Take A Sporting Chance On Orlando For Your Next Vacation

By: Mark Whichard

Orlando, Florida is more and more becoming a mecca for vacationers. There are many reasons for this, and one I want to explore now is the sporting or active side of the Orlando holiday.

Now, talking to a friend recently about sporting holidays I almost didn't bring up Orlando's numerous sporting attractions. He was talking about going hiking in the Rockies for a week or two. And he also mentioned distance bicycling holidays as a great way to spend the summer (and he meant the whole summer, not just a short holiday!). Marathon running? Sure, why not. (Although even he agreed that running a marathon is not exactly a holiday. But he did insist that when you travel to a city to run a marathon you get to visit great cities that you may have never otherwise seen.)

Orlando's active side can include such intense activities, but for the family, or for anyone who wants activity but doesn't want to feel they're in training for the Olympics, it can be ideal.

One famous active attraction is Boggy Creek Airboat Rides. Started by a couple in 1994, it's blossomed into one of Orlando's top 10 attractions, according to the Orlando Business Journal.

They offer high speed airboat rides on Lake Tohopekaliga (or "Sleeping Tiger Lake") a 12,000 acre lake where you can board a 6-passenger or 18-passenger boat and really take off on that lake. Like up to 65 mph. That may not seem so fast on the highway, but in an airboat it can thrill you or chill you (both, actually, if you go out early in the morning).

Speeding along on the lake you can glimpse a wide variety of its wetland birds, such as bald eagles, cranes, egrets and ospreys. Which brings up an important point: the airboats virtually float on the water so they are less invasive to the lakes plant and wildlife inhabitants than regular propeller driven boats.

For something a bit more mundane, how about a round of golf? Or if you are really a golf enthusiast, you can play a round each day at a different course for, oh, say about 5 straight months, since Orlando has about 150 golf courses with all of them reputed to be essentially world class facilities.

Some resorts are just for golf. ChampionsGate Golf Club, for example, provides two 18-hole championship golf courses, said to be among the best in the US. The resort hosts several tournaments including the popular World Points Father/Son Challenge.

But if you're not up to championship play yet, most courses have professional coaches to help you improve your game. The city even has six golf instruction academies that use personalized teaching methods and state of the art equipment.

And if you want a change of pace from big time (and big course) golf, many resorts here also feature miniature golf courses.

For example, one new adventure style miniature golf course is designed as a Hawaiian oasis. Fire and lava pour from a fifty-foot volcano. Hawaiian Rumble Adventure Golf attracts people with their rhythmic music and sophisticated design. Holes range from beginner to advanced, and are thematically designed.

There's also the Congo River Adventure Golf course where you can take the whole family high atop giant waterfalls and rocky summits or deep down to mysterious caves.

You mean you've never golfed your way through tropical rainforests, jumping over river rapids, and thoroughly enjoying yourself regardless of how high your score is?

Well, maybe then Orlando is the place to golf (or mini-golf) like you've never dreamt of.

There's much more to the sporty side of Orlando than this, but for golf enthusiasts, maybe I've said enough and I should just let you make your reservations for this grand, beautiful city.

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