When it comes to visiting Florida or even living in the Sunshine State, there is plenty to see and do but a lot of things are simply those that everyone knows about. For instance, almost everyone knows about Disney World or Key West but do you know that Florida has class I/II rapids or is home to the largest wolf preserve in the entire Southeastern United States? Those are just a few of the real hidden gems so here are a few places that answer the question, “Are these the 13 best kept secrets in Florida?”
13. Seacrest Wolf Preserve
Located in Northwest Florida, the Seacrest Wolf Preserve is the one spot where you can actually interact with wolves.
The entire preserve encompasses over 400 acres but the real excitement is in knowing that you can actually interact with wolves and get your photo taken with these magnificent creatures – you can even touch them.
Tours are conducted on Saturdays and there are other animals to interact with after the wolf tour.
12. Big Shoals State Park
Located in White Springs, the Big Shoals State Park offers something unusual to Florida – whitewater rapids. This state park has something found nowhere else in the entire state – huge 80 foot limestone bluffs.
There are almost 30 miles of hiking trails and visitors can not only experience the rapids but also enjoy horseback riding, bicycling, hiking, and wildlife viewing.
11. Falling Waters State Park
Florida isn’t typically known for its waterfalls since much of the area is more on the flat side but located in Northwest Florida is Falling Waters State Park where you can find the highest waterfall in the entire state.
It is interesting to note that no one knows where the water ends up after its 73-foot drop. The sink is 100 feet deep and has a small stream that goes – well, somewhere. Visitors can also enjoy migrating butterflies, lush forest, and a lake that is perfect for swimming.
10. Crystal River State Park
Found nestled in Citrus County, Crystal River State Park has over 27,000 acres of state park area but there is one thing that makes it one of the experiences you simply must check out.
While you can enjoy hardwood forests, mangrove islands, and salt marshes – Crystal River is the one place where you can swim with manatees, which are on the endangered list. The water is crystal clear, hence the name of this must-visit park.
9. Blowing Rocks Preserve
Located in Hobe Sound, which is in South Florida, Blowing Rocks Preserve is a barrier island sanctuary with a unique aspect that puts it high on the list of must-see things to do.
During certain high tides and winter storms, seas break against the rocks and force plumes of saltwater up to 50 feet skyward, something you don’t typically see in the great state of Florida.
Along with that really cool part of the preserve, it is also home to endangered animals and plants.
8. Caladesi Island
Caladesi Island is one of the last natural islands in the state of Florida. It is located along the Gulf Coast area and was named America’s Best Beach in 2008 and there is a reason why.
Not only is this a totally natural island, the white sands and emerald green water makes it a sight to behold. Sunbathing, fishing, kayaking, hiking, and simply enjoying nature are just a few of the things you can do without man-made spoilage.
7. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
No visit to Florida is complete without taking a trip to one of the most iconic state parks in the entire state. Weeki Wachee Spring State Park is over 500 acres of area with a twist on the usual.
Since 1947, visitors have enjoyed seeing the Weeki Wachee mermaids perform and now they’re in a 400-seat submerged theater. If that’s not your cup of tea, take a river boat cruise and canoe or kayak or check out the natural beauty of the park.
6. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Merrit Island National Wildlife Refuge is located in Titusville, Florida. There is wildlife viewing, fishing, bird watching, hunting, hiking, and interpretation as well as environmental education that you can participate in.
One of the really awesome things that you can do is the Black Point Wildlife Drive which is a 7-mile auto tour that ends up at the Manatee Observation Deck where you can see the manatees in their natural habitat.
5. Look and Tremble Falls
Look and Tremble Falls, located in Calhoun County, offers I/II rapids which is a rare occurrence in Florida. The area is pristine and has a rich history of paddle wheel river boats that used to navigate its waters.
Nowadays, visitors can enjoy the rapids, explore the lush landscape, and it’s an area that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. You won’t find tons of rowdy crowds or parties – just unique landscape and pristine water.
4. Bahia Honda State Park
If the Florida Keys aren’t enough to lure you in, there is always Bahia Honda State Park. This state park has an award winning beach and is located at mile marker 37. This island paradise features a historic bridge, beach combing like nowhere else, and snorkeling that is magnificent.
Swimming, bicycling, kayaking, fishing, and simply enjoying the view are just a few of the activities in this hidden gem where the beaches are pure perfection.
Located just a couple of hours from the state’s capital, Apalachicola is considered the “Forgotten Coast” of Florida. The downtown area is full of charming shops and features some of the freshest seafood you’ll find anywhere in the country.
If architecture is your thing, you’ll find over 900 historic homes, Victorian inns, and galleries where art and culture meet. Don’t forget to try the fresh oysters harvested right from the Apalachicola Bay. Oh, and there are almost 600,000 acres of back-to-nature area to explore.
2. Silver Springs
Silver Springs has been a staple of Florida parks since the 19th century. This state park features glass bottom boats where you can view the springs, which happen to be one of the largest artesian springs every discovered.
You’ll love exploring the area, kayaking, swimming, and if you want more than just nature’s beauty – Silver Springs has a full-sized water park which is perfect for both kids and adults alike. It’s a resort with all of the natural beauty combined.
1. Marco Island
Marco Island has just about everything you’d want to experience. From swamp buggy rides and seashell scavenging to swimming and golf – it’s truly a paradise for its visitors.
You get the best of both worlds because not only can you experience the best nature has to offer, you still get access to all of the things you need like a frozen strawberry daiquiri and if you don’t think a daiquiri is an essential park of visiting Florida, you soon will.