Florida’s weather and sunshine facilitates year-round outdoor adventure. Getting outdoors for hiking, kayaking or even hang gliding was popular in Florida long before the pandemic made “outdoor travel” a thing nationwide. This summer, tour operators and events around Florida are ready to welcome travelers to experience the state’s water, land and skies in every way possible.
Amelia Island was once the shrimping capital of the world and Fernandina Beach’s historic downtown pulls out all the stops at the beloved annual Shrimp Festival, which has been a part of island life for more than 50 years. Enjoy fine arts and crafts, antiques, regional and local music, shrimp caught and served locally, seafood dishes, parade, fireworks, pirates and family fun.
Also in Amelia Island, Kelly Seahorse Ranch joins Happy Trails Walking Horses and Amelia Island Horseback Riding to offer private horseback riding along the beach. Travelers can also take paragliding tours with Florida Adventure Sports or try “trike” flying with Hang Glide USA or tandem skydiving with Skydive Amelia Island. Also, Amelia River Cycle has unique Hydro Bikes that give a real biking experience on the water with the freedom to explore the Amelia River’s scenic, natural ecosystem and native marine life.
Over in Jacksonville, Boneyard Beach is a one-of-a-kind natural landscape along the coastline of the Big Talbot Island National Park. With over 22 miles of beaches in total, Jacksonville’s Boneyard Beaches is a landscape unlike any other – large white-washed oak trees litter the white sandy beach. Battered by the sun, sand and water, the giant driftwood carcasses give the appearance of an elephant boneyard.
Navarre Beach and neighboring communities offer the ideal combination of exciting adventures for children and opportunities for adults to unwind. For snorkeling and fishing, it’s the perfect beach just east of Pensacola. In Columbia County, take a daring dive at Blue Hole Spring, located at Ichetucknee
Springs State Park. The crystal clear, turquoise aquatic masterpiece features a floor of bright seagrass
and a 40-foot-deep drop in the spring’s center, giving it the appearance of a geode.
Orlando features outdoor adventures in and around the Everglades, offering exciting alternatives to the theme parks the city has in spades. From the water to the land and all the way to the sky, it’s easy to pull together an itinerary for outdoor adventure without even setting a foot in line for a roller coaster! Companies like Epic Paddle Adventures offer bioluminescence paddle tours while Spirit of the Swamp Airboat Rides takes visitors on airboat rides. Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour features a pontoon experience and Adventures in Florida gets visitors up close with manatees via kayak.
Still in Orlando, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort's archery experience allows guests ages seven and up to learn how to hold and fire a compound bow while Gatorland’s Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure takes riders in monster-style, off-road vehicles to experience Florida’s various ecosystems. Meanwhile, Bob's Hot Air Balloon Rides take visitors to the skies in majestic balloons while Wallaby Ranch Hang Gliding Flight & Park provides hang gliding experiences. The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes and Walt Disney World Fishing offers guided fishing excursions, including fly fishing lessons.
Nearby in Kissimmee, travelers can ride an ATV at Revolution Adventures. Nestled into the Central Florida countryside this unique experience lets guests drive themselves through mud holes, dry sandy tracks and grass, with plenty of twists and turns.
Some of the best hiking is in Ocala. From the expansive Ocala National Forest to the Cross Florida Greenway, there are endless miles of beautiful hiking trails lined with the unique-to-Florida landscape of pine trees and palm trees on top of each other. Find tortoises and rabbits along the way that may lead you to a hidden spring where turtles and otters are splashing around.
Crystal River boasts an Eco-Walk Trail. a two-mile long path that loops through meadow into pine forest and then into oak savannah before crossing into a mixed hardwood freshwater marsh. It’s a spot loved by birds, birders and hikers alike, with interpretive signs and convenient benches.
Indian River offers shipwrecks to explore, providing truly unique water adventures. The Breconshire Wreck special boasts high accessibility, close to shore and close to the shoreline. Snorkelers can swim or kayak their way out to the wreck and then take their time exploring the century old wreck.
In Martin County, rent paddle boarding gear from local outfitters like Native Water Sports or Stuart Paddle Tours and spend an exciting afternoon exploring the island’s mangrove forests and live oak hammocks while dolphins, manatees and rare birds can be spotted in the distance. Hit the Gulf Coast in Punta Gorda on the water. Get kayaking or paddle boarding with SUP Englewood, where visitors can explore the barrier islands of Manasota Key and Boca Grande with a Florida Master Naturalist as their guide who may jump in and show the marine life that's under your kayak or paddle board.
Around Miami, visitors can do something more unique at the Deering Estate by experiencing the Sunrise Clear Kayak Adventure. The guided sunrise kayak tour of Biscayne Bay is a unique way to experience the water. Or book a spot at Astronomy & Bubbles on the third Saturday of each month from 8:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. at Eden Roc Miami Beach to learn about the stars through an astronomy presentation paired with sparkling wine. Nearby excursions to the Everglades and watersports around Biscayne Bay make Greater Miami a hotbed of outdoor experience – without having to go far from the city.
If you’re looking for more outdoor adventures or activities for travelers of all ages and abilities, please get in touch. For more information on the Sunshine State or to plan a 2022 vacation to Florida, visit www.VISITFLORIDA.com.
About VISIT FLORIDA:
As the number one industry in the Sunshine State, tourism was responsible for receiving 122.4 million visitors in 2021, down from the record 131.1 million visitors in 2019, attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the latest economic impact study, visitors to Florida contributed $96.5 billion to Florida's economy and supported 1.6 million Florida jobs in 2019. According to the Bureau of Economic and Demographic Research, for every $1 the state invests in VISIT FLORIDA, Florida's official tourism marketing corporation generates $3.27 in tax revenue. VISIT FLORIDA promotes tourism in Florida through sales, advertising, promotions, public relations and visitor services programs. As a public/private partnership, VISIT FLORIDA serves more than 13,000 companies in the travel industry, including major strategic alliances with Busch Gardens Tampa, Disney Destinations, Hilton, LEGOLAND Florida Resort, SeaWorld Parks & Resorts Orlando and Universal Orlando Resort. For more information about VISIT FLORIDA, follow @FloridaTourism on Facebook and Twitter or visit www.visitflorida.org. For inspiration in the Sunshine State follow @VISITFLORIDA on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or visit www.visitflorida.com. For media resources, visit www.visitfloridamedia.com.