There’s no doubt Orlando is a top tourist spot... Who wouldn’t want to meet Mickey Mouse or enjoy a fresh cup of Butterbeer™ while strolling through The Wizarding World of Harry Potter? But sometimes taking a wrong turn or heading down the road less travelled can lead you to the hidden gems of Florida. We’re sharing five things you can do when heading out to the Middle of Nowhere during your vacation in Orlando.
Take an airboat tour through The Everglades: Central Florida is best known for its theme parks, but not many people realize that Orlando is the headwaters of the Everglades, too! The Everglades is a part of Florida that’s, for the most part, untouched by humans… I guess you can say the wildlife runs the swamp. Although the thrill of going fast on an Orlando airboat ride will give the rides at the theme parks a run for their money, the best part about being out on Lake Cypress is spotting all the animals. Over 80 different species call these waters home including the American alligator, wild turkey, bald eagle and the Everglades dwarf siren. Our visitors always challenge each other to see who can spot the most animals.
Snap your first #slothie during an animal encounter: It’s not every day you get to meet a sloth, but when you visit the wild side of Orlando, you have a chance to befriend a few, too! Sloths are native to South and Central America, but the sub-climate in Central Florida is similar to their native habitats, so they feel at home here. George, Guy, Ana and Aerie wait all day for visitors to come hang out with them, mostly because they love the camera and they’re ready to be the center of your first #slothie. When you meet these fuzzy guys, your heart will melt and you’ll never want to leave them.
Discover the backwoods of Florida on a ranch buggy tour: Whatever back roads you decide to take during your vacation in Florida, you’ll most likely pass by a ranch. But did you know it’s possible to tour a ranch and get to know about the cattle operations that are a big part of Florida’s history? Ranch buggy tours can be a bit of a bumpy ride, but it’s easy to get distracted by the wild turkeys, wild hogs and deer running around. Don’t worry, they’re usually just soaking up the sun and relaxing in their own world, so they’re not bothered by you touring their stomping grounds. While exploring one of Florida’s oldest working cattle ranches and riding through the backwoods, you’ll really get to see what Florida looked like hundreds of years ago.
Ditch the chicken tenders and try gator: Alligator meat might not be the norm on everyone’s menu, but Florida natives enjoy alligator meat every once in awhile and say it tastes a lot like chicken, but more tender and juicy. No vacation is complete until you eat the local fare! Just like you’d go to Chicago for the best hot dogs and New York for the best pizza, Florida cooks up the best gator. There are many ways to cook gator, but our visitors prefer it fried or in a hoagie. No need to leave Wild Florida for lunch either – the onsite Chomp House Grill serves fried gator!
Meet hundreds of wildlife species in one day: It’s always cool to discover an animal you’ve never seen before or learn about an endangered species, but not many people can say they spotted hundreds of species in one day! Over 60 endangered species call Wild Florida home, including lemurs, which you won’t typically find anywhere other than the island of Madagascar and in captivity. In addition to our lemurs, you can meet our bobcats, porcupines, monkeys, sheep, opossums and many other exotic animals in our Gator and Wildlife Park.
So whether you're a Florida native looking to discover a part of the state you've never seen before or you're planning your next vacation to Orlando, make sure you get a chance to roam the wild side!