There I said it. There are more places to visit in Florida than just Disney and Orlando. Florida is just like Disney in a way, there are way too many things to see and do then can be managed in one trip.
So, I am going to start a series of posts about places to visit beyond the theme parks. Think about fun, quirky, well known or off the beaten path spots that you may want to put on your list. I know that people who want to visit Disney also sometimes want to visit a beach. Perhaps you are trying to convince someone to come to Disney ( gasp) and you need another destination worthy of the long trip to Florida.
Part 1 – Sebring FL
So maybe Sebring is not the reason you will come to Florida, but stick with me here.
With a household consisting of two little boys who love the outdoors, camping is on our family agenda. We recently took a camping trip to Highland Hammocks State Park. This park is about 1 hour and 40 minutes from Disney World ( in the middle of the state). We are relatively new at camping. We are working on honing our skills and trying to expand our camping repertoire. Currently we are tent camping, this limits our camping season due to the fact that it is just too darn hot to camp in the summer in a tent in Florida. I have dreams of us graduating to a trailer camper with indoor potty. A girl can dream right?
Disney has spoiled my children with camping. When we arrived at our site we noticed the sites were sort of haphazardly laid out. Our site had a fallen tree , which we were told was home to a large snake ( EEK). I’m pretty sure Disney has snakes removed from their campground… right? The boys remarked that this was ” not like Disney camping!” More on that in another article later. If you think camping is not for you.. I would suggest visiting Ft Wilderness Resort and Campground.
One of the best features of this park were all the trails and paths to explore. My boys are currently obsessed with finding Big Foot and have made it their mission to locate and possibly befriend him. The paths ranged in length from 10 minutes to 45 minutes to complete. Perfectly easy for little ones to walk along and enjoy the great outdoors. This campsite was great for a short visit, but it is likely not high on our list to return . I think there are approximately 173 more state parks for us to visit. I know this because we purchased a FL state park passport and are now on a mission to visit them all.
On the way home my husband talked me into stopping at what I would call a roadside attraction, Solomn’s Castle. Guys ,this is a castle in a remote area tucked in the orange groves. The siding of the castle is made out of recycled newspaper printing plates. The inside of the castle is filled with art work made from found materials and a tour jam packed with Dad Jokes. Next to the castle is a giant boat which serves as a restaurant. As you pass through the boat you emerge onto a beautiful patio. This patio has a wonder vibe, an old Florida vibe. The natural shade of trees, live music and casual seating made this a patio that invites you to have a cold glass of ice tea and shoot the breeze with the locals.
This quirky little side trip is maybe not for everyone. I am glad we stopped to smell the roses or visit another castle as the case may be. We all had a great time and the boys were inspired to open their own museum with artwork made from found items as well , AKA tinker toys. This was a fun little day trip that I would have never in a million years set out to experience. It was the perfect little spot smack in the middle of what the State Parks refer to as “The Real Florida”.
Where in Florida do you want to visit? What places do you want to hear about ? Let me know in the comments below!