Our first post comes from a trip not far from home. Everyone thinks you need to travel out of the country for an ‘out of this world’ experience but it’s surprising the hidden gems you can find just a few hours from your house.
Would you swim with alligators?
We found a hidden (or so we thought) gem called King’s Landing just 30 minutes north of Disney World. As Game of Thrones fans, we had to go. Our first attempt was a FAIL. We arrived at 10:30am on a Sunday and there were no rentals available. This time around, we arrived at 8:45am and were surprised they were already out of double kayaks, but still had canoes.
The trip started out calm. Slowly we pull away from the inlet into what must be the slowest moving river in Florida. Once we met the river, we were welcomed with a palm tree that had grown so far across the river it could barely support itself anymore.
We paddled down the river enjoying the views of riverfront houses and families fishing. With no cell service, you have no choice but to relax. All you can do is sit back and crack open a drink (bring a tumbler)!
Just after this house we came across our first alligator! The story goes that every body of water in Florida has had a gator in it at some point… this river was INFESTED. I’ve always watched gators from afar, so I figured we’d run into a few. I don’t think Jenelle expected to see any, based on her subtle panic attack.
I recommend the FULL 9 mile trip to enjoy all the lilies and desolate forest. There is an option to turn back after the first mile marker, but not nearly as a fulfilling experience as the 9 mile trip.
We separated from other travelers on the river for some privacy to talk and enjoy a hard seltzer. A bit ahead in the river, I saw something… it was an alligator!! No more than 30 feet ahead of us, in a 20 foot wide river is a gator cruising our direction. We quickly stop our canoe and had the most eerie showdown. Somehow we understood each-other the same way two cars trying to pass on a narrow street understood each-other. We pulled to the side while we watched him use his tail to safely slither past us.
We end our trip at what must be one of the strangest ‘island getaways’ I’ve ever seen. Wekiva Island seems like your average pools bar with cabanas, lounge chains and people swimming with inflatable rafts. Would you swim with alligators?! If I hadn’t just seen SEVEN gators on our trip it would have seemed like a perfectly relaxing way to spend my weekend. We were fine to just have a beer and be on our way.
I died and went to sushi heaven.
It wouldn’t be a true Florida adventure without being offered a little bit of a gator food. We just opted for a drink but they had gator tacos and even a fried gator tail! As tempted as we were Jenelle was HARD set on a sushi place in a cute small town not far from us – Wave restaurant in Mount Dora. It was probably 20 minutes out of our way, but worth it! This place posts the most ridiculous sushi PORN on instagram. The price was reasonable considering the amount of fish they load onto everything. The sushi hotdog, yes hotdog – was freaking amazing. We also ordered sushi nachos and signature rolls. I died and went to sushi heaven.
How to find the time (and money)
King’s Landing was quite the adventure, but it wasn’t quick to get to. Knowing we needed to get there early we got a cheap hotel outside of Disney (about $120/night) and made a trip out of it by visiting the boardwalk in Disney Springs the night before. We avoided the outrageous food prices at Disney by grabbing quick food on our drive over, but still got to enjoy the scenery and entertainment. All said and done, we made it home with our entire Saturday evening still open, though we took it to catch up on sleep.
- Water-proof backpack
- Yeti tumblers
- Water shoes
- Beers & cooler
- Towels (for cushions)
- CASH!! (Kings Landing is CASH ONLY)