Life's Sweet Journey: Welcome Flo!! And our {Current} Top 5 Florida Adventures!!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Welcome Flo!! And our {Current} Top 5 Florida Adventures!!

I think this is now the third post where I mention Flo, but this is her first formal introduction. If you don’t know yet, we bought an RV!! I am in love and all things happy!! Babe has been about ready to tape my mouth shut from all the random song bust-outs (yes she has her own songs) and squeals of delight and anticipation that seem to escape my lips without prompting! We are actually in the car en route to pick her up as we "speak". We get to stay the night, learning all the ins and outs of all things travel trailers, before we bring her home.

Flo is short for FloRida ReVa. She was originally going to just be FloRida, but then I was reminded that this is a rappers name and I wanted to her to be her own true “person”, so I gave her a last name. ReVa is for R.V., but I like that it also sounded like Reba (McEntire), which yes is just another singer, but I have now decided to embrace it. So Flo is a little bit country, a little bit rock-and-roll and apparently a little bit rapper too! She'll grow into it! Can’t wait for you all to get to know her more right along with me!!

Until then I thought I would use this 5 on Friday to share the adventures that spurred in me a love for exploring and ultimately to a desire to hit the open road, which let to Flo.

There will be plenty more adventures to come now that we have her, but here are our
 top 5 budget friendly gas tanks adventures from Orlando 
(most at around1/1.5 hours away).

1). Spooky , Swampy Adventures!

(most suitable for able adults; cost: gas and $5 park fee)
Babe and I are both in agreement that our absolute favorite so far was our very first big Florida adventure. I had planned a little Florida surprises adventure for us and Oliver and Kerri (the bro-in-law and his girlfriend) and so I was the only one who knew where we were going. Our main destination was Spook Hill. It’s a little tourist pit stop destination where you try to park on the road and then your car moves by itself. It’s a little corny, but it works and it’s fun! From Orlando you take the Haines City (Highway 27) exit off of I-4. Following Spook Hill, we explored the orange groves down an old clay road and then looked for a place to go hiking. 
We settled on Lake Kissimmee State Park. There are tons of trails to take and we settled on the 6.7 miles loop. It was quite the adventure that’s for sure! The trail description did mention that there might be spots of standing water. That was a “slight” exaggeration, but I loved the water!! It just made the adventure grander in my opinion. At the first spot of water, the four of us (ok, who am I kidding it was mostly us girls) tried to keep our feet dry by building bridges out of logs. And while we did succeed, this was a futile endeavor. Further into the hike we hit a trail of nothing but mid-calf water which we hiked through for about a half a mile. Let’s just say, if you do decide to take this trail (which I would highly recommend) you should be prepared with shoes you do not care about getting wet. Overall it was a great hike, with a lot of different landscapes, and we loved it!

2.) Lake Apopka Adventures!
(suitable for any age or ability depending on what you do; drive is great for families with small kiddos or elder folks looking for an adventure with AC; cost- gas only)
After reading about the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, in an article through the Orlando Sentinel, I planned a full day of exploring for Babe and me. We began the day at the Oakland Nature Preserve, which is really neat because it borders an animal sanctuary and, depending on the day, you might see anything from ostrich to zebra hanging out by the fence along one of the trails. My history buff also enjoyed taking the boardwalk to Lake Apopka, where you read about its history. We then ate lunch at the new brewery in Winter Garden before continuing our explorations. We drove from Winter Garden to the Ferndale Preserve, which had a nice trail, but if you are going to skip any part of this adventure this would probably be the one I would skip. The trail wasn’t well covered and it was hot, plus -though it did offer great views of the lake from up high- you couldn’t get right near the water. There is a really awesome playground though if you have kiddos! There was also a roadside stop we stumbled upon called the Green Mountain Overlook (yup Florida mountains haha) with a great look out tower. We were only there about 5 minutes, but it was a nice little stop (it’s the start to a bike trail for any avid mountain bike riders out there). We then drove from there to our ultimate destination, the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. This is a one way drive through a water management system that they are using to try to clean up Lake Apopka. It’s a slow drive, but there are a lot of spots to get out, see things and search for gators! To start our adventure we took the 408 West towards Clermont, but once we reached the Oakland Nature Preserve we spent the entire day on back roads, taking the Florida Scenic Highway and that too added to the charm of the day!

3.) Merritt Island Adventures!!

(great for all ages, something for everyone; cost- gas and $5 park fee per car)
We spent one afternoon exploring the National Seashore at Cape Canaveral/ Merritt Island. There is a lot to do out there that we didn’t know about. They have a great visitors center where a ranger will give you a map and tell you about all there is to see around the area. Our main points of interest were the wildlife drive and the beaches. The drive was nice, though we did see a lot more wildlife on Lake Apopka. We got out a few spots, but mostly just enjoyed the drive together. We opted for the Black Point Wildlife Drive, which is a maintained gravel road and is included in your $5 park fee. There is a free wildlife drive, however that drive is not maintained so there will be more potholes. We can’t wait to go back and try that one! We also went to the manatee area (which is basically the boat ramp) and there were tons of cute “little” sea cows!! We ended our day with a swim in the ocean! I had never been to the beaches there at the National Seashore and it was nice to be in a place with no hotels for as far as the eye could see.

4.) Back to Nature Adventures!
(great for all ages, cost: $5 donation fee per person to see the animals)
While out hunting down more hiking fun Babe and I stumbled upon a place called the Back To Nature Wildlife Refuge, unfortunately it was a Monday and they weren’t open. But we did get to hike at the trails that are on the same road. It is the Split Oak Forest trail at Eagle’s Roost Preserve. It was a really nice hike, but I was most excited to get back the next day with my bestie and peek around the refuge. Back to Nature rescues animals that have either been hurt in nature or by people who think they can turn wild animals into pets. They house them and release them if possible, but it is also home to some sweet friends who will not be able to be released back into the wild. We had a great morning visiting with the critters and taking the short trail out to the lake!

5.) Pancake Adventures!!

(Something for all ages; cost: $5 entrance per car, extra possibilities: pancake house, canoe rentals)
De Leon Springs has a lot to offer, from a playground to a swimming hole, hiking and canoeing, there is something for everyone. But the biggest drawl for me was the pancake house. I had not been since I was a kid and was really excited to try it again and take Babe, Ol and Kerri. While it was a fun experience I doubt we will go back (at least not for the pancakes). There was a long wait (over 1.5 hours), which was perfect because we were able to hike while we waited. The hike was nice, but very buggy (a few ticks too).  The pancakes were a nice treat after a long hike (though there was no ac and it was very warm), but I think we are more of ‘BBQ-after-a-hike’ type people and the pancakes just weren’t cutting it. One major perk was getting to explore the old run down orange factory that sits right outside the entrance to the springs. I do love some old Florida exploring!! 

Bonus: Only cheap with a birthday buddy!!
While these are our top 5 options for being really budget friendly, with most only costing the half a tank of gas it takes to get there and back, I do want to give an honorable mention to Boggy Creek Airboat Rides. I had always wanted to go and recently did and while it was not as thrill seeking as I had thought it would be, it was still a really cool experience. We did the 30 minute ride which was, in my opinion, the perfect amount of time. We got to see a lot and the ride was fun AND a huge perk is that if you go on your birthday it is ABSOLUTELY FREE (for the birthday person)!! Otherwise it's a little less than $30 per person. Great for any age as it's a super safe ride. 

Have a fabulous weekend and I hope you get to spend a little time getting lost!! 


  1. My husband and I are looking to buy an RV next year. This is giving me some inspiration!

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