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Lorida, Florida (pronounced lore-ee-duh -- no, it does not rhyme with Florida!) is a small city with amazing nature to explore. While you not will find many amenities (there are only nine people per square mile out there), you will not want to miss visiting this little gem. Lorida is situated on Highway 98, and the nearest large city is Sebring, where you can find six pet-friendly hotels and homes for rent at affordable prices.
Up the road towards Highway 27, the main road, you can stop in at the local's favorite Italian restaurant, Roserio's Pizzeria. The restaurant has been family owned and operated for over twenty years, and you can choose from their multiple food items, from subs to pizza and wings to Italian dinners, that you and Fido can enjoy on the outdoor patio seating. Call ahead, though, as their hours vary during slow seasons and holidays, and their patio seating is limited.
Sebring also has multiple vet clinics in close proximity -- within fifteen miles -- of Lorida, so you can feel confident that, even though you are relaxing in the peace and quiet of Lorida, you have quality, state-of-the-art pet care available when you need it should an emergency arise while you are on vacation.
Lorida is home to a unique ecosystem full of many endangered animals and wildlife. You and Fido can visit these wonders of nature in Hickory Hammock, where there are marshes, patches of scrub and oak, and hickory and cabbage palm hammocks along the trails that await your exploration. The trail contains a section of the Florida National Scenic Trail that's 11 miles long, and there are many resting spots along the way, as well as remnants of the Istokpoga Slough to find shade. Hickory Hammock is popular for horseback riding, camping, and biking. There is non-potable water at the stables, but you should plan ahead and bring plenty of water for you and Fido because the trails do get very hot and humid.
Smack on the edge of Sebring and Lorida is another treasure of nature: Lake Istokpoga Park, a mere five miles towards Highway 27. Istokpoga Lake is immense, stretching 26,762 acres across the entire county, but it is only accessed out of the park in Sebring. Here at the park, you and Fido can spend your day exploring the unique nature along the surrounding trails, fishing off of the docks, or hopping on an airboat to immerse yourselves in nature. You can also pack a picnic lunch and relax and enjoy your meal at the picnic tables. There are no other amenities available, though, so plan ahead and bring lots of water for Fido!
Approximately a twenty-minute drive from Lorida, heading north on Highway 27, is the famous Highlands Hammock State Park. This state park is a nature preserve consisting of 9,000 acres of land set aside for wildlife preservation and public nature exploration. When you first arrive at the park, a small fee is required to enter. Then you can park at the pavilion area or drive through the park and search for the myriad of other trails that dissect this majestic park. To access the trails, you only need to park off the side of the road, leash Fido up, and go explore the gorgeous natural outdoors found only in Florida.
Lorida is part of the famous center of Florida, Highlands County, home of the Lake Wales Ridge. This ridge was one of the only lands visible during the Ice Age and afterward. You can access this amazing tract of land in Lake Placid, about five miles south once you hit Highway 27 from Lorida. In the Lake Wales Ridge Park, you can explore the designated trails, where dogs are allowed as long as they are on leashes at all times. Be sure to only visit the Lake Placid Scrub and Carter Creek tract, as hunting is allowed on the Royce Unit tract during certain seasons. There are no restrooms or basic amenities on these trails, so be sure you plan ahead for you and Fido to stay hydrated, as the sugar sand and arid ecosystem can get very hot and humid quickly.
While you are in Lake Placid, be sure to take some time to visit the Lake June-in-Winter Scrub State Park, the 845-acre preserve with one main purpose: protecting the endangered natural sand scrub. You and Fido can hike through the scrub, but remember that the sugar sand is very hot and this can be dangerous on sensitive paws. The park is a full natural experience without amenities, so plan ahead with lots of water -- the arid atmosphere can get very hot -- and clean-up bags! If you are looking to explore an area with more amenities, check out Lake June Park. This park allows you access to a lake experience while still providing bathrooms and water.
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