TODAY   |  May 23, 2013

Florida fun outside the theme parks

The amusement parks may be the main attraction in the Orlando area, but there’s fun to be had outside the park as well. NBC’s Kerry Sanders shows what central Florida has to offer, from crystal clear underground springs to the Kennedy Space Center’s new exhibit.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> florida is known for its beaches. there is also water underground. more than 600 springs with crystal clear h2o. average water temperature, 72 degrees, the spring fed waterways are homes to manatees. and caves that lead to hidden rivers deep under florida's soil. the explorer ponce de leon thought it was the fountain of youth , that is still an attraction today.

>> i don't feel any younger. i'm not going to throw away my cane and start dancing.

>> liftoff.

>> from underground to up in space, the kennedy space center 's new exhibit of the space shuttle "atlantis" is expected to open in june with an up close 360-degree view of this national treasure . and then there's gator land, the oldest themed attraction in central florida where if you're brave enough or crazy enough, you can sit on the back of a live alligator. ouch, that could hurt.

>> too close for comfort. you can travel over the alligators on the zip line . another topsy-turvy adventure literally, the upsidedown house.

>> wow, you need to be getting -- whoa.

>> for those who want to escape for a little relaxation, there's the tower and garden. and just for us, a special song on their famous bells. and a sight before sunset , the bat barn in gainesville home to over 300,000 bats. from wings -- under the sea -- to tails, yes, mermaids, they've been performing here since the 1940s . mermaids, and you thought they were a myth. for "today," kerry sanders , nbc news.