California Coast RV Road Trip

Most known for Hollywood celebrity sightings, California is also home to some of the most famous beaches and coastlines of the world. This is perfectly complemented by the seamless weather and temperature that lures in new residents and tourists every year. So if you are looking forward to enjoying the summer heat, regardless of the More »

Going to Orlando and its Parks

It’s time to make a journey and the destination this time is called Orlando, a space full of fun that attracts millions of people during the whole year due to it’s famous parks, places like Disney World, Universal Studio or the Cabo Discovery will keep you busy all day long. Start by looking for a More »

Helsinki City Guide

Helsinki, recently awarded as ‘City of Design’ by UNESCO, is the capital of Finland. Unlike the Nordic winter, the temperature of this city is quite livable, and life continues throughout the year. It has four seasons, and the temperatures vary from 32 degrees in the summer and about -20 degrees in the winter. With the More »

Tag Archives: Florida

Florida’s Animal Sanctuaries

Tiger

To be sure, Florida has its fair share of wildlife. With plenty of native species like cougars, bobcats, panthers, armadillos, coatis, and of course that deadly creature that epitomizes Florida, the crocodile, the Sunshine State has a wealth of wildlife for any animal enthusiast. But it doesn’t just end there. Animal sanctuaries dot the state and add an exotic twist to complement an already stunning array of wildlife. Here are some places to check out on your next trip down south.

Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary

If one night you’re awoken by the sound of a lion’s roar, you’re probably not dreaming. Tucked away just a short distance from the swanky Florida holiday villas in Sarasota lies the Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary. Registered as a genuine charity since 2005, the sanctuary has been a labour of love for its founder —  animal lover and big cat rescuer Kay Rosaire. The large project, which consists of several indoor and outdoor buildings and habitats, occupies a sizeable patch of land and is home to tigers, lions, and ligers which are (you guessed it) a cross between a lion and a tiger. Bears, birds, and a large collection of rescued primates also call this habitat home. The sanctuary relies on donations and admission fees to feed, house, shelter, and rehabilitate the animals. 

Octagon Wildlife Sanctuary

Hyena

Another project with the mission to rehabilitate and provide a healthy environment and proper shelter for abandoned and abused exotic animals is the Octagon Wildlife Sanctuary. Located in the quaint city of Punta Gorda south of Sarasota, one of the newest draws here is Jake, a spotted hyena formerly owned by animal behaviourist Bryan Hawn. Thought untameable, Jake and the extraordinary bond that developed with his former owner was the subject of a National Geographic Wild episode in 2012.

McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary

Snake

Specializing in nurturing sick, abandoned, or abused animals and snakes back to health and releasing them back into the wild, McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary has been one of the earliest pioneers in wildlife rehabilitation in Florida — they’ve been at this since the 1970s. There are over a hundred permanent residents in this West Palm Beach habitat, and many of them make their way  here after being donated by wildlife officers who have seized abused or illegal possessed animals. 

Orlando for the young at heart

If my inner child could wish upon a star to be let loose anywhere in the world, Orlando, Florida would certainly be up there on the shortlist. The home to internationally known tourist attractions such as Disneyworld and Universal Studios, Orlando is especially geared towards young visitors – or those just young at heart.

From Disney to Hollywood, Orlando is all about the theme parks, and the list of Orlando’s legendary attractions is enough to have me hopping on the spot in excitement: Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Universal Studios Florida, Epcot’s World Showcase, Disney’s Magic Kingdom and SeaWorld Orlando. You can travel the world’s continents, live out your princess fantasies, ride some of the longest roller coasters in the world, edit yourself into history’s greatest blockbusters, and come face to face with sharks and dolphins.

Universal Studios Harry Potter

Image: One More Bite Blog via Flickr

Four theme parks now vie for attention in the Walt Disney World Resort in Bay Lake, Florida, from the Animal and Magic Kingdoms to Epcot and Hollywood Studios. The other major player in town is Universal Studios, which like the movies it is inspired by has grown into a far bigger monster, and includes the thrill rides of its Islands of Adventure, where you can lose yourself in Hogwarts Castle or even a scarily lifelike Jurassic Park.

Even us youngsters-at-heart can feel like a little downtime, and downtown Orlando’s Loch Haven Park makes a great picnic spot nestled between the city’s best art museums – if you can find time for some culture they are certainly worth visiting.

With such a sunny, tropical climate, it’s possible to have a great vacation in Orlando all year round. To get away from the crowds, however, avoid school holidays, particularly the period from Memorial Day through to Labor Day. Although not normally a problem, hurricane season runs from June through to November, while to be able to enjoy a less crowded theme park experience along with fairly pleasant temperatures, try February (bring long sleeves).

Where to stay in Orlando

In Orlando, the hotels are as bold and extravagant as the theme parks, from the landmark luxury Grand Bohemian Hotel to the more budget-oriented Westin Imagine Hotel. Brand-name hotels vie for custom, but for real kid-friendliness you can stay directly in one of the many resorts, such as the CoCo Key Hotel and Water Resort.

Eating out in Orlando

Arabian nights dinner show

Image: Experience Kissimmee, Florida via Flickr

Luckily I never could remember proper dining etiquette, because when eating out in Orlando, it’s quite possible to be ambushed by marauding pirates or gently teased by live comedy acts. Dining Orlando-style is certainly an experience, and the fantasy theme runs into its restaurants, most of which combine dinner with a show, from comedians and acrobats at Treasure Tavern to pirates, Disney princesses, and even an equestrian show at the Arabian Nights dinner Attraction in Kissimmee.

Yes, Orlando is almost as famed for its dinner theaters as it is its theme parks, though these are certainly not recommended for those who set great store in good table manners: The Medieval Times Dinner Show could well have you eating with your fingers while knights joust next to your table.

Image: Alicía via Flickr

The overwhelming majority of visitors arrive at Orlando International Airport, located just nine miles south-east of downtown Orlando. In addition to the many charter travelers who come through the gates, airlines such as US Airways often have great deals on flights to and from this fantastic city.