Guest post by our friend Maegan. She enjoys learning about and touring Florida since moving here three years ago. Follow her on twitter at @MeginMCO!
One great day trip that is fun in Central Florida is DeLeon Springs State Park in DeLeon Springs, FL. The Old Spanish Sugar Mill is located in the state park and features a make your own pancakes menu. There are plenty of recreational activities to do onsite and in DeLand that will help you make the most of your two hour round trip.
Your friends come back from an outdoor vacation and cannot stop talking about how wonderful it was and how much they enjoyed all the beautiful nature scenes. Before you know it, they are discussing when and where they will do this again. You start wondering if this is something you want to try.
If they had been on a backpacking trip, they will have plenty of advice if you ask them. All their different opinions might be confusing to you, but one of the things that they will agree on is that you need a lightweight backpacking tent if you really want to enjoy hiking. They are right, this is an important part of backpacking. The lightweight back hammock is the next blog thing you need in the camping.
Backpacking can be a really inexpensive way to enjoy time outdoors, but to get set up at first with all the right equipment can get pricey. So, running to the nearest store or looking on the campingfunzone.com site that sells camping and hiking equipment may not be the best idea. Start by asking your friends if they have equipment they do not use any more or if they would be prepared to lend you some of their equipment.
Remember also that you can rent a tent if you are a beginner and just want to try backpacking. Look around on the internet to see if you can find a tent rental company in your area or do your research early enough to allow time for shipping if you rent from a company that will have to ship the rental to you.
Once you decide that you want to enjoy this activity regularly, you will want your own tent. When you shop for backpacking tents, make sure that you do not only take the price into consideration, but also the weight, quality and the ease with which you can pitch your tent. You do not want to struggle with setting up camp when you are tired from a hard day of hiking. That is why you should have a tent from https://www.mountainshade.com.au/.
You will also want look at your needs and preferences. Are you going to need a one man tent or are you going to share and will need a 2 person backpacking tent? If you like to feel close to nature, you may prefer a Bivy Tent. If tight spaces make you feel uncomfortable, a one man tent will give you more breathing room. There is also the possibility of using a camping hammock. Many hammocks come with mosquito netting. When you use a hammock you will not have to worry about sleeping on rocky terrain or on a slope. All you need is two trees the correct distance apart. If you’re looking to camp out comfortably, you can get small travel trailers with a bathroom is a luxury.
If you are not ready to carry a backpack over rough terrain or for setting up camp every night, you may enjoy doing day hikes. You will be able to stay in one place and explore carrying only water and snacks for one day. You will also be able to pitch larger tents like a 3 person tent of a four man tent and have some extra space to store supplies.
- The best thing about DeLeon Springs is of course the springs! They stay seventy two degrees year round which is extremely refreshing in the middle of a Florida summer. The park has lifeguards to keep an eye on the lines that form to jump into the deep side of the springs. There are shallower areas for younger children also. We also see groups for scuba diving to get a closer look at the sulphur bubbles at the bottom.
- There is nothing better than a make your own pancake breakfast and a cup of coffee after a bracing swim in the springs. The Sugar Mill tables feature built-in skillets and the servers bring enamelware pitchers of whole grain and plain batter. There is syrup, honey or molasses to pour on top. The menu includes breakfast and lunch items to suit everyone’s palate. Be sure to put your name in as soon as you arrive at the park. Wait times can pass two hours. You can also call in advance to make a reservation if you have a party of ten or more.
- There is plenty to see on Spring Garden Run that leads from the springs. You can take a guided boat tour with extremely knowledgeable locals who have spotted many different types of wildlife over their many years on the river. You can also get some exercise and see the shore up close while paddleboating and canoeing. You might also see some people netting tilapia from their boats which is fun to watch.
- For land lubbers, there are several hiking trails that range from a short paved loop to a longer four mile hike that traverses wooded and open areas. If you plan to hike the longer Persimmon Trail, be sure to let the folks at the Ranger Station at the park entrance know. They will take your name and cell number as they like to keep track of hikers. There are signs that describe the various trees and plants that grow in the park.
- Be sure to check out downtown DeLand, home of Stetson University. This small college town is known for antiquing and has some great restaurants. We like to stop for ice cream on our way out of town. Check out the Art Museum and the old movie theater if you have extra time.
All in all, the easy hour long drive from Orlando is well worth the time as it is easy to fill a whole day with a unique and authentic Central Florida experience!