TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- This Earth Day, take a trip out to Florida with family and friends, honoring the planet through eco-friendly activities in exciting destinations.
Read on to find out how you can make the most out of your outdoor vacation in different counties around Florida.
Found in the very heart of Fort Lauderdale, the Bonnet House is a historic site that deftly blends art, history, and ecology. Found on one of the last examples of a native barrier habitat in the region, the Bonnet House provides visitors with a trip through the Main House to witness gorgeous collections of fine art as well as walking paths around the estate. With a dedication to enriching cultural experiences, guests can see what life was like on the estate nearly a century ago.
Be immersed in nature at Naples Botanical Garden. Witness the site’s latest large scale exhibition, Steve Tobin: Nature Underground, which furthers the garden’s mission to connect people with plants. Get an in-depth look at collections featuring at-risk species, an experience like no other.
Reconnect with nature through eco-friendly travel in Jacksonville, Duval County. Kayak Amelia offers classes and a chance to cruise along gentle ocean waves, rivers and lakes while discovering the diverse wildlife that only the Sunshine State can offer. With over 400 parks, including seven state and two national parks, a trip to Jacksonville means an exciting journey through the outdoors. The activities in these preserved lands are endless, from the vast hiking trails to bike paths and horseback riding. Want to see how some of Jacksonville’s best local restaurants get their supplies? Drive down to Congaree and Penn, a sustainable farm where visitors can enjoy beautiful sights and a tasty dinner with wine and hard cider.
Outdoorsy travelers will be well rewarded with a trip to Penscaola in Escambia County. Scenic hiking trails like those at Bay Bluffs Park can be found just a few minutes away from the city. Take the boardwalk steps secluded by the surrounding forest down to a view of Escambia Bay.
Perdido Key is home to Big Lagoon State Park, where guests can traverse marshlands and flatwoods over several miles of hiking trails. Set up the gear at Lake Stone Campground, where visitors can sleep under their tents with an unparalleled view of serene waters. Go paddling in Big Sabine Bay, where sea turtles roam and osprey soar overhead. With several small islands scattered across Perdido Key only accessible by boat, this area offers the ideal island-hopping experience.
Indian River County
Find the next great eco-adventure in Indian River County. Relax at Vero Beach, a truly green paradise where hotels are far from view and sea turtles populate the waters. Take a dive and explore shipwrecks filled with treasure, and traverse the diverse reefs of Vero Beach that are home to hundreds of wildlife species.
For a more active way to help sustainability efforts check out Coastal Connections, a non-profit organization in Vero Beach, which hosts programs that teach about sea turtles as well as beach and park clean up events. What a perfect way to celebrate Earth Day.
Be sure not to miss Pelican Island, America’s first National Wildlife Refuge and home to dozens of bird species and the endangered West Indian manatee. Perfect for animal and outdoor lovers!
Ocala / Marion County
Visit the “horse capital of the world” in Ocala/Marion County, where guests can take horse-drawn carriage tours through horse farms or hop on a mount and ride down the trails. The sprawling Cross Florida Greenway can be traversed on horseback, but bikers and hikers are more than welcome, too. This stretch of land encompasses several natural habitats and cuts right into the heart of Marion County. The county also houses the quiet town of Dunnellon, where visitors can go tubing or diving in the breathtaking Rainbow River at Rainbow Springs State Park.
Palm Beach County
Join Loggerhead Marinelife Center across three engaging events just in time for Earth Day. Participate in a local kayak eco-excursion with LMC biologists to explore diverse coastal ecosystems in Florida. In various spots across South Florida, LMC will be hosting pop-up beach clean-up events, where guests will learn about marine conservation efforts. Throughout the month of April, LMC will hold #30DaysToZero, a social media campaign that encourages users to find 30 unique ways to strive for a zero-waste lifestyle. The campaign will also feature several exciting giveaways with a theme of sustainability.
Glamping accommodations are the newest premium additions to Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo. The Luxe Conestoga Wagons provide guests with comfort and views of a vibrant stream where buffalo graze. But it's the luxury glamping tents that are the real highlight of the resort’s expansion, 505-square foot spaces with all the necessary amenities without compromising on the camping feel.
Santa Rosa County
Santa Rosa County is one of Florida’s most unexplored regions, but it is also one of the best for eco-friendly adventures. Check out the Navarre Beach Marine Park and be treated to an educational marine science station and sea turtle conservatory. Rent a paddleboard from Sage Paddleboard Company and head out to the artificial reefs just offshore.
Coldwater Gardens is an eco-resort near Milton that provides glamping accommodations like nowhere else. A secluded agritourism destination, the retreat focuses on the exploration of nature and agricultural practices, and its glamping tents offer a picturesque view of the pine savanna and dark night skies dotted by stars.
Sarasota County knows that one of the best ways to appreciate nature is by spending a night beneath the stars. The county is filled with beautiful parks to set up camp in like Myakka River State Park, one of the oldest and largest parks in all of Florida. This recreational area offers 90 campsites across 3 campgrounds with modern amenities such as restrooms and grills, as well as several primitive campsites several miles from the trailhead for those seeking an authentic camping experience. Additionally, while visiting the park, be sure to check out Deep Hole, a massive 200-foot wide sinkhole home to hundreds of alligators.
Oscar Scherer State Park provides over 100 campsites and houses Lake Osprey, the only freshwater swimming lake in the county. Want to see what the tiny house trend is all about? Stay overnight with Tiny House Siesta, just a few steps away from Siesta Beach.
Spend the day among 25-foot tall white sand dunes in Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in South Walton. Take a bike and ride past blooming wildflowers on the mile-long stretch to the beach area. Birding enthusiasts will find that the Visit South Walton Field guide found at the Visitor Center will be well worth the trip, and scuba divers will be treated to the Underwater Museum of Art, which has just successfully deployed eight new sculptures. This sustainable effort is perfect for divers who can admire artwork while swimming past fish and dolphins.
For more information on the Sunshine State or to plan a vacation to Florida, visit www.VISITFLORIDA.com.
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