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Tavares, Florida 32778

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Armed with a GPS, residents and visitors of Lake County can find the hidden places

During the first several years of the new millennium, a new outdoor hobby called "geocaching" sent treasure seekers armed with GPS devices scouring the countryside for strategically placed caches.

While the game of geocaching began in 2000 as one ingenious soul decided to hide a container, or commonly referred to as a "cache," out in the woods, note the coordinates with a handheld GPS device and record the numbers on a Web site for all to find. The GPS hobby of treasure hunting recently evolved about five years after its inception when Groundspeak introduced

Lake Minneola Scenic Trail Waymark
Lake Minneola Scenic Trail Waymark

Waymarking is similar to geocaching as GPS is still the name of the game, but instead of searching for a hidden container, the prize at the end of the search is a special point of interest. In addition, waymarking encourages its visitors to photograph themselves at their final destination. The points of interests are categorized into a host of different lists, with some featuring rather unusual names, such as "free for your birthday," "natural sinkholes," and "independent pizza restaurants."

"In most cases with waymarking, you're going to find a place that you typically wouldn't visit or even know was there," said Greg Mihalic, Director of the Lake County Tourism & Business Relations Division. "What I like about it, is it gives us an opportunity to market Lake County to a worldwide audience."

Boundless Playground Waymark
Lake Idamere Boundless Playground Waymark

The tourism division recently entered the waymarking realm and entered five destinations into the Web site. The five initial sites were the boundless playground (category: public playgrounds) and dog park (category: off-leash dog areas) at Lake Idamere Park, Lake Minneola Scenic Trail (category: rails to trails), Lake County Historical Museum (category: history museums) and Lake County Welcome Center (category: tourist information centers).

"In just a few days, more than 20 people had viewed our waymarking entries," Mihalic said. "As interest grows in these initial offerings, I envision us expanding our number of waymarking sites to other points of interest in the County."
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