All Photos/Text by Kelsey Walters
By now we have all heard the reccomendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and the Florida Department of Health to help tamper the spread of coronavirus COVID-19. These include self-isolation and social distancing.
What is Social Distancing?
Social distancing refers to the act of making a conscious effort to avoid and reduce human-to-human contact by keeping a reasonable distance away from other people in public at all times, typically at least six feet.
With extended Spring Breaks across the state, as well as some businesses closing to allow employees to self-isolate and prevent the spread of the virus, we are all probably wondering what to do with ourselves during this time.
The CDC recommends opening windows and keeping an flow of fresh air throughout your home to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Getting out in fresh air and sunshine is also a good idea, and a great way to keep from going stir crazy.
The following spots throughout Florida are all outdoors and allow a reasonable distance between others to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
As with anything these days, if you plan on visiting one of these locations, please check ahead of time on their website or Facebook page to ensure they are open.
*Pricing and hours may be subject to change without notice
Wild Florida – Kenansville
View article for info on pricing and hours.
Wild Florida offers the chance to see not only native Florida wildlife, but exotic creatures as well, in a natural environment as well as up close and personal with a variety of activities and experiences.
Cheyne Ranch – Oviedo
Private tours by appointment only
View article for info on pricing and hours.
Not only do you get the chance to meet their beloved animals, but you are welcomed into their daily activities and soon feel right at home on the ranch. Because these tours are fit into their busy family schedule, I recommend booking in advance if you are hoping to visit on a particular day to ensure they don’t sell out. Older kids are able to get involved in even more barn activities, so Cheyne Ranch is the ideal place for everyone in the family to learn responsibility, especially when it comes to pet ownership. On return visits, the longer pony and horseback rides take you to neighboring properties.
View article for info on pricing and hours.
When we heard about a place offering a chance to meet some animals that we have only seen from afar at the zoo or on TV, we were thrilled! Amazing Animals in St. Cloud is a privately-owned wildlife sanctuary that offers tours of the facility, with meet and greets of some of your favorite creatures along the way.
Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park
Open 8 a.m. – sundown
$6 per vehicle
The sleepy little town of Micanopy, located just south of Gainesville, is home to an array of antique stores and quaint cafes…as well as a herd of wild bison. Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park is a 21,000-acre savanna that is at the heart of the area’s Paynes Prairie Basin and home to over 300 species of wildlife, the most notable being the wild horses and bison.
Dudley Farm Historic State Park
Wed – Sun: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; closed Mon – Tue
$5 per vehicle (cash only, honor system)
Before Walt Disney settled into Central Florida and made it one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, Florida had a lengthy history of war, exploration and the pioneer spirit. Way back in the history books in 1859, a large plot of land was purchased by Phillip Benjamin Dudley Sr. in Newberry, just west of Gainesville. He made the farm his family’s home and today, you can visit the working farm much like it was all those years ago.
Obloy Family Ranch
Mon – Sat: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; closed Sunday
Adults: $15; Kids 3 – 12: $9; Kids 2 and under: Free (cash only, ATM available)
Your admission includes a group guided tour that starts with a tractor ride to the stables and pens, and a stop at each of the animals where you will learn their names, personalities and some of their backstories.
Harry P. Leu Gardens
Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
$10 per adult, $5 per child 4-17, kids 3 and under free
Harry P. Leu Gardens in the heart of nearby Orlando has more than 50 acres of impeccably manicured gardens to explore. (Please note this post was originally published in September, and events are not being held at this time)
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
352-628-5343 – FloridaStateParks.org
Open daily, year-round from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Adults – $13 – Children ages 6 – 12 – $5 (under 5 – free)
*Effective Wednesday, June 10, 2020: Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is open with limited hours. The Wildlife Walk and above deck area of the Underwater Observatory are available. The Visitor Center, trams, boats, Reptile House, Discovery Center, and below deck of the Underwater Observatory are closed. Scheduled manatee feedings are at 11 am, 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm. Restroom availability may be limited. The Wildside Café and West Entrance gift shop are open with limited capacity. All other park facilities are closed. Visitors are expected to maintain distances of at least six feet apart and limit group size to 50 or fewer people.
One spring in particular is home to the sea cows year-round, and offers an incredible up-close and personal view of Florida’s favorite pudgy mascot. Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park has been a hot tourist attraction since the 1880s thanks to the cool waters offering an escape from the sweltering temperatures. In the 1940s, a floating iron tank with small windows was installed to get an underwater view while staying dry, and the park really took off from there.
Lion Country Safari
**UPDATE: Drive Through ONLY open during COVID-19 precautions
2003 Lion Country Safari Road, Loxahatchee, FL 33470
Open daily at 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Last admission is at 4:30 p.m.
Reduced admission during special COVID-19 precautions – $15 per person, plus tax. Includes drive-through admission only and no other discounts apply.
Lion Country Safari isn’t your everyday zoo. If you’re looking for a great place to spend the day with endless activities, this is the place for you. Every kid and adult is guaranteed to have a blast, because it offers something for everyone.
Salt Springs @ Fort McCoy
Camping and canoe rentals available – call ahead, this may be subject to change during COVID-19 precautions
Summer has officially arrived in Florida and there are really only two ways to cool off – stay in the air conditioning, or head out to the water.
Seeing as Florida is nearly completely surrounded by the stuff, it isn’t hard to do and there is no shortage of fresh water either. If you want a cool, refreshing day, but still want a little salt in your hair for the true beach vibe, then Salt Springs is the place for you.
Juniper Springs Recreation Area
Day Use Fee: $5.50/person
Canoe/Kayak rental available
Juniper Springs was a perfect place for us to go for a sunny afternoon together. With a relatively short drive to the Silver Springs area, about an hour and a half north of Orlando, we packed a lunch and hit the road.
Monday – Sunday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Gatorland, in the heart of Orlando, was established in 1949 by Owen Godwin, and is certainly nothing new. At the time of its inception, “The Florida Wildlife Institute” was nothing more than a $300 investment allowing a close-up view of wildlife in its native habitat – essentially a cleared out pit left after Godwin supplied dirt for the new highway.
Gatorland is one of the only places where you can not only see alligators, crocodiles and other absolutely terrifying species up-close and personal, but you can watch them in a completely native habitat.
Summer Crush Vineyard and Winery
Tue – Fri: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sat: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Sun: 12 – 5 p.m.; closed Mon
Tastings (21+): $6 w/ disposable cup, $8 w/ souvenir glass
In a statement on their Facebook page on July 1, 2020, Summer Crush outlined their COVID-19 precautions as follows:
“Summer Crush has received approval to be open and we are monitoring developments daily and will post any changes immediately on our website. For those who may not be aware, we are open air outdoors and spread out on several acres. We are not a bar or nightclub. Our weekend activities are in the daytime with tables spaced over 6 feet apart and sanitized before each day (Our wine tastings are Tues-Sun, but are limited in capacity and with social distancing. Reservations are suggested). You can bring you own table cloth and seat cushions as well. We encourage, and many people bring their own chairs and canopies and sit in the lawn area or under the Oak trees that are 40′ apart. We STRONGLY encourage masks (and make them available if you do not have one) and social distancing with cones 6′ apart for line spacing. Credit cards are preferred method of payment with staff never touching the card. If cash, staff disinfects hands after each handling. Food trucks abide by our safety precautions and can take orders by phone and deliver to tables. All serving cups, plates, etc… are single use. Musicians are 12’+ from nearest table. Staff’s temperature is checked daily and all wear masks. Sanitizer is at each entry and hand wash stations. Disinfectants are in each restroom. We encourage customers to self screen, as outlined on our website, along with more info on our Re-opening and Precautions page – https://www.summercrushwine.com/re-opening-details… – that we ask everyone to read before thinking of coming out and if not comfortable for any reason to come again at a better time for them.”
Normally, when you think of a winery, you think of uptight connoisseurs swirling their glasses and talking about wine’s “legs.” Summer Crush takes out all stuffiness and infuses both their wine and their atmosphere with the upbeat tastes of summer.
Single Vision Animal Sanctuary
Visit link below for more info on tours and pricing
Single Vision, Inc. is a 274-acre wildlife sanctuary specializing in big cat rescue. Single Vision is a safe haven for exotic animals that have fallen victim to illegal trafficking, destruction of habitat or other unfortunate circumstances.
Daytona Beach Zipline Adventure
Located in Tuscawilla Park – 1000 Orange Ave., Daytona Beach, 32114
Open Thursday through Monday from 10 AM – 3 PM (closed Tuesday and Wednesday)
Visit link below for more info on packages and pricing
Before you start thinking, “Zip lining? How hard could that be? Don’t you just…ride it?” let me set you straight. There is so much more to this park than gliding between the trees. Oh no, they make you work for that adrenaline rush.
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens
$10/adult; $5/child ages 5 – 13 (under 5 are free)
Mon – Wed: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Thu: closed; Fri: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sat – Sun: 9 a.m. – the earlier of 7 p.m. or dusk
No entry 45 min. before closing.
With so much to see and explore, it was easy to forget the hustle of our busy everyday lives and just relax as we took it all in. Even on a busier Sunday afternoon, we came across very few people and it almost felt as if we had the place to ourselves. To get away from it all, and get back to nature, head to Kanapaha Botanical Gardens.
Crystal River Archaeological State Park
3400 N. Museum Point, Crystal River, FL 34428
$3/vehicle (cash only honor system, or prepay online)
Open daily 8 a.m. – sundown
Not all ancient Indian mounds were middens – some served as sacred ceremonial sites. Crystal River Archaeological State Park is home to a large complex of these mounds and serves as both a protected historical site and an educational experience for visitors. Not only is this park steeped in ancient, pre-Columbian history, it was also believed to be the longest occupied site in Florida’s ancient history, spending about 1,600 years as a sacred ceremonial center for Native Americans.
Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island – Create your own Ghost Tour
Due to COVID-19, the island’s popular ghost tours aren’t available right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create a tour of your own. And that’s exactly what we did. Check it out!
Outdoor Things to Do in Volusia County:
- Nature and Environmental Events with the Lyonia Environmental Center
- Explore Volusia Programs
- Best Golf Course in Volusia County
- Volusia County Reopens Campsites
- Geocaching: A Perfect Social Distancing Activity
- Best Playgrounds in Volusia County
- Go See: New Smyrna Beach Murals
- 5 Tips for Tourists Visiting Volusia
- Daytona Beach Parasail & Daytona Speedboat Adventures
- Local Favorite Ice Cream Parlor in Business for 10 Years in Port Orange
- Historic Preservation in Our Small Town
- New State Executive Order Removes Most COVID-19 Occupancy Restrictions on Restaurants and Businesses
- Can Your Marriage Survive the Togetherness of a Pandemic?
- Pool Safety for Your Pet
- Pet Swimming Safety
- Top 5 Best Nurseries in Volusia County
- Garden Construction: A New Concept in an Outdoor World
- Write Your Life