Friday, June 3, 2011

Outing: Christmas, Florida

You know that place you drive by on your way to the beach?  The one with a Christmas tree and nativity scene up all year?  That's Christmas.  Christmas, Florida.

A lot of people visit this little town of just over 1000 people in eastern Orange County.  Specifically, they visit the post office.  Why?  Because it's one of the few places in the country where you can get all your holiday mail stamped with the official "Christmas" postmark.  But that's not all there is to see in Christmas, Florida.

Food  Before you set out on your pioneer adventure, be sure to fuel up for the long walk.  For classic country cooking, try Rudolph's Restaurant.  A well-portioned, quality down-home meal will run you anywhere from $5.95 to $9.95. 

Fun  Christmas, only 20 minutes from the UCF/Waterford Lakes area, boasts three different attractions.  Jungle Adventures Nature Park is worth driving by just to see the world's largest papier-mâché alligator (over 200 feet long).  But you don't have to pay to see alligators in this little town.

Head over to the Orlando Wetlands Park for a good dose of Florida outback.  Ironically, the beautiful woods, wetlands, and lakes are all part of a man-made water treatment re-naturalization facility.  But being Florida, it hasn't taken long for hundreds of plant and animal species to take over this park.  Miles and miles of multipurpose paths let you explore the park on foot, bike, horse, or even golf cart.  I visited the park for the first time this week and saw racoons, snakes, turtles, all types of birds, and at least half a dozen alligators up close.  The park and its visitors center are open February 1st through November 14th and are always free.

Christmas' third attraction is the Fort Christmas Historical Park, which is also free of charge.  The park features an accurate replica of Ft. Christmas as it looked after being built during the Second Seminole War (1835 - 1842) as well as seven reconstructed pioneer houses.  Also in the park are grilling areas, a playground, basketball court, tennis court, and baseball field.

Drinks  If you're weary after hiking through history, visit Old School Coffee Stop, Inc.  Enjoy a cold iced tee ($1.75), a smoothie ($3.75), and their surprisingly large and interesting selection of grilled goods, salads, and sandwiches. 

Total Cost for lunch, a visit to the Wetlands park and/or Ft. Christmas, and drinks: $8 + per person.

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