Central Florida covers the central area of Florida from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. It includes the cities of Ocala, Orlando, Lakeland, Melbourne, and Tampa. At the time of the Civil War, much of the area was wetlands. After a large drainage project in the 1880s, settlement in the area was possible. In the early 1900s, hard-packed beaches such as Ormond Beach attracted auto racing. The US military established bases in the area in the 1940s. This led to a missile test site and the establishment of NASA at Merritt Island and Cape Canaveral in Florida, creating a new tourist spot. Tourist attractions were already established throughout Central Florida when Disney World opened in 1971 making Central Florida a tourist destination. However, there are many free attractions around Central Florida.
Things To Do This Weekend In Central Florida During Covid-19
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our list of activities are outdoor locales with lots of space, so it should be easy to maintain social distancing. However, have a mask handy if you get into a crowded area. Stay safe and enjoy your outings.
Located on Lake Tohopekaliga, Kissimmee Lakefront Park offers a one-mile, scenic trail for walking, jogging, or biking. In addition, the park includes beaches, a playground, a splash pad, a fishing pier, picnic tables, grills, and a marina. Around the park, you might view a variety of birds, turtles, and alligators. The park is open daily from 7 am to 10 pm.
Located in Orange County, Lake Apopka is the fourth largest freshwater lake in Florida. It was known as a great place for sports fishing in the 1920s and 1930s. However, pollution almost killed it. Then, a campaign started to revive it that included reintroducing migratory birds to the marshes and reeds. Lake Apopka now offers an 11-mile, two-hour, driving trail and a 14.6-mile recreational trail. The North Shore Driving Trail is routed through Lake Apopka’s 20,000-acre north shore. While driving the trail, you could see many of the 362 species of birds, otters, bobcats, alligators, and other wildlife. There are pullovers along the trail. Visitors are admitted Friday through Sunday from 7 am to 3 pm. The driving trail also crosses the Lake Apopka Loop Trail. The Loop Trail is open to hikers, bikers, joggers, and skaters. The trail surfaces include asphalt and crushed stone. It’s open from sunrise to sunset.
Located in Sanford, Florida, the 1,600-acre Black Bear Wilderness Area offers a 7.1-mile loop trail through three habitats. Cypress Swamps, Hydric Hammock, and Wet Prairie are home to swallow-tailed kites, white-tailed deer, river otters, American alligators, and Florida black bears. Built on long-standing levees and using boardwalks over wet areas, the trail is usually dry. This is a rough trail with slopes. The park is open daily from dawn to dusk.
Located in Lakeland, the 1,267-acre Circle B Bar Reserve offers nine hiking trails ranging from 0.2 miles to 1.3 miles. You can see oaks and palms adorned with trumpet vines, Spanish moss, resurrection ferns, and a butterfly orchid. The wildlife on the reserve includes a variety of birds, otters, squirrels, armadillos, turtles, lizards, snakes, bobcats, grey foxes, and alligators. The reserve includes picnic shelters and grills. The reserve is open from 6 am to 6:30 pm during Standard Time and 5:30 am to 8 pm during Daylight Savings Time.