Bella Vida by Letty

state parks

Wekiwa Springs Florida State Park

Wekiwa springs florida state park

Some of the best natural attractions Florida has to offer are its cool refreshing springs. Springs are the point where groundwater flows out of the ground where the aquifer surface meets the surface of the earth and Florida has one of the largest concentrations of springs on earth. There are many beautiful clear freshwater springs throughout central and north Florida. I was blown away at my first visit to Rainbow Springs Florida State Park. So much so I am determined to visit more of them.

Wekiwa Collage

The springs are great for cooling down, swimming, picnicking, paddling, canoeing, camping, hiking and nature watching. The best time to visit is summertime because these bodies of water remain relatively cold, about 72 degrees year round. It is the perfect way to keep cool on a hot summer day.

wekiwacanoe

Florida Springs are a great alternative to pricey theme parks.

Wekiwa Springs is only a 40-minute drive from Orlando theme parks located in the town of Apopka. We visited during the week but if you are heading out there on a summer weekend call in advance. They do close their gates when they reach capacity. Admission is only $6.00 per vehicle. A big difference from pricey theme parks and we had just as much fun.

Wekiwa 3

Wekiwa Springs has a very large walled off swimming area unlike other springs. You are allowed to canoe, kayak, paddleboard other areas just be respectful of nature. There are alligators everywhere. In addition there are miles and miles of hiking trails. Be aware that Florida has a large black bear population. If you plan on hiking go prepared. The only hiking I did that day was on the boardwalks scattered around the swimming area. I saw raccoons and a variety of birds including a few gorgeous swallowtail kite.

If you visit during summer weekends arrive early.  We spent an entire day swimming, canoeing and exploring the trails.  They have a gift shop and small concession stand which serves snacks, burgers and hot dogs. Or you can bring your own picnic.

Have you been to Wekiwa Springs?

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Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park

 Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park

This is the first post of a new Florida travel series titled: Exploring the Florida Keys

The Florida Keys are a series of connected islands on Florida’s southern tip.  Some are smaller than others and there is only a two lane road taking visitors in and out of the keys.  Today’s trip is at the very top of the keys.  A wonderful trip if you don’t feel like driving all the way down to Key West.  This road trip stop is in Key Largo, Florida.

Instead of taking US1 straight down into the Keys we made a left onto Card Sound Road.  This is a small scenic two lane road that cuts through Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park.  There are miles and miles of preserved West Indian tropical hardwood hammock.  You will see small boats on waterways and people fishing off short tiny bridges.  Somewhere along the road you will pass Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge.  Yes, there are gators everywhere so be aware.

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park

Once you reach the park there are a few parking spaces at the front.  There is a cemented trail as well as many other trails throughout the park.  There were families riding bikes around the looping trail on the day I visited.  A great way to exercise while having fun.

The park has over six miles of nature trails which is perfect for birdwatchers and photographers.  There are many shaded areas to walk and rest.  There is also a very cute picnic area with tables.  A great spot to fuel up which can even be a lovely backdrop to have a romantic meal.

Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park

This was the first place I ever participated in Geo Caching thanks to the friendly park ranger who explained what it was.  Geocaching is a real world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS enabled devices or an app you can download to your phone. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.  When you find the treasure, you sign the log.  Make sure to include whatever you’ve taken and what you have left behind.  Then share with others.  It was a lot of fun to hunt for treasure.
        

This park is a great way to observe the wildlife.  During April and October migratory birds are funneled into the Keys by the landform. Some tropical species residents you might see are: the white-crowned pigeon, the mangrove cuckoo and black-whiskered vireo. Tropical vagrants such as the thick-billed vireo and La Sagra’s flycatcher are frequently reported in the park.
Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park
Butterfly-watching has rapidly grown in popularity since the mid-1990s; the park features an incredible diversity of species, including the Schaus’ swallowtail, silver-banded hairstreak, and both hammock and mangrove skippers. Rare tree snails feed on the lichens and bark of the tropical trees, and can be easily observed by park visitors.

Have you been Geocaching before?  Have you visited Key Largo?  Do you have a tip for me?

Let me know in the comments.

DJKL Mohawk Bird

This handsome guy has a mohawk.

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One of the Most Beautiful Places in Florida Rainbow Springs State Park

Rainbow Springs Florida State  Park

Florida has so many incredibly beautiful places to see.  It’s a treat to wander about the grand state in search of new surprises.  This time I decided to take a road trip to the north western area just under the panhandle.  We spent days zigzagging through hilly back roads where all you saw were cows, horses and farms.  You will find many wonderful state parks throughout that area.

Rainbow Springs Florida State  Park

Visiting Rainbow River State Park is a treat for the eyes.  Upon entering you will see the most beautiful crystal clear waters in shades ranging from jade to baby blue.  Crystalline clear blue waters flow from the springs which you can see bubbling in the white sand.

Rainbow Springs Florida State  Park

Yes you can swim here however because there are alligators you must remain in the designated area.  The water is clean, clear and very cold this time of year.  They say you get used to it once you jump in.  Go for it.

Rainbow Springs is the perfect place for canoeing and kayaking which are available for rent.  There are also many beautiful trails that will take you through gardens and more than one waterfall.  There are many places to picnic and camp.

Rainbow Springs Florida State  Park

Archaeological evidence shows these springs were used by people dating back 10,000 years ago.  It was an important place for clean water, food and fishing as well as transportation.  The springs are timeless and a wonderful way to spend the day.    There are plenty of picnic areas and pavillions for family gatherings.  The gorgeous scenic setting is great for spending romantic quality time.   Have you been?

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“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”  Sylvia Plath

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”  Margaret Atwood

“I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.” William Shakespeare

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” Albert Einstein

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