Travel Guide to Florida - - CENTRAL FLORIDA -

While Cen­tral Florida is widely known for its big three—Walt Dis­ney World, Univer­sal Or­lando and SeaWorld (see our Theme Parks story in this is­sue)—there are many other at­trac­tions you want to ex­pe­ri­ence on your next visit.

In Lake­land, book a tour of the 260-acre Sa­fari Wilder­ness Ranch and mar­vel at more than 450 ex­otic African and Asian an­i­mals. Nearby, you’ll find the Wa­ter Ski Mu­seum and Hall of Fame in Polk City.

For an air­boat eco­tour, check out Wild Florida Air­boat & Wildlife Park in Ke­nansville on Cy­press Lake. Get an in-depth look at the ‘ga­tors, birds and ea­gles. Old Town in Kis­sim­mee of­fers a Fer­ris wheel, a haunted house, themed restau­rants, an ar­cade and shop­ping. For more rides and go-karts, head over to Fun Spot Amer­ica–Kis­sim­mee.

The Show­case of Citrus in Cler­mont is a fam­ily-owned road­side citrus farm and cat­tle ranch at which fam­i­lies can pick grape­fruits, lemons, tan­ger­ines and or­anges. Don’t for­get the hand­crafted cream­si­cles. At Cler­mont’s Lak­eridge Win­ery & Vine­yards, kids and adults can take turns stomp­ing grapes.

The Cray­ola Ex­pe­ri­ence in Or­lando’s Florida Mall is a fam­ily at­trac­tion of­fer­ing 25 hands-on ex­pe­ri­ences. Or take part in the Grande Lakes Or­lando catch-and-re­lease fish pro­gram and help track data for the Florida Wildlife Com­mis­sion. Or­lando’s In­terna- tional Drive is now home to the 25,000square-foot SEA LIFE Or­lando Aquar­ium, Madame Tus­sauds wax mu­seum and the Coca-Cola Or­lando Eye, a 400-foot-tall ob­ser­va­tion wheel. At nearby iFly Or­lando, test your brav­ery at this in­door sky­div­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Don’t tell the kids, but at Won­derWorks In­door Amuse­ment Park on In­ter­na­tional Drive, they can learn while hav­ing fun in this 35,000 square feet of edu­tain­ment. Fun Spot Amer­ica, a fam­i­ly­owned theme park in the area, fea­tures multi-level go-karts, thrill rides, fam­ily rides and an ar­cade. (There is also a Kis­sim­mee lo­ca­tion.) Just north of down­town Or­lando, the Or­lando Science Cen­ter of­fers four sto­ries of in­ter­ac­tive, hands-on ex­hibits, an ob­ser­va­tory, a cafe and the Dr. Phillips CineDome, a 300-seat theater for films and plan­e­tar­ium shows.

Ven­ture over to Black Ham­mock Ad­ven­tures in Oviedo for air­boat rides on Lake Je­sup, home to the largest al­li­ga­tor pop­u­la­tion in Florida, es­ti­mated at 9,000.

The Cen­tral Florida Zoo and Botan­i­cal Gar­dens in San­ford is home to more than 400 an­i­mals and the Barn­yard Bud­dies Chil­dren’s Zoo. Feed the gi­raffes then cool off in the Whar­ton-Smith Trop­i­cal Splash Ground.

Near Ocala, a must visit in this re­gion is the ven­er­a­ble Sil­ver Springs State Park, Florida’s first at­trac­tion, known for its fa­mous glass-bottom boats.

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