Outside Adventures in Pasco County
From zip lining to kayaking on the Cotee River, Pasco County, Florida, is the place to be if you enjoy exciting outdoor adventures.
Located along the Gulf of Mexico in the Tampa Bay area, Pasco County’s central location is easy to get to—only 30 miles north of Tampa International Airport and 50 miles west of Orlando.
Simply put, Pasco County is a paradise if you’re a lover of the outdoors. Here, togetherness is the main attraction. In this part of the Sunshine State, you’ll find 24 miles of shoreline to the west, rolling hills to the east and more than 100,000 acres of pristine wilderness to explore in between. Read on for the top six ways to venture outside in beautiful Pasco County.
1. Paddle down the river
Looking to burn a few calories while taking in the banks of the Cotee River and surrounding coastal areas? Then, kayaking might be your calling. You can paddle through 4,000 acres of salt springs including Werner-Boyce Salt Springs
State Park or endless miles of rivers and estuaries, taking your time to explore and observe wildlife, and maybe even enjoy a picnic under a moss-draped oak. To get the fun started, head over to Gill Dawg Marina
to rent a sit-on-top kayak. You can launch your “ship” from Gill Dawg’s dock in Port Richey on Miller’s Bayou or take the kayak to your own destination. (All rentals include a paddle and personal flotation device.) Plus, Gill Dawg will deliver your vessel to the home, hotel or beach of your choice. Prefer to go with the flow in a group? Sign up for an Eco Tour or a Full Moon Paddle Tour.
2. Pick something tasty
Oranges, blueberries, strawberries, oh my! In Pasco County, you’ll find several spots where you can pick and/or enjoy fresh fruit
. The 25-acre family-owned Hancock Groves is one of the few orange groves in the state where you can pick your own. Here, you’ll find more than 12 varieties of oranges, two types of lemons and the local celebrity fruit—Dade City kumquats. You’ll also enjoy visiting Starkey Blueberry Farms, where you and the family can enjoy picking blueberries most Saturdays. Or tour the groves and visit the gift shop at Kumquat Growers, the nation’s largest producer of kumquats and kumquat products. The farm has been growing and shipping the sweet treat since 1912.
3. Soar through the trees
Channel your inner squirrel at TreeHoppers Aerial Adventure Park
, which is situated in a beautiful, shady grove of Old Florida live oak trees. The park, which is Central Florida’s largest zip line aerial adventure park, offers a mixture of bridges, ladders, climbing elements and zip lines. Whether you’re an experienced adventure seeker or just dipping your toe in the adrenaline junkie pond, you’ll find your perfect match on one of the eight courses (which have varying difficulty levels). Three-hour climbing packages are available, and you can try your hand at multiple courses during your visit to the trees. Oh, and if you thought climbing during the day was amazing, try climbing after sunset! On Fridays and Saturdays, TreeHoppers stays open later and illuminates the courses for a twilight experience among the trees.
4. Walk on the wild side
Have you ever wanted to feel a giraffe’s tongue tickle your hand as you feed it lettuce? If this is one of your bucket list items, make a visit to Giraffe Ranch
in Dade City, Florida. This licensed working ranch specializes in caring for exotic species—home to four dozen exotic species including bongo, rhinoceros, antelope, ostrich and more, well as domestic cattle and horses. You can experience an eco-adventure when you get up close with these fascinating creatures from the comfort of specially designed four-wheel drive vehicles, a camel-backed safari, a Segway tour or a llama trek. With open grasslands and enormous live oaks, which resemble the picturesque savannas in Africa, you’ll learn about the ranch’s conservation efforts and how it’s helping to preserve endangered species including some extinct species from the wild. You’ll be able to see and pet various animals from Africa, Asia, Australia and the Americas. And as a bonus, you can add on extras like a ring-tailed otter feeding or a rhino encounter. The ranch has two tours per day at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., each lasting approximately 2 hours.
5. Spin your wheels
Pasco County is home to dozens of county parks and trails
that are perfect for biking, including Starkey Trail, Conner Preserve, Green Swamp West Trails, Serenova Tract, Suncoast Trail and Withlacoochee State Trail. If you’re a competitive cyclist or triathlete, you will love that the county is home to several top cycling events throughout the year, including the state’s Cyclocross Championships, the Longleaf Triathlon and the Coteeman Triathlon. Not up for a bike ride? The trails are also great options for a brisk hike or walk.
6. Fly through the sky
Get a bird’s-eye view of Pasco County’s beautiful terrain by taking a hot-air balloon tour with American Balloons
, which has been operating since 1998. The experience includes a one-hour ride over Wesley Chapel, New Tampa, Lutz and Land O’Lakes—floating wherever the wind may take you. Once the ride is finished, you’ll enjoy a traditional Champagne toast and a light brunch. If you love a good thrill, strap on your safety harness and plunge out of a plane at 13,000 feet over breathtaking Zephyrhills, Florida, with Skydive City
. If you’re a first-time jumper, you will go through a brief training and then do a tandem jump harnessed to an expert instructor. You will jump together, opening the parachute at approximately 5,000 feet. Then, you can assist the instructor in steering the parachute as you glide toward the ground over the next four to six minutes. If you’re an experienced jumper, don’t worry. There are plenty of jump options to satisfy your need for airborne speed.