Yes we did! While our official #JenRanAdventures trip does not begin until January 10, 2018, we were able to take a little weekend trip to Central Florida last week, exploring Canaveral National Seashore, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, and Blue Spring State Park.
All three of these amazingly beautiful parks are just north of Orlando.
Canaveral National Seashore, located between Titusville and New Smyrna Beach, offers several undeveloped beaches covered in sand and amazingly beautiful shells. Lifeguards are only on duty in the summer months. Be sure to check out the visitor center, visit the remains of the town of Eldora (a winter resort town from the early 1900s), and climb the Turtle Mound (the largest shell midden in the continental U.S.).
Cross over Mosquito Lagoon to find the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (sandwiched between the lagoon and the Indian River), and its amazingly special 6-mile wildlife drive that travels through pine flatlands and impounded marshes, revealing waterfowl, shorebirds, marsh rabbits, river otters, and alligators! This drive will definitely be the highlight of your day, especially if you are a birder.
In the winter months, another fun adventure is a stop at Blue Spring State Park, a manatee refuge, home to hundreds of these gentle sea creatures seeking the warmer waters of the springs. This 2,600-acre park also offers camping, a river cruise, and snorkeling opportunities. You can also rent a canoe or kayak for your own adventure, and swimming is allowed in the summer months.
For those curious, manatees are large sea mammals, often called Sea Cows. The Florida manatee, Florida’s state marine mammal, is a large aquatic relative of the elephant.
The next time you are traveling to Florida, make sure to add these natural adventures to your list!