit to a Hydro Farm - Hydroponic growing vegetable

We visited this one acre farm in Ruskin, FL in March 2011. With hyrdroponics, one acre of ground grows the same amount of vegetables as six acres of traditional vegetable farmland.

Manatees, the Gentle Giants

Books on Manatees

Because the gulf waters cool in winter, the manatees make their way into warmer waters such as springs and discharge pools near hydro electric plants. It may be cool for you to get out and see these magnificent creatures, but grab that sweatshirt and pull on the long pants for an amazing sight. Don't miss the opportunity to see the manatee in natural surroundings.

Cedar Key, Relax and Recharge

Step into a different Florida. Get away from the crowds and hustle bustle of the major tourist attractions. If you want to escape, go to Cedar Key, FL, a little fishing town on the largest island of the Cedar Keys. Located three miles out into the Gulf of Mexico, this little gem is a haven for artists and writers. Visitors can pop in and out of the shops and galleries on the streets in the historic district. I especially enjoyed the quaint bookstore with post-it notes attached to the books with a quick review of the book. The variety of artwork including photos of wildlife and water scenes are outstanding as are the paintings, leather work, ceramics, jewelry, and more.

If you love seafood, then you will be in heaven with freshly caught delights from the waters around Cedar Key, prepared in the world class restaurants hugging the shore and eateries around the area.

Nature lovers will delight in visiting the federally protected bird sanctuaries and hiking the nature trails. Fishermen and women will appreciate the modern pier, pictured in the photo above, for catching all kinds of fish in the vast waters of the Gulf.

Lake Placid, FL

Town of Murals and Caladiums

Lake Placid, FL, located at the southern end of Highlands County on US Rte. 27, is delightful discovery. Located smack in the middle of citrus, cattle, and caladium farms, the small town has lots to offer visitors to this unique area. The 29 sparkling fresh water lakes are active centers for fishing, skiiing and boating, plus great sites for picnicking and hiking.

The main draw to the area is the extensive collection of murals in the downtown area. Go to the Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center on Oak St. to ask the friendly volunteers to help you. There is a 10 minute video on the murals and the original art collection can be viewed there. It's an easy walk around the town to see most of the murals. Get the $3.00 book with all the murals illustrated and information on the locations, artists, and the paintings.

Drive outside the city to see the fields of caladium plants where the landscape is alive with bands of colorful leaves stretching across the countryside. The Caladium Festival is held every August when the plants are at their peak of glory. The owner at Fancy Leaf Caladiums at Happyness Farms was friendly and helpful with all of our questions about these gorgeous plants who have no pests and require no insecticide treatment or fertilization.

Two interesting residents of this town--Dr. Melvil Dewey who invented the Dewey Decimal System for libraries loved the place so much that he spearheaded a movement to re-name the town to Lake Placid after Lake Placid, NY.

Presently Keith Stokes, aka Toby the Clown, established the Clown School in Lake Placid so that now the city claims to have more clowns per capita than any other town in Florida. Maybe that's why the residents are cheerful and friendly.

Escape to Lake Placid for a relaxing and rewarding day away.

Spending the Holidays in Florida? - Florida turns into an exotic, warm Wonderland to celebrate the holiday season.

Listed below are great places to visit on your holiday break. Shopping, entertainment and information available all year round is worth the trip, but the places shine during holidays with lights and decorations and special events.Here's a list of some of my most favorite places to visit in Florida. Leave a comment to let me know your favorite spots too.

Baseball Spring Training Time in Florida - Find out when your favorite team plays.

You know it's spring when the major league baseball teams arrive in Florida for Spring Training. This is a great opportunity for fans to see their favorite players in action in an intimate setting instead of the enormous major league fields. Take time to cheer your team on this spring.

Florida Strawberry Festival..Yummy!! - Strawberry shortcakes piled high, carnival fun, and big name country stars in concert!

Plant city, Florida is the place to be for the nationally known Florida Strawberry Festival.

Reader Feedback

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    • JanetG LM profile image
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      JanetG LM 5 years ago

      @sarahrk lm: Thank you for stopping by, Sara, and for the nice compliment. I love flea markets too. Where is the Festival flea market? I can add it to the list.

    • sarahrk lm profile image

      sarahrk lm 5 years ago

      So many places to go and things to see in Florida. I love the Festival Flea Market. Thanks for a good lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      There's a lot of things to do in Florida and it's vicinity. Have you tried a Disney World vacations?

    • profile image

      OcalaMLS 6 years ago

      Florida is a great place to live in. You have put in a lot of hard work on your lens. I'm still working on a couple of mine ocala fl real estate

    • profile image

      Petalm 6 years ago

      Informative and interesting lens, makes me want to go there!

    • Charmcrazey profile image

      Wanda Fitzgerald 6 years ago from Central Florida

      This is a wonderful lens about Florida. I'm a fourth generation Floridian and I love it when people feature the "real" Florida. Blessed.

    • profile image

      TheDisneyVacation 7 years ago

      I'm such a big WDW fan, but I've never explored the other facets of Florida! Thanks for the information, it really invited me to plan a vacation there. Hope I can make it this summer.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 7 years ago

      You know, surprisingly! I've been to quite a few spots in Florida. Lived in Big Pine Key for a while too -- mom had a stilt house there and enjoyed living in the Keys until a hurricane came through and scared her back into the mainland. Celebration is a cool place to visit as is St. Augustine!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 8 years ago from Royalton

      [in reply to heipet] Thank you for adding your lens to the All 50 States Group Lensography.

    • cscfl61 profile image

      cscfl61 8 years ago

      Enjoyed your lens, just starting in squiddo and searching for fellow Florida lovers. Also like the Blue Springs lens by Vacation-in-my-head. Blue Springs is like my favorite place on earth. Will add both to my lensroll. https://hubpages.com/sports/crazyaboutcamping

    • fortune68 profile image

      fortune68 8 years ago

      Beautiful informative lens on Florida. I shall refer to it when I go and visit! 5 stars for all the great info you have put together.

    • profile image

      heipet 8 years ago

      I have submitted this lens to "All 50 States"!

      https://hubpages.com/education/50-states

      Don`t forget to vote for it.

      heipet - SUMMER Group groupmaster

      PS. I have also added two Florida lenses from the SUMMER Group to your plexo above!

    • dustytoes profile image

      dustytoes 8 years ago

      I've visited some of theses spots! Nice lens...

    • TopStyleTravel profile image

      TopStyleTravel 8 years ago

      Great lens on other places to visit in Florida. Loved the slide show. Great resources for travelers. Five stars and a lensroll.

    • profile image

      Vacation-In-My-Head 8 years ago

      Great lens 5*'s. I'm going to lensroll it to my Blue Springs Florida lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      I love seeing the manatees in Florida--so impressive a sight, especially from a canoe.

    • profile image

      heipet 9 years ago

      Good lens, very intriguing! I especially like the Manatees.

      Thank you for lensrolling my camping gear lens!

      heipet

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 9 years ago from Royalton

      The Purple Gallinules just flew over to check out your lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Great site! Wish it had existed when we were last in Florida!

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Great website! Very informative!