Florida Guide > Other Florida
For some beautiful natural Florida countryside, head out a little to DeLeon Springs - a beautiful state park an hour or so north of Orlando.
One of Florida’s earliest ’resorts’, the springs were opened as a small tourist centre in the 1880’s and the area was hugely popular with vacationing families. In 1925 the Clyde Beatty Circus started to spend whole winters here and in 1925 an inn and casino were built. A major development took place in 1953 when the resort was opened as an official theme park when gardens, a jungle adventure and water cruises were added as family entertainment. Their star attraction was an elephant that performed on water skis!
The State of Florida purchased the whole area in 1982 and today it is a haven of peace and tranquility offering nature trails, swimming, river boat rides, canoes, kayaks and paddlboats. You can also fish for bass and bream either from the shores of the river or from the fishing pier. (A Florida freshwater fishing permit is required). The head spring itself produces 19 million gallons of water a day that flows from an underground cavern which has been developed as a large natural swimming pool. The underground spring keeps the water at a year round temperature of 72 degrees.
A small damn splits the pool with a waterfall leading to the stream which is home to alligators, otters and manatees.
Native and non-native ornamental trees and plants were planted along the boardwalk nature trails offering a huge selection of woodland, ferns, wild flowers and vines covering the wetlands. Old Methuselah is a 500 year old cypress tree that has a paved walkway leading right to it’s base.
For those feeling a little peckish after trying the 5 mile wild hiking trail, The Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant will soon pile the pounds back on. This unique restaurant features all you can eat, cook-your-own pancakes made from stone ground flours. Each table has it’ s own large griddle in the centre and, with your jug of chosen pancake mix, you pour it on, cook it up and away you go. You can top your pancakes with a wide choice of items such as blueberries, bananas or pecans or smother them in maple syrup. Great for all ages and fun for the children. The restaurant also has a selection of other items on the menu but the pancakes are the way to go.
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