Happy Earth Day: 5 Places to Celebrate Nature & Wildlife in Central Florida

Happy Earth Day, fellow earthlings! With cooler temperatures gracing our area since the weekend, it feels like a crime to spend Earth Day working indoors. Here in Central Florida, we are blessed to live in such a diverse environment, with a variety of wildlife and terrain in every direction. The longer I live here, the more beautiful places I discover and fall in love with, and I consider myself lucky to call this weird and wonderful place my home.

In honor of Earth Day, I’m sharing five unique places to experience nature and wildlife right in your own backyard. Please feel free to share your own local favorites in the comments section below!

Happy Earth Day: 5 Ways to Celebrate Nature & Wildlife in Central Florida | WellnessAndWanderlust.net1. Audubon Center for Birds of Prey (Maitland, FL)
Nestled just off the main roads in Maitland, the Audubon Center for Birds and Prey is a rehabilitation facility for raptors. The organization brings in hundreds (if not thousands) of hawks, owls, eagles, vultures, and other birds of prey who are sick or injured each year. For $8 per adult and $5 per child, guests can visit about 50 of the center’s permanent residents and learn about each individual bird. Don’t forget to visit the tiny raptors on the back porch, including my favorite: Tony, the eastern screech owl! You can also watch a video inside to learn more about rehabilitation and release efforts, and how the center does its part to protect these amazing species. The Audubon Center for Birds of Prey also hosts various events throughout the year.

Happy Earth Day: 5 Places to Celebrate Nature & Wildlife in Central Florida | WellnessAndWanderlust.net

2. Spring-to-Spring Trail from Lake Monroe Park to Gemini Springs Park (DeBary, FL)
Whether you prefer to hike or bike, the Spring-to-Spring Trail is a must-visit on a beautiful day. The trail will eventually span 26 miles out to DeLeon Springs, but in the meantime, you can enjoy a more leisurely stroll from Lake Monroe to Gemini Springs. The route is paved and goes 3.15 miles one way.

Happy Earth Day: 5 Places to Celebrate Nature & Wildlife in Central Florida | WellnessAndWanderlust.net

3. Green Springs Park (Enterprise, FL)
True to its name, Green Springs Park is home to one of Florida’s few sulphur springs. The color has to be seen in person to be believed — and yes, it really is that ethereal. You can access Green Springs Park via the Spring-to-Spring Trail from Lake Monroe Park if you’re looking for a longer hike, or simply drive up to the outside of the park and take a walk around to explore the 31 acres of paved and natural trails that comprise Green Springs.

Happy Earth Day: 5 Places to Celebrate Nature & Wildlife in Central Florida | WellnessAndWanderlust.net

4. The CARE Foundation (Apopka, FL)
I fell in love with The CARE Foundation a few years back, when the Apopka-based wildlife sanctuary took in Lucious, a sweet young lion who suffered from hypovitamiosis. Although Lucious ultimately passed away from this condition, his story went viral and introduced many to The CARE Foundation, which rescues both exotic and domestic animals. Home to lemurs, foxes, big cats, a bear, blonde raccoons, reptiles, and many other critters, The CARE Foundation offers private tours, as well as open houses throughout the year to welcome the public. I have visited The CARE Foundation for their open houses, but a private tour with a small group is on my list for the future!

Happy Earth Day: 5 Places to Celebrate Nature & Wildlife in Central Florida | WellnessAndWanderlust.net

5. Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour (Winter Park, FL)
Just off Park Avenue, hop on a boat to explore the chain of lakes and canals that make up Winter Park. For just $14 per adult and $7 per child, Scenic Boat Tours take place every hour from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and are the perfect way to cool down as the weather heats up. Throughout your tour, you’ll visit three lakes and two canals, and the guide will share the history of Winter Park while introducing you to the local flora and fauna.

What are your favorite ways to enjoy nature in Central Florida? Sound off in the comments section below!

Link Love Wednesday: Goat Cuddlers Wanted

a6dc09ca9c131ce46ff4c903ec1f1c2eHappy Wednesday! 🙂 Hope everyone is having a fabulous week. In my little world, I’m working on crossing a few more items off my 25 at 25 Bucket List, applying for graduate school, and figuring out some exciting upcoming travel plans. What have you been up to? As always, feel free to share your favorite recent links or plans in the comments section below!

Things I’m Loving Lately

What are your favorite links from the week? Share your latest finds in the comments below!

The Weekend Five: People We Follow On Instagram

This is totally me. No shame.

This is totally me. No shame.

You know what they say… you are what you Instagram. Okay, so perhaps this isn’t the exact wording of the old adage, but our social media outlets certainly give friends and followers some insight into who we are and where our interests lie. My news feed on Facebook remains similar now to what it looked like two years ago when I wrote this post, but as I’ve migrated over to Instagram, I’ve found some common patterns there as well.

I’d imagine that for many of us, if we were to compare news feeds on Instagram, we would find that many of our friends post variations of the same things. This week, let’s take a look at some of the common themes that make their way onto our Instagram feeds.

The Weekend Five: People We Follow On Instagram

1. The Foodie.
The foodie comes in all shapes, sizes and culinary preferences. Whether your friend is a Cake Boss or a Super Strict #Paleo Health Nut, this person is constantly posting pictures of his or her meals. Whenever I open this app on my phone, I am immediately hungry from all of the beautifully staged food photos I see. (Seriously – how do you guys get your food to look so immaculate?) I am definitely guilty of posting more food pictures than any reasonable person should — to the point where many of my friends probably now hate me — but I don’t know if I’ll ever have the patience or skills required to make my food look Martha Stewart-ready.

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2. The Technologically Savvy Animal.
Thanks to these people, cats have been ruling the Internet for the past several years. The Animal Lover posts tons of adorable pictures of his or her pet (usually a cat or dog), gathering so many other Animal Lover followers that their pets now have their own hashtags and companies invite them to do product giveaways on their social media. Personally, I follow more German Shepherds, Chihuahuas and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels on Instagram than is socially acceptable. My dog, Charlie, has his own Instagram page run by my sister — and he has more followers than I do! When you’re feeling sad or upset, these Instagram pages are a great place to turn. A few cute pet pics will brighten almost any day!

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3. The #TurntUp One.
I still barely understand what it means to turn up or turn down, but I’ll be damned if I don’t see at least one person on my Instagram each week with that very hashtag. While many of these posts used to be party- and bar-related, the #turntup factor has since been amplified by the EDM/house music scene. We all have at least one of these friends. I don’t know if I’ll ever be cool enough to post any of these pictures without some degree of irony, but the good news is that I’ll still be functional enough to “turn up” to work the next day. 🙂

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4. The Whimsical One.
This person uses very few hashtags, writes quirky-cute captions, and manages to get at least 50 likes per photo. Whether she’s strategically photographed dancing in some meadow, taking a selfie with a cat in a bow-tie, or doing something creative with a Mason jar, her pictures always come out flawlessly and are insanely popular on social media. As you plot your own social media domination, you can’t help but envy her for her seemingly effortless photos and style.

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5. The Cosmopolitan.
Like The Whimsical One, The Cosmopolitan usually receives a lot of likes/follows without having to spam everyone with hashtags. The Cosmopolitan is a little better than you in every way, posting meals that you can’t pronounce from trendy restaurants you can’t afford (usually involving some sort of “balsamic reduction” or something truffle-related), visits to museums/the theatre, cool photos taken on European travels and an occasional, well-polished outfit of the day. The Cosmopolitan is not always as worldly as The Whimsical One, but typically more reliable.

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Who do you follow on Instagram? Anybody who didn’t make the cut? Share your favorites in the comments section below!

Link Love Thursday: Let’s Go To Eataly!

Benvenuto a Eataly!Cute animals, Disney villains and pizza, oh my! This week, the Internet was filled with gold, and I’m excited to share with you in a one-day-late Link Love!

What great links have you come across this week?