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Adventures in Florida gives you the chance to experience the serene beauty of Florida galaxies away from the T-shirt-cannon-wielding mascots and bedazzled, man-eating airhorns of modern life. After grabbing your favorite life partner for your full-moon paddle, you'll be briefed by an ACA-certified kayak/canoe instructor who will put your paddling apprehensions at ease with a local's deep knowledge of the Winter Park Chain of Lakes. Set out in the midst of a sultry sunset and watch the moon come out to drench your vessel in dim, flattering light that's ideal whether you're looking for high romance or an atmospheric night of ghost stories. Adventures in Florida welcomes customers to bring wine and/or spirits to heighten the dizzifying majesty of the moon people that hide in their peripheral vision.
The St. Johns River, edged with tall trees, teems with wildlife year round; gators and visiting winter manatees swim beneath its surface while herons and cranes stoically stalk their fishy prey above. Thanks to Blue Heron River Tours, you can get an up-close glimpse of these sights in the company of a pontoon boat named Great Blue and coast-guard-certified captains named Gary Randlett and Todd Hilton. Tours glide past a manatee refuge at Blue Spring State Park before entering an old cypress-logging canal that leads into the Hontoon Dead River. Along the way, the captains fill the air with an interactive narrative on river history, flora and fauna, and humans' impact on the area, giving plenty of opportunities for photo ops and hard-hitting interviews with local eagles.
When Winkie and Ron Woxberg moved to the St. Johns River basin in 1979, they immediately fell in love with the area, and it’s easy to see why. The gently flowing river's cypress- and oak-lined banks house myriad forms of wildlife, including manatees, alligators, bald eagles, osprey, and limpkins. Some two decades later, the Woxbergs decided to share the area’s natural beauty with newcomers by starting St. Johns River Cruises. The US Coast Guard–certified couple expertly navigates their specially commissioned vehicle, the Nature II, through the shallow channels of the river basin during daily tours. As the ship putters along at unhurried speeds, its quiet engines make barely any noise, allowing the sweet sounds of singing birds and the unskilled beat-boxing of beached sirens to reach the ears of passengers.
On durable, all-terrain Segway x2 Personal Transporters, nature-seekers can spot wildlife or sample an off-road experience during two-hour tours at the Central Florida Zoo. Informed by tour-guide narration conveyed via wireless heads, zoo tours encounter a menagerie of animalian personalities such as Gus the camel, Elmo the macaw, and a skulking pair of rare Amur leopards, with riders briefly veering off onto unpaved landscape. Off-roading tours venture entirely upon forested paths, eschewing animal exhibits and braving the surrounding woodland landscape with the two-wheeled spirit of Davy Crockett’s penny-farthing. Both tours begin with a safety video and orientation, and stride-free sightseers are encouraged to bring a camera or photographic memory to remember the experience.