Central Florida, the region that divides temperate and subtropical Florida, extends from coast to coast, and south from Ocala to Lake Okeechobee. The citrus belt begins here, and freezes in this area and southwards are rare occurrences.
The subtropical influence is also evident in the increased presence of cabbage palms in wet areas. As well as being home to Orlando and its gigantic complex of theme parks, the central portion of the state is Florida’s retirement Mecca. Traveling from north to south the population density increases dramatically and hundreds of golf courses, mobile home communities, retirement communities, shopping malls, churches and funeral homes dot the landscape.
Somewhat surprisingly, if you know where to look, there are still many wild places left. An hour’s drive from Orlando, one can be bird watching on Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge or canoeing to the gulf on the Chassahowitzka River. Along the Lake Wales Ridge you can see some of the last remnants of Florida’s unique scrub ecosystem.