Discover Central Florida's 'wild' side at Wild Florida

By: Estee Martin

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Central Florida, I need a vacation! Sure, working downtown is great but sometimes you have to just get away. I left the hustle and bustle of city life and drove down to the “middle of nowhere” at Wild Florida in this installment of Central Florida’s Hidden Gems.

When you first pull into Wild Florida, it’s almost like you transport to a different world. There were ranches, wide open spaces, and a lake that seemed to go on forever. This definitely wasn’t the Central Florida I was used to! Owner and co-founder Sam Haught was our guide for the day and you could really see his passion for this place. He built this place from the ground up and watched it grow into the “day-cation” destination that it is today.

» PHOTOS: Get a closer look at Wild Florida!

Sam says one of the best things about Wild Florida is getting into nature and the best way to do that is by hopping in an airboat and gliding through over 100,000 acres of beautiful wetlands. Our airboat captain was Wild Florida’s own, Capt. Dennis. He knew so much about the wildlife surrounding us. I saw a variety of gators, big and small, and even some cows grazing by the lake. The airboats themselves can go pretty fast but if you’re someone who wants to sit back and take in the scenery, tell your airboat guide and they can customize it for you. I actually welcomed the high speed adrenaline rush--- this is Wild Florida after all!

» VIDEO: Take a Virtual Airboat Ride!

If you want to get a closer look at the different animals that make up our ecosystem, you’ve gotta check out Wild Florida’s 13-acre nature park. I made friends with lemurs, birds, baby alligators, and sloths while walking through the park. Don’t leave until you’ve taken a sloth-selfie or #slothie with Ana! She loves to pose for the camera.

 To end our day, Sam brought me to Wild Florida’s “Swamp-Famous” Chomp House Grill for a bite to eat. This place has everything! You can snack on pulled pork sandwiches, fried alligator po’ boys, and even frog legs. I was a little scared to try the frog legs but they tasted amazing! You can see my reaction in the video above.

Wild Florida was exactly what I needed to get over my city-girl slump. If you’re looking to get away, learn about animals, and eat some great food, you’ve gotta check out this hidden gem!

For more information on Wild Florida, visit their website here: http://wildfloridairboats.com/

Until next time,

- Estee