Cover photo via Getty Images
Disney World and Universal Studios are the first places people think of when Orlando is mentioned. It’s been this way for decades and decades. New attractions are constantly built-in theme parks to keep this tradition going, but do people think of the traditions people used to do before Disney ever existed?
Blue Springs State Park at Deland, FL
Perhaps before the concept of time took over the world, the tradition of swimming and gathering foods from springs was at its prime. Only 50 minutes north of Disney lies a natural spring that brings in more joy than the cliche world of Disney. Blue Springs State Park is in a country-like town called Deland. That spring alone holds much more history and beauty than those theme parks. Also, it is $6 to enter and park.
Near the spring area, there are signs that hold much information about how the native Americans would swim in those lakes and hunt for fish. They would also make spirulina from the algae from the springs. It is an indescribable feeling to swim in the same place the natives would swim. Besides, there is an old home that is now a museum. There are signs near the old items in the old home since those items are foreign to us.
If you go when it is cold, the manatees will be present. All the manatees gather to keep each other one. Seeing all of them close together will defrost any cold heart.
After swimming and exploring everything Blue Spring State Park has to offer, hunger may strike. Blue Spring State Park is near franchises you are familiar with, but there are many local restaurants that bring in much more flavor than those franchised restaurants. Santorini is an authentic Greek restaurant with gyros under $8! It is affordable, and most importantly it is affordable. Downtown DeLand is an award-winning Main Street due to its history and unique stores/restaurants.
After spending a day in good ol’ Deland, check out the historical town called Lake Helen. It is recognized for its old Spanish moss and a world of trees. There are many free things to do that bring in much awe. The houses there look like dollhouses, so the drive there is quite an experience itself. While driving there, drive slow and be mindful of the innocent wildlife. It is definitely a must-see if your line of sight is tired of the corporate and manmade up-to-date world. Travel back in time to discover old Florida that is vanishing after each new Pizza Hut and Chiptole that is built. This little town refuses to reflect the modern world and it remains a portal to the old days.
Horseshoe Park and Fairy Trail At Cassadaga
Horsehoe Park and Fairy Trail is a forest that is decorated by the locals. People hang up decorations and random objects like old dolls, old toys, and more. It is like a trip to Wonderland. It is a great photo opportunity and a cool film location as well. Outside of that forest, there are little cute photo ops scattered around. Pristine lakes and trees look more alive than the ones in the suburbs. Cassadaga is technically spiritual lane. You will find interesting spiritual stores and more!
Every option I listed here is close to each other, so gas prices won’t be a thing to worry about. Also, the worry of trying to be somewhere 2 hours away by a certain time can strip away the fun. Enjoy every second of this un-cliche trip!