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Self-Drive The Real Florida

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Overview

10nt Tour Begins & Ends Orlando: 2nts Mount Dora; 1nt Saint Augustine; 2nts Amelia Island ; 2nts Wakulla Springs; 1nt Crystal River; 2nts Sarasota

Additional Pre-bookable excursion option: "Experience Package" which includes Zipline Safari (Day 2), Horseback Riding for 1 hour (Day 5), Canoe rental for 2 hours (Day 9) for €150 per person.

Details

Day 1

Fly from the Ireland to Orlando
Arrive at Orlando International Airport, pick up your car and proceed to your hotel in neighboring Mount Dora for a two-night stay. This charming historic village, in the heart of Central Florida, offers a wide selection of activities to suit all interests. At an elevation of 184 feet above sea level, Mount Dora is Florida’s equivalent of a mountain-top town. This community, brimming with southern charm and hospitality, is world-famous for its antique shops; as a matter of fact, antiquing is the favorite pastime of locals and visitors alike. Also, downtown offers a wide array of shopping, dining, pampering, and entertaining possibilities. Stroll along the Fourth Avenue Pier and catch an unforgettable lakeside sunset.
Hotel: Mission Inn Resort & Club or similar

Day 2

Mount Dora
Experience the many wonders of nature today. At Big Tree Park you walk across the boardwalks in the swamps towards ‘The Senator’, a 3,500 year old Bald Cypress. There is also nearby Ocala National Forest which offers a true nature encounter with its mammoth springs, twisting streams and serene lakes. The cool crystal-clear water of Juniper Springs, Alexander Springs, Salt Springs and Silver Glen Springs entice many visitors to have a swim. Hike the Florida Trail and see different types of pine indigenous to the area. The trail also comes near prairies and ponds which are excellent for wildlife viewing. For an exhilarating experience, visit neighboring St. Cloud’s Zipline Safari for an adrenaline-charged ride above the pine flatwoods and forested wetlands of Forever Florida, a 4,700-acre ranch. Hang 55 feet above the ground from a steel cable and zoom 20 miles an hour over this conservation area.
Hotel: Mission Inn Resort & Club or similar
Today’s Optional Experience
Zipline Safari (Experience Package): Prepare yourself for a tree-top nature tour like none other! This thrilling zip line experience allows you the perfect aerial vantage point to learn about Florida’s diverse ecosystems on a one-of-a-kind adventure.

Day 3

Mount Dora - Saint Augustine (169 miles)
Leave Mt. Dora behind this morning to visit Rock Springs Run State Reserve on your way to St. Augustine. Take a hike on one of the trails or choose to explore this reserve by bike or even on a horse! As you continue, make a stop at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore. These parks, in the sight of Kennedy Space Center, have undeveloped beaches and are a sanctuary for the endangered sea turtle. Continue to St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city, for an overnight stay. Explore the historic district with its cobblestone streets and interesting shops. There are many dining options in the Old City, including authentic pubs, gourmet bistros, waterfront terraces and casual cafes.
Hotel: Hilton St. Augustine or similar

Day 4

Saint Augustine - Amelia Island (65 miles)
This morning visit Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, which is a fortress that served as St. Augustine’s outer defenses. It is the oldest remaining European fortification in the United States. Continue on to the natural beauty of Amelia Island for a two-night stay. Home to such local treasures as the Live Oak and Sea lavender, Amelia Island offers lovely natural beaches where you can spend time searching for unique sea shells and shark teeth.
Hotel: Amelia Island Plantation

Day 5

Amelia Island
Today, visit Amelia Island State Park. See 200 acres of pristine nature, beautiful beaches, saltwater swamps and forests along the coast. This park shows you the “real” Florida! Horseback riding on the beach and fishing are the main things that visitors come to do here. Have a relaxing afternoon picnic and enjoy the beautiful sights. During the evening take a walk or carriage ride through the forty historic blocks that line the downtown area of Fernandina Beach, once a vibrant seaport, and admire the elegant Victorian homes.
Today’s Optional Experience
Horseback Riding (Experience Package): Saddle up and take a ride on a gentle, well-trained horse and enjoy the beautiful beaches of southern Amelia Island.
Hotel: Amelia Island Plantation

Day 6

Amelia Island - Wakulla Springs (225 miles)
This morning depart Amelia Island and drive toward Wakulla Springs. Along the way you will travel past Osceola National Forest which offers nearly two hundred thousand acres of the original Florida waiting to be explored. The Florida National Scenic Trail winds its way through 23 miles of the Forest. There are twenty boardwalks on this hiking trail which offer drier views of swamps and wetlands. You might catch a glimpse of the famous local residents of the forest, the Florida alligator. You will spend two nights at Wakulla Springs Lodge. This lodge, surrounded by beautiful nature and built by Edward Ball in 1937, shows you Florida of the ’30. With its marble and handmade iron this lodge is a beautiful place to stay. The lodge is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Hotel: Wakulla Springs Lodge or similar

Day 7

Wakulla Springs
Today, visit Wakulla Springs; at 185 feet deep this is one of the world’s deepest and largest fresh water springs. The grounds are home to many nature trails and an abundance of wildlife. There are over 180 species of birds to watch and photograph. You can choose to take a glass bottom boat tour or take a swim, or maybe even do both! Another wonderful nature spot in this area is the Apalachicola National Forest. It encompasses more than half a million acres of bald-cypress swamp, a densely overgrown wilderness. View longleaf and slash pines that support the world’s healthiest population of woodpeckers, open savannas, and odd plants. Take a hike on the Florida Trail for an up close look at this natural wonder.
Hotel: Wakulla Springs Lodge or similar

Day 8

Wakulla Springs - Crystal River (162 miles)
This morning depart Wakulla Springs and drive along Florida’s Nature coast. With its beautiful views, rivers and abundant wildlife it’s a joy to drive here! On the way you might want to make a stop at the Suwannee River to take a canoe trip down the river. In Suwannee River State Park you will find bits of history throughout the park. Along the river are long mounds of earthworks built during the Civil War to guard against incursions by Union Navy gunboats. Other relics include one of the state’s oldest cemeteries, and paddle-wheel shaft from a 19th century steamboat. Five trails, ranging from a quarter mile to 18 miles, loop through surrounding woodlands and provide panoramic views of the rivers. Along the way you may want to stop at Cedar Key, is a small fishing village on Florida’s Gulf of Mexico, and visit the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge before continuing to Crystal River for the night.
Hotel: Plantation Inn & Gold Resort or similar

Day 9

Crystal River - Tarpon Springs - Sarasota (140 miles)
Before you depart to Sarasota, have a true adventure at the Crystal River. Take a conoe ride and get up-close and personal with nature. Swimming with manatees is also a favorite activity at Crystal River. See these protected mammals up close! You can also choose to take a boat trip and see the manatees from a short distance. As you continue on your journey, make a short stop a Tarpon Springs, a Greek sponge fishing town, before continuing to Sarasota for a two night stay. Once in Sarasota, visit the Ringling Estate and Museum comprised of the Cà d’Zan, a 20th century Venetian Gothic mansion, the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, two circus museums and a theater. This property offers stunning views over the Sarasota Bay. Visit the many beautiful beaches of this area. Fort DeSoto State Park has gigantic beaches where you can stroll peacefully along the shores. North Beach faces the Gulf of Mexico while East Beach offers a stunning view of the St. Petersburg Skyway. Massive picnic shelters are located at both the North Beach and East Beach areas.
Hotel: Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel or similar
Today’s Optional Experience
Canoe Rental (Experience Package): Explore these beautiful waterways of Florida’s “Nature Coast” on a canoe. Over 25,000 acres of water, which make up an interconnected chain of river inlet, await you for a true brush with nature.

Day 10

Sarasota is home to some of the most spectacular sunsets and sandy beaches on the Gulf Coast. While it maintains its charm as a sleepy beach town, it is also recognized as a cultural center. Today, visit Caladesi Island State Park. This park was chosen as the number 1 beach for 2008! This Island is only reachable via Honeymoon Island. If you’re lucky, you can see dolphins swimming by. Enjoy the views and have a relaxing picnic. Visit the nearby Anna Maria Island, this charming petite island is just seven-and-a-half miles long and less than a mile wide, and offers pretty beaches for bicycling or kayaking.
Hotel: Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel or similar

Day 11

Sarasota - Orlando International Airport (139 miles)
If you have some time to spare today, visit the Sarasota Jungle Garden, a former banana plantation that was made into a botanic garden. It’s a true oasis of flowers and rare plants from all over the world. Depart at your leisure to Orlando International Airport.

Day 12

Arrive back in Ireland.

What's Included

  • Return transatlantic schedule flights
  • Economy size car rental
  • Hotel accommodation as specified, or of a similar standard
  • Welcome kit with comprehensive maps and day-to-day itinerary
  • Optional Experience Package for purchase see below for details



Additional Pre-bookable excursions: "Experience Package" which includes Zipline Safari (Day 2), Horseback Riding for 1 hour (Day 5), Canoe rental for 2 hours (Day 9) for €150 per person.

The weather information shown below refers to the first stop on the tour, call us and speak to one of our travel experts for the most up-to-date forecasts and weather details for your tour.

TODAY 23ºC
THU 23ºC
FRI 18ºC
SAT 21ºC
SUN 25ºC
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Average Temperature (Celsius) Average Rainfall (Inches)
24ºC
24ºC
27ºC
29ºC
32ºC
33ºC
34ºC
33ºC
32ºC
30ºC
26ºC
24ºC
2
2
3
3
3
8
7
8
6
4
2
3

Average Temperature (Celsius) Average Rainfall (Inches)

Jan
24ºC
2
Feb
24ºC
2
Mar
27ºC
3
Apr
29ºC
3
May
32ºC
3
Jun
33ºC
8
Jul
34ºC
7
Aug
33ºC
8
Sep
32ºC
6
Oct
30ºC
4
Nov
26ºC
2
Dec
24ºC
3

Book today

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Brendan White

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