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.
- 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!