Thursday, July 23, 2009

Gators and Airboats - A Different Side of Orlando

Not every Orlando attraction revolves around mouse ears and movie sets. There is a different side of the Orlando area many tourists bypass in lieu of thrill rides and theme restaurants, but it is a side well worth exploring. The Kissimmee River area marks the beginning of the Everglades National Park, a massive expanse of mangroves, saw grass and endangered animals native to the state of Florida. This national landmark provides the perfect setting for nature lovers wanting to get away from the long lines of the Orlando theme parks and explore the unique nature settings Florida has to offer.

The Florida Everglades are unique to the continent. It is the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States and is a designated World Heritage Site. The Everglades were home to Tequesta, Calusa and Seminole Indians before foreign exploration by both the British and the Spaniards. Using roads and canals to break through the swamps, the colonial settlers created most of Southern Florida’s modern cities. But there is a large section of the Everglades that was left untouched and is now protected by the government, a section that nature lovers from across the world come to enjoy every year.

One of the best ways to enjoy the Everglades is via airboat. Boggy Creek Airboat Rides will take you on a nature excursion deep into the Florida Everglades. Zoom over saw grass and through the marshes at speeds of up to 45 mph on these 30 minute airboat rides. Each ride is lead by a US Coast Guard captain whose knowledge of the area will make for a wonderful and educational experience. Keep your eyes peeled for turtles, exotic birds and the Florida gator—but be careful with cameras and video equipment, as the airboats do kick up a bit of spray!

If you would rather get a first-hand look at the Florida gator and other native animals then check out the oldest attraction in Central Florida—Gatorland. This 110 acre theme park and nature conservatory has a variety of fun exhibits starring gators, wild birds and even farm animals. “The Alligator Capital of the World” is a great way to spend your day, especially if you’re a fan of the large reptiles. The park recently opened up a splash pool area for the kids and they offer face painting at the park’s train station. The Gatorland Express offers relaxing train rides through the large park if you want a break from all of the walking.

These two attractions are a great way to have some fun, learn a lot and experience a side of Central Florida that many often miss. Check out great deals on these attractions on


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