Kelly Park at Rock Springs
There are approximately 33 natural springs in Florida. Rock Springs, located in the city of Apopka is my absolute favorite. Pro tip: rise with the sun and arrive to the park at 8AM in the summer to guarantee admission -- the park tends to reach capacity early on. When you do make your way into the park, venture to the head of the spring where the water flows from a boil located beneath the rocks. The water creates a mosaic of reflections of the emerald green trees and turquoise sky.
The water is 70 degrees all year around. My best advice is to brave the initial chill and plunge into the crystal clear water! The natural push and flow of the water will carry you down the river about a quarter mile to the blocked off pool portion of the spring where you can swim freely from end to end.
Florida Cactus is a family owned cactus and succulent nursery nestled in the heart of Apopka, approximately 10 miles outside of Downtown Orlando. There are multiple greenhouses on the property and each are home to thousands of plants. One eye-catching greenhouse holds rows and rows of grafted cacti- a rootstock base fused with a vibrant scion. The deep pinks, fluorescent yellows and vibrant oranges create a gradient across the tent. Florida Cactus is open to the public 5 days a week and is well worth the drive down country roads.
Day Trip Essentials
I kept packing minimal and compact. I packed my essentials in the Catalina Deluxe Tote and brought a change of clothes, swimsuit and a towel in the main compartment, a notebook and pen in the outer pocket and a pair of sandals in the bottom compartment. And of course, I kept my camera on hand to capture the beauty of my surroundings! I also brought my Waverley to keep smaller items like my wallet, keys, chapstick, and phone by my side.
Where to Eat
Once you’ve spent the day exploring Florida’s best in nature, it’s time to eat. The Mills District, a subsection of Downtown Orlando, is home to Hawkers Asian Street Fare. The Roti Canai is a must. My tip is to order tapas for the table instead of individual entrees.
Farmers Market at Lake Eola
If a Sunday rolls around during your visit, be sure to check out the Farmers Market at Lake Eola. Every Sunday from 10AM to 4PM you can find fresh produce, flowers, plants, corn fresh off the grill, and you can even drink out of a coconut.
Where to Stay
If you like art galleries, shopping from local boutiques, and brunch, the Winter Park area is the place to stay. It's also home of my all time favorite stationery design studio, Rifle Paper Co. You can visit the studio and shop right in the heart of the city and take home an item inspired by the home and travels of Anna Bond, the creative director of Rifle Paper Co.