With only a day left in Kissimmee, Florida, an early morning visit to the headwaters of the Everglades seemed intriguing. The choices for what to do while everyone else visits Florida theme parks became increasingly precious as our time drew down, but we made the mistake of choosing the Shingle Creek Naturalist Tours. Initially, I was excited about canoeing down the creek with an expert guide. However, since my friend’s rowing ability is nil, we opted for the Sunrise Safari, billed as a similar route down the side of the creek in a large golf cart. The sunrise descriptor is accurate, since our gathering time was 6:45 AM at the Grande Lakes Ritz-Carlton Golf Club. The “safari” part is merely cute terminology.
When Hurricane Irma pounded the area in Sept 2017, it swept away almost all of the nesting habitat for water birds that typically surrounds the lakeshore. In terms of bird life, we saw only a few. We did spy two black-tail deer in the shadows of the creek woods and two alligators floating in two different lakes. Our guide said, “When you see a lake in Florida, know that an alligator is there, or has just left, or is on its way.”
That was it for two chilly hours and $60 per person. Maybe paddling a canoe down the creek would have been more fun. We discovered the site on Fodors Travel, 10 Things to Do in Orlando Besides Theme Parks.
Things we’ll do on the next visit
The problem with trying to view a space shuttle launch is that although you can purchase the right to be there by buying a ticket, the time and even the date of the launch is entirely fluid. It all depends on weather and other logistics not known to the public. There are lots of activities for young people at the facility, however, with another alternative being a leisurely day at Cocoa Beach. Located at Cape Canaveral, the Kennedy Space Center is a short drive from both Orlando and Kissimmee.
Located in Orlando, the gardens comprise fifty acres of trails and lakes featuring old oaks and camellias. It’s high on the to-see list for my next visit.
Day Two in Winter Park
What I want to do most of all, though, is return to Winter Park. I simply didn’t get enough of Winter Park the first day I visited. I loved the Morse Museum with its collection of Tiffany glass, the pontoon boat tour of the Winter Park Chain of Lakes, and a stroll down historic Park Avenue. But that was only a small part of what Winter Park has to offer.
On my next visit I will
- Visit the beautiful campus of Rollins College, saving enough time to admire Knowles Memorial Chapel and to explore the acclaimed Cornell Fine Arts Museum.
- Spend time in the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Garden over-looking Lake Osceola.
- Browse the Hannibal Square Heritage Center, run by the Crealdé School of Art that traces the historic roots of the African-American community.
- Enjoy a leisurely few hours in the Mead Botanical Garden.
- Study the Winter Park History Museum exhibits so that I can be more deliberate about what I understand of historic Park Avenue, comprising the Downtown Winter Park Historic District.