Rainbow River and Devil’s Den

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

The family has summer vacation plans. A family member develops a curious sniffling, disturbing scratchy throat. A family member says, “#%[email protected]%%*&”. A family member takes the COVID-19 test. Family vacations are collapsing.

This was our situation just before a flight to Costa Rica. We canceled and started climbing Insurance Claim Mountain. After quarantine and recovery, however, everyone was eager to get away from the works of William P. Hulu.

We booked an Airbnb two hours north of Dunnellon and loaded up the truck for ADVENTURE, EXPLOITS and…INNER TUBES. As a bonus, we came across an enchanting field of sunflowers. who even Needs a chocolate tour at the foot of a volcano, right? In fact, I don’t want to talk about it.

For your trip to Florida, let’s break down a three-day itinerary:

Rainbow River Tubing

I imagined floating down a river to be elegant and simple, like a Regency-era duchess taking a bath. Foolish! Foolish fool!

First, the basics. Tubers can launch from Rainbow Springs State Park$22 per person for a two-hour float, or KP Hole Park, $30 per person for a four hour float. Both include tube rentals and shuttle service. It’s first come first serve and the weekends are busy so get there early. We opted for the two hour trip. Honestly, four hours of anything except sleeping is too much. In my next article, I’ll explain why all movies should be 90 minutes long.

Because my family pushed back first, I got stuck on the dock like a broken donut. I asked strangers to push me. in a river! To have fun! I expected to get carried away, relax and watch the cormorants, nervously play “Alligator or Textured Log?” But I found myself grotesquely collapsing to create movement, trying to remember Michael Phelps.

Dark clouds shielded the sun an hour later, a breeze finally got me going. My dreams of elegance were coming true. Then, uh, the clouds rumbled in a downpour. We glided near someone’s private dock (I know, that’s a no-no, but I didn’t want to perish) and finally finished our float. We jumped off as the workers informed the dismayed party in front of us that they had two more hours.

That said, it was magical enough. A pair of river otters swam right up to us! The water was amazingly blue and peaceful, without people playing rave music on a Bluetooth.

POINT: Wear a large, waterproof hat so you can shout “I’M SO HAPPY TO HAVE THIS HAT” between the rain and sun.

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Related: 3 Quirky Florida Vacation Spots Within 4 Hours or Less of Tampa Bay

Snorkeling in the devil’s lair

The ladder leading to Devil's Den, a prehistoric sinkhole and snorkeling attraction in Williston, Florida.
The ladder leading to Devil’s Den, a prehistoric sinkhole and snorkeling attraction in Williston, Florida. [ STEPHANIE HAYES | Times ]

The next day we drove 30 minutes to Williston to dive into a prehistoric karst sinkhole named after Satan. Coldness! Legend says that the first settlers named the cave devil’s lair because of the steam in the morning.

Important: scuba diving is chargeable, but snorkeling is by reservation only. Not the most intuitive website and we may have booked 12 times by accident. When we called, no one answered. However, you must reserve. The dive shop has signs that say, to paraphrase, “It doesn’t matter how far you’ve been, check the website.”

Snorkeling is $15-$22 per person, with mask, snorkel, and fin rentals an additional $10. We waddled into the hole, past influencers doing the squat thing where butts are in front and Exorcist heads around (what’s that?).

I hadn’t dived since I was 12, which… math break… no matter. It was strange at first, like drowning in 72 degree water. After gripping the railing and thinking about the chocolate tour in Costa Rica, I relaxed and breathed into the tube. We enjoyed 90 minutes of mind-blowing mermaid action with bluegill swimming past our masks. Wonderful. It is, frankly, a Florida wonder not to be missed.

On a tip from Times contributor Kristen Hare’s book”100 things to do in Tampa Bay before you diewe enjoyed a huge country lunch at The ivy house. So good. I asked for the secret ingredient in tomato compote. Ritz Cookie.

POINT: Get a waterproof phone case for epic photos, or at least blurry images of a turtle.

Picking sunflowers at Cannon Farms

A sunflower at Cannon Farms in Dunnellon, Florida.  The farm is open to the public in May and June for flower picking.
A sunflower at Cannon Farms in Dunnellon, Florida. The farm is open to the public in May and June for flower picking. [ STEPHANIE HAYES | Times ]

I’ll start with the bad news: this stop is closed for the season. It’s worth noting for next year, though, when you still mentally need to walk through a field of flowers.

We walked past the commercial enterprise Cannon farms and learned that it is open to the public during parts of May and June. It’s $5 to walk through fields of sunflowers and zinnias, take pictures, and cut a sunflower. Prices for filling a plastic cup or bucket are increasing.

It was truly bucolic, a calm end to all the heartbreaking bodies of water. We bought a yellow watermelon and a jar of peach jam, refreshed and ready to return to William P. Hulu.

POINT: Do you like corn? Corn seems to be the most fashionable agricultural product, but it is not always available. follow the farm Facebook page for updates on corn supplies. Don’t say I don’t have you BUT. I am really sorry.

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