Florida Friday Vol. 3, Issue 14 | October 26th, 2018

Go wild in the Sunshine State

From native manatees and alligators to zebras and penguins, Florida is home to an abundance of wildlife. It's time to take a walk on the wild side.

West Volusia County
Take a trip down an American Heritage River to see manatees, alligators, deer, birds and more of Florida's native wildlife on a St. Johns River Eco Boat Tour. In its heyday the river was the main highway for commerce and trade, frequented by paddlewheel boats, but today tour boats take nature lovers down this unspoiled waterway at a more leisurely pace.

Visit Tampa Bay
Get your binoculars ready to spot zebras, ostriches, rhinos, antelope and more at Busch Gardens' award-winning Serengeti Safari. From the comfort of an open-air touring vehicle, your guide will take you across the 65-acre Serengeti Plain to see animals normally found in Africa. You can even hand-feed giraffes.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment
Do a behind-the-scenes tour of the penguin habitat at Antarctica, Empire of the Penguin, at SeaWorld Orlando. You'll get to meet some of these waddling wonders up close and learn all about how to care for them from the park experts. Get greeted by a bottlenose dolphin on a swim experience at Discovery Cove and spotting dolphins while whizzing down water slides at Aquatica.

New Smyrna Beach
Check out the wildlife from five ecosystems - ocean, river, dunes, scrub zone, and saltwater marsh - with a stroll along the Smyrna Dunes Park boardwalk, two miles of elevated walkways built to protect this sensitive habitat. Perched on 73 acres at the northern tip of the New Smyrna Beach peninsula, the parkland is surrounded by the sea on three sides and provides a unique opportunity to see a wide variety of animals, birds, reptiles, marine life and vegetation.

Paradise Coast
By foot, kayak or charter boat, there are many ways to enjoy the wonderful wildlife of Florida's Paradise Coast. Home to the Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve, along with state, local and private nature parks, this stretch of coastline boasts estuaries, mangroves, cypress swamps, forests and beaches which are home to dolphins, birds, black bears, manatees and much more.

Daytona Beach
Jump on board The Manatee for an intracoastal scenic cruise along the 25-mile stretch of protected wetland and scenic mangrove shores on the Halifax River. Running parallel to the Atlantic Ocean at Daytona Beach, it's a wonderful place to spot dolphins, turtles, pelicans and, of course, the endangered manatee.

The Florida Keys & Key West
Get a glimpse of a Key Deer at the National Key Deer Refuge in the Lower Keys. Standing at around one metre tall and weighing up to 85 pounds, Key Deer are the smallest subspecies of the North American white-tailed deer and are unique to the natural Lower Keys. Follow two nature trails and wind through the refuge's pinelands into a tropical hardwood hammock, the perfect place to glimpse these gentle creatures.

St. Pete/Clearwater
Showcasing over 90 species of butterflies, white herons, lizards, snakes, box turtles and gopher tortoise, Boyd Hill Nature Preserve is known for its rich biodiversity. But it's not the only nature preserve close to St Pete/Clearwater. Also nearby is the Weedon Island Preserve, where paddlers can meander through four miles of mangrove islands with the chance to see fish and seabirds.

Discover Crystal River
Not only can you see manatees, you can even swim with these docile creatures at Citrus County Florida, the only place in North America where it's legal to do so. Tours are available from the Plantation on Crystal River and start with an education on passive observation before you can enter the water and float face-to-face with these amazing animals.

Stay connected, when navigating around the Sunshine State with the recently launched Hertz Connect. The free portable and secure wi-fi device is available to Hertz Gold Plus Rewards customers, with a minimum prepaid booking total of £350, or $500 if paying at location. Providing unlimited data and 4G hotspot, plus many other roaming benefits, this service is available when collecting from major locations including: Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Fort Myers. Need some inspiration for road tripping around Florida? See the Full On Florida route on Hertz Road Trip Planner which includes 14 iconic and off-the-beaten track stops in the Sunshine State, with downloadable maps and insider guides.

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