Florida Villa Blog - State Parks and Shuttle Launch

We arrived at our villa, after a flight from the UK to Sanford Airport, dropped off luggage and then out to the near by Publix supermarket for some food shopping.
After a good night sleep we headed off the next day to Cape Canaveral near the Kennedy Space Centre. We had heard on our flight over that the Atlantis space shuttle launch had been delayed until the following day. Fantastic news – we could drive over to see our first ever launch. After about an hour of driving we were at Cape Canaveral. We were surprised by the number of cars, but quickly found a car parking place after following a few local cars who were obviously out to witness the launch. We were all getting excited, we borrowed binoculars from a friendly American family, who on hearing our English tomes started chatting away. Lots of cheering as the shuttle launched, I managed to get a few photos but it was all over quite quickly.

Shuttle Atlanta launch Shuttle Atlanta launch early stage

Had a wonderful trip to SEAWORLD, a great day out and great shows like Blue Horizons and Shamu the whale. The park was reasonably quiet in September so thankfully no queues so we saw every show and had time for interesting talks with the attendants and keepers. Dropped our young adults off at Wet n Wild water park while they had a fun in the water we did some leisurely shopping and relaxing around the pool and resort clubhouse. We also left them to tour Universal studios Island of Adventure and theme park while we did even more leisurely shopping, eating at the cheesecake factory and relaxing around the pool and resort clubhouse.

Decided to do something different than the round of Disney World and other theme parks and took a drive to North Orlando to Wekiwa Springs State Park. As soon as I arrived I knew this was my type of day. The waters in the park are absolutely crystal clear, at a constant temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit and you can go swimming, snorkeling and canoeing, or fishing and horse riding if that is of interest. The springs flow into the Weiva River and eventually to St Johns river, within the 7800 acre park is an abundance of natural wildlife and plants, including blue herons, egrets, ospreys, kingfishers, tortoise, alligator, deer and much more. See more at the Florida State Park website We decided to rent some canoes made us feel like explores in a wild land. There were a few other canoeists on the river so it really felt lke we were getting away from it all. The water was never deeper than a few feet, so at any time (checking for alligators or snakes) one could jump out of the canoe and take a refreshing dip in the water. Not that we did mind you, but we did note a few people swimming.

Wekiwa Springs river and state park Shamu at Seaworld

Canoeing at Wekiwa springs State Park Unusual fish at Wekiwa springs

We made an early start and drove to the Gulf coast, stopping off for breakfast on way. Arrived at Honeymoon island state park at 10.00 hours. I walked the three mile Osprey trail, where I spotted several Osprey and wild tortoise although it is possible to spot American Bald Eagles, Red-shouldered Hawks, or Great Horned Owls, armadillos, and various snakes. Again not many tourists, mosquitoes were a pest so long trousers and long sleeved shirts are a must. Take your buckets and parasols because the white sand of the nearby beach is gorgeous. A short boat trip takes you to Caldesi Island, which claims the title of the number one mainland beach in the USA. Wonderful peaceful beaches with great shells for gathering.

Honeymoon island state park Honeymoon island state park

For me, we had some fantastic days out and places like Wekiwa springs state park and Honeymoon Island State Park were the real Florida and something not to be missed. We had some great evenings out at Downtown Disney World and Celebration, meals in Carrabba’s and the restaurant on Route 27 called Cracker Barrel. Cocktails at Chillies and cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory…….. fantastic.