The first airboats were the result of a misaligned blueprint of the then-theoretical helicopter. Fly Florida's fluids with today's Groupon: for $17, you get a one-hour airboat tour (a $35 value) from Loughman Lake Lodge, located on Hatbill Road off exit 223 on I-95 in Mims.
Skimming surfaces at up to 30 mph, the U.S. Coast Guard–certified captains of Loughman Lake Lodge tailor their tours to the desiderata of their wind-powered wayfarers. Reconnoitering the river, these unpredictable tours may include gators, turtles, osprey, hawks, bald eagles, herons, and, with a little luck, a banjo-playing backwoodsman. Serpent sympathizers may get a chance to see their snaky sweethearts, but rest assured, expert guides will seek out only your favorite beasties. Sliding across surfaces friction-free, airboatsmanship differs vastly from other forms of maritime movement, from traditional sailing to rubber-ducky racing.
Loughman Lake Lodge
Airboats launch from Loughman Lake Lodge deep into St. Johns River, skimming atop the swamplands at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. Onboard, adventurous sightseers pay rapt attention to Coast Guard–certified captains and native Floridians as they narrate the boat’s travels within earshot of alligators, turtles, and eagles. Loughman Lake Lodge itself was built in the 1950s and recently restored to its former glory. It now plays host to a waterfront restaurant, where diners can feast on local delicacies including gator tail and Florida catfish while sucking down beers on the outdoor deck. Fully furnished, air-conditioned cabins, RV sites, and tent camping offer myriad sleeping options for guests looking for a break from traffic, noise, and squirrels asking for directions to the nearest acorn buffet. Fishers can hook edible souvenirs at the lodge's prime bait spots, and shoppers can snag more permanent catches while perusing the gift shop.