From paddling in world-famous springs to bird watching through luscious mangroves, there’s plenty of adventures to be had when exploring Florida’s hidden, natural beauty.
Check bird watching off your bucket list on your next trip to Florida. Year-round bird watching and wildlife viewing is an ideal adventure on Sanibel Island. At "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge, spot over 270 species of bird including Roseate spoonbills and Gray kingbirds on a 4-mile wildlife drive around the park. Walk the Indigo Trail where Mangrove cuckoos can be found. Florida is known as one of the best places in the world to spot our feathered friends, so you’ll be thankful you packed your binoculars.
Stroll in historic South Walton
Slow down the pace and take a leisurely stroll through South Walton’s beautiful Eden Gardens State Park. The 163-acre park is home to the historic Wesley House. Once home to lumber baron William Henry Wesley and his family in the 1800’s, visitors can enjoy a guided tour (prices from 4 USD) which boasts the largest collection of Louis XVI Court furniture found in any one room in the whole of the United States. Outside, the serene gardens create the perfect oasis to enjoy a picnic amongst carefully manicured gardens with moss-draped ancient live oaks or go fishing off the dock in Tucker Bayou. This park is truly unique.
Snorkel in the Florida Keys
You can’t visit the world-famous Florida Keys and not explore its extensive underwater world. The 120-mile island chain is home to the continental United States’ only living-coral barrier reef. This teeming backbone of marine life runs the length of the Keys, about five miles offshore. With shallow reefs for snorkelers, and a range of deeper reefs for experienced scuba divers, this beauty spot offers memories to last a lifetime. Tours for dive excursions and snorkeling operate several times daily.
Cycling in Sebring
Located in Central Florida, Sebring is home to a park system that wows with outdoor wonders. The Highlands Hammock State Park is home to deer, alligators, a variety of native birds – and even the black bear and Florida panther - so tread carefully. With its beautiful old-growth hammock and variety of habitats and wildlife species, this is the real Florida at its best. Enjoy these natural wonders on a three-mile bike loop, or sit back and relax on a tram to take it all in. After all the exploring, you’ll find playgrounds and plenty of room for a picnic.
Wildlife encounters in Crystal River
One of the most unique experiences you’ll find in Florida is swimming with manatees in Crystal River, the Manatee Capital of the World. This is the only place where you can legally swim with the majestic manatee in North America. Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River provides wildlife enthusiasts the chance to see one of Florida’s most breath-taking freshwater wonders. Tours start from 65 USD per person.
Paddle in Ocala/Marion County
Home to many rivers, lakes, and world-famous springs, visitors to Ocala/Marion County area can enjoy water views aboard a paddleboard, kayak, boat or zipline. Rich in crystal-clear springs, this area is popular for eco-enthusiasts seeking moments of up-close, nature-driven encounters.
Paddle Rainbow Springs, the fourth largest spring in Florida, or float down the Rainbow River and be surrounded by towering palm trees, ferns, and lush landscapes. Entry to the park costs only $2 per person.
Kayak at Panama City Beach
Located on the eastern side of Panama City Beach, the former military reservation of St. Andrews State Park is an untouched portion of natural Florida. The park boasts one-and-a-half miles of sugar white sands and emerald green waters. Kayak or paddle around the Grand Lagoon, or if you really want to push the boat out, kayak across the channel to stunning Shell Island. You’ll spot colourful fish, dolphins and sea turtles on route to the 700-acre island which is home to deer, turtles and pelicans.
About VISIT FLORIDA:
As the Sunshine State’s No. 1 industry, tourism was responsible for welcoming 126.1 million visitors in 2018. Based on the latest economic impact study, in 2016, Florida visitors spent $112 billion, supporting 1.4 million Florida jobs. According to the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, for every $1 the state invests in VISIT FLORIDA – the official tourism marketing corporation for the State of Florida - $2.15 in tax revenue is generated. VISIT FLORIDA promotes tourism to Florida through sales, advertising, promotions, public relations and visitor services programs.