Florida History and Origins

Of course you know Orlando’s theme parks, but did you know that they are only a part of what makes an Orlando vacation so magical and appealing? “The City Beautiful” is chock full of entertainment, and there truly is something for everyone here. Regardless of your vacation goals, age, or interests, Central Florida is a dazzling place where unparalleled memories and experiences are just waiting to be discovered. We’ve developed a series of sample itineraries, categorized by interests and travel motivators, to serve as an original guide to the Central Florida area. There will be no theme park recommendations in this series, because chances are that you already have these destinations in your sights. If you’re looking to change it up a bit and try something new, these suggestions will be a perfect fit. See our area from a unique perspective when you take some time to explore, and leave your social media audiences in envy of your shared vacation experiences. You’re already staying like a local in your Contempo vacation home. You may as well have fun like a local, too!

Central Florida is home to a diverse collection of amusements and places to explore! The entire region is rich in history and unique ecology. Get out there and discover a more natural and historical side of Orlando and the surrounding areas. From mermaids to citrus farms, Central Florida has its own original flavor and fun you can’t find anywhere else!

Florida’s Natural Growers Grove House

20160 US-27, Lake Wales, FL 33853
(863) 679-4110
http://www.floridasnatural.com/

From the moment you walk through the door of the Grove House, you’ll feel right at home. Learn all about our humble beginnings and follow our rich history. And of course, no visit is complete without sampling one of the many varieties of Florida’s Natural® Brand Premium juices.

Orange County Regional History Center

65 E Central Blvd, Orlando, FL 32801
(407) 836-8500
www.thehistorycenter.org

The Orange County Regional History Center, housed in a historic courthouse in the heart of downtown Orlando, offers four floors of exhibits exploring 12,000 years of Central Florida’s rich heritage. A Smithsonian affiliate, the museum also offers visiting exhibitions and a wide range of programs for families, children, and adults.

Pioneer Village

2437 Babb Rd, Kissimmee, FL 34746
(407) 742-0200
http://osceolahistory.org/pioneer-village/

History meets nature at the Pioneer Village at Shingle Creek Regional Park! See an 1898 “Cracker House,” a 1900 general store, pioneer artifacts, blacksmith shop, sugar cane mill and an eight-acre pristine nature preserve under 100-year-old trees. Step back in time as you tour the fully-restored dwellings of some of Osceola County’s earliest settlers, furnished to depict lifestyles in the late 19th century. Visit our Seminole Settlement to see how Florida’s natives lived off the land. Explore our hiking, biking and paddling trails to get in touch with Florida’s nature on the Headwaters of the Everglades. Journey through Osceola County’s natural history as you crawl through a gopher tortoise burrow and climb into a life-sized eagle’s nest. Venture through interactive exhibits that tell the stories of Osceola County’s earliest industries including citrus farming, cattle ranching, and tourism.

Citrus Tower

141 US-27, Clermont, FL 34711
(352) 394-4061
http://www.citrustower.com/

360 Degree View of 8 Counties! Visit The Citrus Tower for a majestic view of the surrounding rolling hilltops of Central Florida. One of Florida’s first “attractions,” the Citrus Tower was built in 1956 on one of the highest hills in Florida’s ridge section. The original plans specified a tower 75 feet high, but when completed, the Citrus Tower rose to a lofty height of 226 feet (equivalent to 22 stories). The tip of the highest antenna pierces the sky at 500 feet above sea level. The glass-enclosed observation deck allows visitors to enjoy the panoramic view of the rolling hills of Florida’s ridge section and hundreds of spring-fed lakes in the surrounding 8-county area.

Gatorland

14501 S Orange Blossom Tr, Orlando, FL 32837
407-855-5496
www.gatorland.com

Gatorland provides affordable family fun while showcasing thousands of alligators and crocodiles including four extremely rare leucistic “white” alligators. The free-flight aviary, petting zoo, one of a kind animal shows, natural alligator breeding marsh, and the “thrilling” Screamin’ Gator Zip Line will ensure your day will be filled with Fun, Smiles and Special Memories!

Forever Florida

4755 North Kenansville Road, St Cloud, FL 34773
(407) 957-9794
https://www.foreverflorida.com

Ride the first zipline roller coaster in the USA, pedal through the treetops over forested wetlands, conquer Central Florida’s biggest zipline adventures or explore 4700 acres of pristine conservation lands on a Horseback or Wild Coach adventure! Forever Florida, an Eco-Attraction with a cause: a significant portion of all Safari revenues go to support the Allen Broussard Conservancy, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the fragile ecosystems of Florida’s native wilderness.

Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center, SR 405, Titusville, FL 32899
(855) 433-4210
https://www.kennedyspacecenter.com/

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is part of an active spaceport where you can get closer to NASA than anywhere else on the planet. This is where the Mercury and Gemini missions sparked American space travel, and where the Apollo missions inspired a generation. This is where visitors of all ages, from all over the world, can go behind the gates of NASA to glimpse the future of space travel — at the site from which we will launch for Mars and beyond. Visitor Complex admission gives you thousands of things to do. See iconic spacecraft that took us to new frontiers — space shuttle Atlantis and the Saturn V moon rocket. Come face to face with veteran astronauts and better understand space through their eyes. Experience Heroes & Legends, a new immersive attraction that brings the stories of NASA’s pioneering astronauts to life. You can even stand in awe and watch rockets launch from Earth in our ongoing quest for humans to live and work in space.

St Augustine

Located approximately 2.5 hours from our vacation homes
www.visitstaugustine.com

St. Augustine is a city on the northeast coast of Florida. It lays claim to being the oldest city in the U.S., and is known for its Spanish colonial architecture as well as Atlantic Ocean beaches like sandy St. Augustine Beach and tranquil Crescent Beach. Anastasia State Park is a protected wildlife sanctuary. The Castillo de San Marcos is a 17th-century Spanish stone fortress with views of the St. Augustine Inlet.

Points of Interest:

Fort Matanzas National Monument
Fort Mose Historic State Park
Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park
Colonial Quarter
Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse
St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum
Old St. Johns County Jail
Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Museum
Historic Churches
St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum
World Golf Hall of Fame
And Much More!

Orange World

5395 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy, Kissimmee, FL 34746
(407) 396-1306
https://www.orangeworld192.com/

In 1971, our family owned business opened the first gift shop on Hwy. 192. In 1984, We purchased Orange World and created our Iconic Local Landmark and World’s Largest Orange. We offer only the freshest Florida Citrus and Gifts. We have been shipping the finest Indian River Florida fruit gifts packed full of Florida Oranges, Honeybells, Ruby Red Rrapefruit, Navel, Valencia Oranges, Tangerines, and gourmet gifts, since 1973. We grow, pack and ship the finest citrus grown in the Indian River Region of Florida.

Webb’s Candy Factory

38217 US-27, Davenport, FL 33837
(863) 422-1051
webbscandyshop.com

Davenport is home to one of the most impressive candy stores in Central Florida. From peanut brittle and hand-dipped gourmet chocolates, to the popular citrus candies, Webb’s Candy Shop has everything necessary to satisfy your sweet tooth! Gourmet chocolate, candies, ice cream, honey, saltwater taffy, collectibles, Florida souvenirs, seasonal gifts, stuffed animals, and more! Popular local fruit and veggie wines of all kinds are also available for purchase.

Wild Florida

Kissimmee Chain Of Lakes, 3301 Lake Cypress Rd, Kenansville, FL 34739
(407) 957-3135
https://wildfloridairboats.com

Experience Florida in all its natural glory at Orlando’s one and only Airboat & Gator Park Experience! Travel deep into the protected swamps, marshes and rivers of the Florida Everglades aboard state-of-the-art airboats with US Coast Guard approved captains. On your journey, get an in depth look at gators, birds, eagles, cows, trees and plants as you glide through 100,000 acres of federally protected wetlands. After your airboat tour, explore the amazing wildlife park where you’ll find hundreds of native and exotic animals you can get up close and personal with, Hawk Swamp boardwalk, and Chomp House Grill before climbing aboard for a Ranch Buggy Tour. Boldly go back in time to see the ‘real’ Florida while exploring one of Florida’s oldest working cattle ranches on an all-terrain Ranch Buggy with five-foot tall tires, twelve-feet of elevation and more than 60 minutes of happy trails!

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606, United States
352-592-5656
http://weekiwachee.com/

Since 1947, Weeki Wachee Springs has been dazzling visitors with its beautiful, mesmerizing mermaids who swim in its cool, crystal-clear waters. This legendary enchanted spring, the only one of its kind in the world, is one of Florida’s most unique roadside attractions. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is a magical entrance into a mysterious blue underwater world of mermaids, manatees, turtles and bubbles. And there’s so much more to see and do inside this stunningly beautiful 538-acre park. There’s Buccaneer Bay, Florida’s only spring-fed waterpark, with a sandy white beach, swimming area, and 4 waterslides for thrill seekers of all ages. Hop on board a relaxing River Boat Cruise and experience the natural splendor of Florida’s wildlife, flora, and fauna, or rent a kayak or canoe and set off on your own adventure. Take in our entertaining and educational Animal Show and get up close to native wildlife like alligators, snakes, and exotic birds.

For information on these and other area attractions, or to purchase tickets, please contact our friends at Visit Central Florida or Kissimmee Guest Services!