River of Lakes Heritage Corridor: Nature Meets Culture

    Where: Running just east of the St. Johns River through through Volusia and Seminole counties.

    Length: 156 miles.

    How to get around: Car, bike or canoe.

    Best time to visit: Springtime, to hear birds singing.

    Fun fact: The Central Florida Zoo features ZOOm Air Adventures, a obstacle course in the treetops with ziplines, rope bridges and other challenges.

    For more info: Check out riveroflakesheritagecorridor.orgFacebook.com/VisitWestVolusia, watch this video on the River of Lakes Corridor YouTube channel or search #5daysoffun on Twitter.
     

    River of Lakes Heritage Corridor

    River of Lakes Heritage Corridor

    - Julie Fletcher for VISIT FLORIDA

    River of Lakes Heritage Corridor

    River of Lakes Heritage Corridor

    - Julie Fletcher for VISIT FLORIDA


    One of Cindy Sullivan’s favorite places to be at sunset is on her bicycle, meandering through Green Springs Park in DeLand.

    “You can hear all the owls talking to each other, and can see the red-shoulder hawks flying around looking for their food,” said Sullivan, chair of the board of River of Lakes Heritage Corridor.

    Indeed, the corridor is full of simple delights, from the playful splashing of otters in the St. Johns River to the friendliness of birds in springtime.

    “During birding season, owls have owlettes in their nest. They feed 24 hours a day, and they will come down and take a fish out of your hand,” Sullivan said.
     

    River of Lakes Heritage Corridor

    River of Lakes Heritage Corridor

    - Julie Fletcher for VISIT FLORIDA

    River of Lakes Heritage Corridor

    River of Lakes Heritage Corridor

    - Julie Fletcher for VISIT FLORIDA


    For nature lovers looking to get acquainted with the area, Sullivan recommends a sightseeing cruise such as St. Johns River Eco Tours.

    “You’ll see birds and plants you’ve never seen before,” she promises.

    Then there the man-made attractions. The towns of Sanford and DeLand are home to “first-class museums with incredible art,” Sullivan said. Both towns also have a thriving theater scene, with historic Athens Theatre in DeLand and the new Wayne Densch Performing Arts Center in Sanford.

    For a taste of Old Florida, head to the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill and Griddle House. Located within De Leon Springs State Park, the eatery features a griddle on every table. Diners receive pitchers of homemade pancake batters to create a breakfast as fresh as homecooked.

    For something more upscale, try Cress Restaurant in downtown DeLand, a critically acclaimed eatery with four-time James Beard Award semi-finalist Chef Hari Pulapaka at the helm.

    “The best ribeye I’ve ever had in my life, I ate there,” Sullivan said. “They’re only open for dinner, and the food will just blow you away.”

    In fact, the entire River of Lakes Heritage Corridor just might blow you away.

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